Even if you’re only a casual sports fan, by now you’ve almost certainly heard about the year’s greatest comeback story.
We’re talking, of course, about Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters, which followed a decade of personal and professional setbacks.
Woods battled back from severe medical issues and a series of scandals that briefly made him a tabloid staple.
Insiders say no one has been more instrumental to the golf legend’s resurgence than girlfriend
Erica Herman, who’s mostly remained out of the spotlight over the course of her two-year relationship with Woods.
Now, for the first time, we’re beginning to get a clear picture of who Herman is and how she helped Tiger get back to the top.
Take a look:
Woods, 43, and Herman, 35, have been dating since 2017. But it wasn’t until his recent victory at the Masters that the public began to take an interest in their relationship.
Back in the Saddle
With Woods set to hit the links again this week as he plays for the PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black Course in Long Island, there’s been a renewed focus on the golf legend’s formerly low-key relationship.
“She’s been 100 percent supportive, when he was down with his health and all that stuff,” Woods’ longtime friend Arjun Atwal tells Page Six.
Atwal notes that Woods did not have a particularly large support system these past two years.
Team of Two
In fact, he says, there were times when Woods seemed to rely exclusively on Herman.
Strength In (Small) Numbers
“It’s not like he has a bunch of people around,” Atwal said. “She was right there for him.”
Sources say Woods and Herman met when he began frequenting a restaurant she worked at in Jupiter, Florida.
Love at First Tip
“She worked at Blue Martini in Orlando as a bartender to get through college,” said Gianni Nailor, a former bartender at Woods’ restaurant. “And he came to the bar [as a customer].”
While they didn’t develop a romantic relationship until several years later, one insider claims that Herman has “been chasing Tiger around like a puppy for close to 10 years.”
A Professional Relationship
When Woods opened his own restaurant in 2015, he hired Herman as his general manager.
“She had a close relationship with Tiger,” said Nailor. “People were scared to get too close to her [because of her access to the owner]. They kept it professional.”
Woods and Herman would often “meet privately” during her time in his employ, says server Luke Copeland. “She did definitely mention that [she and Woods] had some history,” the former Woods employee adds.
So it sounds as though Herman was a confidante of Woods’ during the darkest days of his personal and professional life.
Woods life began to implode when he was infamously caught cheating on wife Elin Nordegren.
From the Highest High
Woods was at the height of his fame in 2009 when the National Enquirer revealed that he had been caught sleeping around on Nordegren.
The First of the Bunch
Nordegren chased Woods from the couple’s home after discovering texts between the golfer and model Rachel Uchitel.
Just the Beginning
In the months that followed, more than a dozen other women came forward to reveal that they had also had extramarital affairs with Woods.
Vonn to the Rescue?
Several years after his divorce from Nordegren, Woods life seemed to be on the upswing in large part due to his relationship with skier Lindsey Vonn.
After the couple split, however, Woods hit a new rock bottom. In 2017, he was arrested for a DUI, allegedly due to a bad reaction to prescription painkillers.
Down and Out
Woods underwent numerous surgeries as a result of his crippling back pain, and there was a time when it looked as though his career might have been over — but with the help of Herman, Tiger is once again on top.
A Helping Hand
“When an athlete or man in any walk of life has support from his partner, or vice versa, you end up doing well. Or as well as you can,” Atwal says of Woods’ new love. “And when Tiger does as well as he can, he usually beats everyone.”