In 1997, Woods and fellow golfer Arnold Palmer initiated a civil case against Bruce Matthews (the owner of Gotta Have It Golf, Inc.) and others in the effort to stop the unauthorized sale of their images and alleged signatures in the memorabilia market. Matthews and associated parties counterclaimed that Woods and his company, ETW Corporation, committed several acts including breach of contract, breach of implied duty of good faith, and violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Palmer also was named in the counter-suit, accused of violating the same licensing agreement in conjunction with his company Arnold Palmer Enterprises.
Woods has appeared on Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid athletes. According to Golf Digest, Woods made $769,440,709 from 1996 to 2007, and the magazine predicted that Woods would pass a billion dollars in earnings by 2010. In 2009, Forbes confirmed that Woods was indeed the world's first professional athlete to earn over a billion dollars in his career, after accounting for the $10 million bonus Woods received for the FedEx Cup title. The same year, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $600 million, making him the second richest person of color in the United States, behind only Oprah Winfrey. In 2015, Woods ranked ninth in Forbes' list of world's highest-paid athletes, being the top among Asian Americans or the fourth among African Americans. As of 2017, Woods was considered to be the highest-paid golfer in the world.
When Woods won the 2001 Masters, he became the only player to win four consecutive major professional golf titles, although not in the same calendar year. This achievement came to be known as the "Tiger Slam." Following a stellar 2001 and 2002 in which he continued to dominate the tour, Woods' career hit a slump. He did not win a major in 2003 or 2004. In September 2004, Vijay Singh overtook Woods in the Official World Golf Rankings, ending Woods' record streak of 264 weeks at No. 1.
Masters Tournament: Finished T4 in his first start of the season, at the Masters Tournament. Recorded his first career eagle on the par-4 seventh hole in the final round at Augusta National and had a tournament-high four eagles. Collected the ninth top-five finish of his Masters career, joining Phil Mickelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Kite, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Tom Watson. The only other person with more top-fives at the Masters is Jack Nicklaus, with 15.
A related effect was measured by University of California economist Jennifer Brown, who found that other golfers scored higher when competing against Woods than when he was not in the tournament. The scores of highly skilled golfers are nearly one stroke better when playing against Woods. This effect was larger when he was on winning streaks and disappeared during his well-publicized slump in 2003–04. Brown explains the results by noting that competitors of similar skill can hope to win by increasing their level of effort, but that, when facing a "superstar" competitor, extra exertion does not significantly raise one's level of winning while increasing risk of injury or exhaustion, leading to reduced effort.
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".
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Surgery: Announced on Wednesday, June 18, two days after winning the U.S. Open, that he would have reconstructive surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and miss the remainder of the 2008 season. Also announced that pain in his leg during the U.S. Open resulted from a double stress fracture to his left tibia, which he suffered while rehabilitating the knee. Surgery was performed on Tuesday, June 24 in Park City, Utah, by Dr. Thomas D. Rosenberg and Dr. Vernon J. Cooley, who did arthroscopic surgery on the same knee in April.
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Woods was severely myopic; his eyesight had a rating of 11 diopters. In order to correct this problem, he underwent successful laser eye surgery in 1999, and he immediately resumed winning tour events. (He received money from TLC Laser Eye Centers to endorse them, In 2007, his vision again began to deteriorate, and he underwent laser eye surgery a second time.)
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard: In his first start in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard since his win in 2013, finished T5 after a final-round 69. Was five strokes back of leader Henrik Stenson after 54 holes, and got to within one of the lead with three holes to play, but posted back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17. Improved to 118-under par at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 44 strokes better than the next best player (Vijay Singh, 74-under). Marked his 10th top-10 (eight wins) in 18 starts at the event.
Masters Tournament: Earned third Masters title, joining Nicklaus (1965-66) and Nick Faldo (1989-90) as the only consecutive winners at Augusta National. Only Nicklaus (six wins) and Arnold Palmer (four wins) have more Masters titles. Jimmy Demaret, Faldo, Gary Players and Sam Snead also won three Masters Tournaments. Was tied with Retief Goosen at 11-under entering the final round, birdied two of the first three holes en route to a three-stroke victory over Goosen. Win was his 31st on TOUR.
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World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship: At 19-under 269, finished two strokes clear of Steve Stricker to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and become the TOUR's first multiple winner of the season. His 76th career PGA TOUR win and 17th World Golf Championships victory came at age 37 years, 2 months, 10 days in his 297th (283rd professional) career TOUR start. After posting the most birdies of his career through 36 and 54 holes, finished with 27 for the week, just one shy of a career-high 28 at the 2007 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and 2006 Buick Open. Entered the final round with a four-stroke lead over Graeme McDowell, with his final-round, 1-under 71 leading to the victory (the 51st time in 55 attempts he has carried the third-round lead on to victory). Received putting tips from Stricker on Wednesday, with the two (Stricker finished No. 1) going on to finish as the top-two players in the field in Strokes Gained-Putting. Finished the week with a career-low 100 putts. The Cadillac Championship represents the fourth PGA TOUR event he has won seven times (World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Farmers Insurance Open). The Cadillac Championship win was his first World Golf Championships victory since the 2009 Bridgestone Invitational. From 1999-2009, he did not go an entire season without winning at least one World Golf Championships title.
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Chevron World Challenge: Lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell at the Chevron World Challenge. It was the first time as a professional that he lost after holding a three-shot-or-more lead entering the final round. McDowell drained a 20 foot putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and then made a 25 foot putt on the first playoff hole (No. 18) to capture the win. The world's No. 2-ranked player missed a 14-foot putt that would have extended the playoff. He has finished in the top two at this event in eight of his 10 starts.