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Review: HBO's 'Tiger' heads down a familiar fairway

New HBO doc is your standard sports redemption story

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

It’s a story so well-known you have to wonder why it’s being told again.

“Tiger,” a two-part documentary about golfer Tiger Woods, is notable in one way: As an examination of what many would call child abuse. Much of the first part is taken up with the way Tiger’s father, Earl, a former Green Beret, molded his son.

Tiger Woods reacts after winning the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. on April 14, 2019.

Earl had toddler Tiger on talk shows swinging a club. He made golf the absolute center of the boy’s life. By the time Tiger was a teen Earl was making him out to be more than just a golf prodigy – he was a figure akin to Ghandi, a world-changer.

Dude, the guy hits tiny balls with a stick.

Earl was unconsciously teaching young Tiger other things as well, cheating on his wife in full view of the boy. Like father, like son.

So Tiger has daddy issues. Again, this is not breaking news. But interviews with his high school sweetheart and videos of the young Tiger goofing around capture some of the natural ebullience Earl kept in a cage. Yes, Earl created the perfect golf machine, but in doing so he crushed a young soul.

Past that there’s not much new here, certainly nothing from Tiger himself. Cobbling together talking head interviews with old friends, golf writers and such, numerous talk show interviews and a parade of tournament highlights, the documentary traces Tiger’s rise to greatness, his physical deterioration, his many extra-marital affairs, his hitting rock bottom and, of course, his comeback.

Maybe there’s high interest in an interview with one of his mistresses from a decade ago. But mostly this is old news repackaged as a classic sports redemption story. It’s efficient and watchable, but hardly a revelation.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Tiger'

GRADE: C+

9 p.m. Sunday and 9 p.m. Jan. 17

HBO