In his first print interview since his fall from grace, Live meets a sporting colossus still struggling to find the man he once was…’I’m not going to be doing this forever,’ says Tiger Woods. It takes a moment to realise what he’s saying. Great athletes can’t afford to contemplate failure, so they rarely admit that the end is in sight. But here is the most successful sportsman of our age returning my gaze with weary eyes and doing just that. ‘I may be playing with friends, family, whatever,’ he continues with a mournful note, ‘but at this level?’
‘I am trying to become a better person. I’m trying to become a better person with my kids, a better father. That’s very important to me.’ The famous passive beauty of his face has been shadowed by age and stress, and the bags under his eyes have dropped. His hair is receding and thinning. But Woods is still a handsome man – and one who has been working out a lot, to judge by the biceps bulging under his burgundy Nike shirt. As he tries to combine his role as a single dad with repairing his reputation, as a golfer and a man, Woods admits he’s finding life harder without his father.
‘He’s always in mind. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about him.’ Earl Woods died in 2006. Some say the removal of his firm hand is what caused Tiger to stumble; others claim it was Earl who tainted his attitude to women. ‘My dad and I were very, very, very close. I always miss him. Especially at certain moments – say, when Sam and Charlie are doing something. You know, experiences that you would wish any grandparent could see. My mum is still around, so she’s able to see it. I wish my dad was around to see it too. My dad has always been close to me and some of his life lessons resonate within me still.’