Tiger Woods has lived life as an iconic athlete, shrewd businessman and classic designer, and now he's taking his talents to my world. Woods will be the driver behind a new memoir entitled 'Back,' which will be published by HarperCollins at a yet-to-be-released future date.
BACK is a candid and intimate narrative of an outsize American life: from growing up a celebrated golfing prodigy to shattering centuries-old racial barriers as a young pro; from rising to unprecedented fame and global icon status to battling devastating injuries and personal issues; from enduring years of physical anguish to mounting an astonishing comeback at 43 years old, culminating with the 2019 Masters, where his thrillingly impossible victory captured the imagination and hearts of people around the world.
This memoir is the first and only account directly from Woods, with the full cooperation of his friends, family, and inner circle.
The problem -- and it is a problem -- is that Woods is notoriously buttoned up when it comes to everything other than mega-nerdy minutia in golf that so few of us care about (but that I would love to hear more about!).
"I've been in the spotlight for a long time, and because of that, there have been books and articles and TV shows about me, most filled with errors, speculative and wrong," said Woods in a statement.
Well ... maybe. But also maybe not. Maybe we conflate the words "wrong" and "hurtful." Just because something causes damage or is hurtful doesn't mean it's also not true (more on this below).
"This book is my definitive story," he said. "It's in my words and expresses my thoughts. It describes how I feel and what's happened in my life. I've been working at it steadily, and I'm looking forward to continuing the process and creating a book that people will want to read."
We'll definitely read it, but I don't know that it will be the definitive story. In light of what we know about the Big Cat and what we know about writing good stories, I have three questions about this memoir.
1. How much will he disclose? With Woods, though -- and this is rare among athletes -- there actually has been so much in the news and so much reported that there likely were things (a few things) that were wrong. But to address those wrongs (as he calls them), he's going to have to write some eye-opening words about some uncomfortable topics. Will he do that? Nothing he's ever done or said would lead me to believe that the answer to that question is, "Yes."
2. Where will the focus be? I remember reading Hank Haney's "The Big Miss" and being most fascinated with Woods' practice sessions with Haney. He used to do this drill called the nines, where he would hit a nine-paned imaginary window with cuts, draws and straight shots. It was a freak show, insinuated Haney, and I couldn't get enough. I would actually love it if Tiger went deep on a variety of topics like this or what he was feeling on the back nine of a major we remember and maybe didn't try to connect the dots to stuff like Earl's preposterous statement 25 years ago about how the Cat was the Chosen One. I'm not saying he's going to do that. I'm saying I hope he doesn't.
3. Does this mean the 2019 Masters was the end? Obviously nobody would say the answer to this question is, "Yes." But does Tiger write a definitive memoir if he doesn't believe deep down that that Sunday morning was the finale? Again, I'm dubious. His editor (Tiger has an editor!) Shannon Welch said this about sitting down recently with Tiger: "He's at a place in his career and his life where he's thinking deeply about his story, the highs and the lows, and how it all relates and connects. I think the result will be extraordinary."
I certainly think it could be as well, but it's interesting that he's choosing to do this now and not when he's 55 or 60 or at some point in the distant future.