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HBO recently released its two-part documentary Tiger, which documents the rise, fall and rise of Tiger Woods. The documentary has been getting headlines for its frank look at Woods’ sex scandal, with the golfer’s agent calling the documentary “salacious.”
And… he’s not entirely wrong. The documentary is indeed a bit salacious with its inclusion of former National Enquirer editor Neal Boulton, who takes audiences through the ins and outs of how the story broke did leave me feeling a little gross. His inclusion was definitely a curious one, especially his credibility which is questionable at best.
And yet, despite that shortcoming, I found the documentary overall to be enlightening, engaging and entertaining. As a sports fan, I preferred the first half, which documents the rise of the golf superstar as he broke into a predominantly white sport as a non-white outsider. Tiger’s relationship with his father is explored in more depth than I had ever seen before and watching how Earl, Tiger’s father and closest ally allegedly became something of an outsider to Tiger by the end of his life, was heartbreaking and incredibly humanizing. The insights into Tiger’s life before and during his meteoric rise were extremely insightful and well done.
Even through the sections that deal directly with Woods’ sex scandal, I found the film did a decent job of humanizing the superstar, especially when it rolled footage of how former Augusta National Golf Course Chairman Billy Payne demonized Woods on the eve of the Masters. Tiger had messed up in his personal life, but the documentary fairly questions why that entitled a golf course chairman to publicly humiliate him.
Ultimately, Tiger plays in concert with ESPN Films’ The Last Dance about Michael Jordan as documents of how two of the biggest sports superstars to ever exist rose to prominence, dominated their sports and navigated their way through scandals. HBO’s Tiger is not a perfect film, but it’s about an imperfect subject. Personally, I found the story to be one worth telling and one worth exploring, even when it was messy and uncomfortable.
Tiger is now streaming on HBO Max.
I’m Evan Rook.