He’s the one name people who know nothing about golf, know about golf. But aside from the 15 Majors, becoming the the world's first professional athlete to earn over a billion dollars in his career, the forthcoming induction the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021, there is a dual narrative of Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods, one of the most intriguing complex cultural characters in this early chapter of the 21st Century.
Soaring, the eventual reveal of a tumultuous personal life threatened his professional one, but also led to a remarkable resurgence. After becoming the most dominant professional in golf, he is Asclepius, killed by the media, only to be resurrected and transformed into an even greater deity within the sport, that has culminated in his astonishing triumph at the 2019 Masters.
Michael Bamberger has been covering Woods since 1995. “I’ve always had this feeling that Tiger is an unknowable person,” said Bamberger upon the release of his celebrated book ‘The Second Life of Tiger Woods’.
The book covers the recent years of his life ‘a period of exceptional change’ leading up to the resounding success at Augusta ‘19. In 2017, Woods had a roadside arrest for DUI, “To go from the lowest of lows, to try to come back as a very public person, I thought had to be the single biggest challenge of his life,” Bamberger spoke of his endeavour. The resulting chronicle, told by the former Sports Illustrated writer, is an exceptional expose on one of the most visible, recognisable, but indeed ‘unknowable’ athletes in history. Bamberger has investigated the sources of that spiral that threatened to blemish the legacy, and instead resulted in perhaps the best chapter being written in the sport star’s saga.
This isn’t purely a book for the golf nor Woods enthusiast, but for the reader with interest in the nature of celebrity and the fallibility of fame and its price. There are lessons for those of us who aren’t $1billion athletes. Bamberger explores in great detail how those self-inflicted lows came about, how Woods sought to resolve those issues, the incredible highs and perhaps most important, the people who helped him along the way.
This is Woods, man, machine, megastar, but mortal. Bamberger has attempted to lay Woods bare, and the outcome is a brilliantly entertaining but profound read.
The Second Life of Tiger Woods, by Michael Bamberger, Simon & Schuster, £20.