When discussing who is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) in sports, several names pop up respectively to their individual games that are indisputable yet having the difference of opinion is needed for a healthy discussion. There is Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams, Mariano Rivera, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, Muhammed Ali and Tiger Woods. Not much argument has to be made for these legendary individuals’ cases, but a lot of people may feel differently about some over the other. In 2020, The Last Dance released which highlighted Michael Jordan’s career with the Bulls organization and his 6 titles but most importantly his relationships with those closest to him, his father most importantly.
Tiger focuses on that same relationship between father and son. The story of Tiger Woods is traced back all the way to when he was two years old, with a golf club in his hands, appearing on The Mike Douglas Show with his father Earl Woods. At that young of an age, Tiger already demonstrated excellent athletic ability that would springboard his career. From humble beginnings to total golf domination to extra marital affairs to arrests and a stunning comeback, Tiger spares no detail in the rise and fall of an icon.
Unlike The Last Dance which has Michael featured heavily throughout the ten episode limited series, Tiger doesn’t feature Tiger whatsoever in the 2 part documentary. Instead of a first account of his life in his words, the life of Tiger is looked at under a microscope by his first girlfriend Dina Parr, his former caddy Steve Williams, Rachel Uchitel (his former mistress) as well as family friends and fellow golfers. Each interviewee paints a similar picture of Tiger but from different points in his life. Rare footage of home movies from Dina Parr’s family shows Woods as a carefree kid with zero responsibility or weight on his shoulders.
Earl Woods never let Tiger have a childhood. From sunrise to sundown Tiger was golfing and working tirelessly on his game. It’s made crystal clear the impact Earl had on a young Tiger. Learning about Earl’s affairs, the influence is implanted in Tiger’s brain that the type of behavior is normal leading to his own affairs and public disgrace. Earl wanted the best for his son, predicting he would be the biggest star to walk the earth and the pressure that came with the expectations became too much to handle for Tiger. Episode one ends on that affair being released to the public of Woods and Uchitel in a hotel room.
Most of Tiger is portrayed through the tabloid point of view. Tabloids are used easily to recreate the timeline of events by directors Matthew Heineman & Matthew Hamachek. Both expertly weave the narrative through a balanced mix of interviews and rare never before seen footage of the golfer’s life. If you’re old enough to remember the big stories happening in real time, a lot more context and in depth looks are explored to give the impression of the entire story, not one singular person’s account of what happened.
Tiger highlights both triumph and disaster equally. At points throughout both episodes, feelings of sympathy and anger are aimed toward Tiger. There are times when he deserves all those trophies and being the number 1 ranked golfer in the world while being idolized and swarmed with paparazzi and there are times, he deserves all the bad that happened to him. Tiger’s life in the public eye is both exciting to watch the absolute domination and tragic when he ruins his marriage and image with social assassinations.
Even with all the destruction and self-sabotage that came, Tiger became an underdog. After millions of dollars of endorsements and sponsorships lost and injuries cost him losing the number 1 ranking, the hope to see Tiger win again and be back on top exponentially grew. Episode two focuses more heavily on the downfall and comeback that Tiger went through to reinventing his swing and eventually winning the Masters in 2019.
Nobody is perfect or above scrutiny or criticism. Tiger was held accountable for his actions and he made that his motivation to get clean and make the comeback grander than his initial rise.
Tiger takes a microscopic look at the rise, fall and comeback of one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game. Shrouded in controversy, his legacy will include all the destruction but that doesn’t take away his sheer dominance in the game of golf. Without a firsthand account by Tiger himself, the documentary as told by some of those who have been closest to him still provides a riveting and compelling narrative of his life. If I were to rate Tiger, I’d rate it a 4 out of 5.
So, tell me, have you seen Tiger and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Tiger is directed by Matthew Heineman & Matthew Hamachek is rated TV-MA and has a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tiger was released on January 17, 2021. Tiger can be streamed on HBO Max.