By Robert A. Vella
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one of professional golfer Tiger Woods certainly fits that idiom.
Woods was arrested early this morning for DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) near his home in Florida. The incident marks the latest in a series of personal downturns since the zenith of his decade-long reign at the top of professional golf. His fall from that lofty perch has been nothing short of monumental.
Since joining the PGA tour in 1996, Woods has won 79 times (2nd highest in history), plus 60 other tournaments, including 14 prestigious major championships (also 2nd highest behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus). In 2009, Forbes confirmed that Woods had become the first athlete to accumulate over $1 billion in earnings and had estimated his net worth at over $600 million. During his run of incredible success, Woods received numerous awards and lucrative commercial endorsements, and was widely hailed as one of the most famous and recognizable figures in popular culture. His black and Asian ethnicity also reinvigorated a sport which had a long history of white privilege.
But, fame has its costs. The adoring public will quickly turn on its chosen heroes at the first sign of moral failure as is inevitable with any human being under such intense scrutiny.
Woods’ downward spiral began in late 2009 when he crashed his vehicle into a fire hydrant following a domestic dispute with his then-wife Elin Nordegren. Subsequently, his egregious marital infidelity was publicly exposed. When his commercial sponsors began to abandon the golfer in reaction to the predictable public backlash, the intense pressure caused Woods to take a hiatus from his career and seek rehabilitation for addiction.
When Woods returned to golf a few months later, it was apparent his game wasn’t the same. He started complaining about neck pain and other physical ailments. In August 2010, Woods and Nordegren filed for divorce. In 2011, he suffered further injuries to his knee and lower leg. By 2014, back pain and surgery caused him to miss several tournaments. More surgeries, missed tournaments, and poor play continued into 2017.
Woods’ last victory on the PGA tour occurred in 2013. His last victory in a major championship occurred in 2008. From 2010 to 2017, Woods has won only 8 times. At this point, his professional golfing career looks to be in shambles.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Further reading: Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida