ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Tiger Woods figured it was worth going public about his relationship with Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn rather than having paparazzi make money off them.
The star athletes simultaneously posted messages on their Facebook pages this week to confirm they are dating. The 14-time major champion included four studio photos of himself and Vonn, both smiling in a casual setting – he, in blue jeans and a white golf shirt; she, in a light blue warm-up jacket. Vonn posted one of the photos on her page.
Woods is fiercely private when it comes to his personal life, even before his downfall in November 2009 over multiple extramarital affairs.
So why now?
“Well, it’s very simple,” Woods said Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “We’re very happy where we’re at, but also we wanted to limit the `stalkarazzi’ and all those sleazy websites that are out there following us. I’ve had situations where it’s been very dangerous for my kids and the extent they’ll go to. We basically devalued the first photos. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is in our society right now, and we felt like it was the best thing to do. I’m very happy about it.”
Despite his worldwide fame, Woods has never liked anyone making money off him. He once sued a painter for a series of numbered prints that included Woods winning the Masters in 1997. He had an island to himself when he got married in 2004 and brought along a golf photographer he knew to take pictures. After his two children were born, their pictures were released through a photo agency.
Woods is no stranger to paparazzi. Photographers hounded him and his ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, for weeks after he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and his serial infidelity came to light in 2009. No one saw Woods for nearly three months after the accident, though the paparazzi managed to get photos of Elin without a wedding ring – something industry experts said was worth about $20,000.
The day after Woods spoke publicly for the first time, from the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse, his managers released photos of Woods jogging through the neighborhood.
This was the first time Woods has confirmed he was dating anyone since his divorce in August 2010.
“This season has been great so far and I’m happy with my wins at Torrey and Doral,” Woods said in his Facebook message. “Something nice that’s happened off the course was meeting Lindsey Vonn. Lindsey and I have been friends for some time, but over the last few months we have become very close and are now dating.”