Tiger’s troubled life: Sporting icon’s meteoric rise to fame, fall from grace and epic comeback

A car crash that seriously injured Tiger Woods Tuesday marked the latest chapter in 15-time major winner’s turbulent life following his meteoric rise to worldwide fame, spectacular fall from grace and epic 2019 comeback. 

The golf superstar, 45, had to be cut free by fire crews after his vehicle rolled over and suffered ‘major damage’. He is now undergoing surgery. 

Shocking images of Wood’s smashed up car following the accident in Los Angeles provided a stark flashback to his 2009 crash when he hit a fire hydrant outside his Orlando, Florida home. 

That came after he was chased out of his house by then wife Elin Nordegren over his numerous affairs and eventually led to admissions of infidelity and drug use.  

He was arrested for a DUI with five different kinds of drugs in his system in 2017 leading to Woods taking an ‘indefinite break’ from golf before his stunning comeback at the 2019 Masters. 

That journey to redemption had been an arduous one for Woods. 

Now, just months after a new HBO documentary heard from his mistress Rachel Uchitel for the first time, Woods is back in the headlines after crashing while driving alone near Rancho Palos Verdes when his Genesis GV80 flipped over at 7.12am. 

Uchitel said she was ‘shaken up’ after news of the crash first broke, telling The New York Post: ‘Obviously hearing the news has shaken me up as it’s probably shaken everybody up to see that. 

‘Hearing [agent Mark Steinberg] say that he’s in surgery for his legs is something that really worries me and when you hear a comment like that you know it’s true.’

News of a serious car crash that left Tiger Woods with ‘multiple leg injuries’ Tuesday marked the latest chapter in 15-time major winner’s turbulent life. Pictured: Masters champion Tiger Woods poses with his Masters trophy in 1997, left, and in 2019, right 

The vehicle driven by golfer Tiger Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on February 23, 2021, after a rollover accident

The world’s first billionaire golfer – who Nike built their entire golf business on – Woods was once the most famous sportsman in the entire world. A mixed-race man from modest beginnings had taken on the rich, privileged and very white world of golf and beaten it into submission. 

Playing his first major as a professional and paired with defending champion Nick Faldo in the 1997 Masters, Woods set a tournament record of 18 under par and win by 12 shots from Tom Kite. 

Two months later Woods became world number one for the first time and went on to spend a record 683 weeks at the top of the rankings, including a record 281 in succession.  

Woods almost ran out of balls during his delayed second round of the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach after practicing his putting the night before and leaving three balls in his hotel room. 

Thankfully he found the 18th fairway at the second attempt with his last remaining ball and stormed to a record 15-shot victory. 

A month later he carded four rounds in the 60s to win the Open Championship at St Andrews by eight shots and become the youngest player to complete a career grand slam. 

In August of that year Woods successfully defended his US PGA Championship title following a play-off with Bob May at Valhalla and the following April a second Masters victory made him the only player to hold all four major titles at the same time. 

In 2000 he became the youngest player to complete a career grand slam and the only player to hold all four major titles at the same time.

But his success did not come without its own troubles. 

Woods had enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom but his fall from grace was equally spectacular.  

The biggest influence on Woods’ career was undoubtedly his father Earl Woods, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel who named his son Eldrick but gave him the nickname Tiger after a Vietnamese soldier he had befriended during the war. 

Sources close to the star say the death of Earl in 2006 was a turning point for the star. 

After a nine-week lay-off, Woods returned to action in the US Open and unsurprisingly missed the cut in a major for the first time as a professional. 

Away from the golf course, Woods began making regular trips to Las Vegas where he indulged a side of him that the public never did.

Golfer Tiger Woods poses for a photograph with his mother and father Earl and Kultida Woods on September 22, 1990

Tiger Woods and his wife Elin look on during the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Ryder Cup

Tiffany Masters, a former VIP host in Vegas said they would ‘spoil’ Woods and told him: ‘You’re like a prince and free to do whatever you want.’

In Vegas, Woods would party with basketball legends Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley who would be surrounded by beautiful women who wanted to hang out with them.

Woods was wide-eyed and clueless in the beginning and asked Jordan what to say if one of the women approached him. 

A recent two-part HBO documentary about Woods’ life, called Tiger, claims Woods used to order up to 10 prostitutes at a time during wild parties in Las Vegas which cost $100,000 or more for the weekend.

A former escort who took part said Woods was into role playing and treated hookers like ‘little puppets.’

A close family friend said Woods learned his philandering ways from watching his father have sex with blondes in a Winnebago RV that he parked next to golf courses when they practiced in his childhood.

Tiger’s mistress Uchitel opened up in her first TV interview for the HBO documentary. Their affair became public after Woods summoned her to the Australian Masters in 2009. 

Now, just months after a new HBO documentary heard from his mistress Rachel Uchitel for the first time, Woods is back in the headlines

Uchitel recalled how Woods connected her with his wife Elin Nordegren in November 2009. Over the course of a 30-minute phone call, Uchitel sought to convince Nordegren that she was not having an affair with Woods. Pictured: Woods and Nordegren in October 2009 

The National Enquirer had been monitoring Woods for months and a reporter followed her up in the elevator and watched her go into Woods’ suite, which was proof enough for the story to run.

Woods tried to persuade his wife Elin Nordegren that Uchitel was a friend and put her on the phone with her for 30 minutes. 

Uchitel says she used the time ‘convincing her I was not having a sexual relationship with Tiger’ and she seemed to have bought it.

The story came out and it seemed to have made little impact.

On Thanksgiving Uchitel says she was texting Woods they had ‘gotten away unscathed in what could have been a complete nightmare’.

Then she got a text saying: ‘You were the only one I ever loved’. Uchitel was feeling that things had ‘never been better’ between them.

Woods said he was taking an Ambien and going to sleep but a short while later Uchitel got another text saying: ‘When am I going to see you again’, and then the phone rang.

Surprised, Uchitel answered with ‘hey babe’ but it was Nordegren who told her: ‘I knew it was you.’

Nordegren and Woods got into a ferocious argument that led to her chasing him out of the house with a golf club and him crashing his SUV into a tree.

After the incident the affair became public, Woods’ world collapsed and a slew of women came forward to claim they had affairs with him.

Tiger Woods’ SUV after he crashed it into a fire hydrant and tree outside his home in 2009

Woods released a statement on his website saying, ‘I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart’

Nordegren, with whom he had two young children, divorced him for a reported $100 million.

Uchitel says: ‘I regret that he was married and I regret the mistakes that I made but people came at me like they wanted to blame me for the fact a married man cheated on his wife, like I was the only one responsible for his actions.’

Woods arranged for a confidentiality settlement and told Uchitel to ‘get as much as you can’ from his lawyers.

Uchitel says: ‘I think to him that was his only way to love me at the time.’ 

Uchitel was the first of more than a dozen women who were identified as Woods’ mistresses in 2009, which led to his downfall from the pinnacle of the golfing world.

Until then Woods’ image had been squeaky clean and he had earned hundreds of millions of dollars from sponsorships, including Nike and American Express. 

During an excruciating televised apology in February 2010, Woods revealed he had undergone 45 days of ‘inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing’. Woods split from wife Elin in 2010. 

The dad-of-two split from wife Elin Nordegren in 2010, after news of his multiple affairs broke. He now dates long term girlfriend Erica Herman. It was Nordegren who had chased him out of the house with a golf club after discovering his numerous infidelities

Following revelations of his infidelities Woods returned to action in the Masters and had to endure a public dressing down from Augusta National chairman Billy Payne. 

‘It is not simply the degree of his conduct here that is so egregious,’ Payne said. ‘It is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to expectations.’ 

Understandably, 2010 was the first time in his professional career Woods did not win a single tournament.

And – although he won five times in 2013 to get back to world number one – he started just 24 events in the next four years as the pain from a back injury often left him grimacing or forced to withdraw from events entirely.  

Spinal fusion surgery in 2017 was the last throw of the dice to save his golf career, and proved successful, although Woods still had issues in cold weather and when forced to play more than 18 holes in a day. 

But just weeks after his spinal surgery, Woods hit rock bottom when he was arrested for a DUI in Palm Beach County. 

Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his car and later pleaded guilty to reckless driving. 

It emerged that Woods had five prescription drugs in his system at the time and he spent 11 months on probation. 

There were five different kinds of drugs in Woods’ system when he was arrested in 2017

Woods continued winning for a few years but injuries destroyed his form and he hit rock bottom in 2017 when he was arrested for a DUI in Palm Beach County

During his return to action in November 2017, Woods revealed the depth of his physical struggles. ‘I’ve been in bed for about two years and haven’t been able to do much,’ Woods said. 

But his tale of redemption was complete in 2019 when Woods held his nerve on a chaotic final day at Augusta National to win his 15th major title. 

It was his fifth green jacket in the 83rd Masters.

The achievement won him widespread acclaim, and President Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 6th May 2019, with the White House hailing Woods as a ‘global symbol of American excellence.’ 

Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo of England during the final round of the 1997 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 1997 in Augusta, Georgia

Masters champion Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 14, 2019

The then-president said: ‘Congratulations again on your amazing comeback and your amazing life and for giving sports fans everywhere a lifetime of memories.’

 Woods has continued playing since, but has still been plagued with injury.

Woods recently underwent his fifth back surgery and has not been playing competitively while he recovers. 

 Following Thursday’s crash en route to a Los Angeles golf course, Woods is again undergoing surgery on Tuesday for non life- threatening injuries including a compound fracture and a shattered ankle. 

His live-in girlfriend Erica Herman is understood to be at the hospital where he is undergoing surgery.

Woods is pictured with long term girlfriend Erica Herman in 2019 

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