It was November 2009 when Elin Nordegren impersonated Tiger Woods over text messages on his phone, after a report was published detailing her husband’s alleged infidelity.
The then 29-year-old shot a few texts to the woman he was rumoured to be seeing and the ensuing conversation confirmed the very thing she had feared all along: Her husband, the world’s most famous golfer and the man known for being a supremely well-behaved sports-star, had been cheating on her behind her back and it would soon find its way to the press.
He had taken the sedative Ambien that night, but she woke him up, golf club in hand. She chased him out of the house, he got in his car and didn’t get far before hitting a tree.
It would be the night that destroyed their marriage and Tiger Woods’ reputation.
Born in Sweden to a mother who became the country’s migration and asylum minister and a father who served as the Washington bureau chief for Swedish Broadcasting media, Elin Nordegren was a one-time model turned nanny who was sceptical of sporting stars before she began dating one.
“I wasn’t interested at first, ironically. I had my opinions about celebrities. I got convinced that we were a lot alike and agreed to a date. The biggest reason I fell for him was because we had a lot of fun together,” she told PEOPLE in 2010.
Esther Perel tells Mia Freedman all about the psychology of why people cheat. Post continues after audio.
She had met the former world number one after being the nanny for pro-golfer Jesper Parnevik’s kids, and in 2010, The Daily Beast would describe her as not “just a cipher but a consummate match for her husband—classy and elusive, and from a smart, well-to-do Swedish family”.
A 2004 Sports Illustrated profile of the mum-of-two – the only profile Nordegren agreed to before Woods’ infidelity – noted the fact she deliberately dodged the limelight despite the fact it was forever illuminating her husband.
“Even in the insular world of the PGA Tour, [Nordegren] is a shadowy figure, talked about by everyone but close to very few.”
Her name is so closely tied with her ex-husband’s that so many will struggle to remember Nordegren for anything other than the story the tabloids wheeled out regarding that fateful November 2009 night: a golf club, a car crash, a betrayed wife.
It would soon emerge that Woods was linked to over 100 different women while married to his wife.
She would later describe the unfolding events to PEOPLE:
“[When I found out I felt] absolute shock and disbelief. I felt stupid as more things were revealed — how could I not have known anything? The word betrayal isn’t strong enough. I felt like my whole world had fallen apart. It seemed that my world as I thought it was had never existed. I felt embarrassed for having been so deceived. I felt betrayed by many people around me.”