In what may be the single most told cautionary contemporary tale of our times, Tiger Woods’ story is a cliché within a conundrum. The pseudo-All-American boy’s rise and precipitous fall may be both the American Dream and the Yankee Nightmare.
The single most successful golfer of modern times, Tiger Woods proudly refers to his ethnic make-up as “Cablinasian” (a self-created syllabic abbreviation he thought up from blending his Caucasian, Black, American Indian and Asian roots. After being a child prodigy, Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods won the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991, before turning professional at the age of 18 in 1996; and already, by April 1997, he had won his first major tournament, the 1997 Master’s, and by June 1997 was ranked the world’s number one. Awarded the PGA Player of the Year Award a record 10 times, the Byron Nelson Award for the professional golf tour’s lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, the highest money earner for nine seasons, winner of 14 major golf tournaments, and 79 PGA tour events, Woods is only the second golfer, after Jack Nicklaus, to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has also won the World Golf Championship 18 times and both Silver and Gold medals at the Open Championship.
At the very height of his popularity, in 2009, Tiger Woods finally fell from his pedestal as news filtered out involving a car crash, an angry cuckolded wife, hundreds of tell-all tales of kinky extramarital sex, and links to a controversial sports doctor known for supplying HGH and steroids to athletes. Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, whom no one seems to have paid much attention to before this incident, was a cool blonde ex-au pair and ‘model’ and mother to his daughter Sam and son Charlie.
Almost instantaneously, Tiger Woods underwent one of the greatest recorded drops in popularity of any nonpolitical figure ever. Yet before the scandalous details reached a ravenous press, the public watched as a veritable army of Tiger’s representative public relations people, agents, legal representatives and the upper crust of the professional golf world attempted to exercise damage control in a mission resembling the NSA sending its best and brightest operatives into Abbottabad, Pakistan, to take down Osama Bin-Laden. Yet the hundreds of attempts to silence the press and literally thousands of ‘witnesses’ and whistle-blowers coming forward to beat each other in telling their stories to a piranha-like army of lawyers, paparazzi and legitimate sports writers in an attempt to keep the Tiger Woods gravy train rolling did not work. Injunctions and gag orders were issued, but, as with the cliché of the boy with his finger in a dyke, there were just too many witnesses, wronged-parties, and just plain greedy parties involved for the story not to ultimately come out.
The whole seedy story, when it finally came out, proved to be a pathetic comedy. To whit, Woods, having crashed his beautiful sports car into a fire hydrant on November 27, 2005 while trying to escape from an assault (using a golf club!) by his wife after being caught in an illicit love affair, saw things fell apart precipitously. Tiger had a penchant for sex, lots of it: threesomes, with both girl-on-girl, girl-on-other-guy, S&M (including hair-pulling and spanking); $60,000 cash-for-sex escort dates; ‘dogging’ with strangers, quickies in parking lots with porn stars and ‘beautiful’ transvestites, and a preference for silicone-enhanced porn stars and a succession of nightclub hostesses and waitresses. Particularly partial to girls with full lips, Woods paid out tens of millions to plastic surgeons to custom-alter the looks of various sex-buddies. Worse, he text-messaged and emailed requests for cocaine, Ecstasy and Ambien and sent silly sexual texts which the ‘injured parties’ kept which showed that, though he may have been good at golf in high school, Tiger misspelled words in every fragmented sentence he composed. Plus, once his outraged wife took him to divorce court, only so much could be hushed up as regular payments of between $5,000 and $10,000 each month to thousands of ‘actresses’ were made just to keep his small army of concubines quiet. Thus, it seems there is still lots we still don’t know (Thank God!) as a wise group of adult entertainers took millions in hush money and scores of suppressed private ‘movies’ including a rumored supersession between Woods, porn star Angelina Valentine and the mightily hung Lexington Steele. And although Tiger likes to give the impression to the gossip machine that he’s dating Olympian alpine skier Lindsay Vonn, most of his time seems to actually be spent with Ms. Valentine. Consequently it’s no wonder Tiger Woods underwent a massive fall in popularity.
Carefully handled by his agent, handlers and entourage, Tiger was unknowable to the writers who covered him. Thus it was inevitable that they would all turn on Tiger and try to rip him to pieces like a pack of dogs. Having gone from being a Middle Class Los Angeles suburbanite as a kid to earning $71m in 1996 to $279m in 2008, who could feel sorry for him? Advertising clients like Accenture, Gillette, and Tag Heuer having abandoned him, today he is, temporarily at least, simply a golfer trying to win tournaments. The fact that the man still sometimes does win, despite the gossip-fed media insanity surrounding him, makes him, bizarrely, a sort of atypical antihero of our times.