In Sweden anger over Tiger pride over Elin
There have been Christmas celebrations in a remote area of northern Sweden in a house owned by relatives of his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren. There have been summer days spent undisturbed in the couple’s luxury apartment in central Stockholm. And his wife recently purchased a secluded house on an island in the archipelago, a short boat ride outside the capital.
But if Woods is looking for somewhere to ride out the media storm surrounding his infidelity, Sweden may no longer be the place to go.
“I think his reception would be rather chilly,” said Billy McCormac, an American who has lived in Sweden for 14 years and heads the prominent think tank Timbro. “I think things are just too raw right now.”
The Woods sex scandal has indeed struck a particularly raw nerve in Sweden, where Nordegren’s transition from being a nanny for golfer Jesper Parnevik to the wife of one of the world’s most famous athletes was long seen as a fairy-tale romance.
Over the last five years, sightings of the couple on the streets of Stockholm or in nearby Vaxholm in the archipelago – where Nordegren grew up – helped create a sense of connection to a man renowned for his reclusive persona.
But like the drop in temperatures that brought a blizzard of snow over the Scandinavian country on Tuesday, Woods’ admitted betrayal of his wife has turned public opinion considerably cooler.
“We have taken him to heart and almost viewed him like one of us,” said Niklas Olovzon, a sponsorship and brand expert who heads the communications agency S&B. “Of course that has made this a much bigger deal. … I don’t think we’ll forgive him as quickly.”
Instead, there is an outpouring of sympathy and support for Nordegren, who has claims to fame in Sweden beyond her marriage to Woods. Nordegren’s mother, Barbro Holmberg, is a well-known Social Democratic politician and former migration minister while her father Thomas Nordegren is a prominent radio journalist.
“She comes from two sort of Swedish houses of nobility, so there is a sense that this is personal,” McCormac said. “I’m not sure how much the Swedish public embraced Elin before this. But now, that sense of ownership and that sense of communion with her has gotten stronger.”
That’s been evident in the country’s newspapers during the last few weeks, where the numerous front-page headlines and articles have focused as much on Nordegren as on Woods.
There has been constant speculation about whether she’ll stay with her husband, advice about how to repair her marriage, and jokes about why she used a golf club to smash the back passenger windows of Woods’ SUV the night of his infamous car crash outside their home in Florida. Local police said his wife told them she did it to help get her husband out.
In a country that prides itself on gender equality and independent women, the image of a golf club-wielding Nordegren is a source of widespread satisfaction.
“For us, it was almost a positive thing that she smashed the car window,” Olovzon said. “We like strong women in a lot of ways.”
Britta Svensson, a columnist in the newspaper Expressen, summed it up like this:
“A week ago, Tiger and Elin were the cutest couple on the globe,” Svensson wrote shortly after the reports of numerous mistresses started seeping out. “Now our Swedish hearts are brimming with pride that our own Elin – not a regular nanny but the daughter of a Social Democratic minister and Swedish Radio journalist – didn’t take any … Elin is our heroine.”
The same can no longer be said of Woods, of course, regardless of golf’s immense popularity in the country.
Despite its short summers, Sweden has nearly half a million golfers in a population of little more than 9 million, including a number of top pros like Henrik Stenson.
But to win the fans back, Woods has to get back on the course and win more titles, said Tommy Jeppsson, the editor of the Swedish version of Golf Digest.
“Time has an incredible ability to heal things like this,” said Jeppsson, pointing out that a number of famous men have been able to resuscitate their careers after sex scandals. “When you think about (actor) Hugh Grant today, you only view his scandal as a bump in the road – he didn’t drive off a cliff. I think this will be a bump in the road for Tiger Woods as well.”
Seeing Woods play in a tournament like the Scandinavian Masters has long been a dream for Swedish golf fans. If Woods does decide to end his indefinite break from golf, Jeppsson said that’s not likely to change.
“He would be very welcome,” Jeppsson said. “I don’t think anyone would miss seeing Tiger Woods play golf just because they’re a bit peeved about what he’s alleged to have done.”
But, as McCormac pointed out, Woods may not want to test his welcome too soon.
“I think the media circus needs to die down first,” McCormac said. “Maybe in six months, or, say, around the summer time. (Swedes) are very used to walking down the street, and say, ‘Oh, there’s the prime minister,’ or ‘There’s that rock star.’ Given a bit of time, given a bit of space, I’d say even (Tiger and Elin) will be able to do that eventually.”
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18