Tiger Woods unmasked by his friends

Rory McIlroy couldn’t live the life Tiger Woods leads, we heard this week.

Tiger Woods unmasked by his friends

When the findings of a new ESRI study into the demands on GAA players arrive, we will have a better idea how the life of a Tiger compares to the lamented life of a county man.

But even if it turns out that there are worse lives out there, Rory insists Tiger’s is bad enough to turn him off altogether.

And we must believe him. Though given Rory’s tendency to change his story, about various matters, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to find him enthusing, down the line, about the fine life Tiger Woods lives and how it would suit him down to the ground.

But at time of going to press, at least, the life of Woods is not for McIlroy.

“I’ve seen what his life is like in Florida,” McIlroy told Paul Kimmage in the Sunday Independent. “I’ve played golf with him and said: ‘What are you doing tonight? Do you want to come and have dinner with us?’ And he can’t. He just can’t. And for me that’s unfathomable. I could not live like that.”

In his brilliant feature on Woods for ESPN last year, Wright Thompson reminded us that Tiger’s two boats, a 155-foot yacht and a smaller diving boat, are named Privacy and Solitude.

Yet, Tim Bitici, a friend of Rachel Uchitel, one of the many women with whom Tiger had affairs, drew Thompson’s attention to a certain contradiction.

More than anything, Bitici reckoned Woods wanted witnesses to his life.

“Not the famous life people saw from outside but the real one, where he kept the few things that belonged only to him. This wasn’t a series of one-night stands but something more complex and strange. He called women constantly, war-dialing until they picked up, sometimes just to narrate simple everyday activities. When they didn’t answer, he called their friends.”

Had Tiger restricted those relationships to everyday domestic commentary, that period in his life may have worked out more therapeutically.

But of course there was the bit of sex as well, to pass the time, and when word of these adventures eventually broke, his privacy was sunk, whatever about solitude.

But if many women have sketched a graphic outline of one aspect of Tiger’s life, it is his famous friends who have been kind enough to fill in the other details.

Swing coach and friend Hank Haney first detailed Woods’ infatuation with the Navy SEALs, his habit of not sharing his ice lollies, and his ability to stay completely silent in company for long stretches.

Haney even made a helpful list of Tiger’s characteristics: “Selfishness, obsessiveness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness, pettiness and cheapness.”

Basketball star Charles Barkley reassured us that his great friend was indeed cheap and never tipped and was an antisocial loner who obsessed over catching Jack Nicklaus.

Michael Jordan, another soulmate, said last year that Woods now spends long hours stewing over his indiscretions, trying to figure out how he can “erase the things that happened.”

And now McIlroy has made his contribution.

Golf Digest, which concerns itself with these things, rates the current ‘bromance’ between Tiger and Rory as the hottest on tour.

And Tiger’s bestie told us how he is often disturbed by texts in the middle of the night, to the annoyance of McIlroy’s fiancée.

“He struggles to sleep, which I think is an effect of overtraining, so I tell him to calm down sometimes. He’d be texting me at four o’clock in the morning: ‘Up lifting. What are you doing?’

“Erica actually got pissed off with it. He was texting me in the middle of the night and I was like, ‘Tiger is in the gym.’”

Of course, the most remarkable thing about Tiger Woods is still that his greatness coaxed millions of people into taking an interest in golf. An interest they duly dropped without Woods at the top of the game.

Whatever the leaderboard says, he will always have that over the rest of the field.

When the going was good, Henrik Stenson remembered recently that Tiger was “always very much into his own bubble.”

That dynamic seems to have changed.

After the United States clinched the Ryder Cup, Bubba Watson, who joined Woods in the vital walking around role they call vice-captaincy, announced to the world: “I have Tiger’s cellphone number now. Yes! I’m going to text you all the time.”

In the natural home of power games that is the golf course, there seems to be a certain enthusiasm out there too for Tiger’s new role as somebody to be patronised.

It was also at the Ryder Cup that Zach Johnson organised for the team to wear red “Make Tiger Woods Great Again” t-shirts, though Johnson’s wife — who sounds an emotionally intelligent woman — had counselled against the idea.

On the face of it, at least, Tiger seemed to take that episode in good part.

It probably gave him something to talk about if the ‘locker room banter’ dried up on his recent round with Donald Trump.

“I’ve had a lot more close friends out here than I thought,” Tiger said recently, of life on tour as he prepares to ramp up his comeback in a fortnight.

He certainly seems to have assembled more witnesses.

Michael Jordan was concerned about Tiger’s inability to open up.

“He has to find that happiness within his life, that’s the thing that worries me. I don’t know if he can find that type of happiness. He’s gonna have to trust somebody.”

“When he’s comfortable and he trusts you — and his trust (sensitivity) is way (higher) than mine — he’s great,” McIlroy told Kimmage.

Mind you, as the headlines piled up around the world this week — the story of his nocturnal communications even made Breitbart — Tiger might reflect that trust and friendship is being able to text somebody at four in the morning without it making the papers.

However his swing is holding up, in that regard Tiger might be back to square one.

Oli’s moments in time

I dipped into Ruud Gullit’s book How to Watch Football over Christmas, without finding too much advice by way of what it said on the tin.

Fortunately, in recent weeks we have been able to rely on existential artist Olivier Giroud for lessons in how to watch football.

In the moment.

Just like Deepak Chopra and all the great thinkers, that is what Olivier’s actions tell us. As an Arsenal fan, watching them toil at Bournemouth, you may have found yourself roaring at Olivier to get back to the halfway line and bleedin’ get on with it, rather than prance around celebrating his late equaliser.

But when the backlash piled up on the internet, and the think pieces landed, you probably felt a little regretful and wondered if you’d overreacted, since the lad had, after all, snatched a precious point. But, in the moment, of course you were dead right.

Just as, two days earlier, after the scorpion stung, and within minutes, it was ruined, with praise and overpraise and then comparisons and the inevitable conclusion that the goal was overrated.

But you still had the improbable moment.

Heroes & Villains


Simone Biles:

Did you know Rory McIlroy was named the third-best mannered individual of 2016 by the National League of Junior Cotillions (NLJC) in the USA? McIlroy’s recognition was for “exemplary sportsmanship, taking the time to engage with his fans, and treating his fellow golfers with nothing but dignity and kindness”. The pair with better manners: actor Matt Damon and gymnastic champ Simone.


Meryl Streep:

Needless snooty pop at sport from a derivative industry that would do well to serve up a fraction of the entertainment. I’m with John Kavanagh and the cagers on this one.


A structure that delivers 48 largely meaningless games and sets up final group game carve-ups before the World Cup proper starts. It’s beginning to sound like the Egg Cup.

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