Tiger Woods in his Augusta Masters victory on April 14, 2019. -
Atlanta Journal-Constitution / TNS / SIPA
From our correspondent in the United States,
From our correspondent in the United States,
Twelve years after the scandal of his adultery and a mysterious car accident, nothing has changed: when Tiger Woods falters, the American media machine gets carried away.
The golf superchampion's road accident, which resulted in several open fractures in his right leg, a metal rod in his shin and screws in his ankle, unsurprisingly made the front page of the tabloids this Wednesday, but also that of almost all national dailies.
TV helicopters at the scene of the crash, TMZ gossip, the Los Angeles Sheriff's press conference under the crackling flashes ... It feels like 2009 - less revelations about his infidelities.
Tiger Woods may ask everyone to “respect [his] privacy,” America asks for more.
For over forty years.
It must be said that "Americans have the feeling of having seen him grow up in front of the cameras since he was two years old," explains Albert Chen, former
And the co-host of the
, which dedicated its first season to the Tiger, added, “He's done more than transform golf.
It has become golf.
Coming to the US, I didn't really understand the fascination here with Tiger Woods.
You should know that he lived from the age of 2 in front of the cameras, shaped by his father, Earl, who made him a messianic figure who would put an end to racism.
The harder was the fall.
- Philippe Berry (@ptiberry) February 24, 2021
"The chosen one"
His father, Earl, introduced him to the world in 1978 on the set of the
Mike Douglas Show
, opposite the comic Bob Hope.
Tiger has big eyes, mini shorts and already a big swing.
In high school and then in college, the prodigy broke all records of precocity as an amateur and went pro in 1996, at only 20 years old.
Nike immediately offered him a contract for $ 40 million over five years.
Unheard of in golf, let alone at this age.
A week later, the OEM buys three pages in the
Wall Street Journal
This is cool: Nike's first ad featuring Tiger Woods from the 8/29/96 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
- Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) September 15, 2014
For context, numbers refer to the number of strokes to complete an 18-hole course.
A good adult amateur is around 80. And until 1990, there were still private
hosting professional PGA Tour tournaments that only accepted white members, especially in Alabama.
In the ad, a photo of Tiger as a child accompanies this powerful text:
" Bonjour Monde.
I was shooting in the 70s at 8 years old.
I was shooting in the 60s when I was 12.
I took part in the Masters when I was 19.
There are still courses in the United States where I am not allowed to play because of the color of my skin.
I heard I wasn't ready for you.
Are you ready for me
Earl Woods, a former lieutenant colonel in the US Army, rides the wave and decides to make his son a messianic figure who will end racism and unify people.
Sports Illustrated that
Tiger, the union of an African-American father and a Thai mother, will be "the bridge between East and West."
He is the
[the chosen one].
He will have the capacity to influence the nations.
The world is only discovering its power.
A burden that's difficult to carry when you're not even old enough to order a beer.
The mirage of a "post-racial" America
His powers are however very magical, at least on the green.
In 1997, Tiger Woods won the Augusta Masters.
A record, at just 21 years old.
But he is still looking for an identity and he has to do it in front of millions of television viewers, in particular in front of the famous Oprah Winfrey, who makes him “the
”, the multi-ethnic son of America.
“How do you qualify.
», Asks the high priestess of the small screen.
Tiger insists he's "human".
Awkwardly, he says that when he was younger, he invented the acronym "cablinasian" (Caucasian, Black, American Indian, Asian, or white, black, Native American and Asian) to describe himself, according to the origins of all His grand-parents.
Earl tries to help him and explains that his son belongs to the "human race".
Nike is adding a layer of it with the first TV spot.
For a minute, children of all origins repeat: "I'm Tiger Woods".
“There was this idea that Tiger Woods was almost this image of a post-racial America,” recalls Albert Chen.
It was powerful, especially in golf, a sport mostly played by wealthy whites.
But Tiger, he "just wanted to be an inspiration to everyone."
This messianic myth is quickly demolished by a scathing portrait:
Tiger Woods, the man.
Journalist Charles Pierce, who has spent a lot of time with the young athlete, presents him as a big 21-year-old kid and notably relates some childish jokes told by Tiger Woods about the anatomy of black men.
The prodigy learns two lessons: in the presence of a journalist, everything that is said, unless it is "off the record", is
and, when you are a planetary star, each statement is scrutinized, analyzed and amplified. by the media machine.
Suddenly, he adopted a logical strategy with the press: he erected an armored door.
The glory then the fall
Tiger Woods quickly becomes a follower of Michael's doctrine that “Republicans also buy sneakers” Jordan, who also becomes a kind of big brother.
After signing a new $ 100 million deal with Nike, he cultivates a purposefully sanitized image, carefully avoiding any controversial statements, especially on racial issues.
He lets his talent and his extraordinary mind speak for itself.
He has a series of victories in the majors.
In 2008, at the age of 32, he counted 14 and seems to be on his way to destroy Jack Nicklaus' record for 18 titles.
Until that night of November 27, 2009.
A panicked neighbor calls 911 at 2:30 am: “I need an ambulance.
There is a person in front of my house.
She bumped into a post.
That person is Tiger Woods, who has only superficial wounds.
Over the next few days, he hid in silence.
The police chief claims the golfer's wife, Elin Nordegren, smashed the rear window of the vehicle with a golf club to rescue her husband.
The tabloids smell of blood and they are thirsty.
The incident gives air to revelations of the
who had claimed, a few days earlier, that Tiger Woods would have had an affair with a hostess of Las Vegas, Rachel Uchitel.
The athlete then publishes a statement on their website.
He assures us that the accident is "a private matter", that it was "entirely [his] fault" and swears that his wife Elin "acted with courage" to help him.
And he denounces “the malicious and irresponsible rumors” which circulate.
But the revelations are linked, a dozen women sell their stories accompanied by compromising texts.
Two months later, the golfer calls the media for a press conference.
The Tiger apologizes with tears in his eyes: “I have been unfaithful.
I had affairs.
I cheated on [his wife].
He apologizes to his family, his friends and his fans.
Tiger Woods hit the
New York Post for
twenty days in a row - more than 9/11.
During a conference for investors, the boss of Yahoo, Carol Bartz, rubs her hands: she explains that the scandal "is better for the audience than the death of Michael Jackson".
The rebirth of the phoenix
Facing the breaking waves, the ultra-smooth image of the golfer and his marriage implode.
And his career with it.
Almost all of his sponsors let him go, with the notable exception of Nike.
On the sport side, it is the crossing of the desert in 2010-2011.
And while Woods seems to be back to his best in 2013, it's his back that cracks.
Operated on multiple occasions, it seems finished for high level sport.
In 2017, he hit rock bottom after an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs ("driving under the influence").
The tabloids are still having a
by publishing his
haggard and unshaven
(arrest photo), with the unmissable title “DUI [pronounced Di-you-eye] of the Tiger”.
Tiger Woods made headlines in all US newspapers on May 30, 2017, the day after his arrest for drunk driving.
- Richard B. Levine / NEWSCOM / SIPA
And then it's the incredible comeback.
In August 2019 against all expectations, Tiger Woods won once again, at 43, the Augusta Masters, eleven years after his last major.
The prodigal son is back.
Barack Obama and Donald Trump congratulate him, and the latter presents him with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian decoration in the United States.
Tiger accepts it at the White House, which earned him criticism from ESPN presenter Stephen A. Smith, who brought out the “Cablinasian” pan.
For Albert Chen, the fascination and polarization of the media are ultimately explained simply: “Never or hardly has an athlete climbed so high before falling so low.
The 2019 comeback followed by his accident on Tuesday added an extra touch to his legend.
At 45, seriously injured in the legs, can Tiger Woods still come back?
According to Chen, with Woods, you should "never say never".
And if there is one person capable of resuscitating, it is the
Can Tiger Woods (still) be resuscitated after his accident?
Operated for "multiple open leg fractures", Tiger Woods "lucky" to be alive