The Downfall of Tiger Woods

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Not everyone remembers the little boy who first appeared on the Mike Douglas Show with his father Earl, on October 6, 1978 (Kelley). Tiger Woods was the cutest thing you could ever imagine, in his classic Tiger red cap, beige and red collared golf shirt, and khaki shorts, as he tried to drive the ball on the green AstroTurf mat. Also on the show were legendary stars of old, Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart. Woods demonstrated his phenomenal abilities by showing off a few putts and drives. In a putting contest against Bob Hope, Tiger hit the ball which landed about ten feet from his desired goal, so he went over, picked up the ball and put it on the lip of the cup and everyone howled with laughter. And so, the child prodigy, Tiger Woods, was introduced to the world.

Tiger Woods - The Early Years

Tiger Woods was born Eldrick Woods on December 30, 1975 (“Tiger Woods”). His mother, Kultida, was of Thai descent, and his Army officer father Earl, was an African American. He grew up in Cypress, California, a city in northern Orange County, located in Southern California, not too far from Long Beach (“About Cypress”). The neighborhood was primarily White, and also had a vibrant Asian community. The city is proud of its educational system and its high school ranks high in the region ("Cypress Community Profile").

The appearance on the Mike Douglas Show was not Tigers only early national television appearance, he also showed off his prowess on That’s Incredible when he was 5 years old, and later on Good Morning America. Tiger won a number of local golf competitions from age six to eight, and then won the Junior World Championships a total of six times. The young Woods met Jack Nicklaus at the Bel-Air Country Club during a clinic held for its members. An element in the show, Tiger performed beautifully, impressing those in attendance and even Nicklaus himself. Woods’ father had studied Nicklaus’ accomplishments and taught Tiger that he should aim to exceed his records. At the ripe old age of 15, Tiger became the winner of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, while attending Western High School in Anaheim. He won the Junior Amateur Championship again, the following two years.

Tiger’s Step from Collegiate to Professional

Tiger attended Stanford University in 1994, after receiving a golf scholarship ("Tiger Woods Wins First Major"). In 1996, he won the U.S. Amateur Championships, the youngest champion to ever do so, three consecutive wins in a row. Tiger decided to leave college early and began his professional career, immediately signing endorsement deals with Nike and Titleist (Chung, Derdenger and Srinivasan). The contracts were described as among the most lucrative golf agreements ever to be signed. He immediately received impressive golf accolades in the form of Sports Illustrated's 1996 Sportsman of the Year and the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year (“April 13, 1997”). The hits just kept on rolling as the Tiger machine could do no wrong. Woods won the Masters Tournament, in Augusta, Georgia, in 1997, and was named the game’s youngest winner of all time. He shot 270 over 72 holes, a tournament record, and in the end was ahead of the pack by 12 strokes. His performance is still recognized as one of the most astounding in golf history (“Tiger Woods”). Within two months he achieved the Number 1 ranking in the Official World Golf Rankings, winning their Mark H McCormack Award, which is given to the golfer who secures the number one position in the world, for the longest period of time per year ("Woods Scoops World”). In 1999, Tiger had secured eight PGA Tournament wins, along with the PGA Championship (“Tiger Woods”). These wins were followed by Tiger tying Ben Hogan’s 1948 winning streak of six consecutive victories during the 1999-2000 time frame. Woods broke records again at the U.S. Open. He tied Jack Nicklaus’ record for the lowest 72 hole score, ended the tournament with a 12 under par, and his 15 stroke win was the biggest margin of victory at a top championship. The Tiger machine proved to be unstoppable, when he won the British Open on July 23, 2003, winning all four top championships simultaneously in a Grand Slam. Tiger went on to win the Masters Tournament in both 2001 and 2002 (“Tiger Woods”).

Tiger saw a breakdown in his amazing success between 2003 and 2004, and married the love of his life, Elin Nordegren, a former Swedish model, the latter year ("Tiger Woods Wins First Major"). Elin became the mother of his two children, Sam Alexis and Charlie Axel. Wedding bells, honeymoon, and transformation of his swing out of the way, he soon broke his troubling trend by winning the Masters Tournament and the British Open in 2005 ("Tiger Woods"). Back on a roll in 2006, Woods won nine events, thus dominating the tour and won the British Open and the PGA Championship. This was the same year, though, that his beloved father Earl, his mentor and best friend died of prostate cancer (“Tiger Woods 2”).The following year, Woods claimed victory winning his thirteenth major championship ("Tiger Woods").  Tiger underwent knee surgery in 2008, but managed to win the U.S. Open two months after his return. This victory became his third Grand Slam, an accomplishment he shared with Jack Nicklaus. He apparently went against doctor’s orders, because the damage to his knee became aggravated and he had to drop out of the remaining season to repair his injuries. Woods return to the sport in 2009 saw no major title victories ("Tiger Woods"). But there was another kind of storm brewing that few outsiders were aware of, it was a storm that would completely alter Tiger Woods personal life and public persona.

Extra-Marital Affairs, Infidelity and Porn Stars

Tiger Woods had not only been successful on the golf course, as a sports endorsement wizard, a humanitarian, and as an idol for kids and grownups alike, but he was also quite successful at architecting a public façade that implied wholesomeness. So it was quite a shock to most of his admirers when a report of a car crash hit the news, with vague snippets of information about a Mercedes hitting a tree or a fire hydrant, a windshield broken, Elin beating the windows out to rescue Tiger, and a variety of other shocking, yet unclear disclosures ("Elin Nordegren"). Many would say that the tailspin started when his father died. Others say that it was the pain that he felt from injuries to his knee and his surgeries. Some say that it was a combination of both. Yet, sometimes there are just too many excuses that are unnecessary. Everyone experiences pain and anguish in their life, so a man who has access to anything that he wants, could certainly seek professional help, if that was what he needed. But no. 

Tiger met Elin Nordegren at the 2001 British Open, through golfer Jesper Parnevik and his wife, while Elin was their children’s nanny ("Elin Nordegren"). She was not particularly impressed at first, and turned him down when he first asked her out. Elin publically confirmed their relationship in 2002, when she attended the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, Florida, as Woods’ girlfriend. During this period Nordegren was successful at being nice, but non-responsive to questions by outsiders. Woods proposed to Elin in 2003, while on a South African game reserve. They married in 2004, at the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados. The ceremony was attended by basketball stars, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, and hundreds of other friends and family. In 2006, Elin was accused of posing naked and appearing on porn websites. The Woods fought the Irish publication and were awarded $183,250 in damages. It is the same year that Tiger’s father died. At the end of 2009, Elin was faced with reports that Tiger was engaged in infidelity ("Elin Nordegren").

News organizations reported numerous confusing stories, but ultimately, it came out that Woods had an accident with his car crashing it into a pole near the family home in Florida ("Elin Nordegren"). The back windshield had been smashed. A neighbor reported the incident to police. Woods, in an apparent effort to squash the story, said that his wife smashed the rear windshield because she was trying to rescue him from the car. The gossip machine started grinding and other reports indicated that Elin smashed the window because she was angry. Woods did his best to protect his wife from idle gossip, but from that point on, things simply got out of control. Tiger’s relationship with Rachel Uchitel, a night club hostess and manager had come to light ("Elin Nordegren"). The Enquirer did a report on Tiger’s cheating (Callahan). Elin checked Tiger’s phone, and discovered that the name in the article was in fact on his contact list. She texted Uchitel, pretending to be Tiger, and Uchitel’s immediate response was pretty telling. Elin later found another name on Tiger’s phone, Jaimee Grubbs, and there was no getting out of this one (Callahan). 

The pair remained mum during the following weeks, other than to contact parents in their children’s school, to apologize for the added scrutiny they might have been experiencing due to the circumstances ("Elin Nordegren"). A series of other women announced their illicit relationships with Woods and the scandal simply got out of hand. There seemed to be a new woman for every day the scandal was in force. Tiger publically apologized for his behavior, but Nordegren filed for divorce. Elin purchased a house outside of Stockholm, spending her birthday with her twin sister, and skied the French Alps in January 2010. Nordegren did not attend the Masters Golf Tournament with Woods in April, choosing to visit family in Sweden and visited her brother in Shanghai. By August, the divorce was finalized, and Elin received custody of the children and $750 million as a settlement ("Elin Nordegren").

Tiger has addressed the issues in their marriage, although it might still be Tiger trying to stabilize the publicity machine, but he says that he and his ex-wife have come together to co-parent their children and have developed a good relationship since the divorce (Wong). He says that their main problem was a lack of communication, and he says that he feels that what occurred would not have happened, if they had the level of communication that they have now. He says that they are now best friends. Woods said, “We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then” (Wong). Nordegren seems to support Tiger’s perspective, “My relationship with Tiger is centered around our children and we are doing really good — we really are — and I am so happy that this is the case, he is a great father” (Wong).

Time heals most wounds, and when you decide to recognize the importance of your kids, and place their best interests first, people can often make significant changes that they were unable to achieve when they failed to think about their children’s welfare. Tiger Woods’ fall from grace was a shock to us all, and has clearly negatively impacted his career, but it is comforting to know that after that level of public betrayal and scandalous scrutiny, that two people could actually come together and keep their children’s best interests at heart.

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