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New HBO Documentary Details Tiger Woods' Career

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The very first seconds of HBO's new documentary on Tiger Woods gives glimpses of the expectations piled on him from birth, really, by his father, Earl.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "TIGER")

EARL WOODS: He will transcend this game and bring to the world a humanitarianism which has never been known before.

SIMON: And then later, a champion handcuffed in detention, the butt of late-night monologues about intimate details and a stupor from drugs. Tiger Woods' rocket rise, pain-inflicting fall and now maybe something closer to happiness is depicted in "Tiger," the new two-part documentary from HBO Sports. We're joined now by the directors, Matthew Heineman and Matthew Hamachek. Thanks very much for being with us, both of you.

MATTHEW HAMACHEK: Thanks for having us.

MATTHEW HEINEMAN: Thank you.

SIMON: Boy, Tiger Woods, 2 years old, on the old "Mike Douglas Show" - cute beyond belief golfing with Bob Hope.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW")

MIKE DOUGLAS: Earl, how old is - how old are you, Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: (Unintelligible).

WOODS: Two.

DOUGLAS: Two?

WOODS: He's 2.

DOUGLAS: When did he start with a golf club? Do you remember the first time he picked one up?

WOODS: Three months.

SIMON: The question that your documentary keeps bringing back, even noting the people he hurt, did Tiger Woods have any real chance at any kind of normal life ever that would that would develop human character? Matthew Hamachek?

HAMACHEK: You know, it's an interesting thing. I think that when you talk to the people that knew Tiger best, they really point to the fact that - from when he was 2 years old, and he was on "The Mike Douglas Show" throughout his entire life, his father sort of said that he was going to unite the different races and tribes of humanity. And then shortly after that, Nike kind of took that vision. And then after that, the public and the media and everybody continued to sort of take all of these expectations and projected all of these identities onto Tiger. And I can't imagine how you could live a normal life, have a normal childhood if everybody is sort of constantly doing that around you.

SIMON: There's so much focus on Earl Woods, a former Green Beret who served his country. Matthew Heineman, a family friend says that Earl Woods created this little assassin, in speaking of Tiger. And it makes you flinch to hear it, but you go on deeper into the documentary and kind of get to know what he means.

HEINEMAN: Yeah. I mean, I think for better or for worse, Earl Woods used a lot of the techniques and the lessons he learned as a Green Beret and applied that to a young toddler. And the result of that was, as you just mentioned, you know, a, quote, unquote, "assassin" (unintelligible), someone who can deal with extreme pressure. It's crazy to think about, but the proof is in the results. And, you know, there's no question that the training that Tiger received as a young child, as a teenager resulted in one of the greatest golfers of all time. The question really is, what did that do to Tiger Woods as a person?

SIMON: Matthew Heineman, you interview Dina Parr, Tiger's first, I guess, serious girlfriend, who saw herself as a bridge to kind of a normal adolescence - movies, bowling. She says his sweetness was stolen from him.

HEINEMAN: Yeah. You know, I think those - you know, we tried as hard as possible with the show to try to, you know, show people a side of Tiger that they've never seen before. And I think hearing from Dina and seeing the videos that she gave us that no one had seen before of an unvarnished Tiger Woods as a teenager, as an unfiltered, smiling, goofy, wide-eyed kid - and I think she feels, like many people feel, that that young kid was turned into a machine.

SIMON: Yeah. As a young golf champion acclaimed around the world in the process of becoming the greatest golfer of all time, Tiger Woods began to lead an alternative life in Las Vegas. The life he began to lead there wasn't just conventional unfaithfulness, was it? It was something more.

HAMACHEK: I think that when you talk to the people that were around him during that time, one of the things that's fascinating that they point to is that, yes, he was absolutely having a lot of sex, but a large component of it was finding that intimacy in that relationship with these women. And I think that's fascinating. And I don't think that's something that was really covered in the media.

SIMON: We see the police video of a few years ago - drugs, fighting spinal injuries. No less than Stephen A. Smith of ESPN says he's finished. Then a couple of years ago, Tiger Woods comes back and starts winning again. And I got to tell you, you see that scene of Tiger Woods smiling on the golf course in a different way and holding the hands of his children as he walks up the golf course having won, I have to tell you, I started crying. And I'll bet I wasn't alone.

HEINEMAN: You know, I think part of what this show is - it's a show about fathers and sons. And I think the interesting thing in the emotional side of seeing Tiger win at the Masters was really seeing that mirror image of his young son Charlie running up and hugging him, as Tiger did years earlier into the arms of Earl. And you can't help but think is - how much has this man grown? What has he learned? How has he changed? It's hard not to get emotional seeing the arc of this man, a man that we have all grown up with, a man that has been plastered across every news outlet, every magazine, every newspaper. And to see how far he rose, how far he fell and then to see this comeback, it's quite an astounding thing to witness.

SIMON: Matthew Heineman and Matthew Hamachek - directors of "Tiger," a two-part documentary soon to be on HBO - thank you so much both for being with us.

HAMACHEK: Thank you for having us.

HEINEMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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