The second part of HBO’s documentary “Tiger” is a revealing portrait of his fall from the top of the mountain. We can argue who made a greater comeback – Tiger or Ben Hogan – another time, but the return to glory is limited to less than 15 minutes of this 1 hour, 41-minute production. Everyone loves a comeback, but going back to biblical times the story of “the fall” is way more compelling.
Part two begins with video of Tiger at Mountain Warfare Training Center in La Posta, California, and ESPN’s Wright Thompson tells viewers how 25 days after Tiger buried his dad in 2006, he went there to train with Navy Seals. One of them asks, “Why is the greatest golfer running around playing G.I. Joe?” Thompson recounts. “Tiger looked at him and said, ‘My dad.’ ”
Thompson concludes that Tiger losing his father left “an Earl Woods size hole in his life.”
None of this is really new reporting, but the video clips make it seem more vivid and real. Caddie Steve Williams simply repeats what he wrote in his book and had previously told journalists, but when he looks in the camera and says how Tiger, who spent his 31st birthday at a “Kill house” with Navy Seals, considered giving up golf to join the Navy Seals, it feels more believable.
And there are some great nuggets throughout, including that whenever Tiger participated in these Navy Seal training activities, he “always seemed to get kicked in his left knee,” suggesting that at least some of the injuries he endured and surgeries he required may have been self-inflicted.
Next the story dives deep into his double life and rehashes his many sexual escapades with the Perkins waitress Mindy Lawton and for the first time we hear from Rachel Uchitel, who was having an affair with Tiger when he is busted by the National Enquirer. We are led to believe that Tiger fell hard for the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” lifestyle, with the best line being supplied second-hand by author Armen Keteyian. When Tiger asked Michael Jordan what he is supposed to say to the girls he meets, Jordan answers, “Tell them you’re Tiger Woods!”
Amber Lauria, a friend of Tiger’s and whose uncle is World Golf Hall of Famer Mark O’Meara, seems to have the best understanding of Tiger of anyone who spent real time with him away from the golf course. She gives this telling assessment of Tiger before his carefully constructed image blew up after his car hit a fire hydrant in the wee hours of the morning post-Thanksgiving dinner 2009.
“He was sick of trying to hide who he was, but he was so scared of the real Tiger not living up to the Tiger that everybody else thinks he is,” she concludes.
The segment on Tiger being arrested for DUI on Memorial Day 2017 is the toughest to watch. This is rock bottom for one of the greatest athletes of all time, who is shown unable to even tie his shoes. But even the biggest Tiger fan should understand the depths of his fall to truly appreciate the amazing story of golf’s version of “Humpty Dumpty” being put back together and returning to the top of the wall, back on the throne as Masters champion in 2019.
It was a little odd that the producers glossed over his win before that at the 2018 Tour Championship, showing video of the triumphant scene at 18, but never acknowledging his victory there. I’m assuming David Duval declined to participate, but producers should still have given him credit rather than just have Keteyian “borrow” his immortal line of the young pros wanting a shot at Tiger on a Sunday in a major: “The F— you do.”
This was the documentary’s chance to add something new to the conversation and go beyond the reporting of the unauthorized Tiger bio of which it is based. While short shrift is given to his renaissance after his spinal-fusion, the documentary does present a few moments that depict his gratitude to be playing golf again and how Tiger has changed as a person. But maybe longtime Tiger chronicler Pete McDaniel said it best, “We always try to make him more than he is and that goes back to Earl.”
Can you imagine the pressure to live up to the expectations heaped on him by his father, who once said, “Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity. … He is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations,” and would have a greater humanitarian influence than Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, or the Buddha?
Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg was quick to put out a statement denouncing the “Tiger” doc as another failed attempt to tell his client’s story. While it seems unlikely we’ll ever get the unvarnished truth from Tiger, he is reportedly working on an autobiography and while his co-author hasn’t been officially confirmed, it has been rumored to be J.R. Moehringer, who previously teamed with Andre Agassi on one of the most candid and revealing sports bios in the genre. For fans who crave to better understand Tiger’s life, this HBO documentary is worth seeing, but we can only hope for more to come.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/01/17/tiger-woods-documentary-hbo-comeback-earl-woods/