Sex, TIGER lies... and how snarling lost his bite

jim white BI­OG­RA­PHY

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BOOKS -

Tiger Woods Jeff Bene­dict & Ar­men Keteyian Si­mon & Schus­ter £20

Porn stars, lin­gerie mod­els, party girls, high-priced es­corts and pan­cake-house wait­resses: never mind Masters, Opens and Ma­jors, it is those ac­cu­mu­lated tro­phies listed in this scathing new bi­og­ra­phy that may well ul­ti­mately come to de­fine Tiger Woods.

At the time of his ver­tig­i­nous fall from grace in 2009, Woods was the wealth­i­est sportsman in the world, slip­ping more than $100 mil­lion a year into his ex­pen­sively spon­sored trousers, money glee­fully of­fered up by cor­po­rate back­ers anx­ious to at­tach their brand to his care­fully honed im­age of in­tegrity, hon­esty and whole­some­ness. That sup­port col­lapsed overnight when it be­came all too clear he was none of those things.

In fact, this metic­u­lous, dogged, thor­ough re-ex­am­i­na­tion of his life sug­gests there was more to Woods than met the eye. He was not just a se­rial phi­lan­derer, sex ad­dict and liar. He was also – as any of those obliged over a decade of his as­cen­dancy to share the locker room with his shrill, ugly un­pleas­ant­ness will con­firm – a hor­ri­ble hu­man be­ing. Spoiled, en­ti­tled,

ut­terly self-ob­sessed, at his peak he ex­pressed all the grace, con­sid­er­a­tion and charm of a great white shark with toothache. Take his boor­ish be­hav­iour to­wards Bill Clin­ton. The former Pres­i­dent, the au­thors re­veal, had agreed to open a new cen­tre for Woods’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion in 2007, his only re­quire­ment that the two share 18 holes. When they played, Woods sat all day in his golf cart on his phone, re­fus­ing to en­gage with his part­ner, ex­cept to make oc­ca­sion­ally mock­ing re­marks about the Clin­ton swing. Or what about when Glenn Frey, the Ea­gles’ front­man, died? Frey – who Woods boasted was a close friend – had raised mil­lions over the years for Woods’s char­ity, ap­pear­ing many times at func­tions and ben­e­fits. But when he died, never mind at­tend­ing his fu­neral, our sub­ject couldn’t even be both­ered to send a note of con­do­lence to Frey’s fam­ily. There are many more anec­dotes in this pacey, un­yield­ing book that make you squirm as you read them. And yet, for all his un­pleas­ant­ness, for all the dam­age wrought on his per­son­al­ity by his fe­ro­ciously driven up­bring­ing, there is one thing Woods is not: stupid. But still he jeop­ar­dised ev­ery­thing – his mar­riage, his sta­tus, his legacy – with the most ab­surdly risky be­hav­iour. Not just the sex (he made out with a hooker in the hos­pi­tal car park while his wife was in labour) but the ob­ses­sive man­ner in which he en­gaged with the US Navy Seals, dam­ag­ing his back in in­creas­ingly ex­trav­a­gant se­cret parachute jumps. Bene­dict and Keteyian’s in­trigu­ing con­clu­sion is that he needed the im­pe­tus of his dou­ble life to stim­u­late his golf. His game was at its best when he had the most to hide. It is an in­trigu­ing con­clu­sion. But it of­fers a log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion as to why, fol­low­ing his come­back af­ter ther­apy and surgery, when he ap­pre­ci­ated at last how vile he had been to those close to him, his per­for­mances have been so medi­ocre. The self-dep­re­cat­ing shrug he gave when fad­ing dur­ing the 2018 Masters was indica­tive: the more hu­man he be­comes, the less ef­fec­tive Tiger Woods is as a golfer.

Tiger Woods cel­e­brates af­ter mak­ing a birdie dur­ing the US Open, 2008. Right, from top: with his par­ents in 1992; with former girl­friend Lind­sey Vonn in 2013

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