Had an interesting chat recently with author Tom Callahan, whose new book, “His Father’s Son: Earl and Tiger Woods,” is now available.
Tom, a former Time magazine senior writer and columnist for the Washington Post who now lives in Florida, drove down to the Golf Channel studios for a taped interview to discuss his latest work. You may remember him for “In Search of Tiger,” a 2003 project in which he trekked to Vietnam to learn the story behind “Tiger” Phong, the South Vietnamese Army colonel who befriended Earl Woods during one of Woods’ two combat tours in country. Phong, of course, would later lend his nickname to Earl’s most famous progeny.
For the second Woods book, Callahan fixed his attention on Earl’s personal history, and the detail is extraordinary. Callahan spent hours upon hours in the company of Earl Woods, and continued his research via interviews with Earl’s family, former baseball teammates at Kansas State, fellow officers, and many notable figures in golf, including Tiger himself. Callahan tells us in the interview that, while he did spend five hours with Tiger for one extended interview, much of his research in that regard was spread out over several years, gathering information from Tiger in bits and pieces.
The focus of the book is the complex relationship between Earl and Tiger, and how that relationship affected not only Tiger’s development, but the lives of everyone else within their extended circle. It might be glib to suggest that the conclusion would be that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but the more you learn about Earl, the more Tiger makes sense. The recent developments in the younger Woods’ personal life are addressed, albeit without the salacious details – Callahan told us that those stories are better left to the tabloids. His book is a great read for anyone who enjoys the game, and still entertaining for those who know golf only through the fame of Tiger Woods.
As an aside, Tom sent me a very nice e-mail once he returned home, thanking me for navigating him through the taped interview setting in our studio. He mentioned that he once appeared on an episode of “The Sports Reporters” with the late Dick Schaap, who helped Tom get a word in edgewise over Mike Lupica and Bob Ryan. When I replied that Schaap was always a role model for me – we both graduated from Cornell – Tom replied, “Schaap was the goalie on the Cornell lacrosse team. He claimed to have discovered Jim Brown. Lovely