So, perhaps I should just give in to the inevitable and mention that this biography raises, er, begs other important questions about Woods’ jaw-dropping career, such as: Did Tiger use performance-enhancing drugs?
After his major injury in 2008, Woods hired slugger Alex Rodriguez’s Canadian doctor in 2009. But Dr. Anthony Galea was soon arrested on charges of smuggling human growth hormone.
Yet a hurt Tiger’s possible use of PEDs in therapy after 2008 is a somewhat different issue from whether a healthy Tiger used PEDs before 2008.
That’s an issue I brought up inconclusively way back in 2009 here in Taki’s Magazine in a column entitled “Tiger Juice.” I wrote that back when Tiger’s media image was sanctimonious, before his now ex-wife’s assault on his SUV plunged him into the hilarious scandal that was featured on the cover of the tabloid New York Post for 21 straight days.
The book mentions that the golf tour’s PED-testing program began on July 1, 2008. This happens to have been a couple of weeks after Tiger’s heroic last stand, the final of his fourteen major championships, at what is in effect his home course, Torrey Pines. Perhaps Tiger’s recklessness with his (literally) fractured knee at the 2008 U.S. Open, which sidelined him for the rest of the year, had something to do with the new era in testing beginning right afterward?
Back in 2009, I was struck by an uncharacteristic 2007 cover story in Men’s Fitness magazine showing the normally discreet Tiger, whose shirts had looked two sizes too big for him in 2000, suddenly looking ripped, while his musclehead Vegas trainer raved about how his weightlifting was “off the charts.”
It turned out that there was not one but two bizarre stories behind that story.
First, Tiger had only agreed to pose for the Men’s Fitness article because he was being blackmailed by the magazine’s sister publication National Enquirer, which had fuzzy photos of him with a local waffle house waitress.
In this new biography, the authors attribute Tiger turning into his father when it comes to women to the malign influence of basketball legend Michael Jordan, who does not appear to have cooperated in the writing of the book and thus is portrayed as a complete jerk. (In contrast, Jordan’s running mate Charles Barkley, who may have cooperated, is described as a charming rogue who was, on the whole, a good influence on Woods.)
The book doesn’t mention the funniest (but perhaps apocryphal) Jordan-Woods story: At a nightclub with Jordan and Derek Jeter, the shy young Tiger asked his mentor how to talk to girls. MJ replied that all he had to say was “I’m Tiger Woods.”
Jordan and Barkley introduced Woods to the perks of Las Vegas for high-roller celebrities.
The book asserts that Tiger has been a net winner at the casinos, in contravention of the laws of probability. Still, Tiger, whose best subject in school was always math, apparently has had far less trouble walking away from the gaming table than Jordan (or, unmentioned in the book, his archrival on the links, the action-loving Phil Mickelson).
More generally, Woods appears to have been ripped off financially far less than most athletes, due to the higher quality of business advisers around golfers than around football and basketball players, plus his own intelligence, suspiciousness, and cheapness. Unlike Mickelson, who often gives $100 to the waitress who serves him breakfast, but like Jordan, Tiger is a terrible tipper. Covering for Woods, PGA officials have tipped locker room attendants out of their own pockets to stifle gossip about the meanness of the golf tour’s meal ticket.
More important than gambling to Tiger, Jordan and Barkley introduced him to Las Vegas’ other pastime: girls, the blonder the better.
Interestingly, even though the authors tracked down many of Tiger’s bimbos, the book is lacking in #MeToo moments. Despite few of the women who consented to sex with him having any interest in golf (or Tiger’s other obsessions, such as first-person shooter videogames, the military, and The Simpsons), nor Tiger being all that handsome (his jaw and lower lip aren’t very masculine), he was a celebrity, and that was plenty for them.
Many years ago in Chicago, a garrulous cabdriver told me that Jordan had a secret deal with his wife: He wouldn’t cheat on her in Chicago and she wouldn’t ask him what he did on the road. He didn’t have a good explanation of how he might know this, but my skepticism has declined over the years.
The notorious implosion in 2009 of Woods’ marriage to a Swedish blonde from a good family appears to have been related to Tiger increasingly violating my cabdriver’s putative Jordan Rule by chasing women when at home in Florida (the state he had moved to on the day he turned pro in 1996 to escape his native California’s income tax). The news that Tiger had hooked up with the girl next door (literally) may have been the final straw for Mrs. Woods.
But let’s return to begging the question of why Woods got so swole after his father’s death in 2005.
Second, even as he pushed aside pretender Vijay Singh and returned to No. 1, Tiger was getting bored with golf. He secretly began training with the Navy SEALs and fanatically working out when he wasn’t going through military exercises with them. To the dismay of his numerous staffers, Tiger began talking about how the SEALs would give him a special exemption to enlist despite being slightly over the maximum age.
But Tiger’s body was falling apart. The parachute landings and running with a pack stressed his already-worn left knee. Three weeks before the 2008 U.S. Open, his tibia in his left leg broke.
He played in intense pain and won on the nineteenth hole of the playoff.
That was the end of his nine-year run from the second half of 1999 through the first half of 2008 in which he won 56 tournaments, including thirteen majors.
We shall never see the like again.
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