On December 2, following Us Weekly's previous day reporting of a purported mistress and subsequent release of a voicemail message allegedly left by Woods for the woman, Woods released a further statement. He admitted transgressions and apologized to "all of those who have supported [him] over the years", while reiterating his and his family's right to privacy. Over the next few days, more than a dozen women claimed in various media outlets to have had affairs with Woods. On December 11, he released a third statement admitting to infidelity and he apologized again. He also announced that he would be taking "an indefinite break from professional golf."
At a hearing on October 27, 2017, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving. He received a year of probation, was fined $250, and ordered to undergo 50 hours of community service along with regular drug tests. He was not allowed to drink alcohol during the probation, and if he violated the probation he would be sentenced to 90 days in jail with an additional $500 fine.
World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship: Posted a final-round, 6-under 66 to finish T10 at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, his first top-10 of the season and best showing since a T4 at the 2010 U.S. Open. It marked the 11th time in as many starts that he has finished with a top-10 at the event and the eighth time in as many starts inside the top 10 at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral. The showing represented his best round on TOUR since a second-round, 6-under 65 at the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship. Played the first three rounds with Phil Mickelson, the first time the two have been paired together for three rounds in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. The two have had 28 official pairings on TOUR and 29 counting the 2009 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Surgery: Pulled out of next two PGA TOUR starts, the Genesis Open and The Honda Classic. Released statement: "My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down. This is not what I was hoping for or expecting. I am extremely disappointed to miss the Genesis Open, a tournament that benefits my foundation, and The Honda Classic, my hometown event. I would like to thank Genesis for their support, and I know we will have an outstanding week." In April, announced on his website he had undergone further back surgery. The operation was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute.
Woods returned to competition in April at the 2010 Masters, where he finished tied for fourth place. He followed the Masters with poor showings at the Quail Hollow Championship and the Players Championship, where he withdrew in the fourth round, citing injury. Shortly afterward, Hank Haney, Woods' coach since 2003, resigned the position. In August, Woods hired Sean Foley as Haney's replacement. The rest of the season went badly for Woods, who failed to win a single event for the first time since turning professional, while nevertheless finishing the season ranked No. 2 in the world.
BMW Championship: Captured his sixth title of the season and took the lead in the FedExCup standings with an eight-stroke victory over Jim Furyk and Marc Leishman at the BMW Championship. Shot a third-round, course-record 62 at Cog Hill to take a seven-stroke lead entering the final round and finished at 19-under 265 to win for the fifth time at Cog Hill. It was his 10th career PGA TOUR victory by at least eight shots. It was also his 71st career victory, two short of Jack Nicklaus for second on the PGA TOUR's career list. Also tied Sam Snead with his sixth season of at least six victories.
Woods continued to excel in 2007 and the first part of 2008. In April 2008, he underwent knee surgery and missed the next two months on the tour. Woods returned for the 2008 U.S. Open, where he struggled the first day but ultimately claimed a dramatic sudden death victory over Rocco Mediate that followed an 18-hole playoff, after which Mediate said, "This guy does things that are just not normal by any stretch of the imagination," and Kenny Perry added, "He beat everybody on one leg." Two days later, Woods announced that he would miss the remainder of the season due to additional knee surgery, and that his knee was more severely damaged than previously revealed, prompting even greater praise for his U.S. Open performance. Woods called it "my greatest ever championship." In Woods' absence, TV ratings for the remainder of the season suffered a huge decline from 2007.
The year 2013 would bring a return of Woods' dominating play. In January, he won the Farmers Insurance Open by four shots for his 75th PGA Tour win. It was the seventh time he had won the event. In March, he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship, also for the seventh time, giving him his 17th WGC title and first since 2009. Two weeks later, he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, winning the event for a record-tying 8th time. The win moved him back to the top of the world rankings. To commemorate that achievement, Nike was quick to launch an ad with the tagline "winning takes care of everything".
Woods collaborated closely with TAG Heuer to develop the world's first professional golf watch, which was released in April 2005. The lightweight, titanium-construction watch, designed to be worn while playing the game, incorporates numerous innovative design features to accommodate golf play. It is capable of absorbing up to 5,000 Gs of shock, far in excess of the forces generated by a normal golf swing. In 2006, the TAG Heuer Professional Golf Watch won the prestigious iF product design award in the Leisure/Lifestyle category.
Early in Woods' career, a small number of golf industry analysts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness of the game and the public appeal of professional golf. Sportswriter Bill Lyon of Knight Ridder asked in a column, "Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" (though Lyon ultimately concluded that he was not). At first, some pundits feared that Woods would drive the spirit of competition out of the game of golf by making existing courses obsolete and relegating opponents to simply competing for second place each week.