Tiger Woods was caught up in one of the biggest celebrity scandals in Hollywood three years ago, when he publicly apologized for a string of extramarital affairs, said he was going to rehab for sex addiction and divorced his wife.
So what would lead champion skier Lindsey Vonn, or any woman for that matter, to date one of the world’s most-famous repentant cheaters?
“Women love bad boys,” author Wendy Walsh said.
Walsh, a sex and relationship expert who is the author of “The 30-Day Love Detox,” told ABC News that America has a history of forgiving wealthy, successful and powerful men.
Vonn, 28, might find a relationship with the 37-year-old pro golfer attractive, Walsh said, because she gets the public triumph of being the one who “tamed the Tiger.”
“The thing she wants to be more than anything in the world, mark my words, is to be the woman who changed and tamed the Tiger, the one who cured the bad boy,” Walsh said. ”There actually has been research done on this, that women are attracted to bad boys, especially so that they can have this wonderful feeling of victory and self-esteem because they were the ones that got him to change.”
On the other hand, Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist and sexologist who is the author of “The Normal Bar,” said Vonn might be with Woods because she believes he is a changed man and is simply enjoying the attention he has shown her in their budding relationship.
“I think she is with him because there is something in it for her,” Schwartz said. “If she is in love with him or loves his company … for all I know they could both want to be monogamous.
“Maybe she is not invested in him,” she added. “Maybe she is thinking, ‘This is great fun, I’m going to enjoy this’ and that’s it.”
While rumors of Woods and Vonn’s romance had been circling for months prior to their Facebook announcement Monday, the relationship is a fresh start for both pro-athletes. Vonn finalized her divorce from from her husband and former coach, Thomas Vonn, in January. Woods divorced his wife, Elin Nordegren, in 2010 after his multiple affairs came to light.
Woods publicly announced that his monogamous relationship could be another step in repairing his tarnished image.
“If he gets caught in strange hotel rooms with strange women, people will say he’s not cured, so he has to get a girlfriend,” Walsh said.
Schwartz agreed that the couple’s announcing their relationship is a step in boosting a positive image for both of their careers. But there is a “kind of redemption in love,” she said, and certain circumstances where people can change, if that is the case with Woods.
As for their Facebook announcement, Schwartz said, “It could be [Woods] saying that I’m happy. I’m not a miserable, ’kicked out of the house’ guy anymore. I’ve got somebody who loves me … and I want you know it.
“The question is, is he ready to be a mature partner? Is he ready to create some trust or is he ready to say, ‘This is who I am?’”
Both experts said it was understandable that the world would be fascinated with Vonn and Woods because they are high-profile people coming together for the first time.
“Some people want Tiger to make this grand comeback, especially men who see him as this fallen hero who suddenly turned into this good guy and got his game back on top,” Walsh said.
Schwartz added, “I just think that if a man is desirable or if a woman is desirable and they have slept around a lot, we are in a world now that that was then and this is now.”