Tiger Woods is forking out millions in payoffs in a desperate but futile bid to contain his skyrocketing cheating scandal before it wipes out both his marriage and billion-dollar empire.

In a gigantic cover-up, the golfing great and his "Team Tiger" reps are feverishly working behind the scenes to silence key players – including Ashley Samson, who touched off the massive scandal when she exclusively told The ENQUIRER about Tiger’s affair with 34-year-old events planner ,  NYC party girl Rachel Uchitel.

The ENQUIRER has learned that Woods has also tried to contain the damage by showering millions on his distraught 29-year-old wife Elin, paying an astonishing $3 million to his mistress Rachel – and attempting to get Samson to retract her story with a $200,000 bribe!

The story of Tiger and Rachel sent shock waves around the world when The ENQUIRER published it in late November.

Now in another bombshell revelation, Ashley – who passed a lie detector test – tells The ENQUIRER: "Tiger Woods’ people offered me $200,000 to change my story and to deny he was having an affair with Rachel.

"But I turned him down flat, saying I would not lie for Tiger because the truth IS the truth."

Despite her brave stance, Ashley feared for her life, and The ENQUIRER had to briefly relocate her to a safe house  as the media sh*tstorm ignited the conflagration.

"They tried to destroy me," Ashley divulged in a world-exclusive interview. "Rachel was saying terrible things about me and claiming she didn’t even know me.

"She has made my life hell."

And according to at least one of his lovers, Tiger did not use protection which means more trouble in Tiger Town and not just STDs.

Uchitel’s top gun lawyer Gloria Allred  planned  to announce at the press conference that Rachel had explosive text messages and voicemails and even was on the phone with Tiger and his wife while they argued over her the night of his car crash, disclosed a close source.

But Team Tiger quashed the press conference hours before reporters were set to assemble. Attorney Allred then claimed it was called off for "unforeseen" reasons.

But the close source insists: "It was a payoff, clear and simple. Tiger’s biggest concern was that it not come out that Elin was arguing on the phone with Rachel – –  he’s trying to distance his wife from his problems.

"Tiger told Rachel through his people, ‘I’ll pay you $3 million to keep quiet.’"

PLUS: Here’s a SFW taste of Tiger SEXT-ing Rachel:

Tiger to Rachel Uchitel: "I know it’s brutal on you that you can’t be with me all the time, I get it. It fu*****g kills me, too.
"I finally found someone I connect with, someone I have never found like this. Not even at home. You want someone to witness your life.
"I want you to lay next to me, lay on me or where ever you want to lay. Fu*k.

"Why didn’t we find each other years ago. We wouldn’t be having this conversation."

For the FULL STORY with all the details about the multiple payoffs to his wife and lovers to stop an all out billion dollar divorce war pick up the new National Enquirer – NOW ON SALE!