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.
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
Woods had enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom but his fall from grace was equally spectacular when his car crash in November 2009.
The world’s first billionaire golfer – who Nike built their entire golf business on – was perhaps the most famous sportsman in the entire world at this point. A mixed-race man from modest beginnings had taken on the rich, privileged and very white world of golf and beaten it into submission.
Mistress Uchitel, recently opened up in her first TV interview for a new HBO documentary about Woods’ life, called Tiger. Their affair became public after Woods summoned her to the Australian Masters in 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.
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
Now, just months after a new HBO documentary heard from his mistress Rachel Uchitel for the first time, Woods is back in the headlines
Woods is pictured with long term girlfriend Erica Herman in 2019
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 and Woods’ world collapsed and a slew of women came forward to claim they had affairs with him.
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.’
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 with five different kinds of drugs in his system.
Tiger Woods’ SUV after he crashed it into a fire hydrant and tree outside his home in 2009
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
Woods released a statement on his website saying, ‘I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart’
Sources close to the star say the death of his father Earl Woods in 2006 was a turning point for Woods, whose life began to go off the rails.
By then he had begun making regular trips to Las Vegas where he indulged a side of him that the public never did.
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.
The two-part HBO film 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 the former world No. 1, who mounted a stunning comeback last year to clinch his fifth Masters title, 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.
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’.
The dad-of-two split from wife Elin in 2010; he now dates long term girlfriend Erica Herman.
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
There were five different kinds of drugs in Woods’ system when he was arrested in 2017
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.
Tiger Woods and his wife Elin look on during the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Ryder Cup
Golfer Tiger Woods poses for a photograph with his mother and father Earl and Kultida Woods on September 22, 1990
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.
The biggest influence on Woods’ career was undoubtedly his father Earl, 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.
Woods was imitating his father’s swing aged just six months and was devastated by Earl’s death in 2006.
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.
Two years later Woods had won his opening four events of the season. The US Open was his first event since undergoing knee surgery after finishing runner-up in the Masters.
He still managed to hold a one-shot lead heading into the final round but had to birdie the 18th to force a play-off with Rocco Mediate and then repeated the feat the following day before securing the title on the first sudden-death hole.
It later emerged that Woods had been coping with a double stress fracture and knee injury which prompted season-ending surgery.
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 his back often left him grimacing or forced to withdraw from events entirely.
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
Spinal fusion surgery in 2017 was the last throw of the dice and proved successful, although Woods still had issues in cold weather and when forced to play more than 18 holes in a day.
Just weeks after his spinal surgery, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence when he 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.
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.
Woods had told Jack Nicklaus ‘I’m done’ during the Champions Dinner ahead of the 2017 Masters. But he then flew straight to London to see the consultant who recommended he undergo what proved to be career-saving spinal fusion surgery.
Woods was hospitalized following a crash Thursday when he had to be cut from his vehicle using the jaws of life in Los Angeles.