Top Takeaways from Tiger Woods' HBO Documentary 'Tiger' Part 2

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2021

Mike Ehrmann

"I think the Tiger Woods story is a cautionary tale. Be careful about the image you create of yourself. Be careful to live lies. Be very, very careful because it can all come tumbling down."

Neal Boulton, the former editor of the National Enquirer, summarized a major theme of part two of HBO's documentary Tiger with those very words. While part one focused on his childhood as a golf prodigy, his relationship with his father Earl and his rise to golf superstardom, much of the second part was about Tiger Woods' downfall.

And, of course, his eventual return to glory.

Unlike The Last Dance, in which Michael Jordan was intimately involved and a key presence through a number of interviews, Tiger was a documentary built on interviews from different people in his life.

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One of those people was Rachel Uchitel, who was identified as having an intimate relationship with Woods when his extramarital affairs became a major story in 2009.

"We met with her for lunch, and Rachel felt strongly that nobody had ever told her side of the story; that the media had taken her and turned her into a caricature," Tiger co-director Matthew Hamachek told Insider.

Uchitel told her story, saying that she first met Woods when she was running a club in New York City and soon built an intimate relationship with him. She said Woods "was like a fountain, he just wanted to talk and talk and talk" when they were together, and she believed he was free to be himself around her.

What Tiger Woods being himself truly meant was another theme of the entire documentary, which portrayed him as being uncomfortable with the fame that came with his dominance on the golf course.

From Jordan explaining to him to simply tell women they partied with in Las Vegas that he was Tiger Woods when he didn't know how to break the ice to him turning to Navy SEAL training after his father died in 2006 as a way to escape his reality, it was a string that tied much of the depiction of his life together.

Tiger highlighted the tabloid-like coverage of his affairs, the emotional toll that took on his then-wife Elin Nordegren—who was blindsided by all of it—and how the country seemed to take joy in his downfall from golfing legend to punch line.

There were physical issues as well, as the Navy SEAL training led to significant knee damage.

Former caddie Steve Williams said doctors discovered he needed major reconstructive surgery and had two fractures in his knee, but that didn't stop him from playing in the 2008 U.S. Open. Williams said when he told Woods he may be jeopardizing his career, the all-time great simply replied, "Stevie f--k you, I'm winning this tournament."

Win it he did despite the immense pain that came with the injuries.

Knee problems eventually turned into back problems, and a particularly notable moment in Tiger came when Nick Faldo said Woods told Jack Nicklaus at the 2017 Masters champions dinner his career was likely done.

Shortly after that, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The documentary showed the dashcam video footage that saw Woods struggling to speak and stand before he was eventually taken into custody.

It was framed as the low point for Woods in a nearly two-hour conclusion to the mini series that also explored how he cut people out from his life, including old friends and even Williams.

"I thought he was firing me as a golf caddie, not firing me as a friend," Williams said, explaining "to this day I find it a hard pill to swallow. Someone you spent 13 years with and gave all your time and all your effort."

Even though Woods was the best man at Williams' wedding and had spent much of his professional life excelling with the caddie by his side, Williams' decision to caddie for someone else while Woods was taking time away from the game was apparently too much for someone who the caddie said was solely focused on winning.

"It was quite sad, really, but that was just the reality of it," Williams said.

The documentary essentially suggested that Woods was a machine built to become the best golfer in history, but that machine finally broke down with the affairs, injuries and pressures of a lifetime of fame.

The implication was also that Woods has become far more human since his arrest, as evidenced by his willingness to connect with fellow golfers and fans more than he ever did in his prime.

It was fitting, then, that his triumphant return to glory as the 2019 Masters victor was framed almost from a fan's perspective and how incredible it was to see him rise to the occasion like he did so many times in what seemed like a different lifetime.

His hug with his son, Charlie, at that victorious moment was juxtaposed with the hug he shared with his father after he won his first ever Masters as a young golfer on his way to legendary status.

And there it was, the journey of Tiger Woods, with all its flaws, brilliance, greatness and glory for everyone to see.