Known as one of the greatest athletes of all time, Tiger Woods became a champion the second he went pro. However, after a few years in the spotlight, explosive secrets began to unravel about his marriage to Elin Nordegren...
Stealing the Show
The 47-year-old athlete went pro over 25 years ago - and nothing's been the same ever since. Woods has dominated the golf course with his extreme talent. But off the putting green, things haven't been quite as smooth.
Tied for first place in PGA Tour wins, Woods holds countless records, making him one of the most decorated athletes of all time. However, things in his personal life got pretty complicated when he confessed to multiple cheating allegations during his marriage to Elin Nordegren. So, let's take a closer look…
“I Was Unfaithful”
He was on top of the world. Married with children, winning golf competition after competition - but in 2010 the decorated athlete confessed to something no one could have ever prepared for. During a press conference, Woods told the audience, "I was unfaithful."
"I had affairs. I cheated. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself," he openly expressed. The entire world was completely shocked by the news and couldn't help but wonder what exactly went down. It was time for Tiger to be brutally honest.
The Start of It All
Before the cheating scandal went public, Tiger Woods was really living life. With so many athletic accomplishments under his club, it was clear from a young age that Woods was going down as one of the greatest golfers ever to exist. And after just a few years of playing professionally, he met Elin Nordegren.
They were first introduced during The Open Championship in 2001; the rest was history. Elin was a former Swedish model who was working as an au pair to Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. It was Parnevik who introduced the couple, and they got engaged not even 2 years later.
The couple said their "I do's" in October of 2004 at the Sandy Lane resort in Barbados surrounded by friends and family. Tiger was ready for marriage. "I love the idea of growing together," he once said. They even purchased a home in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando, Florida, in order to start growing as a family.
Woods dreamt of a "relationship where we change for the better and continue to get closer." Getting married in his twenties, Tiger was determined to start a family and do the whole thing with Elin. He and his wife began talking about kids, and everything was just peachy. For now...
Tiger was so excited to be a dad; he had everything planned out. "We're definitely going to have kids soon," he said at the beginning of his marriage to Elin. "I'd like to have a boy first, then a girl," the athlete admitted. He planned to be a true family man.
"I like the idea of a big brother taking care of his little sister. I want them to be close in age, too. I want my kids to grow up close." However, things didn't go in that exact order, and the married couple had their daughter, Sam Alexis Woods, in 2007 and their son, Charlie Axel Woods, two years later.
After a few years of marriage to Elin, Tiger and his family were all over the headlines. The golf community and beyond loved this image of Tiger Woods, the family man. At the time, it seemed like he was basically superhuman, and there was nothing he couldn't accomplish.
He was a husband, father, role model, and world-champion golfer. Things were looking beautifully for the guy - and in return, his success just continued to skyrocket. So when the world learned of his behavior behind closed doors, it was a complete and total shock to everyone.
News of his extramarital affairs broke in November 2009 after National Enquirer broke the story. People were in extreme disbelief that their favorite athlete and family man was unfaithful to his wife, and naturally, the rumor mill began. And just two days later, Woods got into a major car accident.
It was the middle of the night, and Tiger was driving outside of his house in Florida when he suddenly crashed into a fire hydrant. The police arrived at the scene to find the athlete lying in the street, where he told the officers he had hit a tree.
Once the cops pulled up to the scene, they realized he wasn't alone, and in fact, Elin was there with him. Woods was instantly sent to the hospital, where he was treated for minor facial lacerations, which weren't caused by the crash. So what happened?
Considering the news of his infinitely had broken out just a few days before, things felt messy. Cops immediately began questioning Tiger's version of the story, and things weren't adding up how he claimed them to be. However, he did end up getting a ticket for careless driving. So, what was really going on?
The Blame Game
Tiger told the authorities that his wife had come to confront him over "seeing another woman" and actually attacked him by scratching up his face. He explained to the police that he tried to drive away, but Elin Nordegren "followed behind with a golf club."
He continued to tell the police she "struck the vehicle several times with the club." Following the viral news of the accident, Woods claimed full responsibility for the situation, calling it a "private matter." Additionally, he announced he would not attend his charity golf tournament or any other tournaments that year.
The Other Woman
Right before the car incident went down, news broke of Woods' infidelity - so naturally, emotions were running high. People were harassing the family for details, wondering who the woman was behind the scandal. And just like that, the rumors began to spiral.
At first, the National Enquirer published the story surrounding his affairs. They reported that Woods had an affair with New York City nightclub manager and TV correspondent Rachel Uchitel, who we later found out signed an NDA prohibiting her from talking about Tiger with anyone. However, that was just the beginning…
At the time, Rachel was given $5 million dollars for her silence and $1 million annually for three years to follow. Clearly, there was something for Woods to hide. And well, over time, it was discovered that Rachel was actually just one of the very many mistresses the pro golfer had, as women began admitting to their affairs with the athlete.
The following year, the National Enquirer continued their story on Tiger, reporting that he had been with 121 women during his 6-year marriage with Elin. The athlete owned up to the allegations, apologizing for his actions and calling himself "foolish" for his actions. He then checked into rehab for his healing journey.
The Next-Door Neighbor
The news was out, and Elin had felt beyond betrayed by her husband. The trust had been broken, and things just were beyond repair. But of all the women he had slept with, she was particularly upset over one-their neighbor, Raychel Coudriet, who Tiger had known since she was 14.
Coudriet and Woods were together when she was just 21, and he was in his 30s, around the same time when Elin had just given birth to their son. And when she found out about the affair, she confronted her husband at a restaurant, "screaming so loudly that everyone at the table could hear what she was saying," a source alleged.
Of all the women he had been with, Raychel Coudriet felt the most personal for Elin. The same source reported that Nordegren told her husband, "This is the worst betrayal ever," and "I can't believe you had [slept] with that girl in our own neighborhood."
And it didn't stop there. On a final note, she allegedly told Woods in front of everyone, "That's it, I'm divorcing you." She had had enough. Despite his apology and time spent in rehab, Nordegren had herself and a family to protect, so she did what she needed to do.
Signing the Papers
The couple waited a few months before announcing their divorce, but by August 2010, they had released a formal statement that they were calling it quits. The couple had two beautiful children together and had been together for nearly a decade - but Tiger's infidelity was the final straw.
Together they released a joint statement saying, "While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children, and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us." Unfortunately, the next two years of his career took a hit.
After a few years of keeping things low-key and getting back to dominating the golf course, Woods was ready to tell his side of things. In a 2015 interview with Time magazine, the athlete condensed he wished he had a "more open, honest relationship with [his] ex-wife."
"In hindsight... I would change 2009 and how it all came about," he added. Besides wishing he had a more honest marriage with Elin, Woods went one step deeper. He shared he wished he had been more hands-on about the situation that happened a few years prior in '09, but with all the media surrounding the situation, it was all he knew to do.
Kids Come First
However, Woods and his ex-wife knew that their children were their top priority at the end of the day. In his conversation with Time, Woods opened up about how he was honest with his son and daughter over what happened and would forever be committed to their well-being.
"We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids," Woods told the publication. "I wish I would have known that back then." The superstar athlete shared that he considered Elin as "one of his best friends" and that the two still spoke on the phone.
Throughout all their hardships, addictions, and scandals, Woods was working hard to be the family man he wanted to be for his kids. Despite all the trophies, awards, and fame, there was nothing in the world that could live up to the importance of his son and daughter's happiness.
"We've worked so hard, and I've shown her how much I love them," Woods honestly expressed. "We've worked so hard at co-parenting to make sure that their lives are fantastic." Today, the couple still remains to co-parent Sam and Charlie years after their divorce. But have they truly moved on?
A couple of years after the pair finalized their divorce, Woods returned to the dating circuit. In 2013, he dated Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn for two years - and about a year later, rumors were spinning that he was dating stylist Kristin Smith.
However, his rumored relationship with Smith didn't last long, and at the end of 2017, the athlete began dating restaurant manager Erica Herman - and the two are still standing strong today. As for Elin? She began dating former NFL player Jordan Cameron, and she gave birth to her fourth child in 2022.
Speaking Her Truth
Despite them both moving on, they still had some grievances to air. At first, Elin didn't share any information about her relationship for the sake of their children, but "after everything that happened and everything that was written and speculated — what I did or didn't do—I felt like setting some things straight," she said.
She was ready to tell the public her side of the story, and she was brutally honest. "I've been through h*ll," she shared about her marriage. "It's hard to think you have this life, and then all of a sudden - was it a lie?" People even began ridiculing her over whether or not she knew more than she admitted to.
Despite the scandal stemming from Tiger's infidelity, the public insinuated that Elin was actually aware of what was going on the whole time. However, after holding it in, she finally expressed to the public that she was equally shocked by her husband's actions.
"I'm so embarrassed that I never suspected - not a one," she openly told the public. "The word betrayal isn't strong enough," she openly admitted. She had felt absolutely devastated by his betrayal, especially after feeling so safe with her then-husband for so many years.
Before her personal life was put on display for the entire world to see (and criticize), Elin was just living a normal life. Originally from Sweden, she had met Tiger at only 21 years old while she was nannying, and then her entire world had changed entirely.
She had dreams of studying psychology and writing, but after marrying Woods, she underwent a total lifestyle shift. At first, Nordegren was taking classes, but with Woods's intense schedule and being a new mother, she ended up taking time off of school.
Changing the Narrative
It came to a point where both her career and her personal life were falling under. And on top of that? Her character was being questioned by complete and total strangers. Following Woods' car crash in 2009, he insisted that his ex scratched him and attached his Escalade with a golf club.
However, she wasn't going to just sit still and say nothing as his side of the story began to unravel. "There was never any violence inside or outside our home," she openly shared. "The speculation that I would have used a gold club to hit him is just truly ridiculous."
What Happened That Night?
Elin knew her only option was to share her side of the story. If her ex was telling people that she was physically hurting him, she felt she needed to get in front of the rumors and explain what actually happened that night. Starting with Tiger leaving the house that not and not coming back…
"After a while, when he didn't return, I got worried and decided to go look for him," she recalled of the situation. "That's when I found him the car. I did everything I could to get him out of the locked car. To think anything else is absolutely wrong," Elin claimed. But the press had more questions.
With all the external stresses from the media, in addition to what was actually happening in her life and with her family, Nordegren was having an extremely difficult time coping with everything. As a result, she began going to therapy, finding it one of the most helpful tools at the time.
However, as the strong mamma she was, she kept things together in front of her children. "First and foremost, the children are the reason I am getting through this," she said regarding the divorce. But as strong as she was during the day for her kids, she began suffering from insomnia.
But luckily, she has a solid support system around her, guiding her through every step of the way. Although they were back in Sweden, Nordegren's family and friends supported her from a distance. She knew she was on the road to recovery, and most importantly, she kept her children in mind.
"I try to shield them [her children] from everything as much as I possibly can, but of course, they can feel something is going on," she said. "But just having them around, hugging me, kissing me, gives me the strength to get through every day." And that love is all she needed!
A Fresh Start
Nordegren decided to invest her time in passions of hers that she had lost along the way. "I love to run and bike, and sometimes for me, there is nothing more therapeutic than to go out for a long run," she said. Additionally, she got back into writing and decided to finish her degree!
The determined momma decided to continue her degree and, in return, graduated summa cum laude from Rollins College in Florida, where she earned a degree in psychology. As for writing, she believed it was "a good way for me to release the anger and frustration out." Yes, it is!
The Last Laugh
After years of trauma of being "hunted by the paparazzi" following her husband's cheating scandals, Elin was just ready to put that chapter of her life behind her. And first and foremost, she didn't let the media decide what she was going to do and not do!
As far as what she won't do? According to Elin herself, she hasn't "watched one minute of golf," since the situation went down in 2009. However, after finalizing her divorce, she did walk away with a hefty divorce settlement of about $100 million, per Forbes.
Money Equals Happiness?
Although she landed millions of dollars, she lost her family unit. Nordegren openly expressed that "money can't buy happiness," and at the end of the day, millions of dollars will not "put my family back together." However, it did help her build a 21,000-square-foot home in North Palm Beach, Florida!
"This is the first time I feel like there's a good reason for me to be in the news," she said over her new home. After all, this was the home she'd be raising her children in! Woods will always be a part of her life as they have shared custody over their children and live relatively close to one another.
Cheating scandals, broken hearts, squashed rumors, and years later, Elin Nordegren and Tiger Woods were able to move on and successfully co-parent their two children. "I have moved on, and I am in a good place," Elin expressed. "Our relationship is centered around our children, and we are doing really good - we really are."
"He is a great father," she continued. "I survived. It was hard, but it didn't kill me," she noted retrospectively. Now that over a decade has passed since the scandals went down, Woods and Nordegren are happily living independent lives with their children as their main priority.
Plans for the Future
Being as infamous as Tiger Woods, it's almost impossible for audiences worldwide not to get invested in what happened between him and Elin. When the news first broke, Tiger was truly at the peak of his personal life and his career - and it was a long road to recovery.
However, years later, the athlete has made a comeback like no other. Although he faced quite a few setbacks along the way, Woods is back out on the course doing his thing. As for Elin, she continues to live her life while their kids remain the most important part of their lives.