Tiger Woods: 'programmed' to win from the cradle

The first part of the HBO documentary about his life, released this Monday in Spain, focuses on the influence that Earl, the father, had in the forging of the champion.


Sidney Lumet says in This is how movies are made (Rialp, 1999) that one of the themes of his filmography is the passions and commitments of parents, which are always avoided by their children. It is not entirely true. Sometimes they make them their own, and other times they are imposed on them. Is the latter the case with Tiger Woods? This is the question that flies over the first part of Tiger, the new HBO documentary about the history of the great contemporary golf champion.

After seeing the images and listening to the testimonies (not including that of Tiger himself, who has not authorized the work) one is inclined to think so. In fact, based on the above, it is not unreasonable to say that without Earl Woods the Tiger that we know today would not exist, with his ascent to heaven, his fall into hell, his passage through purgatory and his divine resurrection in Augusta in 2019.

Earl, a Green Beret who was twice in Vietnam, started programming the boy when he was not even walking. He would sit him in his highchair and start hitting balls in front of him. One day Tiger got out of his seat, stood upright and hit. The golf seed had germinated practically before anything else in his brain. Kultida, the mother, also assisted in the process. "Others took their children to the park, I took them to the golf course," she says in a video (although she is still alive, she does not participate either).

Ever since he could remember, Tiger was paraded around television sets like a genius in the making. By 1996, when he received the Haskins Award for the best university golfer in the United States, at only 21 years old, Earl was already selling him as a Messiah who would bring peace between the different races and peoples of the planet, a figure that would transcend sport, to the height of Gandhi or Mandela. Some sentences in the speech of delivery of the award condense a possessive attitude, almost sickly, towards his son: "This is my treasure. Accept it, please, and use it wisely," he begs through tears.

"They stole his sweetness"

The control that his parents come to exercise over Tiger raises moral doubts, although at no time do relationships seem strained. Rather quite the opposite, sincere complicity and love with his father is appreciated, as well as an immense sorrow when he died of a heart attack in 2006. It is obvious in many passages of the film, especially when he is seen destroying his rivals in that perfect storm that he starred in between 1996 and 2002, who enjoys what he does. But the feeling is different when testimonies emerge such as that of a childhood friend, Amber Lauria: "I knew that he wanted to be normal in many ways, and that inside him there was a person confused by that crazy world in which they were putting him" . Or like Maureen Decker, one of his teachers at the nursery school, who tells that Tiger once asked her to probe his father about trying other sports and that Earl never agreed. Neither he nor Kultida tolerated his relationship with Dina Parr, a girlfriend from the university stage whom he ended up leaving by letter. "They stole her sweetness," says Parr.

Did you really have a choice other than to become the most perfect machine golf has ever witnessed? It seems not, because his draconian training was also joined by an innate talent. All those long days on a golf course reserved for members of the Army, with his father using all kinds of tricks to deconcentrate him, only gave him the mental component that would make him immune to any pressure. Earl gave him a word he could say in case he wanted to end the psychological punishment at any moment. Tiger never spoke it and that was it. For better and for worse.

The counterpart was a person with deficiencies when it came to managing his private life and social relationships. And that, with heights of fame and exposure rarely seen before, formed an explosive cocktail that ended up exploding. The second installment of the documentary will focus on the darkest part of his career, which will premiere in Spain next Monday 18.

Photos from as.com
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