Author: It's Tiger's 'Monica Lewinsky' moment
While the world appears shocked by Tiger Wood’s recent car accident, the result of an apparent argument with his wife, Elin, over admitted infidelities, which may, appropriately enough, have involved his wife brandishing of a golf club, Golf Digest writer Tom Callahan, a former Barboursville resident who wrote a 2004 biography of Woods called Searching for Tiger, wonders what all the fuss is about.
“He’s a famous billionaire, and he’s been with other women," says Callahan, who now lives in Florida and says has no idea what really happened at Tiger’s house that night. “Gee, stop the presses. It’s just not that startling to me.”
Callahan says he’s not particularly close to Woods, despite tracking down his subject's namesake for the book, and he won’t speculate on what happened the night of the accident.
“I haven’t seen him since the Players, but I’ve been in his house, talked to him,” says Callahan. “He associates me with his father, because I went to Vietnam.”
Woods' father, Earl Woods, a former Green Beret who died of cancer in 2006 at the age of 74, had befriended a South Vietnamese colonel named Vuong Dang Phong during his second tour of duty, and gave him the nickname “Tiger Phong.” When the elder Woods' Thai-Dutch wife, Kultida, gave birth to a son on December 30, 1975, she gave him the invented name Eldrick, because, as Callahan explains, it began with an E for Earl and ended with a K for Kultida. But Earl Woods also gave him the nickname Tiger.
"I knew, instinctively knew," Earl told Callahan, "that my son was going to have fame. Someday my old friend would see him on television, read about him in a newspaper or magazine, and say, 'That must be Woody's kid,' and we'd find each other again."
Unfortunately, as Callahan learned, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, Phong had been sent to a “political re-education camp” where he died a year later, just eight months after the birth of his namesake. In 1997, Callahan helped set up a reunion for Woods and his father with Phong’s widow and children in Vietnam.
"I wanted Tiger to experience it," Earl Woods told Callahan. "Before, this was just a story to him. Then it became a reality."
So what would Earl Woods think of his son’s current experience with reality?
“In the vast scheme of things, it’s not the biggest thing in the world,” says Callahan. “He’s not OJ, he didn’t kill anybody. The flesh is weak, and he’s having his Monica Lewinsky moment. Muhammad Ali had a lot of children with a lot of different women, and Arnold Palmer was a ladies man. And look at A-Rod.”
So what now for Woods?
“He’ll probably shut everything down until Torrey Pines,” says Callahan.
That would be the Buick Invitational in San Diego at the end of January, the first tournament Woods plays every year, and which he has won six times.
“The tabloids, especially the British ones,” says Callahan, “are going to have a field day.”