“Tiger Woods never got wet and sandy,” says former SEAL and current Montana congressman Ryan Zinke, who ran the training facility during the years Tiger came around. The BUD/S instructors didn’t like the way Tiger talked about how he’d have been a SEAL if he didn’t choose golf. “I just reached out to the guys I know who jumped with him and interacted with him,” says a retired SEAL. “Not a single one wants to have any involvement, or have their name mentioned in the press anywhere near his. His interactions with the guys were not always the most stellar, and most were very underwhelmed with him as a man.“
Then there’s the story of the lunch, which spread throughout the Naval Special Warfare community. Guys still tell it, almost a decade later. Tiger and a group of five or six went to a diner in La Posta. The waitress brought the check and the table went silent, according to two people there that day. Nobody said anything and neither did Tiger, and the other guys sort of looked at one another.
Finally one of the SEALs said, “Separate checks, please.”
The waitress walked away.
“We are all baffled,” says one SEAL, a veteran of numerous combat deployments. “We are sitting there with Tiger f—ing Woods, who probably makes more than all of us combined in a day. He’s shooting our ammo, taking our time. He’s a weird f—ing guy. That’s weird s—. Something’s wrong with you.”
* * *
To many people inside Tiger’s circle, Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors wasn’t as important to Tiger as it was to the golfing media and fans. He never mentioned it. Multiple people who’ve spent significant amounts of time with him say that. When Tiger did talk about it, someone else usually brought it up and he merely responded. The record instead became something to break so he could chase something that truly mattered. He loved the anonymity of wearing a uniform and being part of a team. “It was very, very serious,” the friend says. “If he had had a hot two years and broken the record, he would have hung up his clubs and enlisted. No doubt.”
Tiger talked about some of these military trips with his friends, including describing skydiving to Michael Jordan, who saw a pattern repeating from his own past. Years before, he’d lost his father, and in his grief, he sought solace doing something his dad loved, quitting the Bulls and riding minor league buses for the Birmingham Barons. “It could be his way of playing baseball,” Jordan would say years later. “Soothing his father’s interest.”
Jordan looked sad as he said this, perhaps feeling the heaviness of it all or even the luck involved. He somehow got through his grief and reclaimed his greatness, while Tiger has tried and failed over and over again.
“Ah, boy,” Jordan sighed.
* * *
On July 22, he finished tied for 12th at the Open Championship, and then came home. In the weeks afterward, he’d announce that he’d ruptured his left ACL while jogging in Isleworth. His news release did not mention whether he’d been running in sneakers or combat boots. At the time, he chose to skip surgery and keep playing. Tiger’s account might be true, as might the scenario laid out in Haney’s book: that he tore the ACL in the Kill House with SEALs. Most likely, they’re both right. The knee suffered repeated stresses and injuries, from military drills and elite-level sports training and high-weight, low-rep lifting. A man who saw him doing CQD training says, “It’s kind of funny, when you have an injury it almost seems like a magnet for trauma. He almost never had something hit his right knee. It was always his left knee that got kicked, or hit, or shot, or landed on. Always the left knee.”
So ESPN wrote a massive…and I mean MASSIVE…piece on Tiger Woods. Its 11,393 words. Its broken into 3 acts. I wouldnt be surprised if this was considered like a definitive piece on Tiger. A lot of it is shit you’ve heard before. All about his relationship with his father and how his life fell apart after his death. The sexual indiscretions. How he’s awkward in his own skin. Etc etc. A lot of the same old Tiger Woods stuff, but this article added this extra wrinkle of Tiger’s full blown obsession with becoming a Navy SEAL. I picked out 3 excerpts to include in the blog here – about how the SEALs didnt really like him and how he didnt pick up the check at lunch, how MJ compared the SEALs obsession to him playing baseball, and how it was Navy SEAL training that may have led to the end of his reign at the top of golf – but I didnt even have enough time to read the whole thing this morning. I suggest reading it all when you got the time.
But long story short, if Tiger Woods wasnt a golfer, he would have been a Navy SEAL. Or at least tried to be one. Apparently Earl Woods laid out 2 paths – pro golfer or Navy SEAL. Real nice, dad! Two easy choices with no pressure! But Tiger clearly bought into everything his dad said, and took the Navy SEAL shit real serious. Not just some childhood shit like “When I grow up I wanna be in the Army!” Friends say had he not fallen off, the minute he broken Nicklaus’ record he would have quit and enlisted in the service. Michael Jordan compared it to his stint playing baseball. Fulfilling your father’s other dream for you after his death. MJ decided to go shag fly balls in the White Sox minor league system, Tiger was thinking about trying to become a Navy fucking SEAL. Spent his time training with SEALs, clearing Kill Houses and simulating combat and shit. Wild.
But I guess whats bullshit to me is how he just acted like if he wasnt one, he woulda been the other. Like if I was running around saying “if I wasnt a blogger, I would played in the NBA.” I dont think you can just pencil yourself in as a Navy fucking SEAL dude. You couldnt even juggle a porn star and a Hooters chick without your entire life crumbling. You’re too injured to play golf half the time. And you were just gonna snap your fingers and fight in the most elite special ops group on earth? For sure not, dude. You dont get to run some drills with these guys and then act like you could do what they do. And that story about not picking up the tab for a table full of SEALs? What the fuck is that about? Thats one of the most socially awkward, and flat out disrespectful moves I’ve ever heard. What would EARL have thought of that move, Eldrick? You dick.
And in the ultimate irony, twist of fate, coincidence – whatever you want to call it – it was most likely Navy SEAL training that led to his injuries and downfall as a golfer. This article hints that when he first tore his ACL, he was training in Navy SEAL combat boots. Plays out like a Greek tragedy or something. Father dies, you try to fulfill one of his wishes, end up injuring yourself and ruining the first path he chose for you. Now his dad is gone, his golf dominance is over, he aint a Navy SEAL, and he’s just kind of floating through his life.
Not to overdramatize things. At the end of the day this dude is practically a billionaire. I’m not shedding any tears for Tiger. Hes clearly weird and kind of a dick. But the whole thing was fascinating. Bizarre how almost all of Tiger’s success and subsequent failure can be tied directly back to his dad. I guess the end result is Tiger earning $1 billion as an athlete, but I’m kinda pumped my dad just let me ride my bike and play video games and masturbate as a kid when I was growing up. Seems like Tiger is completely jacked in the head.
PS – This part about working a room with Jeter and Jordan and not knowing how to talk to girls is unbelievable.
One of the most famous athletes on earth asking “how do you talk to girls?” Its insane you could ever make it to a level where you’re hanging with Jordan and Jeter while being that awkward.