Late last month, ESPN sports writer Wright Thompson penned a compelling article on how he believes Tiger Woods’ career and personal life unravelled during the 10 years after the death of his father, Earl.
Though an enjoyable read – which Thompson thoroughly researched and compiled with many interviews – it took 45 minutes for us to get through. If you have time, read it here. If you don’t, we highlighted the 10 biggest claims Thompson made about Tiger’s life.
1. At the 2008 US Open, Tiger was advised not to play what would become is final Major victory to date:
“But first, he got one final major.
“I’m winning this tournament,” he told his team.
“Is it really worth it, Tiger?” Steve Williams asked.
“F– you,” Tiger said.”
2. Tiger never recovered from his father’s death:
“In the 1,303 days between his father’s death and the fire hydrant, Tiger set in motion all those things, and when he can finally go back and make a full accounting of his life, he’ll realize that winning the 2008 US Open a year before the scandal, with a broken leg and torn ACL, was the closest he ever got to BUD/S. He could barely walk and he still beat everyone in the world. He won and has never been the same. The loneliness and pain tore apart his family, and the injuries destroyed his chance to beat Nicklaus and to leave fame behind and join the Navy. He lost his dad, and then his focus, and then his way, and everything else came falling down too.”
3. Tiger may be a Buddhist:
“On his wrist, he wears a thin red string, a Buddhist reminder to show compassion and to mind the tongue. Like many things, Tiger keeps his faith to himself — though he has said he was raised a Buddhist — so it’s hard to know how much he practices or if he ever goes to temple. It’s interesting to consider.”
4. Tiger’s strong bond with close friend Notah Begay III is heartwarming:
“They met as children – Tiger was 9 and Notah was 12 – playing youth golf in California. They saw each other, perhaps the only nonwhite, nonwealthy people around, and Notah walked up to Tiger and told him, “You’ll never be alone again.” They’ve been friends ever since, passing together through each stage of life.”
5. Tiger loved the idea of the military so much army words and phrases have become part of his vocabulary:
“Once, when his dog left a tennis ball in the harbormaster’s office, Tiger called down and asked someone to “secure” the ball until a crew member could retrieve it, and the staff still laugh and roll their eyes about it. They don’t know that he often uses military lingo, a small window into how deep he’s gotten into that world, words like “secure” and “downrange” and, even in text messages to his friend Michael Jordan, “roger that.”
6. Jack Nicklaus’ record was not that important to Tiger, and he would likely have enlisted in the navy had he won 18 Majors:
“To many people inside Tiger’s circle, Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors wasn’t as important to Tiger as it was to the golfing media and fans. He never mentioned it. Multiple people who’ve spent significant amounts of time with him say that. When Tiger did talk about it, someone else usually brought it up and he merely responded. The record instead became something to break so he could chase something that truly mattered. He loved the anonymity of wearing a uniform and being part of a team. “It was very, very serious,” the friend says. “If he had had a hot two years and broken the record, he would have hung up his clubs and enlisted. No doubt.”
7. Tiger often treated extra-marital affairs like long-term relationships:
“Many of these relationships had that odd domestic quality, which got mostly ignored in favor of the tabloid splash of threesomes. Tiger once met Jaimee Grubbs in a hotel room, she told a magazine, and instead of getting right down to business, they watched a Tom Hanks movie and cuddled. Cori Rist remembered breakfast in bed. “It was very normal and traditional in a sense,” she says. “He was trying to push that whole image and lifestyle away just to have something real. Even if it’s just for a night.”
8. Tiger was obsessed with training like a Navy SEAL:
“The instructors gave Tiger camo pants and a brown T-shirt. He carried an M4 assault rifle and strapped a pistol to his right leg. On a strip of white tape above his right hip pocket, someone wrote “TIGER … Eventually, Woods learned how to clear a room, working corners and figuring out lanes of fire, doing something only a handful of civilians are ever allowed to do: run through mock gun battles with actual Navy SEALs. “He can move through the house,” says Ed Hiner, a retired SEAL who helped oversee training during the time and wrote a book called First, Fast, Fearless. “He’s not freaking out. You escalate it. You start shooting and then you start blowing s— up. A lot of people freak out. It’s too loud, it’s too crazy. He did well.”
9. Tiger’s father, Earl, had extra-marital affairs and separated from Kultida Woods:
“Tiger hated that his dad cheated on his mom and cried to his high school girlfriend about it. His parents never divorced but moved into their own houses, and the only reason they still needed to communicate at all was their son’s rising golf career.”
10. Tiger’s 2007 knee injury has two possible causes:
On July 22, he finished tied for 12th at the Open Championship, and then came home. In the weeks afterward, he’d announce that he’d ruptured his left ACL while jogging in Isleworth. His news release did not mention whether he’d been running in sneakers or combat boots. At the time, he chose to skip surgery and keep playing. Tiger’s account might be true, as might the scenario laid out in Haney’s book: that he tore the ACL in the Kill House with SEALs. Most likely, they’re both right. The knee suffered repeated stresses and injuries, from military drills and elite-level sports training and high-weight, low-rep lifting.