Tiger Woods celebrated his first Masters win in 14 years on Sunday and the victory came after a series of health issues and personal drama threatened to end his career.
Nearly 10 years ago, Woods made headlines for crashing his Cadillac Escalade outside of his Florida mansion. His then-wife, Elin Nordegren, used golf clubs to shatter the rear windows of the vehicle. While she told police that she was trying to rescue her incoherent husband (who was allegedly high on various pills), many concluded that she actually broke the windows after an argument.
It wasn’t long after that incident when dozens of women came forward, alleging that they had sexual relationships with the golf champ. The controversy ignited a mass exodus of Woods’ sponsors, and his golf game began to suffer — “both due to his physical ailments and a loss of focus on the course,” PEOPLE writes.
“He still thinks about his sex scandal every day,” a source close to Woods tells PEOPLE, following his win at the 2019 Masters Tournament.
“It’s always there, in the back of his mind. He doesn’t like to talk about it — or even anything that was happening at that time of his life. It’s painful to him. But he persevered and made himself into a better man.”
Before the scandal, Tiger was the no. 1 ranked golfer in the world. By December 2017, he plummeted in to #1,199.
“He lost everything,” says the source. “And it was really rough for a really long time. He really found out who his friends were. He’s been left with a lot of scars.”
Woods previously won the Masters in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2005. His son Charlie Axel, 10, and daughter Sam Alexis, 11, were on hand to witness his triumphant comeback on Sunday.
“It means the world to me. Their love and their support, I just can’t say enough how much that meant to me throughout my struggles when I really just had a hard time moving around,” he told reporters of his kids at his winner’s press conference. “Just their infectiousness of happiness; you know, I was going through a tough time physically. There was a lot of times when I really couldn’t move and so that in itself is difficult.”
Woods and Nordegren share custody of the kids and are reportedly amicable co-parents.
“They really work together well now,” says the Woods insider. “They are both mature adults who have figured out what works best for them and for the kids. There is no real friction, and everyone gets along well. They went through a very dark time as a family, and although the family looks different, it is happy and functional and thriving.”
Woods says being sidelined by his injuries and struggling golf career allowed him to spend more time with his family.
“I was very fortunate to be given another chance to do something that I love,” he said. “But more importantly, I’ve been able to participate in my kids’ lives in a way that I couldn’t for a number of years,” he said.
“He’s a completely different person than he was in 2009,” says the insider. “He was an overgrown boy back then. Now he’s a man.”