By John Gordon
The best golfer of the late 20th – and, thus far, the 21st – century, and a formidable factor in the contentious argument about “the greatest of all time” treated his book signing Monday much as he treated the public and the media throughout his incredible career.
Tiger Woods, whose book “The 1997 Masters: My Story” (256 pages, Grand Central Publishing) was released Monday, made a brief and unprecedented public appearance at Barnes & Noble’s Union Square location in New York.
“This event offers an extremely limited amount of wristbands and seats,” read a Barnes & Noble release. “Requests for signatures on memorabilia, book personalizing or photos with Mr. Woods will not be granted. This event will not include a reading, discussion or Q&A.” In other words, buy the book, stand in line and then get out.
That’s not in the least surprising for the “Caublinasian” conundrum (“Caublinasian” was a term created by Woods to describe his racially-mixed heritage that includes Caucasian, black, American Indian and Asian) who awakened us all with his memorable “Hello, world!” greeting when he debuted on the PGA Tour in 1996. He had given a clue as to his attitude about sharing his innermost feelings at his media conference before the first round of the 1997 Masters.
“Hi and bye,” is how he opened his remarks to a packed media center at Augusta National Golf Club. The subsequent question-and-answer session wasn’t much more revealing.
“That’s how my dad taught me to answer questions from the media,” Woods says in his book. Although he goes on to cite the late Arnold Palmer as an example of how to deal gracefully with the public and the media, the message never took hold. He is more focused on the impact of his late father, Earl, a retired Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel who preached “prisoner of war” and “assassin” tactics.
There is much to enjoy in this book, written with renowned golf writer Lorne Rubenstein, a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame who has authored 13 previous books on the game including subjects such as Ben Hogan, George Knudson and Moe Norman. But Rubenstein’s sole role was to interview, assemble and lubricate the many face-to-face and telephone interviews with Woods. And of that, he did an admirable job.
“I was provided the opportunity to dig deep into the mind of a golfer who had accomplished amazing things in the game,” said Rubenstein, who chronicled the 1997 Masters.
“Tiger’s recollections went from one story to another, and from one period in his career to another. We were having a conversation as much as I was conducting an interview. This led to many time shifts in the book. Tiger reflected on other majors he won, and as he considered matters both on and off the course: his workout regime, the equipment he used, and changes in equipment over the years, his childhood and relationship with his parents, incidents of racism that he had encountered, his views on where he is now in his game and life off the course.”
Twenty years removed from that monumental achievement at the 1997 Masters, where he won by an astounding 12 shots at age 21, Woods owns a future that may be at least as intriguing as his past.
We await that book, too. Get in line.
John Gordon, who has covered golf for more than 30 years for Canadian newspapers, magazines and a TV network, has authored eight books on the game. He lives in Midland, Ontario. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @gordongolf