After a turbulent half-decade without a victory, golfing superstar Tiger Woods finally made headlines for – mostly – all the right reasons. That’s because in 2018 he triumphed in the Atlanta Tour Championship. And his return to form after five years in the wilderness was credited to the love of one particular woman: Erica Herman. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about the girlfriend who helped turn the fallen star’s fortunes around.
Born in Cypress, California, at the tail end of 1975, Woods developed a talent for golf at a young age and went on to enjoy unprecedented success as a junior and college student. After leaving the amateur ranks aged 20, in 1997 he won his inaugural major, the Masters, by a record-breaking 12 strokes. And he reached number one in the world within 12 months of turning pro.
What’s more, Woods proved that his astonishing early success was no fluke by continuing to dominate the sport throughout the next decade. He left the U.S. Open field trailing in his wake in 2000 when winning the trophy by a record-breaking 15 shots. And perhaps most impressively of all, he held the top spot in the world rankings for an incredible 264 weeks. Then, after briefly relinquishing the position, he returned there for further 281.
As of October 2018, Woods has been named PGA Player of the Year on 11 separate occasions, and he’s emerged victorious at 14 majors and 80 PGA Tour Events. He’s also the youngest professional to have won 50 on-tour tournaments and the career Grand Slam. As a result, the golfing genius is widely regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen of the 21st century.
Of course, the once-wholesome Tiger Woods story took an unexpected turn in 2009 when news emerged of his many, many extramarital affairs. On the surface, the star appeared to have been in a happy, loving marriage with Elin Nordegren, the Swedish ex-model he’d wed in 2004. But the couple, who share two children, split following the revelations.
Rachel Uchitel, a nightclub manager from New York, was the first to be named as one of Woods’ many love interests. And over a dozen other women later came forward to allege that they’d also had affairs with the married star. Woods apologized for his bad behavior in several official statements. Moreover, he subsequently revealed that he’d be taking a hiatus from the sport that launched him to fame.
Several companies had entered into lucrative sponsorships with the star. But thanks to Woods’ off-course antics, the firms ended those deals. Accenture, General Motors and TAG Heuer were just a few of the household names that hurried to distance themselves from the disgraced golfer. And according to one study, Woods’ infidelity is said to have cost shareholders in the various companies linked to him up to a whopping $12 billion.
After dropping to an all-time low of 58 in the 2011 World Rankings, Woods eventually managed to get his career back on track, though, returning to the top spot just two years later. However, this time a run of back injuries derailed things, and by June 2016 he’d disappeared from the Top 500 completely. Then things got even worse.
In May 2017 Woods was arrested on a DUI after having nodded off in his vehicle, which had its engine running. The star claimed that he’d underestimated the effects of a prescription drug he was taking at the time. He received a year’s probation after submitting a plea of guilty to reckless driving later that year.
Then in September 2018 Woods moved from the front to the back pages once again after winning the Atlanta Tour Championship at the age of 42. It was the golfer’s first title in five years, with his two-stroke victory at East Lake also serving to propel him back up the rankings. And many believed that recent developments in the golfer’s love life were responsible for his return to winning ways.
That love interest was 33-year-old Erica Herman, in whose ear Woods was seen to whisper “I love you” after his tournament drought came to an end. The pair had reportedly first met in 2017 at the golfer’s Florida eatery, The Woods Jupiter, where Herman was working as general manager. And they went public in October that year when Herman sported a “player spouse” badge at the President’s Cup.
Two days later Herman accompanied Woods to his reckless driving court case in Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens. Then two months after that the couple vacationed in the Bahamas with the golfer’s two children. And in July 2018 the pair went public again while watching a tennis match at Wimbledon in the Royal Box.
The pair were then spotted together in St. Louis at the PGA Championship in August 2018. Indeed, Herman caused quite the stir on social media after kissing the golfer and patting his rear while live on camera. Many viewers took to Twitter to express their surprise at such a public display of affection.
In April 2018 one of Woods’ friends told People that the relationship between the lovebirds is going well. The unnamed source said, “No one has signed any paperwork. It’s not like they’re pledging their lives to each other. But she’s really nice, and Tiger likes her.”
Another person told People that Herman had played a pivotal role in Woods’ sporting comeback. Speaking after his win at the Atlanta Tour Championship, the anonymous source said, “For a long time, there was a cloud over Tiger. But today, he’s happier than he’s been in years.”
But not everyone was happy with this budding romance. An insider apparently told Radar Online that Herman is a gold-digging party animal who’d been “chasing Tiger around like a puppy for close to ten years.” The unnamed source added, “I can’t believe Tiger is out in public with her now.”
Reports also surfaced that Woods had started dating Herman when already attached to Kristin Smith. The pair made their official debut just a month after the golfer had parted from the Texan stylist. “Kristen suspected it, but he would always deny it by belittling Erica,” an insider is said to have told Radar Online.
Before his relationship with Smith, Woods had dated Olympic gold medal-winning skier Lindsey Vonn. The two sporting champions had first stepped out together in 2012 in the wake of the golfer’s divorce from his wife. But he and Vonn went their separate ways three years later.
Following his Atlanta victory, Woods headed to Europe with his belle, Herman, in tow. The couple appeared in matching suits at Charles de Gaulle Airport after flying to Paris together. Woods, you see, was in the French capital to compete in the annual Ryder Cup.
Almost a year on from their public debut, the couple then attended the Ryder Cup Gala together. But sadly for Team USA, Herman couldn’t inspire her partner to victory this time around. Indeed, the golfer himself admitted that he was partly responsible for his team’s seven-stroke defeat to Europe.