Best Quotes from the Tiger HBO Documentary


Neil: This documentary is about Earl Woods as much as it is about his son Tiger Woods. Earl always knew that Tiger was destined for greatness and built their family’s whole lives around Tiger’s success. This pressure and focus was both a blessing and curse for Tiger, who grew up perfectly prepared to be a champion golfer but less ready to handle the scrutiny of extreme celebrity. This documentary also highlights a major turning point in Tiger’s celebrity and racial identity – his interview with Oprah after his 1997 Masters win where famously labelled himself as ‘Cablinasian’.

  • Part 1 first aired January 10, 2021 and Part 2 aired on January 17, 2021.
  • Watch: TrailerVideo (HBO)
  • This post is part of my series of Notes collecting quotes from my favorite documentaries, interviews, and speeches.


Haskins Collegiate Award Banquet, 1996:

  • Earl Woods: “Please forgive me, but sometimes I get very emotional when I talk about my son.”
    • “My heart fills with so much joy when I realize that this young man is going to help so many people. He will transcend this game and bring to the world a humanitarianism that has never been known before. The world will be a better place to live in by virtue of his existence and his presence.
      • This is my treasure. Please accept it and use it wisely.

Earl: “I know what I’m looking at and I know what I feel. The talent is there to be the best in the history of golf. The world is ready for a non-white golfer to be successful. I have availed Tiger of this and he takes that responsibility seriously.

Reporter (1994): “Golf’s quite often seen as an upper-class White game. Do you feel in some ways you can change that? (Tiger: “Yes”) “If you became the next Jack Nicklaus?”

  • Tiger: “Since I’m Black, I may be even bigger than Jack Nicklaus. I might even be bigger than him… to the Blacks. I might be like a Michael Jordan in basketball.

Before the 4th Round of the 1997 Masters:

  • Earl to Tiger: “Hey son. When you go out there, it’s going to be the hardest round of your life. But if you just be yourself, stay cool, it will be one the most rewarding rounds.

After Tiger’s 1997 Masters win:

  • Earl to Tiger: “We made it. We made it.”

Tiger on Oprah after his 1997 Masters win:

  • Oprah: “Of course you’ve received all kinds of adulation. You also get hate mail. I hear you insist on reading it. Why?
  • Tiger: “It reminds me of what I have to try and do. As people know, golf has been kind of an elitist sport, and unfortunately, it’s kind of close -“
  • Oprah: “Wasn’t it until just six years ago that Augusta National even allowed -“
  • Tiger: “Exactly. (Oprah: “People of color?”) A black member… Yeah, it’s… and in the clubs, they still practice that, and unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with that all growing up. I got kicked off golf courses numerous times, been called some pretty tough words to my face. It is tough. Golf needed to be shaken up.
  • Oprah: “Can we get this straight? What do you call yourself?Your father’s half-black, quarter Chinese, quarter American Indian. Your mother’s half Thai, quarter Chinese, and quarter White. So… does it bother you to be called African American?
    • Tiger: “Yeah, it does. Growing up, I came up with this name — I’m a Cablinasian. (Oprah: “A Cablinasian?”) “Ca-Caucasian, Bl-Black, In-Indian, Asian. Cablinasian.

Larry King: “Life is always full of goals. What’s yours?”

  • Tiger: “Mine, ultimately? To be the best.”
    • Larry King: “So you want to be known as the best who ever played this game?”
      • Tiger: “Exactly.”

Tiger in ~1999:

  • “I came into the Tour at 158. And now I’m 180.”

Earl: “I brought this out in him. His toughness.

  • I would do all kinds of things to mess him up, usually on the golf course. Mad, did he get angry at me. I could say one word, and that word was the release word that the whole training was over.
    • I said, “Tiger, if you never utter that word, I promise that you’ll never meet another person as mentally tough as you.“”

Tiger in 2003:

  • Reporter: “How would you describe your relationship with your father?”
  • Tiger: “He is my best friend. (“And yet…”) No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
  • Reporter: “He’s much older than you.”
  • Tiger: That’s alright. You can have a best friend who’s 61.”

Earl in ~2005:

  • Reporter: “What’s the one bit of advice that you can give the fathers and the mothers out there?”
    • Earl: “You have to earn their trust and their respect. I have a phrase that love is a given, trust and respect are earned.You have to earn it.”

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & GP of Utopic, a pre-seed biotech VC fund investing in the future of science. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor, State Representative, and US Congress in Michigan.