Here are 11 things we learned from ESPN Senior Writer Wright Thompson’s nearly 11,000-word deep dive on Tiger Woods, and his complicated relationships with his father, Earl, and with the Navy SEALs.
1. The Cadillac Escalade he crashed into a fire hydrant is now owned by a man in Arkansas who had no knowledge of the car’s infamous past.
2. While many celebrities customize the tail numbers of their private planes, Woods had his blocked to thwart tracking websites.
3. Tiger distinguished himself in mock indoor gun battles with the Navy SEALs. “A lot of people freak out,” says retired SEAL and author Ed Hiner. “It’s too loud. It’s too crazy. He did well.”
4. But in one mock battle he shot a civilian with a camera instead of a terrorist with a gun. He was contrite but joked about hating photographers.
5. Woods once confounded his SEAL tablemates by not picking up the check at a lunch. The incident became the subject of SEAL lore. As a result—and for other reasons—he rubbed a few of the men the wrong way. “His interactions with the guys were not always the most stellar,” says a retired SEAL, “and most were very underwhelmed with him as a man.”
6. He believes in ghosts.
7. He sought normalcy and “something real,” according to one former mistress, in his relationships with women. That could mean cuddling up in front of a movie or telling them and even their friends about his childhood.
8. After his father died, Tiger flew on his jet with his half siblings and an urn with Earl’s remains from California to Manhattan, Kansas, where Earl grew up and is now buried in an unmarked grave.
9. Breaking Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 professional major titles would have sent Tiger into retirement from golf and straight to the Navy. “If he had had a hot two years and broken the record,” a friend says, “he would have hung up the clubs and enlisted. No doubt.”
10. He so avidly reads what people write and say about him, friend Michael Jordan calls him “Rabbit Ears.”
11. Jordan worries that Woods doesn’t have a steady girlfriend. “He’s gonna have to learn to trust somebody,” Jordan said.