In a revealing interview in which Tiger delves into his personal life, reaffirms his drive to get back on top, and reflects on his career to this point, the 14-time major champion showed a side of him many have never seen.
Here are some of the more interesting quotes from the interview:
Q: What’s it like when you contemplate the possibility that you’re not going to be able to play again?
A: Anyone I’ve ever talked to who has had procedures like I’ve had, they say the same thing: you don’t know. With a joint, you know. With a nerve, you just don’t know. I’ve talked to Peyton [Manning] about his neck and what he’s going through. It’s tough as athletes, when you just don’t know. The most important thing, though, is that I get to have a life with my kids. That’s more important than golf. I’ve come to realize that now.
Q: How do you feel about the way the media have covered you?
A: There’s no accountability in what they say. And what they say, it’s like it’s gospel, there’s no source behind it. Nothing like, yeah, I talked to X number of players, I talked to this player, this player, this player. It’s none of that. It’s jus, some of the announcers, they don’t even go on the golf course. And they look at a pin sheet from the booth, but they’ve never surveyed the golf course, even though the television coverage doesn’t come on until the afternoon. You have all that time to go walk the golf course, to see some of the early rounds, see what guys are doing, how they’re hitting it, how’s the course playing, is the wind coming up? All those different things that you could do. The only one who does that is Finchy [golf broadcaster and former PGA Tour pro Ian Baker-Finch].
Q: You were at the center of the public eye when your private life was exposed in 2009. What would you have done differently before and after?
A: In hindsight, it’s not how I would change 2009 and how it all came about. It would be having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife. Having the relationship that I have now with her is fantastic. She’s one of my best friends. We’re able to pick up the phone, and we talk to each other all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then.
Q: Is part of being a champion being selfish?
A: I think every great champion who has ever lived would say, yeah, they’re selfish in certain aspects. That’s how you got there. You had to put in extra time in the weight room, extra time running and running, extra time recovering, extra time running their plays or hitting shots or doing the things that other people didn’t do. Why do you do it? Yeah, you wanted to become better. But there’s a cost.
Q: You sound like you’re not driven as much by records as we might think. Yet you had Jack’s 18 majors on your bedroom wall as a kid. Is there a misconception about what drives you?
A: O.K., here’s the major misconception that people have all gotten wrong. It’s what was posted on my wall, about Jack’s records. It was not the majors, O.K.. There was one on there. It was the first time he broke 40, the first time he broke 80, the first golf tournament he ever won, first time he ever won the state amateur, first time he won the U.S. Amateur, and the first time he won the U.S. Open. That was it. That was the list. It was all age-related. To me, that was important. This guy’s the best out there and the best of all time. If I can beat each age that he did it, then I have a chance at being the best.
Q: If you look back, can you say what your best moment was?
A: I’m shocked at how many tournaments I’ve won, in hindsight, now that I’m laid up. More than 100 around the world. Playing through it, you really don’t realize it. If you’re in a team sport, you don’t realize how many games you’ve won. It just piles up on you. I wouldn’t think that [Tom] Brady right now knows how many games he’s won. You just play, you get ready for the next week, you’re in that moment. You’re always getting ready, always getting ready, always getting ready. Well, I can’t get ready for anything. O.K.? So it gives you a chance to step back and look at it from a grander scale, from 30,000 ft. And how my foundation has grown. We’re looking at expanding internationally. To be able to call up Condi Rice and say, “How do we do this?” She says, “O.K., what country is involved?” She can work with the embassies there, the universities. Those are conversations I couldn’t have when I was younger. I didn’t earn the right to be able to have the conversations. But now it’s legitimate. We’re in our 20th year. We have $100 million in endowment, that’s pretty good.