By now, everyone is likely aware of Tiger Woods' marital problems, which became public information following a Thanksgiving Day car accident that left the golfer with superficial injuries. However, now that a lot of the fog has cleared around the situation, I thought it would be a good time to give a chronology of events, as well as some analysis of the whole debacle, as well as pondering some of the consequences Tiger's fall from grace may have for the PGA Tour as a whole.
Firstly, a timeline:
November 25 – The National Enquirer alleged that Woods has been seeing another woman – New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel, with whom the golfer reportedly spent time in Melbourne, Australia, where he recently competed in the Australian Masters, according to the tabloid. Uchitel has since denied the affair, although we'll touch on that a bit later.
November 27, 2:25am – Tiger Woods' neighbours call 911, reporting an SUV had carommed off a fire hydrant and into a tree in front of Tiger Woods' gated-community mansion. Police arrive to find Tiger going in and out of consciousness, with minor facial injuries. A distraught Elin Nordegren (Woods' wife) and the neighbours are on the scene. Elin tells police she used a golf club to smash out two back windows in the Escalade in order to extricate Tiger from the vehicle.
November 28 – Tiger goes into seclusion and is unavailable to Florida State Troopers for further questioning about the accident. Rumours start to pop up about the true cause of the incident. Many media outlets, including TMZ.com print stories suggesting Elin had uncovered Tiger's infidelity, and in fact hit him with a nine-iron. These stories are refuted by the Woods' camp, as well as police, who claim his injuries were consistent with a car accident, not an assault.
Dec 2 – With suggestions about many other potential extra-marital affairs circulating, Tiger posts an official admission on his website regarding what many had suspected all along:
“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.”
“I am not without faults and am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior behind closed doors. Those feelings should be shared by my family alone.”
“Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a pro athlete, I am dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny means.”
“For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.”
“No matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy.”
“I realize there are some who don't share my view on that issue. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.”
“Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.”
“I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.”
Dec 3 – Jesper Parnevik, who introduced Elin and Tiger (she had been a nanny for the Parnevik's), comes out and publicly rips Woods for his indiscretions, calling Woods' character into question:
“I have lost all respect for him, primarily as a man and a father,” Parnevik told Aftonbladet in an interview from the PGA Tour qualifying tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla. “It doesn’t even feel like it matters what he has done on the golf course. My respect for him as a person is gone. We have been nice to Tiger before, but now he only has himself to blame.”
“We thought better of him, but he is not the one we thought he was.”
In an interview on the Golf Channel, Parnevik also stated that he owed Elin an apology for introducing her to Tiger.
Dec 9 – Pepsi Co., who produce the sports drink Gatorade, officially announce that they will discontinue Tiger Woods drink, called Tiger Focus. The company suggests that they had intended to pull the product anyway, rather citing a drop in sales of about 34%.
Dec 11 – Tiger announces an indefinite leave of absence from professional golf through a statement on his personal website:
“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.”
“I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.”
“After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”
“Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.”
On the same day, Tiger obtains a court injunction prohibiting the publication of “any photographs, footage or images taken or obtained of the claimant naked or any naked parts of the claimant's body or of him involved in any sexual activity.”
Dec 12 – Gillette becomes first major sponsor to limit the use of Tiger in its marketing activities. “As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs,” said Gillette, a division of Procter&Gamble.
Dec 13 – Accenture ends its relationship with Tiger Woods. Accenture has used Woods to personify its claimed attributes of integrity and high performance.
“After careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising,” Accenture said, adding that “it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family.”
Dec 14 – Watchmaker Tag Heuer insists it will continue to sponsor Tiger. However, the company said, it will continue to examine its long-term relationship with Woods due to his indefinite leave of absence from golf.
Dec 16 – Tiger Woods' Canadian doctor, Dr. Anthony Galea, is criminally charged with smuggling and selling the unapproved drug Actovegin. According to many statements, this is merely coincidence and has nothing to do with Woods himself, who has been treated by Galea.
The same day, Tiger is voted the best athlete of the decade by the Associated Press.
Dec 17 – As bookmakers start taking bets on Tiger's marriage and the amount of the settlement Elin will get, golf writers name Tiger player of the year. Several media outlets, including People Magazine, suggest that Elin will divorce Woods after Christmas for his infidelity.
Dec 18 – While Tiger's fellow PGA players name him player of the year, Tag Heuer reports it will drop Woods' image from their US ad campaigns, thus reneging somewhat on their stance from 4 days prior.
Dec 30 – After a few quiet days, another sponsor falls off the Tiger bandwagon. This time it is AT&T, who were one of Tiger's biggest backers. They sponsor 3 tournaments, and people wonder what implication this news will have on those events. AT&T has also been the presenting sponsor of the annual Tiger Jam concert event in Las Vegas, but that contract has expired, according to AT&T spokesman Michael Coe.
Now, what does all of this mean for Tiger, his family, and golf in general? Well, for starters, the loss of sponsors, who provide the lion's share of Tiger's annual $100M in revenues, means Tiger will either have to find new companies who are willing to pay for his image, or he'll simply be poorer, uhm, less rich.
It is hard to predict how the loss of sponsors will affect the PGA Tour however. AT&T for example, sponsors the AT&T National, which is normally held at the Congressional course – although for the next two years Congressional will be getting fitted for the US Open in 2011. The event itself benefits the Tiger Woods foundation, and will continue to do so until their contract runs out in 2014, at which point one would have to be shocked if they renew.
There is no doubt that Tiger's emergence into the world of golf benefitted all players, as purse moneys sky-rocketed as interest in the phenom grew. With his tarnished image, however, and his leave of absence, maybe some purses will drop off, if not this year then for next. The tour itself, however, will survive, and Tiger's absence provides a chance for some other players to gain exposure, and likely some wins as well!
For Tiger's family, this can't be easy. I realize that statement seems extremely obvious, but the life of Tiger is different than yours or mine. Tiger lives in secrecy for the most part, shying away from public scrutiny when away from the course. Tiger's private life was quintessentially just that, PRIVATE. Aside from acknowledging his marriage to Elin Nordegren and the birth of their two children, one very seldom heard anything at all about what Tiger did away from golf. This attention, clearly unwanted, has likely set their world on end. I feel very bad for his wife and children.
Even Elin's parents, both highly public figures in their native Sweden, have been contacted for comment about the situation – both declined to talk about it out of respect.
One has to think that Elin will divorce Woods. I know if I were in the same situation, I could never regain my trust in my cheating spouse. For that reason, it will be interesting to see how the next couple of months unfold.
There has already been talk of Elin seeking to alter the couple's pre-nuptual agreement to increase the amount of her settlement upon the couple's breakup, but nothing concrete has surfaced with regards to that. It has been alleged that Elin could walk away with up to $55-million should her petition for divorce go through, but again, that is speculation. She, like Tiger, have not been available for comment. It is believed she is currently in Sweden, living in an island house she and Tiger bought for Elin's twin sister.
However, Elin's story could get more complicated before all is said and done.
If it is true, as has been reported, that Tiger was unavailable to police for comment because he spent the two days following the accident in Phoenix having reconstructive surgery on his face (allegedly due to injuries caused by Elin hitting him with a 9-iron after intercepting texts to Rachel Uchitel), then one has to wonder if criminal charges will at some point be filed. It doesn't seem likely, but it could happen. Tiger might even try to use that as leverage to keep his marriage intact, although one has to believe it would not continue as a happy family unit…
One thing is for sure: Tiger has seen more exposure for this transgression than for anything he has accomplished on the field of play. Hard to believe about the first professional athlete to top $1-billion in career earnings…
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!