By Stoddard, Maynard Good
The Saturday Evening Post , Vol. 269, No. 5
Tiger Woods, The Makings Of A Champion by Tim Rosaforte 240 pages, St. Martin's Press, $21.95 ($29.99 Canada)
"Is any 20-year-old kid worth a 70,000-word biography? Probably not, but Tiger Woods is not just any 20-year-old kid."
Thus begins Tim Rosaforte's new biography, Tiger Woods, The Makings of a Champion. Rosaforte, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, is not alone in his assessment of Woods. Golf pro Tom Watson has called Woods "the most important golfer to come along in 50 years." Ben Crenshaw rates Woods' talent "out of this world," and Jack Nicklaus has confessed to being "very, very impressed, to say the least."
Golfing fans won't be turning off the bedlamp until the last page. Yet even those who wouldn't know a pitching wedge from a doorstop will find excitement in the triumphs and failures, the eagles and the double bogeys, that have gone into the making of this young champion.
Lt. Col. Earl Woods gave his son, Eldrick, the nickname "Tiger" in honor of a fellow Green Beret who saved his life in Vietnam. Trained by Earl, young Tiger went on to dominate junior golf, win the United States Amateur three times, then turn professional, and (at this writing) top the PGA money winners after only ten tournaments. The exciting young pro has a special knack for turning par fives into nothing more than a drive, a chip, and a putt.
How does the making of such a champion begin? In the case of little Eldrick Woods, it began with Father strapping him into a highchair and replacing his rattle with a putter. Tiger started winning trophies long before entering kindergarten. At age three, he won a Pitch, Putt, and Drive competition against 10- and 11-year-olds. Before turning four, he shot an enviable 49 from the red tees. He didn't win his first Junior World Championship, however, until the ripe old age of eight.
What helps in the making of a champion, of course, is for Pop to quit his job at McDonnell Douglas and tour the country with his son. By age 13, Tiger Woods would beat some of the best players in the world.
Author Rosaforte takes the reader on a stroke-by-stroke tour of some of these formative tournaments. You may find yourself holding your breath at times as the Tiger claws his way to the top of the leader board and invites admiration by holding his own in TV interviews with the likes of Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart.
Woods reveals his philosophy: "If you make a bad shot, you've got to start looking ahead. …