Woods calls divorce 'sad time' in life; Elin says she 'went through hell'

tiger woods, elin nordegren
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Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, shown here in a photo from 2007, plan to share custody of their two children.
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Associated Press

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For the first time all summer, Tiger Woods showed up at a PGA Tour event knowing that his day would not include phone calls from a lawyer or divorce documents to approve.

He is only married to his golf now.

"This is my job," Woods said Wednesday. "This is what I do."

Even so, Woods slowly shook his head when asked if he felt relief that his divorce became official two days ago.

"I don't think that's the word," he said. "I think it's just more sadness. Because I don't think ever go into a marriage looking to get divorced. That's the thing. That's why it is sad."

Woods still could not avoid talk about the end of his nearly six years of marriage to Elin Nordegren, brought on my numerous extramarital affairs that were exposed last Thanksgiving.

As he was teeing off in the rain during the pro-am, People magazine released an interview with his ex-wife in which she spoke openly about how her world fell apart and that she has "been through hell."

Before he completed the first hole, his agent and spokesman were outside the rope, each talking on a cell phone.

Then, after Woods hit his approach to the green, a tabloid columnist walked out into the fairway with notepad and pen to ask him questions. She had never been to a golf tournament and was not aware that reporters are to stay by the ropes.

It took five questions on his game before Woods was asked about his divorce and his ex-wife's interview, although Woods handled both questions with the same, measured tones, not revealing much.

"I wish her the best in everything," he said. "You know, it's a sad time in our lives. And we're looking forward in our lives and how we can help our kids the best way we possibly can. And that's the most important thing."

They have two children, 3-year-old daughter Sam and 18-month-old son Charlie. The divorce allowed for "shared parenting," and Woods completed a four-hour program on family stability the day before he left for the British Open.

The process of getting a divorce consumed most of his summer, not only on the golf course, but during his weeks at home when he was practicing and preparing for the majors. Ten majors now have passed without Woods winning, matching the longest drought of his career.

Asked to describe how the details of divorce affected his practice, Woods said, "It was a lot more difficult than I was letting on."

"My actions certainly led us to this decision," he said. "And I've certainly made a lot of errors in my life. That's something I'm going to have to live with."

As for the job? That's not going so well, either.

Despite a tie for fourth in the Masters in his return from a five-month hiatus, and a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open, Woods has played so poorly that he comes to The Barclays at No. 112 in the FedExCup standings, with no guarantee he will make it to the next playoff event.

For starters, he has to make the cut at Ridgewood Country Club, a course he saw for the first time Wednesday. Then, he likely has to finish somewhere around the middle of the pack to move into the top 100 and qualify for next week's playoff event outside Boston at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which benefits his foundation.

Woods asked coach Sean Foley to look at his swing during the PGA Championship two weeks ago, and he met with Foley twice in Orlando, Fla., last week. On several holes during the pro-am, Woods tucked a golf glove under his right armpit during a full swing, a technique aimed to keep his arms connected.

Whether he hires Foley as his next coach has not been decided. Woods is not sure he wants to revamp his swing again, knowing how much time it will take and how much time he has lost already.

"It's an undertaking that I have to wrap my head around, because it's going to take some time," he said.

He drove the ball great at the AT&T National and British Open and couldn't make a putt. He hit the ball all over Wisconsin during the PGA Championship and kept in the game by making putts. And then there were weeks like Firestone, where he did nothing right and shot the worse score of his career, an 18-over 298.

For the ninth time this year, Woods can lose his No. 1 ranking to Phil Mickelson. His solution for staying at the top and getting a tee time next week on the TPC Boston is the same. "Winning takes care of everything," he said.

"I'm trying to get my game in order -- work on some new things, working with Sean," Woods said. "And I'm trying to put that together and hopefully play well for the rest of the year. As of right now, I need to play well to make it to next week. So that's kind of the focus right now."

Even now, though, the focus is not entirely on golf.

"As far as my game and practicing, that's been secondary," he said. "We're trying to get our kids situation to our new living conditions and how that's going to be. That's where our focus is going to be right now."

Earlier Wednesday, in an interview released by People magazine, Nordegren said she has “been through hell” since her husband’s infidelity surfaced but she never hit him.

Nordegren told People magazine she and Woods tried for months to reconcile the relationship. In the end, a marriage “without trust and love” wasn’t good for anyone, she said.

In November outside their Florida home, Woods drove his SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree, setting off shocking revelations that sports’ biggest star had been cheating on his wife through multiple affairs. The couple officially divorced Monday.

Nordegren told People that she never hit Woods on the night of the car crash.

“There was never any violence inside or outside our home,” she said. “The speculation that I would have used a golf club to hit him is just truly ridiculous.”

Nordegren said Woods left the house that night and when he didn’t return after a while, she got worried and went to look for him. She said that’s when she found him in the car.

“I did everything I could to get him out of the locked car,” she said. “To think anything else is absolutely wrong.”

The magazine said the interview was conducted over four visits lasting a total of 19 hours at the rented Windermere, Fla., home where she now lives with their two children.

“I’ve been through hell,” said the Swedish-born Nordegren, who began losing her hair in the days before the divorce became final. “It’s hard to think you have this life, and then all of a sudden—was it a lie? You’re struggling because it wasn’t real. But I survived. It was hard, but it didn’t kill me.”

While Nordegren said she has watched little TV in the last nine months, she sometimes followed the scandal on the Internet. Friends also kept her informed.

Nordegren credits therapy for helping her deal with her emotions and kept a journal.

“I haven’t gone back to read what I wrote in December and January; I’m afraid to,” she said.

In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday morning, People magazine reporter Sandra Sobieraj Westfall said Nordegren and her team approached the publication. Westfall said Nordegren wanted people to know three things: she’s not violent and never hit Woods; she had no idea this was going on; and it was a real marriage for her.

Claudia DiRomualdo, the magazine’s public relations director, said no one received payment for the story.

Nordegren met Woods when she was working as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, and said she fell in love with him because they had “so much fun, and I felt safe with him.” She called their Oct. 5, 2004, wedding in Barbados “one of the happiest days of my life.” The couple has a 3-year-old daughter, Sam, and an 18-month-old son, Charlie.

In the interview, Nordegren would not disclose the amount of the divorce settlement but did say “money can’t buy happiness or put my family back together.”

“I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected -- not a one. For the past 3 1/2 years, when all this was going on, I was home a lot more with pregnancies, then the children and my school.”

When she learned of Woods’ infidelities, Nordegren said she felt “absolute shock and disbelief.”

“I felt stupid as more things were revealed -- how could I not have known anything?” Nordegren said. “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.”

Woods, who was playing a pro-am round at The Barclays in Paramus, New Jersey, early Wednesday, hasn’t commented on the couple’s divorce.

Shortly before 8 a.m., when the People magazine story broke, his agent, Mark Steinberg, stepped outside the ropes of the first fairway and was on the phone for the next 10 minutes, as was Woods’ spokesman, Glenn Greenspan.

Nordegren said she would eventually forgive Woods, but that she is still working on it. Though the two share custody of the children, he needs her permission to get past the guard in the gated community where she lives.

“Forgiveness takes time,” she said. “It is the last step of the grieving process.”

Meantime, Nordegren said she is excited to start the next chapter of her life and intends to stay in the United States with her children. She is studying for her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and continued her schoolwork during the divorce proceedings.

She also said she has “not watched one minute of golf.”