Black History Month: Tiger documentary

I’ve now had a chance to watch the Tiger documentary a second time. It needed a second viewing because on the first take it was a lot of impressions about how it was all put together. The second time I appreciated the content a lot more.

Subtitled The Rise, The Fall, The Return, it didn’t really live up to that billing because it was so top heavy with the first two parts of the story. But optimistically, the story is still being written.

The Return part should ideally have been a separate part three as there was not enough dramatic pause between Tiger’s 2017 arrest and moving on to the Masters win under two years later. To me, that is the most dramatic part of the story, the miracle of the turnaround and it should have been treated in much more depth than a cursory 15 minutes at the end. No mention of the incredibly significant win at the Tour Championship. But maybe there will be a revised ending in the future.

It seemed that it wasnt a golf film as such, more for a wider audience who wanted the shock of the fall from grace to be the crescendo. The fact that Tiger magnificently turned his life round and came back wasn’t given enough emphasis.

But golfers watching the shameful shaming of Tiger speech by former Masters Chairman Hootie Johnson know that the 2019 Masters win was revenge on that. Johnson shouldnt have spoken like that, it wasn’t his business, it was Tiger’s family’s business, not his. You wonder if Hootie Johnson was Masters Chairman right now whether he would slam the current Masters champion Dustin Johnson for his transgressions and failed drugs tests that also led him into rehab or former Masters Champion Patrick Reed, just to jump on that most unfair bandwaggon. Would he have criticised Arnold Palmer, who really wasn’t a saint either? I think not. And that underscored the sickening racial observations of the film.

I did feel there was way too much emphasis on the salacious. It became the Rachel Uchitel show at one point. But to see the separate films of both Elin and her being catcalled by paparazi reporters in such nasty terms was an eyeopener to how they were treated. I also thought there was a bit too much emphasis on Earl Woods – I would have been just as interested to hear about Tida Woods, We only hear that she wasn’t Mickelson’s number one fan and she called him hefty (she also called him Plastic Phil in the early 2000s so no love lost there).

It seems that the film maker brought forward so many “exes” and let them have their say. Ex caddie Steve Williams seemed quite upbeat recounting his past with Tiger on film (different from the bitterness in his own book when he says “it was as though I was his slave”). He seems to be over it. Bring forward Tiger’s teenage girlfriend was fairly interesting for the home movies of Tiger acting normally goofing around. There was the ex wife of and the neice of Mark O’Meara, Tiger’s great friend on tour, the neice is now an ex friend. The ex teacher who covered up Earl Woods’ liaisons with other women while Tiger practiced and all the women, so many of them, had screen time, who were now all exes, “compartmentalised” as Tiger would think, out of his life.

Two things really interested me in this story. Firstly that the sexual addiction and multiple affairs may have been a form of physical pain relief. It’s clear from Tiger’s 2017 arrest that he was yet another statistic in America’s shameful opiod addiction crisis. He was clearly addicted to pain relief medication. I would have liked to have heard in a proper part three from the doctors who performed the successful spinal fusion surgery, a bit more about this and his physical rehabilitation.

The other fascinating insight was Tiger’s regular forrays to extreme train with the US Navy Seals. What he put himself through psychologically and physically doing this training and how it may have caused multiple injuries. Fascinating that he ran away to join the navy.

Many of us who play golf for a long time have back injuries. I have a damaged L5 disc which on and off causes a lot of pain. But for Tiger who has rotated his body in the swing for nearly 43 years, the pressure must have been tremendous.

So, engrossing in parts, tedious in others, flawed and yet interesting, it’s worth watching, but hopefully the story of the return isn’t done yet.

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