The passing of Tiger Woods father in 2006 had a much more profound effect on his downfall than many would have considered. It left a void that dictated what has been the secret life of Tiger Woods, one in which he treated women as unceremoniously as the world now treats him. And when Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter offered some temporary solace for that empty space, Woods soaked it in and then drowned in his own indulgences.
ESPN’s Wright Thompson tells the story in gross detail, beginning from the death of Earl Woods to Tiger’s present cocooning of himself from public life. We learn a lot from the troubled details of this revelatory piece and by the end feel both heartbroken and cynical about the entire tale.
End of the Fairways
By his own admission in a recent news conference, Woods admits for the first time that his career as a golfer may have seen its last days. But from 2006 till that fateful car crash in 2009, Woods was far from calling it quits. In fact, he was on top of his game. And though still socially awkward, that changed with some advice from two sports legends: Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter.
“Go tell ‘em you’re Tiger Woods.” Those were the words offered to Woods when he asked the pair how they talk to girls. Seems harmless enough, but for someone who had been spiraling since his father’s passing three years prior, a “nerd” for whom speaking to women wasn’t as easy as outsiders may have thought, and for someone looking rather desperately for something even he would struggle to pinpoint, those words meant everything.
Rachel Uchitel was the first name associated in the Tiger Woods cheating scandal. His ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, found text messages from Uchitel in Woods’ cellphone. The rest has been documented well enough, and more names surfaced in the days and weeks following Nordegren’s initial discovery. Tiger Woods’ kids—two-year-old daughter Sam and then-newborn son Charlie—were certainly fortunate that they weren’t old enough to comprehend the situations nor forced to withstand the bashing their father took from media outlets across the country. They would have felt the shame and embarrassment both Woods and his wife endured through months of tabloid news stories before their eventual divorce.
And where does that leave the world’s greatest golfer? According to an ESPN interview, Michael Jordan says Woods “wishes he could retire.” Even more poignant words from Jordan recorded in the Thompson piece has him saying, “[Woods] has no companion. He has to find that happiness within his life, that’s the thing that worries me. I don’t know if he can find that type of happiness. He’s gonna have to trust somebody. [sic]”
It’s almost ironic that these words come from the same person who at the very least was witness to Tiger’s unfaithful behavior. That Behavior twisted faster the spiral that would lead to the end of Woods’ dominance in the golfing world and now seemingly his career. Woods will likely still go down as the best golfer of his generation if not of all time, but the question of what place Tiger Woods’ personal legacy to himself will hold in his heart is yet to be decided.