The book “Tiger Woods” came out in March and is a New York Times bestseller. If you have an interest in golf or sports in general, it is an excellent read. If you have followed the Tiger saga, then you know the general story, but “Tiger Woods” takes a deeper dive.
The book combines information and stories from more than 400 interviews, including over 250 people from in and around Woods’ life. It allows the reader the opportunity to walk through Tiger’s life one step at a time and see how he developed at each stage. There have been many books written about Tiger, but this one is different because of the author’s research and storytelling.
“Tiger Woods” was written by Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict, who examine the question “Who is Tiger Woods?” The authors do an amazing job telling a complete story of Tiger’s life, which is no surprise, based on their previous works and pedigree. They both have extensive backgrounds as investigative journalists and have established themselves as the two of most important authors of this genre in America. Jeff Benedict is an NYT bestseller and has written fifteen books including an autobiography about the Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. He has also written for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Armen Keteyian is an 11-time Emmy Award winner, a correspondent for CBS News and “60 Minutes.” He has been involved in groundbreaking stories including the Penn State scandal and NFL concussion settlement.
To be clear, Jeff and Armen did not interview Tiger, or his mother, or his father, so there are some storytelling liberties that they took including knowing what Tiger, Elin and others were thinking at certain points. The authors also added their own educated opinions on Tiger’s personal weaknesses. Nevertheless, I have not read a more thoroughly researched book considering the circumstances.
The book starts with Tiger’s childhood. You learn the backstory of how his parents Earl and Kultida met (while Earl was married). It takes you through Tiger’s dominance at the high school level, beating kids much older, but the book also goes into Tiger’s high school relationships–friends, girlfriends, and coaches). The personal stories are somehow more fascinating than his performance on the golf course. The book also takes you through Tiger’s time at Stanford (hating the NCAA), and how Earl’s “friends” helped finance Tiger in the days leading up to turning pro. No Tiger book would be complete without going through his peak, including the Tiger Slam, but these known accomplishments are supplemented with stories about Tiger’s relationships with girls, the media, and his inner circle. One story that is shocking is that his father, who died in 2006 and was always the center of attention before his death, lies in an unmarked grave. Ultimately, the book takes you through November 30th, 2009, and ends with Tiger trying to put his broken life together.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was Tiger’s relationship with Mark O’Meara. When Tiger first turned pro, Mark took Tiger under his wing and taught him how things work on the PGA Tour. Over the years, Tiger and Mark became neighbors and very close friends. Tiger played a lot of golf with Mark and often spent time at O’Meara’s house with Mark and his now ex-wife Alicia. The book talks about Tiger admiring the normalcy of the O’Meara household especially when he compared it to his own household growing up. Through Tiger’s struggles, he became very distant from Mark often not responding to texts and ignoring Mark. Their relationship eventually became nonexistent. When Mark was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, he invited Tiger and Tiger chose not to attend which devastated Mark.
While reading the book, you almost feel bad for Tiger because of his harsh upbringing and how that made him into who he is — both as a champion and as a person. His parents’ ruthless focus and dysfunctional relationship severely damaged him. Although this seems like a dark story, the author’s compassion and understanding that he is the product of his upbringing turns that narrative around and at the end, all you can do is root for Tiger.