The Rise and Fall of Tiger Woods
By: Tommy Zimmer – At many points in golf history, Tiger Woods has held the world number one spot as the best golfer on the planet. He held the spot for 281 consecutive weeks but in total, he has had held that position for 683 weeks over the course of his career. That’s an astounding feat, especially given that some renowned players, like Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer only lasted one and three weeks respectively with that title.
Woods achieved amazing accomplishments very early. At the age of nineteen, he played in the 1995 Masters Tournament, tying for 41st as the only amateur that made the cut. By the next year, Woods had turned pro and signed deals with Titleist and Nike. One year later, the all-star golfer won the Masters, his first major. At twenty-one, he was the youngest to ever win that tournament.
In the year 2000, Woods scored six consecutive wins on the PGA Tour. The only other player to do that before him was Ben Hogan back in 1948. As the year ended, Woods had not only broken the record for the lowest average score in tour history, but also was victorious in nine of the twenty PGA tournaments he entered that year.
While Vijay Singh earned the number one spot in the world in September 2004, it was not long before Woods rebounded and gained the title back. In 2005 he earned six PGA Tour wins. Woods had been competing sporadically for that spot with Singh during the first half of that year. While Woods has helped to redefine golf for the next generation, he has not been without his ups and downs in life.
The downfall of Woods, if you will, seemed to start during 2008 when he revealed that he was experiencing knee troubles. This medical news concerned many of his fans who had followed him since the beginning. Some golf fans watched the tournaments just to see him play and beat everyone.
Despite a ruptured ligament in his knee, Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open. Shortly afterward, he had knee surgery that would remove him from the world of golf until 2009. However, when he returned, his game was not the same. In March 2011, he was the seventh-best player in the world. Soon afterward, details would emerge that would be even more damaging to his career and his personal life.
Woods married model Elin Nordegren in 2004. But this marriage would face difficulties. In 2009, the National Enquirer published a story claiming that the golfer had an affair with Rachel Uchitel, a New York City nightclub worker. Uchitel denied the claims. Shortly afterward, US Weekly published a story about the alleged affair and others.
These revelations prompted Woods to release a statement that apologized for his behavior and appreciated the support of others during such difficult times. The difficult times involved a careless driving incident in November 2009 in which Woods crashed into a fire hydrant, tree, and hedges. One wonders if such events were precursors to possible problems with substance abuse and the potential need for treatment.
In February 2010, with the loss of many promotional deals, including General Motors and Gatorade, Woods made an apology to not only his wife but to the world. “I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to,” he stated. “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 far – didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish.” He also stated that he enrolled in therapy programs to address such issues.
Woods and Nordegren divorced in 2010 and his problems continued. Woods had spinal fusion surgery in 2017, the latest in a string of surgeries. Later that year, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Woods for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Woods told the police that he was in recovery for surgery.
When the police arrested him, the golfer was allegedly asleep. His car was running and not moving and located in a lane of traffic. Woods said that he did not realize that the prescription drugs he was taking would interact the way they did.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Doctors prescribe medications after surgeries, but sometimes, people using painkilling medications do not know how they work. Sometimes they even become addicted to such drugs. If they cannot obtain any more of these medications, people sometimes begin using chemically similar drugs such as heroin, prompting the need for eventual heroin addiction treatment.
Later in 2017, Woods said that he completed an out-of-state intensive program to address how he handles his pain and his medications. On August 9, he skipped his arraignment, entering a not guilty plea through his attorney. He also agreed to take part in a first-time DUI offender program and had another arraignment scheduled for the future.
Since then, Tiger has been out on the green playing but it’s still unknown if the one-time great golfer can match his previous success. Now at the age of forty-one and given all the events that have happened in his professional and personal lives, might it be time for Tiger to retire? Time will tell whether he will be able to compete in and even win tournaments as he once did.
Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.