Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 12:49
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 11:53
In this excerpt from his new book, 'One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greatest in the Game', Golf Digest contributing editor and celebrated sports book author, John Feinstein, provides a revealing look into his complicated relationship with Tiger Woods.
In the new book Feinstein returns to his roots as a true 'sports journalist' and writes of a different era in sports, a time when writers had greater access to athletes and thus were able to show the real world of sports.
Reading just these few revelations from Feinstein's relationship with Tiger Woods should make even the most ardent Tiger hater want to know more.
Feinstein has the ability to go where other journalists cannot and because of the honesty in his reporting he commands respect from his subjects even when they totally disagree with him.
He is brilliant in that way because it then becomes a challenge for the athlete and what could be more natural?
As book reviewer Stuart Shiffman puts it, "Feinstein has succeeded as a sport journalist by going behind the scenes of great athletes and coaches, from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods, Bobby Knight to Mike Krzyzewski.
He also has covered the greatest sporting events in the world, from Wimbledon to the Final Four. Now he has granted readers the type of access he has been afforded.
By holding a mirror to his work, he has made his own writing even better. If you have a Feinstein fan on your holiday list, ONE ON ONE is the perfect book."
The excerpt, which can be found in the January issue of Golf Digest, recounts a four-hour dinner conversation the two men had years earlier, and offers unprecedented insight into Woods’ circle of supporters.
Among the details featured in the issue, which is available on newsstands now and in tablet editions of Golf Digest.
Feinstein, on his early conflicts with 'Team Tiger' following a critical story he wrote about Woods and his father, Earl, in Newsweek:
• “I also mentioned that Earl Woods had already developed a reputation in golf as a pushy father, and that his avid pursuit of publicity for himself and every dollar possible reminded some people (me) of Stefano Capriati, the father of young tennis star Jennifer Capriati. That wasn’t a compliment. Earl Woods knew it, and so did his son. The Newsweek people got several angry phone calls from Hughes Norton, who was then Tiger’s agent. How dare I compare Earl Woods to Stefano Capriati? Looking back, maybe I was unfair–to Stefano.”
• “One thing about Tiger is that he watches TV all the time, and he reads about golf all the time. He sees, hears and reads every word said about him. He’d been furious about what I had said about his father in the Newsweek story — ‘I wanted to kill you when I read that,’ he told me — and was baffled by the fact that I seemed to be the only person who covered golf on a regular basis who ever took him on for his behavior.”
Feinstein, on a four-hour, one-on-one conversation with Tiger early in 1998:
• “I would love to report that the two of us really hit it off, that we bonded and came away with a better understanding of one another. I do think we understood one another better.”
• “One thing I learned that night was that Tiger made almost all his own calls — for good and bad. In fact, looking back at how he has behaved since the accident that changed his image and his life forever, that night is instructional. People — including me — have said that he should fire everyone around him, and he probably should if only because new people might — might — be more willing to tell him when he’s making a mistake. But in the end I’m not sure it would matter. No one tells Tiger Woods what to do.”
• “We also talked at length about the things I’d written about his father. I told him why I’d made the comparison to Stefano Capriati. ‘I really don’t think your dad is different from any other pushy, grab-the-bucks father,’ I said, ‘except for one thing: You’re his son. So, I give him some credit for your genes because you’re smart enough and tough enough to deal with everything he’s pushed on you and still be a great player. Most kids aren’t that way. I think you’ve succeeded in spite of your father, not because of your father.’”
• “I’d have preferred dealing with him directly, but I knew he wasn’t going to do that — at least not yet, and at the end of the evening I said something to him that I really meant. ‘I think this was good for both of us. But you deserve the credit for it. You don’t need me to like you or write or say good things about you. You’re Tiger f—– Woods. I think it says a lot about you that you did this.
And I learned a lot tonight, not just about why we disagree on things, but about who you are.’ He looked at me and nodded his head. ‘Guys I respect like you,’ he said. ‘I can see why after this, even though we disagree on a lot of things. But what’d you learn about me?’
‘That you’re smarter than I thought you were,’ I said. ‘I knew you were bright. You’re glib, and you’re quick, but I know now you’re smart — very smart. It makes me look forward to disagreeing with you in the future, because I know you won’t make it easy for me.’ ‘Me too,’ he said.”
• “I heard members of the media talk about how well they knew Tiger. Many started sentences by saying things like, ‘The Tiger Woods that I know … ‘ Or, ‘I think I know Tiger pretty well …’ Really? Did any of us know about the secret life Tiger was living? Answer: No. Do any of these guys think Tiger has ever really opened up to them, shared what he really thinks and believes?
I would make the case that on that night in San Diego I came about as close to getting at least a sense of the real Tiger as anyone in the media ever has. The exception to that would be Golf Digest’s Jaime Diaz, who has known Tiger since he was very young. I also wouldn’t claim for a second that I ‘know’ Tiger.
I’m not sure Tiger knows Tiger, but I’m damn sure no one on the outside knows him.”
To order or learn more about Feinstein's book, 'One on One: Behind The Scenes With The Greats Of The Game' go to amazon.com
By Inside Golf Editors
More articles by Inside Golf Editors