HBO’s ‘Tiger’ a warts-and-all portrait of a golf great

'Tiger' – The man, the legend, the flaws

“Tiger” premieres Sunday on HBO.

Tiger Woods was the type of singular talent that was preprogrammed for greatness seemingly from birth.

He gripped a golf club at two months old, was hitting drives on “The Mike Douglas Show” at two years and was repeatedly told by his father Earl that through golf he could make a difference. And, of course, he did.

His story is told in the two-part HBO Sports documentary “Tiger,” airing consecutive Sundays, Jan. 10 and 17. Directed by Matthew Heineman (“The Trade”) and Matthew Hamachek (“Meet the Patels”), the three-and-one-half-hour film follows the rise, fall and return to the game of the golf icon through never-before-seen footage and interviews with those who know him best, including former caddie Steve Williams, golf legend Nick Faldo, Earl Woods’ biographer and close friend Pete McDaniel, Woods’ first true love Dina Parr and Rachel Uchitel, the woman at the center of the sex scandal that would alter the course of Woods’ life.

Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian’s book “Tiger Woods” served as a resource for the film, which was made without the participation of the Woods camp.

Of course, the accolades on the links speak for themselves: 82 PGA Tour wins, 15 major championships (including five Masters titles), 10-time PGA Tour top money winner, 11-time PGA Tour Player of the Year and a host of other laurels. And the driving force behind that success, at least at the outset, was Earl Woods.

“Tiger” premieres Sunday on HBO.

He was easily the biggest influence of Tiger’s childhood and young adulthood, putting all his resources into molding his son into a champion. The documentary details Earl’s love of the game and how that was passed on to Tiger. But as Tiger’s career took off and he matured as a man, he grew away from his father.

Part of that was due to Earl’s womanizing. One scene in the documentary tells of how he didn’t bother to hide his indiscretions from his son, which disgusted Tiger.

Of course, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and Tiger himself had some very public carnal escapades. The film goes into his “unchained” behavior in Las Vegas and the relationships that resulted, as well as the dalliance that would eventually end his marriage to wife Elin Nordegren, with Rachel Uchitel, a New York nightclub manager, in 2009.

Personal problems, including sex and substance addiction, injuries, surgeries and subpar performances would follow, leading to his fall from golf’s elite. The documentary details his years of personal and professional struggles as well as his stirring comeback and victory at the 2019 Masters, capped by a touching hug with his young son Charlie on the 72nd hole, thus mirroring his own embrace with dad Earl after he won his first Masters title 22 years earlier.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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