A scandal that began with a late-night collision between an SUV and a fire hydrant and went on to tarnish one of the most valuable brands in sporting history ended at a Florida divorce court yesterday, when it emerged that Tiger Woods had finalised his divorce from Elin Nordegren, the long-suffering mother of his two young children.
The golfer used his little-known full name, Eldrick Tont Woods, in official paperwork which described his marriage as "irretrievably broken" following nine months of revelations about the serial infidelity that led the former blue-chip athlete to temporarily quit the sport to seek treatment in a sexual addiction clinic.
In a statement released on his website, Woods announced that he would be sharing custody of the children with Elin, a former model and nanny who will now revert to her maiden name. He did not reveal the financial terms of their split, but court documents revealed that both parties had completed a four-hour parenting course with social workers.
"We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future," read the official statement from the former couple. "We are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us."
Lawyers for both sides are thought to have thrashed out the divorce agreement early last month. Although details of it are unlikely ever to become public, it is thought to give Ms Nordegren, 30, about $100m in cash, plus primary custody of the children: Sam, three, and Charlie, one.
"Once we came to the decision that our marriage was at an end, the primary focus of our amicable discussions has been to ensure their future well-being," added the statement. "The weeks and months ahead will not be easy for them as we adjust to a new family situation, which is why our privacy must be a principal concern."
Sources close to the talks say Ms Nordegren will keep their primary home in Windemere, Florida, but is likely to largely bring up the children in her native Sweden. Woods will move into a new property on nearby Jupiter Island, and will also keep the couple's yacht, Privacy.
The deal will give the former Mrs Woods far more than the $20m she was originally guaranteed under the terms of their 2004 pre-nuptial agreement, but it comes with significant strings attached. She has been required to sign a lifetime confidentially agreement.
That will at least prevent her following the lead of some of the 16 different women who are rumoured to have enjoyed extra-marital affairs with Mr Woods, many of whom have given hair-raising interviews about their liaisons. Some, including the pornographic actress Joslyn James, have set up websites dedicated to their flings. Others have claimed, so far unsuccessfully, that Woods, 34, may have fathered their child.
Damage limitation has been expensive. The golfer paid at least one of his parade of mistresses, a New York socialite called Rachel Uchitel, millions of dollars to cancel a press conference in December and sign a confidentiality agreement. The official divorce announcement revealed that at least nine lawyers were involved in negotiating the settlement with Ms Nordegren. In addition, recent months have seen Woods dropped by several of the sponsors who have provided the bulk of his lifetime earnings, which are estimated at a little over a billion dollars. He lost at least $35m in annual earnings from companies such as Accenture, the accountancy firm which decided in December that his status no longer fitted its corporate image.
On the course, Woods has also been struggling. He performed well at the Masters in April, his return to professional golf, but has since been inconsistent and recently completed his worst-ever tournament on the US PGA circuit, finishing second-to-last at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, this month.
He has not won a major since 2008, and is no longer an automatic selection for October's Ryder Cup in Wales. However, he is likely to be selected as a "captain's pick" for the US team. "I think I've got a chance of helping out in the singles," he said recently.Reuse content