A miniseries about the most famous golfer in the world, without the blessing of the player, tries to dig into the man behind the icon
In a scene from ‘Tiger‘, a sportscaster says about the most famous golfer in the world: “We often wonder what goes through his head. What would we not give to know their thoughts? And those two phrases could work as a summary of the miniseries as a whole, whose second and final episode hits HBO this coming Sunday. The one that its 190 minutes of footage offer is a blurred portrait, and not only because of the rejection of its own Forest to participate in it; the talking busts to whom directors Matthew Hamachek and Matthew Heineman turn to convey the narrative, people who have known the star or worked with him or informed about him, are unable to shed true light on the man behind the icon. And perhaps that is what, at least in part, gives the documentary its reason for being.
In general terms, it is true, ‘Tiger’ reviews with solvency the most relevant aspects of Woods’ life: the racism he experienced as a child in the golf clubs; his impressive victories and extreme ambition; his problematic relationship with his blackness; fame, compulsive infidelities, physical pain, opioid addiction and a return to the top that no one could anticipate. And in the process he weaves a story of disarming simplicity, that of the star athlete overwhelmed by the requirements of professional sports and by a celebrity who experimented too early and against his will – the first episode shows Tiger hitting golf balls on television when He was 2 years old – and suggesting that his mistakes have been a consequence of that pressure.
Specifically, the documentary pays special attention to the traumatic influence exerted by Earl woods, a war veteran who from the beginning imposed a military discipline on his son in order to bring him to perfection, and on whose shoulders he carried almost messianic expectations; as he is heard to assure in one scene, he trusted that this young man was going to “bring to the world a humanitarianism never before known”. Meanwhile, recall Hamachek and Heineman, Tiger took refuge in hobbies such as scuba diving – which offered the possibility of absolute isolation – and tried to shake off his status as a symbol for the black community. I just wanted to be a golfer.
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The second part of ‘Tiger’ reviews episodes that non-sports fans will know better: first, Woods’ ‘affair’ with a PR named Rachel Uchitel – who in the documentary speaks for the first time since the scandal broke out in 2009-, the car accident suffered in front of his home in Florida after his wife found out about the affair and attacked him with a golf club, and the subsequent appearance of dozens of other lovers, including porn stars and escorts . Second, the addiction to painkillers and antidepressants that he developed after undergoing successive surgeries, and which culminated one night in 2017 when he was arrested for driving under the influence of five different drugs,
The documentary culminates in Tiger’s incredible victory at the 2019 Augusta Masters, which provided him with something akin to redemption, but left a bitter taste anyway. Woods, we are told, has not come to reconcile with those people he unjustly removed from his orbit, precisely those who were able to see what the golfer was hiding under his facade: the evidence that, since childhood, that gifted boy never had A chance to develop a true identity, because he spent his life trying to look like a mythical being named Tiger Woods.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.