The world will never forget Tiger Woods’ cheating allegations.
It was the moment in time that forever tarnished the athlete’s reputation. Up until then, he’d been known as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, figures in golf. There’s a reason why he’s broken innumerable records and is number one in PGA Tour wins alongside Sam Snead — he’s simply phenomenal. He also managed to carve out a unique place in what is traditionally known as a stomping ground for rich white men.
That’s not to say that Tiger Woods isn’t considered a superb sportsman anymore, but a lot of discourse around his career does revolve around the affairs scandal that spanned between 2009 and 2010. The news dominated mainstream media for a solid year or so, resulting in the divorce between Tiger and his wife, Elin Nordegren.
While the allegations have been scrutinized to death, there isn’t a lot of information out there on the current dynamic between Tiger and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren. So it’s worthwhile to take a step back, look into the former couple’s sweet beginnings, and examine how their relationship has evolved over the years:
Tiger Woods’s wife Elin had “had no interest” in him when they first met
Elin Nordegren was born on January 1, 1980, in Stockholm, Sweden to Barbro Holmberg and Thomas Nordegren. Her mother, Barbro, had been the Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy in Sweden between 2003 and 2006, and also served as the governor of Gavleborg County for seven years. Elin’s father, Thomas Nordegren, is a political journalist and writer; he also worked in Washington D.C. for some time as a bureau chief. Her siblings include elder brother Axel and twin sister Josefin.
Though Elin hails from a prominent, well-established family in Sweden, she didn’t necessarily grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth. She and her sister had to work to earn their pocket money. They worked as cashiers through the summers to pay for school. Erin also did some modeling work in the early 2000s, landing a cover on Cafe Sport magazine at just 20 years old.
She’d been working at a retail clothing store when she met Mia Parnevik, the wife of Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. Mia immediately took a liking to Elin and offered her a position as nanny to her children. Elin accepted and moved to the U.S. with the family as that’s where they were primarily situated. In the U.S., Elin would accompany the family to numerous golf tournaments, turning heads wherever she went.
She met Tiger at The Open Championship in 2001, and though he was smitten with her from the get-go, Elin “had no interest in Tiger, and he was OK with that,” as per Mia Parnevik. Elin told People magazine that she had her “opinions about celebrities,” but Tiger made her think they were more similar than expected.
I got convinced that we were a lot alike and agreed to a date. The biggest reason I fell for him was because we had a lot of fun together.
Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE
Elin had been seeing someone at the time and wasn’t particularly keen on beginning a long-term relationship with anyone. She was also focused on going to school to become a child psychologist. Yet Tiger convinced her to give him a chance. In November 2003, Elin accompanied Tiger to the President’s Cup in South Africa. The two became engaged during a four-day stay at the Shamwari Game Reserve the same month.
The two tied the knot a year later, on October 5, 2004, at the luxurious Sandy Lane resort in Barbados. Tiger went all out for the nuptials; he rented the entire estate, including three golf courses and 110-odd rooms, and ended up paying approximately $2 million for the mind-boggling venue. The couple went on to have two children in nearly six years of marriage: daughter Sam Alexis, born in 2007, and son Charlie Axel, born in 2009.
She was accused of being physically violent towards Tiger after learning about his “transgressions”
The first of the accusations surfaced in a National Enquirer report that alleged that the golfer had taken part in an extramarital dalliance with New York City nightclub owner Rachel Uchitel. Though Uchitel denied the news, it soon became apparent that there was more to the story. According to HBO’s Tiger Woods documentary, Tiger had Uchitel call Elin to assure her there was nothing going on.
Only, the situation got murkier when Tiger became involved in a car accident on November 27, 2009, a few weeks after the Enquirer article. He crashed into a fire hydrant, a tree, and several hedges near his mansion in Florida and suffered facial injuries as a result. The press jumped to speculate on how the accident occurred, with many theories looping in Elin as the potential perpetrator. The documentary confirmed that Elin had confronted Tiger the same night about his affair with Uchitel, so tensions were running high between the married couple. Some theories stated that Elin had been “chasing Woods with a golf club at the time of the crash and smashed the back windows of the vehicle,” as per The Los Angeles Times.
Both Tiger and Elin denied these rumors vehemently, and Tiger claimed full responsibility for the collision. “My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me,” he said in the statement.
Elin told People that “there was never any violence inside or outside our home,” adding that the speculation that she could have inflicted violence on him is “truly ridiculous.”
The apparent tryst with Rachel Uchitel was only the tip of the iceberg. Over the next couple of months, a dozen or so women came forward claiming to have slept with the married golfer. Tiger Woods owned up to these “transgressions” and stated that he’s “far short of perfect.”
He reaffirmed his love for Elin and wrote, “Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.,” once again dismissing the malicious gossip about his car accident. He also announced that he would take time off of professional golf to try to salvage his marriage.
These efforts didn’t come to fruition, and Elin filed for divorce shortly. The two finalized their divorce at the Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, Florida, on 23 August 2010, with Elin receiving $100 million in the settlement.
If there is no trust between the parents, I think it is better for the children that the parents split up. I am now going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust.
Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE
She has “moved on” and is in a “good place” with Tiger
Though the adultery scandal generated widespread global interest at the turn of the decade, the gossip has subsided in the years since — giving both Elin and Tiger enough space to begin their lives anew in some form or the other. One can only imagine the hardship Elin must have faced amidst the media circus; to have to endure the judgment and the gossip through no choice of her own. She’d become an overnight “spectacle,” someone to be mocked and ridiculed simply for existing.
It’s no wonder Elin didn’t want to have anything to do with Tiger in the wake of the scandal. Following the divorce, she bought a 1920s-era mansion in Florida and demolished it to build an innovative new structure from the ground up — inadvertently giving way to a rather pointed metaphor of her life. She fulfilled her dream of going to college and getting a degree in psychology. She graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in May 2014, earning the distinction for Outstanding Senior. She said in an interview that education “is always what [she] wanted” and is proud to set an example for her children about following your passions no matter what.
She has fallen in and out of love a few times since Tiger as well. She dated late coal tycoon billionaire Chris Cline between 2011 and 2016, and began a relationship with former NFLer Jordan Cameron in early 2019. In June 13, 2019, it was reported that the two were expecting their first baby. Elin gave birth to her third child, a son, in October 2019 and is still believed to be dating Jordan.
Elin has been fiercely private about her life post-Tiger, but the few interviews she’s given reveal a great deal about the evolution of their relationship. In a 2010 interview, Elin disclosed that she’d never suspected Tiger of cheating on her. In fact, the whole state of affairs proved to be an absolute shock.
I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected — not a one. […] Forgiveness takes time…I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I am working on it. I know I will have to come to forgiveness and acceptance of what has happened for me to go on and be happy in the future.
Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE
At the same time, she’s committed to making it work with Tiger as co-parents to their two young children. The Swedish mother-of-three made it clear eleven years ago that she wanted the children to be close with Tiger. “I will always have a working parenting relationship with Tiger,” she asserted.
I have moved on, and I am in a good place. Our relationship is centered around our children, and we are doing really good — we really are. He is a great father.
Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE
All unpleasant situations eventually end
Elin’s development over the last ten years speaks volumes about her sense of self and maturity. She’d been a young mother of two when her entire world crumbled and she had to reckon with a betrayal of the most extreme kind. But the Swedish psychology kept her head down and focused on her priorities.
The scandal and the subsequent divorce empowered her to fulfill her dreams and invest in education. Yet, she also has enough room in her heart to maintain a cordial rapport with Tiger, if only for the sake of their children. We need to remember that all situations, no matter how pleasant and testing, have an expiry date. If we can cope with them thoughtfully and patiently, they too shall pass, and we’ll be able to climb back up to the surface and gain a fresh perspective on our life.