My Close Personal Friend Tiger Woods

In late 2005 and early 2006, on assignment for Men’s Vogue in Los Angeles and Orlando, I got to spend some time hanging around with Tiger Woods. (Woods wanted Vogue to pay attention to his clothing lines and so had agreed to be interviewed at some length by a print reporter, something he ordinarily hates and rarely does.) He buffaloed me on at least one issue—he described his marriage as one of the proudest achievements of his life—but I liked him a lot, and I enjoyed being with him, and I found him much more interesting to talk to than, for example, any of the handful of Major League Baseball players I had to interview, many years ago, on an assignment for the short-lived magazine Inside Sports. (Imagine the most annoying jock in your high school class permanently frozen at his moment of maximum annoyingness.) Woods gets close to zero credit for being forthcoming, but, actually, over the years he has intelligently explained a huge amount about what goes on in his mind as he competes—more than any other great athlete I can think of.

He has also been surprisingly nonchalant about the potential peril of getting out of the bed in the morning. He loves roller coasters. He races down double-black-diamond slopes despite not knowing all that much about skiing. He has taught himself to hold his breath underwater for four minutes, and he has dived to a hundred feet without scuba tanks. He has gone bungee jumping in New Zealand. And he drives his car too fast, in my middle-aged opinion. Also, of course, those cocktail waitresses.

In Florida, the idea was that Woods would put on a Prada suit and zip around Lake Butler on a jet ski while the photographer chased him in a power boat. But there was a problem. The sky had darkened steadily through the morning, and the wind had picked up to thirty miles an hour, and the National Weather Service had issued a small-craft advisory. The owner of the power boat said the water was so choppy that if he ventured onto the lake he might not be able to return to the same dock. Canceling the shoot would be the prudent thing to do, everyone agreed—except Woods. “It’s not that rough,” he said, like a ten-year-old making a case for visiting Disney World in a thunderstorm.

Woods eventually prevailed on the weather issue. After a few minutes on the water, though, he circled back toward the dock, and I and all the other people on shore assumed that the ugly conditions had brought him to his senses. But then he shouted, “How fast is this thing supposed to go?” It turned that he hadn’t been able to crank the jet ski to anything like its top speed, 60 m.p.h., and he couldn’t figure out what might be wrong. A neighbor of the jet ski’s owner removed several handfuls of weeds from under the hull, and Woods happily took off again, at full throttle.

Thirty minutes later he was back on land, very pleased. As he changed out of his wet clothes, he said, “Watch this,” and poured a half-cup of water from one of his Cole Haan oxfords

With a great deal of trepidation, I’m going to open this blog to comments. But I can always change my mind. Real names, please.

18 thoughts on “My Close Personal Friend Tiger Woods

  1. He made a mistake.who does not.Difference is every guy in the world is passing judgement.let him recover in peace.Cheers for telling a different story.

  2. Most people are risk-averse. Tiger has been trained to seek out risk. He does not consider the possibility of losing. Or he didn’t, until recently.
    That’s why he has exactly one second place finish in majors, vs. Nicklaus’ 19 second places. Jack minimized risk, Tiger embraces it.

  3. I like this article, as everybody knows we all made mistakes, so what? Are we gonna crucify Tiger due to his mistake, for god’s sake, thanks David Owen.

  4. Thank you David for sharing this unique perspective on Tiger. I enjoy seeing how the very successful and competitive people approach life. Sometimes their drive pushes them to succeed other times it pushes them over the edge.

  5. Nice to read a piece like this… :O)
    Yes the man made a mistake, but who among us can say he didn’t?
    I say, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”
    Let Tiger entertain us like he did once and im sure he will again.
    I love to watch him play, good or bad he is always fun to watch.
    Five years from now he will have his record (19 majors)
    Look forward, move forward Tiger.
    God speed..

  6. Mr. Owens,
    I want to thank you for sharing your story. It is nice to see something positive about Tiger Woods. Our society is quick to build people up and even quicker to tear them down. I watched Tiger make history for the last 20 years. The thing I always admired most about Tiger was his ability to perform in the brightest lights and the glaring heat of competition. That said, everybody makes mistakes. Not many people know the temptation that somebody in Tiger’s position faces each and every day. We read the stories every day, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, etc…. I always tell my kids, it’s not what happens to you in life that defines you. It is how you respond to what happens to you in life that defines you.

  7. I don’t understand what this article says except that you like Tiger and that he does things without concern for his, or anyones, safety. How the above comments are made I do not know; except they are by people who want to sound like his ‘friends’.
    Just another fluff piece as far as i am concerned.

  8. Lib wannabe worships skank. Wow. Sadly, I loved the “My Usual Game” book when it came out. Thanks for destroying that.

    • What part of using your real name did you not understand? And Coolidge was known as “Silent Cal”. Perhaps you should emulate

  9. One Mistake ? …… you sure ?

    Thanks for the story David, very enjoyable, but it doesnt change my mind about the biggest boor that has ever played the great game of golf.

  10. David, that was 7+ years ago. Tiger’s main problem now is calendaritis. Add the surgery and the personal problems…Jack’s record is safe as houses.
    Maybe one more major, but even that is less than even money.

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