For some it was a shocking revelation: a billionaire athlete who espouses family values, was cheating on his wife. For others, it was a drawn out dreary celebrity story, devoid of the salaciousness of the usual Hollywood goings-on. But perhaps the most interesting part about Tigergate was how a combination of old and new media extracted the truth from the murky wreck of a celebrity marriage and helped the story travel around the world.

The roots of this story are deep. Esquire writer Charles Pierce wrote in his 1997 profile of the golfer that Woods had a reputation as a "chaser", cracking "puerile" and "sexist" jokes. Woods has never endeared himself to the media, blocking unfavourable journalists from press conferences and creating an Anna Wintour-like climate of fear among media who criticise him.

Eventually, it was that good old supermarket tabloid, The National Enquirer, taking a break from reporting UFOs and Elvis sightings, that caught Tiger. They actually had the story of Woods' dalliances two years ago, but spiked it in return for a rare cover shoot with the golfer for Men's Fitness magazine (both magazines are owned by American Media Inc.) But the trade-off was short lived, and the minute the Enquirer report­ed on rumours that Tiger was playing away, the rest of the gossip industry pounced, and more serious media followed.

Popbitch, the weekly celebrity gossip email mailout from which tabloid stories are frequently sourced, detailed how the story was actually worked, calling it "a textbook case of how to smoke out the story of an affair". First up is the so-called 'stalking horse', Rachel Uchitel. The National Enquirer sows seeds of an affair, with Uchitel sent out to deny the rumours, in a litmus test to see if other women will come forward. Next, the reaction of Woods and his wife is scrutinised. If they stay composed and hold hands for a few days, the story can deflate. But crashing a car, rumours of domestic violence, and golf club smashing rampages is probably the worst reaction imaginable, and from there, it's a no-holds barred media siege. played perhaps the biggest role in making the rumours tangible. The website has shown itself to be one of the most important and influential news networks around since its inception four years ago, completely changing how celebrities are stalked and gossip is reported. The National Enquirer placed the ball on the tee, but TMZ drove it down the fairway.