While PGA legend Tiger Woods broke down on stage during his recent World Golf Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he showed a rare sight of a man who hasn’t only come so far in the world of golf, but also a man who has continued to thrive despite the infamous cheating scandal that almost ruined his life and career nearly 13 years ago.
Before getting into the importance of Wood’s moving acceptance speech Wednesday night, one has to go back to 2009 when the golfer’s life seemed practically ruined following rumors that he had been having not one, but numerous, extramarital affairs while still married to his then wife Elin Nordegren – rumors that Woods himself would soon thereafter admit to being true.
The rumors first began in November 2009 when the National Enquirer published an expose accusing the golf champion of having an affair with a woman named Rachel Uchitel who managed a NYC nightclub at the time. Although both Woods and Uchitel denied the outlet’s claims, the golfer’s problems only got worse days later when he crashed his car leaving his Florida mansion.
Within days of the accident, Woods made the bombshell announcement that he would not be playing in any more golf tournaments for the remainder of 2009 due to his injuries – but then, on December 11, he announced his plans to take "an indefinite break from professional golf” after he came clean about his affair with not only Uchitel, but also his affairs with a number of other women.
Following his admittance of infidelity, Wood’s sponsors – such as AT&T, Gatorade, and General Motors – started dropping him left and right.
In February 2010, Woods made a statement on TV acknowledging his mistakes and apologizing for his transgressions not only to his wife and family, but to his sponsors and fans alike.
"I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to," he said in the televised statement. "I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish."
The golfer wouldn’t play again until April 2010 when he participated in the 2010 Masters Tournament. He and his wife also ultimately got a divorce in August of that same year.
But most recently, during the golf champion’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech Wednesday night, Woods proved that he has come a long way from the scandal and fallout he went through 13 years ago.
"I know that golf is an individual sport," Woods said during his speech in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Wednesday night. "We do things on our own a lot for hours on end, but in my case, I didn't get here alone. I had unbelievable parents, mentors, friends, who allowed me and supported me in the toughest times, the darkest of times, and celebrated the highest of times."
Whether or not the “darkest of times” Woods referred to is in part a reference to 2009 is unknown, but it is true that the golfer has experienced some dark times as recently as February 2021 when he was involved in a serious car accident that left many wondering whether or not he would ever walk again – something that his daughter Sam touched upon during her introduction speech Wednesday.
"We didn't know if you'd come home with two legs or not," his daughter said in an emotional and heartfelt speech that some say stole the whole show. "Now, not only about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but you're standing here on your own two feet. This is why you deserve this. Because you're a fighter."