SAN DIEGO – For more than two decades, Tiger Woods has towered over the sport of golf, his iconic Sunday red polo shirts and hearty fist pumps memorably etched into American culture.
But how best to tell the story of a decidedly complicated sports figure like Woods?
“It’s a process,” said Armen Keteyian, speaking on Zoom to a classroom of more than 50 people.
Keteyian co-authored with Jeff Benedict the 2018 New York Times bestseller “Tiger Woods,” a biography which examines the highs and lows including in the personal life of the 15-time Major winner. He’s also an executive producer on the hit HBO documentary series “Tiger.”
Keteyian, a 1976 San Diego State University graduate, said it took three years to finish the Woods biography which later was used to craft the TV series.
But unlike a number of popular sports documentaries in recent years such as ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” Woods did not participate in the making of the series. His agent, Mark Steinberg, told Golf Digest the series was “another unauthorized and salacious outsider attempt to paint an incomplete portrait of one of the greatest athletes of all-time.”
“I think about it like a puzzle,” he said. “If you figure some people, when you’re doing a story there might be 10 puzzle pieces there and you might be able to put them together quickly. Others are 100 pieces, 1000. Tiger, in many ways, was like a 10,000-piece puzzle.”
To make it work, Keteyian said he read everything he could on Woods — “and I mean everything.”
“We read every book that had been written about Tiger,” he said. “We read books on sex addiction, on Navy SEALs, the business of golf, all of those things to understand the portrait of that person.”
On the course, Woods has done it all, tied for first all time with 82 PGA Tour wins and trailing only Jack Nicklaus for the most major wins. He won his most recent major at the Masters in 2019, his first in more than a decade.
In the time between majors, Woods went through a high-profile divorce after an infidelity scandal and endured health issues which hampered his play and altered perceptions of the iconic golfer.
“With Tiger, you kind of know where the exit ramps are,” Keteyian said. “But we were interested in the mile markers, you know? The things that would take you to those exit ramps.”
“Tiger” currently is streaming on HBO Max while the book “Tiger Woods” can be found wherever books are sold.
Julian Del Gaudio has more in the video above.