Tiger Woods. Where do we even start with this cat. Despite how you might feel about his personal life (more on that later) Tiger is undoubtedly one of the best golfers of all time. He came surging onto the pro-golf scene at just 19 years old and immediately dominated the field, winning 14 major golf tournaments in 15 years. Casual.
What made Tiger so different from other golfers was that he was young, athletic, charismatic and so damn entertaining. Thanks to Tiger, golf’s popularity skyrocketed, especially among young viewers — golf was no longer just an old, rich, white dude sport. Everyone loved Tiger.
But then, after 15 years of being the Regina George of golf, sh!t hit the fan. Infidelity, drug abuse and injuries… to say Tiger went through a rough patch would be an understatement. He got divorced, got arrested, got dropped by major sponsors and had to have a some pretty intense surgeries. Yikes.
Though all of this, Tiger lost a lot fans, us included. Fast forward to today and Tiger is kind of back to his old self, after winning the 2019 Masters. And as much as some people don’t really want to cheer for Tiger because of his questionable past, they just can’t seem to help themselves. So with Tiger back on the map, we thought it was important for you to know the full history of this v. public figure and how he managed to work his way back into golf’s good graces.
The early years (alternatively titled: The glory days)
August 1996: Tiger becomes a pro (moves from amateur competitions to play with the best in the biz) and bursts onto the golf scene. He wins a PGA (Professional Golf Association) tour tournament in just his fifth tournament. Alright Tiger, we see you.
April 1997: At 21 years old, Tiger wins the Masters, the most prestigious tournament in golf. At this point, Tiger’s only been a professional golfer for less than a year. Unreal. On top of all of that, he set the record (at the time) for the youngest player to EVER to win the Masters and also set a record score. What were you doing at 21?
June 2000: Tiger wins the U.S. Open by 15 shots, the largest winning margin in major championship history.
April 2001: Tiger wins the Masters AGAIN! With this win, he becomes the first player to ever hold all four professional majors at the same time. This guy is the real deal, and there’s absolutely no denying it.
October 2004: Tiger marries his Swedish model girlfriend, Elin. Unfortunately, no official photos were released so we can’t link you to any. What’s a wedding without the awkward family photos though?
June 2007: The happy couple have their first daughter, Samantha.
July 2007: Tiger ruptures his ACL (that’s a v. important knee ligament) while just frolicking on a golf course after the British Open. Somehow he STILL manages to win five of the next six tournaments, including the PGA Championship (which is another major). NBD.
April 2008: Following the ACL rupture, Tiger has knee surgery to repair the cartilage, but only after coming in second place at the Masters.
May 2008: Injuries continue to plague Tiger as he somehow ends up with two stress fractures on his left tibia (one of the bones in your shin).
June 2008: Even after all these injuries, Tiger powers through and wins his 14th major golf tournament at the US Open, causing people to wonder if Iron Man is moonlighting for Tiger. A week later though, he has to have another knee surgery and Tiger has to toss up his OOO automatic email response for over right months.
February 2009: Elin gives birth to their second child, Charlie.
The decline (alternative title: The sh!t storm)
November 2009: This was really the end of Tiger Woods as we know him. In November ‘09, he crashes his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant on the property of his Florida home and we quickly find out there’s been a lot of Tiger drama behind the scenes.
The car crash came after he was chased out of the house with a golf club by his wife, after she discovered he had been unfaithful. How did she discover that? Via the texts she found on his phone from a mistress. Come on, dude.
Unfortunately, the reality was much worse than she ever could have imagined. Tiger is apparently a “sex addict” having had dozens of extramarital affairs. He tries to keep the first mistress hush-hush by paying her off with a cool $10M, but once the secret is out, an onslaught of strippers, porn stars and escorts come out saying that they too have been sleeping with the golfer.
Tiger goes to rehab for 45 days for his sex addiction. A lot of his major sponsors start reneging on their deals. As a result, Tiger doesn’t return to golf until April 2010, doesn’t win another tournament until 2012, and also loses the majority of his female fan base.
2010: Nike, Tiger’s main sponsor, releases a controversial commercial where Tiger’s late father “asks him questions” (that were recorded before he passed away in 2006) about what he went through. You have to watch it here.
August 2010: Unsurprisingly, after finding out that Tiger is a “serial cheater” and confesses to sleeping with over 120 women, Elin divorces him. What put her over the edge was the announcement of Woods’ 15th mistress, the daughter of the couple next door, who Woods first met when she was only 14 years old. We wish we were kidding.
August 2014: There’s nothing much to mention about Tiger aside from his one tournament win in 2012. He’s not playing a lot, and when he is, it’s pretty bad TBH. In 2014, Tiger’s back starts failing him, and he has back surgery.
September & October 2015: Tiger has back-to-back back surgeries (can we say back one more time?) trying to recoup his body.
December 2016: Tiger competes again for the first time in 15 months, but he still isn’t even remotely close to the Tiger everyone once knew.
April 2017: Tiger’s back woes continue as he has a fourth back surgery to fuse discs in his lower back.
May 30, 2017: Tiger is arrested in Florida for a DUI attributed to an overdose on prescription drugs rather than alcohol. His name is all over the tabloids, mug shot and all.
The comeback (alternative title: The cat came back)
December 2017: After a 10-month hiatus from pro golf, Tiger was back on the links in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge. It was the first time in 834 days that Tiger shot in the 60s (below par, which is usually 72 on an 18-hole course). Although Tiger didn’t win it, the solid performance showed that Tiger was finally healthy and just might be back to his old self.
January 2018: After 363 days of being OOO on the PGA Tour and now ranked 647th in the world (a sharp decline from when he was ranked No. 1), Tiger competed in the Farmers Insurance Open. He played pretty well, placed a respectable 23rd and all of a sudden, people were rooting for him again. Everyone loves a comeback story, after all.
March 2018: At the Valspar Championship golf tournament in sunny Palm Harbour, Florida, Tiger was in his best form since returning to golf and earned a second place finish. This 44ft birdie shot also gave shades of the old Tiger.
The moment (Alternatively titled: Did Hollywood write this?)
April 2019: We’re back at the Masters and the stage is set for the most unlikely of comebacks. There’s just no way this now 43-year-old cat hasn’t plowed through all nine of his lives, right? Wrong.
With the spotlight on full blast and the pressure at its peak, Tiger heads into the final day of the Masters two strokes back of the lead. And then he wins it, his fifth green jacket and 15th major, moving him within three victories of the all-time major championships record held by Jack Nicklaus.
And maybe the more surprising than the win was the fact that nearly everyone was rooting for Tiger (whether they could help themselves or not). The cheating and arrests (mostly) forgotten, Tiger had worked his way back up to the very top of the golf world. Sex, drugs and a Cinderella comeback story — whether you’re a fan or not, we’re pretty sure that the only things guaranteed in life are death, taxes and a Tiger Woods blockbuster movie.
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