Tiger Woods had a perfect life. He was one of the most successful golfers worldwide and had a cute little family, but things took a nasty turn on Thanksgiving 2009 when all his affairs became exposed for all to see.
Tiger Woods had it all before his life came tumbling down like a pack of cards. He had earned himself the title of the greatest golfer of all time as a multi-ethnic superstar who had dominated a historically white sport.
After turning pro in 1996, he reached number one in the world rankings. And from 1999, he did not go a year without winning at least one golf major championship. His wholesome image brought him over $110 million dollars in endorsements.
Golfer Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren in Ireland on September 19, 2006 [Left] Tiger Woods is greeted by his son Charlie Woods, wife Elin Woods and daughter Sam Woods held at Congressional Country Club on July 5, 2009 in Bethesda, Maryland. [Right] | Source: Getty Images
FINDING LOVE AND WELCOMING KIDS
At 33, he had the world in the palm of his hand. His personal life was not lagging either. He was married to a former Swedish model, Elin Nordegren, and the two were doting parents to two beautiful children, Sam and Charlie.
After appearing on the Swedish magazine Cafe Sports cover in 2000, Nordegren did not pursue modeling further. She instead ended up working in a clothing store where she met golfer Jesper Parnevik's wife Mia, who then hired her as their nanny and eventually moved her to the States.
Golfer Tiger Woods poses with girlfriend Elin Nordegren during the opening Ceremony for the 34th Ryder Cup on September 26, 2002 in Sutton Coldfield, England. | Source: Getty Images
For a whole year, Woods asked Parnevik to introduce him to Nordegren, but she was not in the least interested. A friend said in the 2021 HBO docuseries "Tiger," as Parade reports:
"She had her opinions about celebrities, and they were not high. And she's very shy, so the idea of joining that world was not appealing to her. And when he asked her out, I think she turned him down at first."
Golfer Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren at the K Club in Straffan Co. Kildare, Ireland on September 19, 2006 | Source: Getty Images
After turning him down severally, she agreed to go on a date with him to get him to stop asking. They went out for a movie and dinner, after which Nordegren was surprised at how much she liked the golfer.
They started going out officially in 2002, and by late 2003 they were engaged. On October 5, 2004, they exchanged vows in Barbados and welcomed their first baby, Sam Alexis Woods, in June 2007 and their second, Charlie Axel Woods, in February 2009.
Golfer Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren at the Fox Theatre on September 15 2004 in Detroit Michigan | Source: Getty Images
Just months after they welcomed home their baby boy, Nordegren and Woods were preparing to host Wood's mother for Thanksgiving at their home in Windermere, Florida.
THE INFIDELITY SCANDAL THAT MADE HEADLINES FOR YEARS
A day earlier, the National Enquirer had run an article titled "Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal." The story told of how Woods had had a months-long affair with nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel and how she had checked into the same hotel as Woods during the Australian Masters. The New York Post reports her to have told a friend:
"It's Tiger Woods! I don't care about his wife! We're in love!"
Tiger Woods and his wife Elin look on during the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club on September 21, 2006 in Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland | Source: Getty Images
The incriminating details in the article shook Nordegren to the core, but she said nothing for the next few days. On Thanksgiving night, Woods retired to bed early, and with his phone left unattended, Nordegren thought it was the right time to find out the truth.
She scrolled for Uchitel's number and found a text from Woods to Uchitel saying: "You are the only one I've ever loved." She started texting her as Woods, and when she replied, Nordegren called her, saying she knew all about her and what she had been doing with her husband. Uchitel immediately hung up.
Golfer Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren on June 11 2009 in Orlando, Florida | Source: Getty Images
Nordegren's shouting woke her husband up, and despite being woozy from sleep, he grabbed his phone and locked himself up in the bathroom. He quickly texted Uchitel:
"She knows. I'm going to be packing."
He told her from the way things had escalated that he, for sure, thought it looked like they would be getting a divorce. Outside the bathroom door, Nordegren was still yelling at Wood to get out, and when he finally did, she grabbed his phone and took a quick scan at his sent messages, managing to grasp the word "divorce."
Tiger Woods and wife Elin watch an exhibition match on March 10, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
She threw the phone at Woods, chipping his tooth, then scratched at his face and punched his chest before reaching out for a golf club and chasing a barefooted Woods out of the house. The golfer got into his 2009 Escalade and pulled out of the driveway at 30 miles per hour.
However, his getaway was gridlocked when he crashed into some hedges, hurtled into a curb, and then struck a fire hydrant before careening into a tree. He ended up on the street, bloody and unconscious. It was half-past two in the morning, and the quarrel had woken up their neighbors, who then called 911.
While waiting for the ambulance, Nordegren told the police that it had been a simple accident, but the police seemed skeptical. They thought it was a domestic disturbance. Woods got treatment and was released. But when the investigators came to follow up on the matter, Nordegren told them Woods was asleep.
Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren in Michigan Detroit on September 16 2004.| Source: Getty Images
She suggested they come back the next day at 3 p.m. But before they arrived, Woods' attorney called to say the couple would not be cooperating. The investigators requested to access Woods's medical records, but the judge denied the request, and the best they could do was issue Woods with a $164 ticket for careless driving.
As the scandal blew up, Woods reportedly paid Uchitel $10 million to stay quiet, but it was a little too late. Many other mistresses had come out to claim affairs with him. Among those named were diner waitress Mindy Lawton, adult film stars Holly Sampson and Joslyn James, exotic dancer Cori Rist, and reality star Jaimee Grubbs.
By December 11, 2009, a fortnight after the accident, the number of known mistresses was 14, but Woods would reportedly confess to sleeping with 120 women during his marriage to Nordegren. Woods entered rehab for sex addiction by the end of the month.
Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren, watch competition at the 2004 Ryder Cup in Detroit, Michigan. | Source: Getty Images
Nordegren used the time to renegotiate her prenup and mull her marriage. Initially, she was still on the fence about divorcing him but made up her mind when she learned that Woods had also slept with a neighbor's 21-year-old daughter, Raychel Coudriet. Coudriet was only 14 when she first met Woods.
Careerwise, Woods lost endorsements with major companies such as Accenture, Gillette, Gatorade, and Nike, and soon after, he pulled out of the Chevron World Challenge. His career came crumbling down, and he has not won a major tournament since. He now earns about $54 million in endorsements — half of what he made before.
NORDEGREN SAID THE SCANDAL PUT HER THROUGH HELL
Elin Nordegren at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan on September, 17 2004 | Source: Getty Images
Divorce is never easy on anyone, and Nordegren was no different. After her divorce from Woods became final, she gave an exclusive interview, which she said would be her first and last. Speaking to People, she shared how taunting it had been for her, adding:
"I have been through the stages of disbelief and shock, to anger and ultimately grief over the loss of the family I so badly wanted for my children."
Elin Woods watches her husband, Tiger Woods play at The Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2006 in Augusta, Georgia. | Source: Getty Images
She would languish in her suffering at night, which led to insomnia, hair loss, and weight loss. She would sort through her feelings by keeping a journal and undergoing intensive therapy.
The mother of two spoke about the emotional roller coaster she had been on since her husband's betrayal but added that she also felt stronger than she had ever been. She was confident in the beliefs and choices she had made.
Tiger Woods is greeted by his son Charlie Woods, wife Elin Woods and daughter Sam Woods held at Congressional Country Club on July 5, 2009 in Bethesda, Maryland. | Source: Getty Images
But one important lesson she learned from the scandal was that money could never buy happiness nor bring back the family she so longed to have but had lost.
NORDEGREN WOULD GET ONE OF THE BIGGEST PAYOUTS IN THE HISTORY OF DIVORCES
After the highly publicized scandal, divorce was imminent. In the settlement, Woods had to adhere to several demands by Nordegren, one being that he was not allowed to let any of his girlfriends near his children unless he married them.
Tiger Woods of the United States and son Charlie Woods hug at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on December 20, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. | Source: Getty Images
Nordegren also got one of the biggest payouts in a celebrity divorce — a record $750 million. However, the condition was that she could never speak publicly of his alleged flings with his numerous paramours. A pal would say of the strange request, as Fox News reports:
"Tiger's main fear is her telling her story after he's rebuilt his reputation, sending him back to the gutter."
However, the settlement amount seemed slightly off as Woods' estimated net worth was $600 million. Later, TMZ would report that Nordegren got about $100 million, broken down to $20 million a year for the five years they'd been married.
Tiger Woods his daugher, Sam, and wife, Elin Nordegren at Stanford Stadium on November 21, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.| Source: Getty Images
However, the new settlement did not stipulate whether Nordegren would still be required to stay quiet about her ex-husband's affairs and the details surrounding their split.
MOVING ON AFTER THE DIVORCE
Following their divorce, Nordegren finally graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Rollins College. She enrolled in 2005 after just getting married and before she had any kids. She finally graduated nine years later with top honors and received the Hamilton Holt Outstanding Senior Award.
Nordegren also became known as a real force in the real estate business. For instance, in 2011, she bought a condo in Juno Beach, Florida at $1,095,000 and sold it at $1,950,000 several years later.
She also purchased a North Palm Beach property, demolished the existing mansion on the site, and constructed a mega-mansion featuring 11 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms, a wine cellar, a separate guest lodge, a full-sized gym, and a movie theatre. In 2018, she listed the home for $49.5 million but eventually sold it for $28.64 million.
The ex-couple has also made progress in their dating lives. Today, Nordegren is in non-marital bliss with her man, former Miami Dolphins Jordan Cameron, with whom she welcomed a son, Arthur, formerly Filip, in 2019.
On the other hand, Woods has dated Erica Herman since 2017 and has even taken photos with her and the kids, which could mean they are in it for the long haul. Despite Nordegren and Woods' nasty split, they have since put their differences aside and created a peaceful and harmonious co-parenting situation for the sake of their kids.
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