Flawed philanderer or an unfairly maligned cultural icon? Whatever you think of him, everyone’s got an opinion about Tiger Woods. Now, Tiger—a two-part, three-hour documentary premiering January 10 on HBO—lifts the veil on the story of Woods’s tragic rise and fall. Here, seven things to note about the doc.
Tiger’s dad comes across as a cult leader.
Part 1 of the series is dominated by Woods’s overbearing father, Earl Woods. When Earl, a Vietnam vet who wears aviator shades, compares his son to Gandhi and Buddha—and predicts that he will “change the course of humanity”— he sounds a little like Keith Raniere in The Vow.
It’s the opposite of The Last Dance.
At the start of the pandemic, ESPN’s nostalgic The Last Dance was the perfect distraction. That docuseries lionized Michael Jordan. By contrast, Tiger, which is executive-produced by Alex Gibney (Going Clear; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), is not a feel-good movie. It’s a dark look at the unraveling of a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Woods’s main mistress is the bombshell witness.
When Rachel Uchitel, the woman whose affair with Woods was exposed by the National Enquirer (and led to his downfall), appears on camera at the end of Part 1, it’s treated like Darth Vader making his grand entrance. This is the first time Uchitel has spoken publicly about the scandal. When Woods paid for her silence a decade ago, he supposedly told Uchitel to get as much money as she could from his lawyers. In a bleak but revealing moment, Uchitel says she took this as a gesture of love.
It’s not a salacious tell-all.
For all of Woods’s infidelities, the doc isn’t that tawdry when it comes to his extramarital affairs. In fact, it seems that Woods told many of the women he slept with, including some sex workers, that he had feelings for them. It was his emotional attachment to dozens of these women that led to his fall.
Tiger is Like a convention of Woods’s enemies.
Almost every interviewee—including Uchitel; Woods’s first girlfriend, Dina Parr; and his longtime caddy, Steve Williams—is someone who Woods cut out of his life at one point or another. As such, Tiger feels a little short on balance and credibility.
If there’s a bad guy, it’s the National Enquirer.
Neal Boulton, a former editor at the National Enquirer, comes across as a cartoonish villain. The glee he takes in knocking Woods from his pedestal because of his extramarital affairs is one of the doc’s slimier moments.
It falls short examining race.
Woods famously identified as “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, Black, American-Indian, and Asian), instead of African American, at the start of his pro career. Tiger codirectors Matthew Hamachek and Matthew Heineman are both white, a fact that has elicited controversy. They don’t shy away from race in the doc, but a lot is left unexplored—from the impact Woods’s ethnicity had on his scandals (would a white athlete have received the same treatment?) to his positive impact on golf in low-income communities to the police identifying him as Black in his 2017 DUI arrest in Florida.
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