Eldrick Tont Tiger Woods, burst onto the international sporting scene after winning the Masters 1997 golf tournament, and went on to become the highest earning sporting figure in world sport and join the pantheon of the greatest ever sporting legends.
Ever the consummate performer, Woods transformed the world of golf, often viewed as an exclusive club consisting of wealthy, white middle-aged men, impenetrable to outsiders.
However, Woods’ sporting prowess, and aura of invincibility would leave his rivals struggling to compete. With mind-boggling shot-making and clearly a supreme talent, he became the first billionaire sportsman, winning 14 majors, just 4 behind the all time leader, Jack Nicklaus, and for many he would be considered arguably the greatest of them all.
Married to Elin Nordegren, a Swedish former model, who’s parents were former minister of migration Barbro Holmberg and radio journalist Thomas Nordegren, and with their 2 children, Woods appeared to have it all.
His father, Earl Woods, a constant influence in his life and on his game, passed away in 2006 and could possibly have had an impact in the implosion of Woods’ career.
His ascendancy would grind to a halt with the shocking revelations that would emerge in 2009, as The National Inquirer became the first tabloid to break the news of Woods’ infidelities.
Days later a mysterious car accident outside Woods’ mansion in Orlando, Florida in which he collided with a fire hydrant, would spell the start of Wood’s career beginning to unravel spectacularly.
Various women approached the press, almost on a daily basis, to report of having had affairs with Woods, with further claims this occurred at the time of his father’s death, and even in his marital bed.
Although not a golf fan myself, I did feel somewhat misled by Woods, who by now had inspired many with his talent and projected an image of an upstanding sporting hero and a devoted family man, when the reality was far removed from this, and he had in truth no moral compass at all.
As his career continued its downward trajectory, sponsors began to disassociate themselves from Woods, with him reportedly losing an estimated $5 billion in sponsorship deals. Meanwhile the press had a field day, payback perhaps as they had often complained that Woods was arrogant and moody, and would tend to make a swift get away rather than speak to them at tournaments.
Woods would go on the offensive with public apologies, culminating in a TV broadcast in 2010 apologising to his fans for his marital ‘transgressions’.
With his rumoured $750 million divorce settlement in 2010, and constant media intrusion, Woods announced he would take a sabbatical from the world of golf.
Today Woods still has the power to command the big dollars. His aura depleted somewhat, but the proof is in the revenue for golf that receive a welcome boost whenever Woods is signed up to appear. Golf fans will show up to catch a glimpse of Woods, with record crowds congregating just to watch him in practice.
For a brief period Woods would regain his No. 1 world ranking, and one feels that golf fans are just hanging on to the slim hope that he will return to the top flight of golf once again.
With some dismal performances recently, and this year Woods pulling out of the US Ryder Cup team citing injury, the chances of this happening are becoming more remote with the passage of time.
The US captain for the Ryder Cup 2014, Tom Watson, admitted he would have selected Woods despite everything, just in the hope that he could produce the old magic, a match winning shot perhaps, just any glimpse of the old Woods, if only fleetingly, rather than leave him out all together. Such was Woods’ influence at the peak of his career.
It remains to be seen if Woods can regain his standing in the golfing world. With a new generation vying for the mantle as the world’s greatest golfer, this could be his biggest challenge yet.