In case you missed it, last month, HBO Max debuted a new documentary called Tiger.
Although it was not a follow-up on Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, this tiger series was at times just as salacious and bizarre as the Netflix one that gripped us all at the beginning of the pandemic.
Part Tiger King, part Last Dance (the ESPN docuseries about Michael Jordan that also aired in early 2020), Tiger chronicles the trials and tribulations ofsoon to be Hall-of-Fame golfer Tiger Woods. With a total run time of just over three hours, Tiger is split into two parts, basically, his rise and fall.
The first part details Tiger’s younger years, focusing a lot on his relationship with his father, Earl Woods, and hammering home his drive, competitiveness and talent. And, while it’s interesting to see old home movies of him as a child and footage of him in high school and college, part one of Tiger is pretty “tame.” (Sorry, not sorry.)
It does, however, leave you with a cliffhanger that sets the viewer up for the rollercoaster ride of part two: Affairs. Drugs. Arrest. Divorce. Injuries. And, finally, redemption.
We see Tiger as lost and broken after the passing of his father. He’s searching for something to fill the void and numb the pain—whether that’s physical, emotional or psychological—and he turns to painkillers, women, and putting himself through his own personal hell weeks while training with the Navy Seals.
We relive the fateful night of Thanksgiving 2009 (I can still remember the store I was in on Black Friday when I heard the news of a Tiger Woods car crash), this time with many more details, thanks primarily to Rachel Uchitel, Tiger’s most famous ex-“headmistress,” who is the focus of much of the second half.
There is footage of his DUI test, as well as from jail, plus plenty of interviews with various people providing their own insight into the golf juggernaut gone astray.
In addition to Rachel Uchitel, numerous other sources appear on camera, including Dina Parr, Tiger’s high school and college girlfriend; his former caddie Steve Williams; fellow golfers Nick Faldo and Rocco Mediate; and many golf journalists, along with other neighbors and “friends” (most likely now considered “former friends” after the show has aired.)
Unlike Last Dance where Michael Jordan was a willing and central participant to the documentary, however, Tiger did not only not actively participate in Tiger, but his agent, Mark Steinberg,publicly denounced it, calling it “just another unauthorized and salacious outsider attempt to paint an incomplete portrait of one of the greatest athletes of all-time.”
Yes, Mark’s right. Tiger is salacious and a little bit shocking, but so is seeing someone you grew up idolizing knocked off his pedestal in such a public way.
So hopefully, Tiger, you’ll forgive us for rubbernecking because we’ve done our best to forgive you.
While some things are inexcusable and there must be consequences for actions, many of us can relate to the fallibility of human beings and thus believe in second chances.
That’s also probably why many of us, along with having a love for titillating TV, also love a good story of redemption.
And, while we certainly see Tiger reach rock bottom and even scrape his broken leg along that floor, in Tiger’s denouement, we see him claw his way back to the top, leaving us to wonder: With his most recent Masters victory (2019), could Jack Nicklaus’ majors record still be in jeopardy after all?
Tiger is to golf television as TopGolf is to golf itself… a lighter form of amusement not to be taken too seriously, but still pretty entertaining in the end.