The three-year relationship between golf legend Tiger Woods and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn generated global headlines when it was confirmed in March 2012, so it comes as little surprise that the famed sports couple's recent split would also spark a large dose of coverage. But even public statements from both Woods and Vonn that the relationship ended amicably didn't prevent tabloid speculation that the breakup was due to Woods' infidelity.
Woods, who is in the midst of a PGA Tour comeback, has managed to avoid being in the tabloid spotlight in recent years and had silenced gossip about his relationship status. The 39-year-old no doubt was hoping to avoid another media firestorm surrounding his personal life as he attempts to win his first major since 2008.
The assumption that Woods cheated on Vonn stems from the scandal involving his former wife, Elin Nordegren, and the dozens of women linked to Woods in a turbulent 2010. Woods would take a leave of absence from the sport he once dominated to repair his personal life, while losing millions in endorsement deals, tournament prize money, and a much-publicized divorce.
On Thursday, he received some help from a celebrity publication. People reported the actual reason behind the split is just what Vonn said it was: the very heavy and conflicting schedules of two of the world’s most famous athletes just weren’t compatible.
"I know everyone is hoping for a cheating scandal, but it's not," the source said. "There was no real drama."
Vonn, 30, posted a message to her official Facebook account on May 3 to announce the former couple’s breakup.
"After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship," Vonn wrote. "I will always cherish the memories that we've created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart.
"I will always admire and respect Tiger. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart."
While Woods has hoped to avoid distractions during an important stretch of the golf season, he was forthcoming about the emotional strain he was enduring. Woods told reporters he hadn't slept, with the anniversary of his father's death and the end of his relationship with Vonn happening at about the same time. He described it as "brutal on me." Vonn had said that she was “bummed” over the split.
A hectic schedule often follows athletes who are the most recognized face of their sport. For Woods, the PGA tour can run practically year-round. He also spends a great deal of time in the gym and rehab room to nurse several injuries, especially his knees and back.
Woods sat out the Masters last year for the first time in his career after undergoing back surgery to repair a pinched nerve. Once a major threat to snap Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 19 majors, Woods has struggled to win another major since his divorce from Nordegren in part because of the injuries. His last major championship came in 2008 at the U.S. Open.
Vonn and Woods reportedly bonded because of their checkered injury histories. Winning two medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Vonn was one of the biggest stars in any Olympic event, but a horrifying crash at the world championships in February 2013 put her on the shelf for roughly 10 months. She would reinjure the same knee in November that year and was forced to sit out the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
With Woods by her side, Vonn staged a comeback in December to win at the Women’s World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta. Earlier this year, she took home a bronze at the world championships in Colorado.