Tiger Woods’ fame almost cost him his relationship with his future wife, according to HBO’s new ‘Tiger’ docuseries about the golf legend’s life.
Tiger Woods “didn’t make a great impression” on his future wife Elin Nordegren, one of her friends claimed in the first part of HBO’s new docuseries about the champion golfer. In fact, the star’s fame was such a turnoff for the Swede that she initially “turned him down” when he first asked out.
Writer Sandra Sobieraj Westfall appeared in the first episode of the two-part Tiger documentary and drew on her friendship with the golfer’s now ex-wife to explain why the shy former nanny finally agreed to date the superstar.
“Elin told me that he didn’t make a great impression on her at first,” Westfall said of the 41-year-old blonde in the documentary, which premiered on Jan. 10. “She had her opinions about celebrities and they were not high. And she’s very shy so the idea of joining that world was not appealing to her. And when he asked her out, I think she turned him down at first.”
However, Elin – who worked for one of Tiger’s pro-golfing colleagues when they met in the Noughties – finally agreed to date the California native. “[Then] she gradually was convinced that she should give him a chance and so they did go out,” Westfall said.
Eventually she learned to cope with the attention, Elin’s friend said in the doc. “She said the hardest part about that was adjusting to the spotlight that followed him. But Tiger was very sweetly protective of Elin. She said it felt special,” Westfall said. “Ironically the spotlight that first repelled her suddenly bonded them; sort of us against the world. It was just the two of them and she believed it was everything.” Elin and Tiger eventually married in 2004 on the Caribbean island of Barbados.
The first part of HBO’s docuseries charts the 45-year-old legend’s life from the very early days when he wowed local media with his golfing skills as a toddler barely out of diapers, to his marriage to Elin and the death of his father, Earl Woods. It was Earl, who died in 2006 at the age of 74, who recognized his son’s talent and steered the boy from a child prodigy to a golfing megastar.
Friends who knew the Woods family in the early days recounted in the documentary the full extent of Tiger’s parents’ devotion to his career. Despite old news footage suggesting that he was obsessed with the game as a kid, Tiger’s kindergarten teacher Maureen Decker said the shy little boy actually wanted to enjoy other activities.
“One day Tiger opened up and he asked me to ask his dad if he could play some other sports besides just golfing and I told him that I would…” Ms. Decker said of the future pro who, to date, has 82 PGA Tour victories under his belt. “I did say that I thought it would be nice if Tiger could play other sports but Mr. Woods said he had to concentrate on his golf.”
This determination that Tiger remain uber focused on his golfing career continued well into his college years, according to Dina Parr, his first girlfriend. She started dating him when they were both in high school, the blonde said in the documentary, which featured old photos of the former couple cuddling and partying together. But Dina admitted she didn’t think Tiger’s mom (Kultida Woods) and dad approved of the romance.
“Earl and Tida, they had this image of who he was supposed to be and I think that they were worried about me because I certainly didn’t fit into that,” she said. “I felt that their plans were creating this robot.”
Dina claimed that Tiger abruptly broke up with her, cutting off their relationship out of the blue, by sending her a terse letter, saying that he felt “used and manipulated” by her and that he “never” wanted to “talk to or hear from” her again. “It was awful. We’d been in this three-year relationship…” his ex said, after clutching and reading the contents of the handwritten letter aloud on screen. “I replay that day in my head over and over again.”
By the time Tiger was married to Elin, it wasn’t his all-consuming devotion to golf that broke them up, but his multiple affairs. They divorced in 2010 after six years of marriage and two children – Sam and Charlie (now 13 and 11 respectively) – together.
That half of Tiger’s life (when his squeaky clean image went up in flames) is saved for the second and final part of HBO’s documentary. In the meantime, the golfer’s ex-mistress Rachel Uchitel hinted at what is to come by saying in the final shot of Part 1: “OK. So what do you want me to talk about?” She spills it all in the second and final part of Tiger, which airs on HBO on Sunday Jan. 17 at 9pm ET and is also available on HBO Max.