And so, after nine months of turmoil over his extramarital affairs, now begins the next chapter in the life and times of Tiger Woods.
In a hearing that lasted no more than 10 minutes in a Florida judge’s chambers, Woods and his Swedish-born wife officially divorced Monday.
“We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future,” Woods and Elin Nordegren said in a joint statement released by their lawyers.
The divorce was granted shortly after 2 p.m. in Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, Fla., about 375 miles from their Isleworth home outside Orlando, where Woods drove his SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree on Thanksgiving night. That set off shocking revelations that sports’ biggest star had been cheating on his wife through multiple affairs.
Woods’ life and golf game have been in disarray ever since.
He and Nordegren were married Oct. 5, 2004, in Barbados and have a 3-year-old daughter, Sam, and an 18-month-old son, Charlie.
Terms of the divorce — such as how much it will cost Woods — were not disclosed. They said only that they will “share parenting” of their two children.
Nordegren, who for years tried to stay in the background, was captured on video by celebrity websites eating lunch or picking up her daughter from school.
“We love Elin, and we are so proud of the grace and strength she has shown during this difficult time,” her father, Thomas Nordegren, a talk show host at national broadcaster Swedish Radio, told The Associated Press. “We know that she will come out of this even stronger and has a bright future in front of her.”
The divorce was finalized by Bay County Circuit Judge Judy Pittman Biebel during a 10-minute hearing in a conference room in her chambers, according to Biebel’s judicial assistant, Kim Gibson. Woods and Nordegren were present, along with their lawyers, Gibson said.
“I don’t comment on active cases,” Thomas J. Sasser, Woods’ divorce attorney, said. Asked why they chose to file in Panama City, Sasser said it was a joint decision by the lawyers.
Nordegren’s attorneys — including her twin sister, London-based Josefin Lonnborg — referred all questions to the statement.
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, declined to comment when asked if the couple had a prenuptial agreement or terms of the settlement. “We’re not commenting beyond what was in the release,” he said.
Nordegren’s mother, Barbro Holmberg, also declined to comment.
Nordegren, who once worked as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, asked to have her maiden name restored as Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren.
The sordid sex scandal cost Woods three major corporate sponsors — Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade — worth millions of dollars, and he lost his stature the gold standard in sports endorsements. A month after the scandal became public, Woods spent two months in therapy at a Mississippi clinic with hopes of saving his marriage.
“While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us,” they said in 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.”
Some of the court documents indicated that Woods had to focus on his marital woes as well as his golf this summer.
He completed a four-hour course on “Parent Education and Family Stabilization” on July 10, the day before he left to play the British Open. He had won the previous two times at St. Andrews by a combined 13 shots, but this time finished 13 shots behind in a tie for 23rd.
The couple signed a marital settlement agreement on July 3 and July 4, the weekend of the AT&T National outside Philadelphia, where Woods failed to break par in a PGA Tour event for the first time in 11 years.
Nordegren completed her four-hour program through FloridaParentingClass.com on Aug. 16, the day after Woods tied for 28th in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. It was the first time in nearly seven years he had finished out of the top 20 in consecutive majors.
Documents also show that the children lived at their primary home at Isleworth until November 2009 — the Woods car crash was Nov. 27 — and that Nordegren had moved out to a nearby residence since then.
Woods is to play this week at The Barclays, his first tournament as a single man in nearly six years. He needs a good performance just to get out of the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, which he won the previous two times he played, and he also is trying to show he is worth picking for the Ryder Cup, where wives take on a visible role.
Since returning to golf at the Masters, Woods has not come close to winning a tournament. He tied for fourth in the Masters and in the U.S. Open, both times taking himself out of contention early in the final round.
One example of how the impending divorce has affected him came last month when he played in a charity pro-am in Ireland, which ended on Tuesday. Instead of staying overseas to practice on links courses, Woods flew home to Florida for six days to see his children and then returned to Scotland for the British Open.
Woods has won 82 times worldwide — 36 times and six majors while married — in his professional career. His last victory came at the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, his last trip before his serial infidelity was uncovered.