On this day in 2010, professional golfer Tiger Woods gives a televised news conference in which he apologizes for his marital infidelities and admits to “selfish” and “foolish” behavior. The 34-year-old Woods, one of the greatest players in the history of golf as well as one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, read a scripted statement at PGA headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, before a pre-selected audience that included his mother but not his Swedish-born wife, Elin Nordegren. Members of the media were present but were not allowed to ask questions.
Woods’ statement marked the first time he had spoken publicly since crashing his car into a fire hydrant and tree near his home in Windermere, Florida, an Orlando suburb, around 2:30 a.m. on November 27, 2009. The low-speed, single-car crash left him briefly hospitalized. Nordegren reportedly told police she heard the crash from the couple’s home, went outside and smashed the rear window of Woods’ Cadillac Escalade in an attempt to extricate him. After the accident, Woods initially declined to speak with Florida Highway Patrol officers and issued no immediate public statement, sparking rumors and speculation about why he was leaving his house at that hour. At the time of the incident, a tabloid newspaper was reporting allegations that Woods had cheated on his wife.
In the days and weeks following the car crash, Woods saw his stellar reputation shattered as more than a dozen young women came forward to publicly claim they had been romantically involved with the married golfer, who wed Nordegren in 2004. Woods and his wife met in 2001, while she was working as a nanny for Swedish golf pro Jesper Parnevik.
On December 2, 2009, Woods issued a statement on his Web site requesting privacy from the public while he dealt with unspecified “personal failings.” A little over a week later, on December 11, it was announced he was taking an indefinite leave from competitive golf. He reportedly went on to spend time in rehab for sexual addiction. As the scandal continued to unfold in the media, Woods, a golf child prodigy who at age 21 became the youngest-ever Masters champion and went on to earn millions of dollars annually in endorsement deals, was dropped by some of his corporate sponsors, including AT&T and Accenture; others, notably Nike, continued their contracts with Woods.
On April 8, 2010, less than two months after Woods’ apology-filled Florida news conference, he returned to professional golf by competing in the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The event received widespread coverage, and Woods finished the tournament tied for fourth place.
Four months later, in August, Woods and his wife officially divorced. Nordegren, with whom Woods has two children, reportedly received a $100 million settlement.