*This story contains minor spoilers.*
The story of Tiger Woods is well-known, it’s been over-analyzed and picked apart for years and no matter how many new faces deliver new stories, Woods will always be known as one of the greatest athletes of all time that had serious personal failings as fame wrapped its grip around him.
While you can make the argument that the main goal of any documentary, especially one about a celebrity athlete that has been in the spotlight since he was a toddler, is to show the viewer something they’ve never seen before.
HBO’s ‘Tiger’ does deliver new stories told by new faces, but it doesn’t stop there as the goal becomes very clear of wanting to put Woods in a certain corner; one filled with mistakes, flaws, and a troubled upbringing. There’s nothing wrong with HBO taking that angle into Woods’ story. Woods is someone everyone already knows so much about. While the documentary does a fine job humanizing Tiger and refreshing people’s minds about his issues, the execution is lacking. My thoughts and opinions about Woods did not change, and I’m sure that’s true for nearly every viewer out there.
The opening scene foreshadows what is to come in the documentary with Tiger’s father, Earl, giving an emotional speech after his son was awarded the 1996 Haskins Award as the top college golfer of the year. As Earl is crying about his son’s accomplishments, the documentary shows Woods walking into a Florida prison after being arrested for a DUI.
Part one of the documentary focuses on Woods and his complicated relationship with his parents. We hear from his first girlfriend, Dina Gravell, and how she got Woods out of his shell by showing him life off the golf course. We get a look at the media’s reaction about a black man in a sport that was only played by rich, white people and how Woods called himself ‘Cablinasian‘ which upset many in the African-American community. Lastly, we see Earl’s dreams and predictions of Tiger becoming the greatest of all time come true as he wins the 1997 Masters by twelve shots.
The first part of the documentary checks every box for Tiger fans and golf fans in general. It’s a great look into Woods’ upbringing and how he reached the top of the mountain.
Part two focuses on Woods’ fall down that mountain, and it’s not a gentle one. The documentary makes sure Woods hits every rock on his way down. Part one closes with Rachel Uchitel, one of Woods’ former mistresses, teasing what is to come with a dramatic quote. “At this point, I have nothing left to lose. My name hasn’t lost the stigma at all. It’s always been, ‘Rachel Uchitel, comma, Tiger Woods’ mistress.’”
Uchitel and the National Enquirer are the two stars of part two, which should tell you everything you need to know.
Tiger Woods has dropped plenty of memorable quotes throughout his day, but this may be his best, while holding the Claret Jug. pic.twitter.com/WloJ3SmqmE
— Mark Harris (@itismarkharris) January 18, 2021
Hearing from Uchitel and hearing her story is important. Insight from the National Enquirer about how it learned about Woods’ sex life and adultery is important as well. Hearing about it for almost two hours though is overkill. This is where the rollercoaster meets the part of the track that is missing pieces.
Tiger Woods royally screwed up. He made many, many horrible decisions and he is in the wrong for all of the mistakes he brought onto himself.
However, listening to the Enquirer reporter talk about photos of Woods having sex in church parking lots and the photographer picking up a discarded tampon used by the woman seems unnecessary.
Uchitel also comes across as wanting to make it abundantly clear that she wasn’t at fault whatsoever in regards to the affair she had with Woods. She plays a victim card all while jumping on a plane to Australia to go sleep with Woods while he’s playing in the Australian Masters. Woods is certainly at some fault for his relationship with Uchitel, but it does take two people to have an affair.
She goes as far as to say “that was the end of my life as I knew it” while also discussing a settlement from Woods and his legal team.
The most successful part of the second half of the documentary is its focus on Woods’ ex-wife Elin Nordegren. Forget about the massive amount of money she received in the divorce, she was a victim in all of this and there’s no arguing that. The documentary does a great job at driving that home, Woods crashing his Escalade as he fled their house, and how everything spiraled after that not only for Woods but for Nordegren as well.
While there is some golf here and there during part two, it’s completely overshadowed by the scandal and Woods’ sex life. You don’t see or hear anything new about Woods’ incredible comeback to win the 2019 Masters and you only hear minute details about his spine and knees falling apart before he miraculously found a way to swing a golf club again.
So, is the documentary worth watching? Yes, for the most part it’s entertaining and while you’re going to hear stories you’ve heard a dozen times about Woods, the number of new stories and insights from unfamiliar faces makes it worthwhile.