Tiger Woods Is a 'Different Man' 10 Years After Scandal: 'He Is in the Best Place He's Ever Been'
"He is just focused on being a dad, and he's a damn good one," a source tells PEOPLE
On the day after Thanksgiving 2009, he crashed his Cadillac Escalade outside of his Florida mansion. His then-wife, Elin Nordegren, used two golf clubs to shatter the rear windows of the vehicle. She told police that she had broken the windows to help rescue an incoherent Woods from the vehicle, but there was widespread speculation that it followed an argument.
The seemingly minor traffic accident ignited a firestorm of controversy. Dozens of women soon came forward, alleging that they had sexual relationships with the married golfer.
Woods remained silent for weeks as the scandal unfolded — but finally spoke out in February 2010, 10 years ago this month, admitting to being unfaithful and apologizing.
Now 44, Woods is a changed man, a friend tells PEOPLE.
“He is a different man than he was￼ before [the scandal],” says the insider. “He’s grown up a lot. He’s not the narcissistic little kid he used to be; he now realizes that he’s not the center of the universe.”
“He is just focused on being a dad, and he’s a damn good one,” the insider continues. “His kids are his proudest accomplishment and the most stable force in his life.”
After winning the Masters Tournament last year, Woods opened up about how “special” it was to have his son Charlie Axel, 10, and daughter Sam Alexis, 11, there to witness his triumph after years of injuries and four back surgeries.
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“It means the world to me,” he told reporters at the time. “Their love and their support, I just can’t say enough how much that meant to me throughout my struggles when I really just had a hard time moving around. Just their infectiousness of happiness; you know, I was going through a tough time physically. There was a lot of times when I really couldn’t move and so that in itself is difficult.”
Older and wiser, Woods has some regrets.
“He still feels bad about how [the scandal] affected Elin,” says the source. “He knows he hurt a good woman. But they are very friendly, he has moved on, and so has she. There was a lot of forgiveness.”
Despite the past, Woods has adopted an attitude of gratefulness.
“He has said that he’s thankful that he went through the things he went through,” says the source. “It helped him to grow up. And now, he is in the best place that he’s ever been.”