Friends fore-ever! Six years after Tiger Woods' sex scandal erupted, the golf champ revealed to Time in a rare new interview that he and his ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, are now "best friends" and their relationship is "fantastic."
Woods, 39, who shares daughter Sam, 8, and son Charlie, 6, with Nordegren, 35, told the mag that there are things he would have done differently in retrospect. "It's not how I would change 2009 and how it all came about. It would be having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife," Woods said. "Having the relationship that I have now with her is fantastic. She’s one of my best friends. We’re able to pick up the phone, and we talk to each other all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then."
The crux of their marital demise wasn't only his dozen or so affairs. "When it comes down to it, right down to it, it’s just having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife when we were married," Woods reflected. "Our frustrations would have come out if we had talked about it and been open and honest with each other. Which we are now, and it’s absolutely fantastic."
Both Nordegren and Woods tried to make their marriage work after the initial cheating revelation, but ultimately divorced in August 2010. "It was too tough, too tough," Woods told Time about his irreparable marriage, before moving on to how things are now. "We try and help each other out on all occasions. And we work through it with the kids, the parenting program. She is one of my best friends now, and it’s all because of my kids. We’ve worked so hard, and I’ve shown her how much I love them. We’ve worked so hard at co-parenting, to make sure that their lives are fantastic."
Woods has even acknowledged his past transgressions in conversations with his grade-school children. "For instance, I’ve told her this, I’ve taken the initiative with the kids, and told them up front, 'Guys, the reason why we’re not in the same house, why we don’t live under the same roof, Mommy and Daddy, is because Daddy made some mistakes,'" Woods revealed. "I just want them to understand before they get to Internet age and they log on to something or have their friends tell them something. I want it to come from me so that when they come of age, I’ll just tell them the real story. But meanwhile, it’s just, 'Hey, Daddy made some mistakes. But it’s okay. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. But look what happened at the end of it. Look at how great you are. You have two loving parents that love you no matter what.'"
His priority is making sure his kids come out unscathed. "I said, 'You have no idea how lucky you guys are, to have two parents that love you so much. Unfortunately, we’re not in the same house, but the flip side is we love you no matter what you do. And I’m a parent, as the dad, who is always going to try to help you, guide you through life,'" Woods continued of that conversation.
After Nordegren, Woods found love again in Olympian Lindsey Vonn, whom he dated for three years until this past May. The split, though amicable, was perpetuated by a lack of quality time.
"Well, with Lindsey, what was hard is we never had time together. We’re texting each other. It was a great relationship, but it was so hard," Woods explained. "When I’m training to do my sport, it takes umpteen hours to do, and I can’t travel, except to my tournaments, because I’m here dedicated to my two kids. Meanwhile, most of her summer is spent in South America, at training camps in Chile and Argentina, and then you’ve got her season, which is mostly in Europe. And I can’t travel because I have the kids—my off weeks I’m devoted to my kids—and I have to be here. It’s a relationship that was fantastic, but it just can’t work on that level. It just could not work. It was doing an injustice to both of us."
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