Cori Rist, a 1996 graduate of Rossford High School, where she was a cheerleader for the football team, admitted yesterday on national television to having an affair with golfer Tiger Woods, tearing up when referring to her son.
That she made the admission — and apologized for it — was not a surprise to her family still in Rossford.
“She's a good mother. She just made a big mistake,” said Lewis Rist, 77, her grandfather. He said his wife, Phyllis Rist, had spoken to their granddaughter, and “she just told her she's sorry for what she did.” He noted that she cried during the interview on NBC's Today Show.
Mr. Rist, a Libbey-Owens-Ford retiree, said he sees Ms. Rist and her 7-year-old son “on special occasions” but has not spoken to her since she has been publicly associated with the world-famous golfer and his crumbling public image. He said she never mentioned Mr. Woods to him.
He said Ms. Rist lived in Oklahoma during her childhood before moving back to Rossford prior to entering high school.
The 1996 Rossford High School yearbook features Ms. Rist's graduation portrait. She was a varsity football cheerleader and a member of the high school ski club, according to the yearbook.
Ms. Rist, 31, told an interviewer on the Today Show that Mr. Woods “immediately pursued me” after they met and that they had a six-month sexual relationship before she broke it off after seeing him with pictures of his pregnant wife and their young child.
She said she went public to clear her name from what she said were false allegations that she was a prostitute or had received money from Mr. Woods.
“I had convictions and I knew it was wrong,” she said of the reason for breaking off the relationship, although she did say that their friendship continued for more than two years. She said she last heard from him in September, when he said he missed her and wanted to get together, an offer she declined.
Ms. Rist said she knew the golfer was married when she became involved with him but that he kept telling her that “his marriage was on the rocks but with a baby on the way, he had to uphold his image. He kept saying things were not good at home,” she said.
But six months into the relationship, the photos of the family, coupled with Mr. Woods receiving and sending late-night texts, led her to believe that he was not telling the complete truth and made her suspect there were other women.
Ms. Rist said yesterday morning that she was “disappointed” to learn about the number of women who have said that they were sexually involved with the golfer.
As many as 12 have been linked to Mr. Woods in the last two weeks, causing sponsors to drop him and prompting him to withdraw from professional golf.
“We would all like to think we were special, although we knew what was happening was wrong,” she said.
Ms. Rist teared up when asked about the impact the story has had on her family, especially her 7-year-old son.
“He has suffered a lot of consequences from this. I had to explain to him the mistakes that I've made,” she said. “And it's been hard on my family as well. No one wants to see their daughter or granddaughter in this situation.”
Ms. Rist said that she would like the public to know that although she is not passing judgment on the other women who were involved with Mr. Woods, she does not see herself in the same light.
“I wasn't looking to get anything to out of this relationship. I did walk away from this. I would like to think I'm not the party girl that they're portraying me as,” she said.
Finally, Ms. Rist said that she feels particularly bad about hurting Mr. Woods's wife, Elin.
“I hate that someone had to suffer the consequences of my actions,” she said.
If she could, she said, she would apologize to Mrs. Woods.
“She obviously has to be strong right now. I wish I could take it back. I'm definitely learning from my mistakes,” Ms. Rist said.
— Tom Troy