I'm part of the so-called Tiger generation but how has our relationship with the man changed over all those years?
I am Tiger Woods
I was 13 when I first took up golf.
I’d watched it on TV as a younger kid. Back when the Open was on BBC I remember running out into my nan’s garden and putting with an upturned rake into holes I’d made with her cake cutters, all the while pretending to be Nick Faldo. I think I was a weird kid!
But it was 1997 when me and my mates properly got into the game.
Because of this…
He was different.
He was cool.
When you’re 13 all you care about is image. You’re not bothered about personality, let’s be honest most of your time is spent flicking through your older brother’s FHM magazine looking at pictures of Jenny McCarthy and Denise Van Outen.
Getting away from that horrible thought me and my mates would jump on our bikes and ride down to the local Par-3 course Holywell Bay in Cornwall. For about £40 we could play there all year as much as we wanted and our parents were happy to pay… better that than us hanging about the village lobbing eggs at houses.
We’d stay there until it was dark and even then we’d stay on the green pretending to hole putts to win The Masters, just like Tiger.
I managed to persuade my Mum to take me to the 2000 Open at St Andrews. We travelled by train from Cornwall and got there for the weekend. Tiger was three clear by then, by close of play Saturday it was six shots and when it was ‘in the books’ as the Americans say, Tiger had won by eight shots.
He was on a different level, it was arguably the best golf ever played, and in doing so he became the youngest ever to complete the career Grand Slam.
The next year the Open was at Lytham and my mate’s Dad took a group of us up there. David Duval won it that year and Tiger wasn’t really in contention come the Sunday but I still followed him without missing a shot.
I remember us all wearing the red Nike Tiger shirts on the Sunday which looking back on it we must have looked like right gimps. I was 17 for God’s sake!
This may have subconsciously been the moment my Tiger fandom peaked and when I realised that hot girls/any girls didn’t hang out on the 15th at Newquay Golf Club and that I had to be a bit cooler. One £5,000 inheritance from a random Aunt later and I’d spend the next two years getting absolutely shitfaced with tourists in Newquay to the detriment of my golf game, education and any hopes of going to a decent Uni… was quality though!
Tiger took a backseat in my life in this period as he sporadically picked up majors, but I still loved him. If I’m honest his main influence on me as I eventually went to Uni was late night sessions of Tiger Woods 2003 on the Playstation only stopping for noodles to stay alive and Carlsberg. I’m still not sure a better computer game has ever been created?
Life went on and as your narrow bloke brain evolves ever so slightly you look for different things in your heroes or people you admire. I started to realise Tiger seemed to have the personality of a piece of cardboard and was robotic. Which when you understand more is probably understandable given his mental military upbringing.
But I’d still just about root for him over the likes of Mickelson as I couldn’t let go of my childhood hero. It was like being in a long term relationship… you met her when she was young and hot but you sort of ignored her annoying traits back then, you were naive and were really only after one thing!
Tiger still did the odd thing to keep me aroused. THAT chip in from the 2005 Masters, winning the 2008 US Open on one leg and tearing it up at the 2009 President’s Cup with the most gangster club twirl of all time.
But it was Tiger’s arousal that caused the problems next. As his infidelity broke, as a long time fan, I wasn’t particularly surprised. With his weird upbringing, the scrutiny of being one of the most famous men on the planet and the untimely passing of his father something had to blow… in this case it was about 20 blonde bints.
Rather than condemning I was kind of dissapointed. It was the final nail being put in the coffin of this hero you had as a child who was God-like, it finally confirmed he was human. A human that goes around banging slags whilst he has a 10/10 wife and a family.
Additionally it was disappointing seeing a load of people getting on their moral high-horse too. As if it isn’t common knowledge on Tour that certain pros are off philandering week in week out when they travel the globe?! As if Stevie Williams didn’t know about it all until the story broke?! Bloke was the highest paid sports person in New Zealand at one point thanks to his boss and he digs him out in a book to make a few extra quid?
The present day
All this left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth for me as we fast forward on to the present day where Tiger is ranked 420 in the world and struggling with injuries and form.
My childhood hero has now turned into someone I’m fairly indifferent about as I pore over Rory, Jordan and Jason killing it.
But for that skinny 13-year old me wearing a red Nike shirt, putting in the dark to win the Masters, there is a tiny part of me that clings on to the hope that we might see that fist pump on the biggest stage again… we’ve all got to dream!
I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.