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Tiger's trouble...

Is the lack of a childhood to blame, wonders Ewen Murray?

Ewen Murray Posted 23rd February 2010 view comments

My sabbatical is over and I'm delighted to be back with you all again on

To be honest, I have missed your interaction, opinions and thoughts on the goings-on in the golfing world and much has happened in the past few months. The demise of the number one golfer in the world, the dramatic rise to stardom the English players and the USPGA Tour returning to Sky Sports screens.

Among friends: Tiger makes THAT address to the select few

Among friends: Tiger makes THAT address to the select few

Everyone has pretty much had their say on the shocking life away from the course of Tiger Woods, but no one has searched into the reasons why one so talented, so revered and so admired in all walks of life should fall so far from grace.

My own opinion is the fact he had no childhood. His father, who I suspect saw only his own way in life, had him on the television at two years of age holing three-foot putts, then again at four hitting 50-yard drives before announcing that, "Tiger would have a bigger impact on the world than Gandhi". Hardly the ideal beginning in a young child's life. From there, it was Tiger and dad. No normal upbringing such as playing with pals and doing the usual things a youngster does in the period from child to youth and eventually into adulthood.

My own opinion is the fact Tiger Woods had no childhood. His father, who I suspect saw only his own way in life, had him on the television at two years of age holing three-foot putts, then again at four hitting 50-yard drives before announcing that, "Tiger would have a bigger impact on the world than Gandhi". Hardly the ideal beginning in a young child's life.

Ewen Murray
Quotes of the week

This is not the only case of this happening. My mind went to tennis players, Jennifer Capriati and Tracy Austin. The former experienced the same early years as Woods and turned to drugs; the latter simply couldn't cope with the expectation and had a breakdown. The late Michael Jackson never knew childhood having hit the pop charts at five, then hit the road with his older brothers and sisters performing all over the Globe.

Whereas Tiger deviated into his sleazy world, Jackson bought Neverland in an effort to have a childhood. Both he and Woods were by then at a mature adult age. In short, both of them were crying out to experience what they had missed and what most of us had enjoyed as a normal upbringing. My belief is, therein lies the foundation of Tiger's extraordinary behaviour, but what course of action does he now take?

I'm sure, like many of you I had mixed feelings during his 14-minute speech in front of a selected audience at the Tour's headquarters last week. He began with"many of you know me. You are my friends and have cheered and supported me". Well of course, that was correct as he - or his advisors - had chosen the guest list. So, what was the point of this?


His first course of action should be to part with his advisors, for just when they needed to be strong, they have been weak. There were moments when you wanted to put your arm around Tiger. Here was for many, our golfing hero baring his soul to one television camera, family and a few 'friends', for that read, acquaintances. Tiger has I suspect, no real friends.

That was not allowed during his military-style upbringing. This should have taken place in front of the Media so the step he took in Ponte Vedra was a much more significant one. It should also have taken place on non-tournament days, not during one of the game's most charismatic events.

As the announcement took 14 minutes, I don't think his rehabilitation would have been ruined or disrupted. The Accenture Company has spent millions of dollars promoting Woods professionally across the world and in the last 11 years has provided wonderful support to the game. Another two 'advisor mistakes'.

Tiger now has to take control of his own life both on and off the course. He has to make his own major decisions and speak his own words. Tiger's transgressions and infidelities happened just after his father, Earl died. Maybe part of Tiger passed away with him for he was his world. In future, he has to behave like professional golfers are expected to. His spitting, club throwing and swearing has to be put to bed and be replaced by the charisma the young Tiger Woods displayed which simply captivated us all when he arrived on the scene in 1996.

His private life should remain exactly that and I'm sure he has many bridges to build. He should be left alone to be given the chance to do that. Many have said the game will suffer from his extended break from golf. That of course is nonsense. The game has survived for centuries without him and it will continue to do so. I think the main question here is, how long can Tiger survive without golf?


What about Ian Poulter? The world number five 18 months ago, Nick Faldo selected Ian ahead of a few others as one of his wild cards for the European Ryder Cup side to face the Americans at Valhalla. Myself and 95 per cent of our poll thought he had not done enough to deserve a place. I still think, at the time, we were correct to voice that opinion. But what a transformation!

I spoke to Ian on the phone just after his inclusion was confirmed and he was annoyed at my comments. We talked for a good 20 minutes. It was a private conversation and ended with: "Go to Louisville and prove us all wrong." He did exactly that and has used that platform as a springboard to the lofty position he enjoys in the game today.

The Accenture final was all that is good about golf. Both Ian and Paul Casey played the game in the spirit we expect golf to be played. The golf was of the highest order as was the gentlemanly behavior displayed by the Englishmen who brilliantly flew the St.George flag in the Arizona Desert. We now have three Englishmen in the world's top six.

Ian's performance will have done much to ignite the interest of all aspiring young golfers. Having sold Mars bars and tee pegs in a pro shop whilst boasting a five handicap, here he is today with only Woods, Stricker, Mickleson and Westwood ahead of him in the list of the sport's top stars.

Two years ago, Ian infamously crowed that in a few years time that "it will be Tiger and me at the top of the world rankings". He came in for much ridicule from all quarters. It's not looking quite so silly now. I rather hope it happens, although with the next World Golf Championship and the year's first major coming up in the next two months, Ian may have got it wrong. It might be 'Me and Tiger!' It couldn't happen to a more decent and honest lad.


The USPGA Tour is back on our screens and we can once again enjoy these Saturday and Sunday evenings from the United States; the kids safely tucked up in bed, a glass of wine in hand and many of our home players vying for the prestigious titles Stateside.

I think we all missed the action over the last three years and one we are all looking forward to is the Players' Championship from Sawgrass in May. Before that, we will have the CA Championship next week from the Doral resort and with the excellence of our boys in Tucson fresh in our minds, wouldn't it be wonderful to see more splendid performances over the course they call the Blue Monster?

PS: Thanks for your comments about the golf promo which was filmed in the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Colin Montgomerie was a star. He had just flown in from Japan but got into the spirit of things right away despite being jet-lagged. My violin play is coming along, so no more comments please about my 'fiddling' as I wander through the airports! Thank you.

Do you agree with Ewen's take on Tiger Woods? Let him know by filling in the feedback form below...

Comments (21)

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Kathy Teo says...

Ewen, I do miss your commentating ever since Sky stopped telecasting the US PGA Tournaments. You are the best of all the golf commentators - you are to golf commentating as Bumble is to cricket. I totally agree with your comments on Tiger. So often we see parents forcing on their children what they would have wanted to be in life and, in the process, forget that their children are but children. There was definitely a lot missing in his childhood, poor kid. I sincerely hope he gets his personal life sorted out and return to his greatness in golf once more.

Posted 21:40 25th July 2010

Derek Fehily says...

Ewen, I agree with what you say about Tigers upbringing, he started behaving like a 19 year old when he was 31, maybe if he was given a bit more freedom in his younger years this latest razmatazz might not have occured. more importantly in golfing terms, I don't think he will ever be the same golfer again. The intimidatory factor is gone, this episode will always follow him for the rest of his days and his chances of ever catching the Nicklaus record are less than ever

Posted 17:33 6th March 2010

Scott Beaumont says...

Ewen, great to have you back, i had resulted in taking my comments to your rival broadcaster and leaving comments on their site ha ha so i'll return home now you're back! Poulter, Westwood and Mcilroy to lift a major this year !

Posted 11:53 3rd March 2010

David Thacker says...

i find all this TW stuff laughable,did he really think as the most famous sportsman in the world he could get away with what he did.He and many of these grossly overpaid sportspeople think they are untouchable,they live in a fantasy world where they are worshipped and fawned over and then they think they can do as they please without consequences.They should look at Nicklaus,Watson and Bobby Charlton to see why they are loved and cherished as true Heroes and role models and have more respect for themselves.Too much money!!

Posted 20:44 2nd March 2010

Con Kelleher says...

Good to have you back Ewen...I feel exactly like Steve Deacon.. it's very frustrating to have to watch the sea etc when you want to watch the golf. I watched the Phoenix Open and they seemed obsessed by Rickie Fowler and hardly ever showed his playing partners...not very satisfactory at all..Perhaps you may be able to talk to the people who are relaying it and let them know we are not happy with what we are getting.

Posted 20:26 2nd March 2010

Derek Harris says...

I think we have discussed Tiger's private life enough now. It's time for Woods to get back onto the course and start winning tournaments again!! Well done to Ian Poulter for winning his 1st WCG. It just shows you anybody can win an event when Tiger is not around, that is not a pop at ian more so the fact that there is no competition for Tiger out there.

Posted 12:50 2nd March 2010

Conor Kelly says...

Just like to correct Ian Beattie.Padraig Harrington is Irish not British.Great to see you back Ewen!

Posted 21:12 1st March 2010

Steve Deacon says...

I am also pleased to see US golf back on the screens but please please can we not get the local broadcasters to show a little more golf. The adverts and other breaks where we just see pictures of the ocean or a bird or something make me pull my hair out. Thank goodness for Sky plus to fast forward this part but it means I have to build up an hours recorded golf before I start watching it. Can the Sky cameras not film some of the golf themselves?

Posted 10:07 26th February 2010

John Griffith says...

I believe we will see a very focused Tiger when he returns to golf as I am sure he will.Yes he has done wrong and he has held his hands up and admitted his infidelity but we pay money or turn the television on to see how Tiger goes about playing the game we love,the shots that no one else would try.When Tiger returns it will only be to try and pass Jack's major target then I believe he will disappear from the gossip mongers(you journalist)who will not realise that you have been previledged to see one of the greatest sportsman that has ever lived until he is not there.

Posted 10:05 26th February 2010

Simon Rourke says...

@ Ian Beattie re: 18 holes with Darren Clarke - Ian, I couldn't believe it when I found out I'd won the comp, I never win anything! Also it's at Queenwood which is ultra private and apparently has the best greens this side of Augusta so looking forward to that. Love your idea about getting the four legends in a room to discuss golf in general and the old days, that would make fantastic TV viewing if it was done properly - come on Ewen speak to your bosses at Sky and make it happen!

Posted 13:54 25th February 2010

Johnny Lawrence says...

Ewen,On the Tiger Woods speech. Agree should sack his PR team,that was just pathetic drivel for 15 mins. The game of golf really needs him back quick. I thought maybe the intervention and an few chosen words from Arnold Palmer may have tempted Tiger back to Bay Hill.Sadly it does not seem so. Ian Poulter: Was never a fan but after the last Ryder Cup and his flawless display both on and off the course in the Matchplay,my opinion has changed.Poulter now has another fan. I think people will start to take him seriously as a world No 2 contender. Well done Poulter,with you in the team in October...Big Chances!!!!!

Posted 10:57 25th February 2010

John Hill says...

Great to see you back Ewen. My personal view of the Tiger saga is that he is more upset at being caught than anything else. He now has to change his life perspective (or at least be seen to change it). It may now prove difficult to put fear into his opponents whilst trying to be so righteous as part of his game was the intimidation factor. I may be wrong, but it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Posted 18:05 24th February 2010

Pete Rowland says...

Ewen, Great to have you back. When TW story broke, my first reaction was he was trying to regain his lost childhood and I am glad that without condoning what he did you agreed with me. His focus on the golf course at times makes you wonder if he is human. There is no question about that now. PS: I cancelled my skysport subcription when he announced he is taking a break from the game. Watched the matchplay final in my clubhouse and I was right, the passion that keeps us glued to our armchairs when TW is standing over a putt is gone. They game of golf will survive but the TV viewers needs him back.

Posted 15:12 24th February 2010

Mark Armstrong says...

a blessing if ever there was one - for months I have been awaiting your return Ewen - whilst we have disagreed on occasion there is no doubt that you have become the reasoned voice of golf so thank you for returning and here's to another season of worthy golfing debate - i agree with much of your commentary on Tiger and have no real interest in proloning things but i would be interested in your take on the Poulter ruling last week - Poulter was the deserving winner of the tournament but I feel he let himself down slightly with the ruling - when asked directly by the chief referee if he would attempt to play the ball over the camera station he replied yes - he then decided against taking relief and proceeded to chip out almost sideways - the basis upon his request wasa that he would have played directly to the hole in matchplay - I think he walked a fine line with his handling of the situation - that said a great victory despite him beating the ever increasingly frustrating Serg. - welcome back Ewen!!

Posted 14:58 24th February 2010

Andrew Marshall says...

I agree with your comments on Tiger Woods, I don't think there was any way anyone could go through life with not only that upbringing but having the amount of attention and adulation that he has to put up with. Even in the light of his recent troubles the eyes of the worlds media were on him. Imagine having to deal with that amount of media interest in your every move when you are going through the kind of problems he has been trying to deal with. Something had to give sooner or later, no-one is perfect. I think he will do a lot of soul searching and come back a more humble grounded person. On a golfing note I think we could be in for another Faldo and Lyle effect, once one of our players breaks through and wins a major, the flood gates could open. I fancy Paul Casey for the Masters.

Posted 14:01 24th February 2010

Ian Beattie says...

Ewen, its great to have you back. I have missed your opinions and thoughts on the game. I agree with you on the Ian Poulter thing. Pre-Ryder Cup when he was picked I too thought it was another Faldo mistake (amongst a ton of others he made). Post Ryder Cup, the performance of Ian Poulter was all through his own desire to show the world how good he really is. And now look at him....he's turned out to be a player in whom a captain can have the confidence to bring him back matter who he plays. I so hope this year we have a British Major winner. It was great to see Padraig Harrington win 3 but I would love to see Westwood, Poulter, Rory, Casey, Fisher, Wilson or Dyson holding a major trophy aloft. Of Course my personal preference is that a certain D Clarke grabs hold of one first....if that ever does happen I predict tears a plenty! On the Tiger front....we all hope he comes back to the course and does what he does best. I dont think we realise sometimes just how good he really is. Every person who has seen him live can recount a miracle shot that Tiger has played. Just goes to show the perils of not having had a proper childhood. By the way, how jealous am I of the previous poster who is getting to play with Darren!! Turned green as soon as I read it! What an honour. Just a final currently has, what I would describe as 4 living legends...Mr Palmer, Mr Player, Mr Nicklaus and Mr Watson. Could you suggest to Sky getting them all in a room together to talk about the old days and what they think of golf today and the players who are currently out there. I think it would make a great program. Just a thought

Posted 10:32 24th February 2010

Tony Parsons says...

Hi Ewen. Congratulations to Ian - a great win. Back to Back this week would really be something!!! As far as his dress is concerned I am sorry to see that he has not yet attained the standards of Doug Sanders who always had matching coloured Shoes with each outfit. You probably played with him, Ewen.

Posted 10:19 24th February 2010

Tony Parsons says...

Absolutely great to have you back, Ewen. I think your thoughtful and sympathetic analysis of the Tiger Woods situation is spot on. He should certainly be dumping a lot of the baggage that surrounds him. I mentioned in a previous response to Ernie Els comments that things would have been handled a bit differently if Mark McCormack had still been around and running IMG. He certainly had his fair share of problems with the 'Stars' in the 60's, 70' and 80's and he never seemed to fail them like his successors seem to have done with Tiger. I certainly hope that IMG make a good job of handling our Ryder Cup Captain over the coming months because there is potential for serious media disruption to this event, if they get it wrong. As our Captain will almost certainly not be playing in any of the majors or the remaining 2 WGC events this year it is going to be difficult for him to claim that he has a close connection with the 'Stars' of the team. He will have to be well advised on how to handle the inevitable media questioning about this remotenss. It will be interesting to watch this drama unfold. Once again Ewen -Great to have you back I shall look forward to all your comments

Posted 09:03 24th February 2010

Carmen Brouillet says...

Tiger Woods has apologized to everyone and accepted that what he did was very wrong. Tiger confirmed he needs help and that he is receiving rehab to address his issues. Tiger said he wants to regain balance in his life to save the two things that are most important to him, his wife and his children. Tiger is trying to put his life back together and he has a right to do so. I wish them all the best. It is time that Tiger and his family move on with their life and for the media to get off their back!!!

Posted 21:53 23rd February 2010

Simon Rourke says...

Hi Ewen, firstly it's great to see your column back on here, wasn't the same without you and your always balanced and interesting views. I agree with your comments regarding Tiger's lack of childhood, we can only begin to imagine how different his childhood was to many of our own, and how different out perception of 'normal' is compared to Tiger's. Personally I don't think he'll be back this year, my bet is he'll play a couple of tournaments before the Master in 2011 and then take his bow at Augusta that year, there is little point in him rushing back after everything that's happened - I wish him luck though, he may not be my favourite player (Mickelson and D. Clarke everytime!) but no one deny his brillliance and influence on our great game. Lastly Ewen, I won a competition to play 18 holes with your good friend and former pupil Darren Clarke, any tips to beat the great man with a 10 shot advantage?! Regards Simon Rourke

Posted 20:01 23rd February 2010

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