As I have watched the saga of Tiger Woods unfold for twenty years the question continually occurs to me, who is actually making the decisions, who is really responsible for running the Tiger show?
John Feinstein, in this Golf Digest article “No One Tells Tiger Woods What To Do” excerpted from a new book, says that his experiences with the man leave no doubt in his mind that the buck stops with Tiger….period.
As you will read Feinstein has a history of confrontations with Team Tiger over the years. Starting early on he was critical of the well publicized controlling influence of Earl Woods on Tiger’s early development. He took Tiger to task in his articles a number of times for public behavior he considered unprofessional. Things like canceling appearances at tour events where he was granted sponsors exemptions, declining an invitation from President Clinton to appear in a tribute event to the late Jackie Robinson, or trying to control access of the media to players at tour events. None of this criticsm sat well with Tiger Woods or his handlers.
With so many people benefiting from the rising Tiger star, tour sponsors, fellow players, and even the media, it was rare to hear anyone articulate criticism of Tiger and his public behavior. Truth is, Feinstein was consistently right in what he was saying and the public conversation would have been much more balanced if more writers had done the same.
Feinstein was confronted on this by members of Team Tiger to no avail and eventually had a number of conversations with the man himself on a series of incendiary subjects. As usual, Feinstein did not hold his tongue and faced up to these challenges without hesitation.
In a conversation with Tiger on the core subject of Earl’s influence he said:
“I really don’t think your dad is different from any other pushy, grab-the-bucks father,” I said, “except for one thing: You’re his son. So, I give him some credit for your genes because you’re smart enough and tough enough to deal with everything he’s pushed on you and still be a great player. Most kids aren’t that way. I think you’ve succeeded in spite of your father, not because of your father.”
Throughout the article Feinstein cites incidents of public behavior that grabbed the golf headlines where the decision that created them consistently points back to the controlling influence of Tiger himself. He leaves little doubt that Tiger is his own man and that, or better or for worse, Tiger has been the guy responsible for shaping his public image. Pull up a comfortable chair, take a read, and decide for yourself.