Writers’ quest: Find out ‘Who is Tiger Woods?’

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 13: Tiger Woods of the United States stands on the second green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Writers’ quest: Find out ‘Who is Tiger Woods?’

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Writers’ quest: Find out ‘Who is Tiger Woods?’

Jeff Benedict is the co-author, along with Armen Keteyian, of “Tiger Woods,” a new biography of golf’s biggest star. He answered a few questions about the book and how his view of Woods changed during the course of their reporting.

Golfweek: You knew from the outset that you weren’t going to get cooperation from Tiger or those closest to him on this project. Given that, were there ever any moments when you questioned whether to go forward with the book?
Benedict: No. We never considered access to Tiger Woods as a make-or-break proposition for writing his biography.

Golfweek: Even though Tiger has lived a very private life, many of his character flaws (e.g., serial philanderer, poor tipper, narcissist, etc.) were well known. In your reporting, were there any aspects of his character or his life story that truly surprised you?
Benedict: We were constantly surprised at what we were finding and learning during the research phase of the project. We interviewed hundreds of people from every corner of Tiger’s life. Many of these individuals had never spoken to a journalist before. Their insights and anecdotes were intimate and rich, enabling us to round out Tiger’s character and personality in ways that demonstrated his greatness and his uniqueness.

Jeff Benedict. (Jeffrey Shaw)

Golfweek: How did your personal views on Tiger change over the course of your reporting?
Benedict: We would each answer this particular question differently. Suffice it to say that the further we went in the writing process, the more determined we were to let compassion and empathy be our guiding lights. It was not our place to judge. Our goal was to answer the question: Who is Tiger Woods?

Golfweek: You noted that even after another long layoff, Tiger’s return to action at Torrey Pines in January led to the tournament’s highest TV ratings in five years, when he won in 2013. What is your opinion as to why, a decade after his last major championship, Tiger still fascinates fans, even children who never saw him at his best?  
Benedict: Tiger was a prodigy who developed into a genius. To some it may seem strange to apply the word “genius” to a golfer. But Tiger is so much more than a golfer, which is why the comparison to Jack Nicklaus is insufficient on so many levels. We refer to Tiger as Shakespearean. He is the most famous athlete in the world, yet incredibly mysterious. Every time he plays you wonder if you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. When he appears anywhere – on a golf course, in an airport, on television – people find it impossible to look away.  That kind of charisma is rare.

Golfweek: The final sentence of the book describes Tiger as “a changed man.” Do you feel confident of that or is that more of a hopeful sentiment
Benedict: There is little question that Tiger Woods has changed. For one thing, he has aged. His body is different than it was when he was in his prime. More importantly, his outlook is different. So are his priorities. That is evident in his demeanor, his actions, and his words. But yes, part of our sentiment is hopeful. After spending three years plodding through his life, we want to see him back on top. Gwk

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