Inside "The Second Life of Tiger Woods"
Tiger Woods is many things — fierce competitor, 15-time major champion, international celebrity — but more than anything, he's a person, just like you and me.
Why it matters: Discovering who that person is takes more than watching him play, though, which is why Golf Magazine senior writer Michael Bamberger wrote his new book, "The Second Life of Tiger Woods."
I spoke with Michael yesterday to learn more about why he wrote the book, and why he finds Tiger to be such a fascinating case study.
JT: When did you first realize this was a book worth writing?
"When Tiger came back in 2018 after the Memorial Day arrest in May of 2017, he seemed, not a changed person — I've been hearing people using that a lot — but a person who was changing; a person who was making an effort in ways he hadn't before.
"So in August of 2018, I called my editor and said, 'I don't know what Tiger's doing, but it's different, he's different, he's changing ... and I think there's a book here.'"
JT: Winning the Masters last year must have been an incredible development for you. How'd you incorporate that into the narrative?
"I was actually rooting for Francesco Molinari for a number of reasons, one of which is, I like the guy. But also, knowing I was writing a book about Tiger Woods, I just thought losing — but getting close — would reveal more about his character than winning. And I would be real interested to see how he handles that.
"The book takes a deep, deep analysis of what Tiger did to win: When he got lucky, who said what to whom, what Finau saw, what Molinari saw, what Joe LaCava, his caddie, did. Trying to really — y'know, more than TV ever could — take a look at the shots he played and how he did it."
JT: What was your biggest takeaway about Tiger, the man, after you finished writing the book?
"In '95, when I first saw him, he was a dead, stone, killer. 'You're in my way. Move.' That was his attitude as a professional golfer. No one ever had that attitude prior to him.
"Then came Memorial Day 2017, and he emerged out of that as a person who was — to use a highfalutin, modern phrase — 'on some kind of empathy journey.' Someone who had developed a deep sense of gratitude.
"That's why the life and times of Tiger Woods really should be meaningful to the rest of us. We're not gonna play golf that well and we're not gonna have his level of fame or pressure, but wherever you are in your life, you can make a change."