A Tiger Woods book worth reading

By Doug FergusonSeptember 22, 2010, 12:04 am
ATLANTA – Tom Callahan first met Earl Woods in 1996 at the Greater Milwaukee Open, and he spent the next 10 years listening to stories and gaining insight. Few others had such access and trust.

The hard part was convincing his agent and a publisher that a book on the late father of Tiger Woods was worth writing.

“Nobody wanted me to do this book,” Callahan said. “They figured, ‘Who cares about Earl Woods?”’

Of all the books involving the world’s No. 1 player, this might be the most compelling.

“His Father’s Son,” published by Gotham Books, is scheduled to go on sale Oct. 28. Golf Digest, for whom Callahan is a contributing editor, plans to publish excerpts in its November issue.

Callahan devotes the first half of the book to Earl Woods – his Kansas roots, the prejudice he faced as the only black baseball player at Kansas State; his military career; his first marriage, which produced three children; meeting his second wife in Thailand.

The second half is about Tiger Woods.

At times, the lines are blurred.

Callahan portrays Earl Woods as a womanizer, minus the names or the details. In one chapter, he writes about Tiger being furious with his father toward the end of his life. Earl implied that Tiger had to buy him out of what Callahan described only as “some kind of sexual jackpot.” It was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who served as peacemaker, urging her son to forgive his father.

Callahan was well into writing the book on Nov. 27, when Woods ran over a fire hydrant outside his Florida home, and soon after lurid details of his sexual escapades began gushing out in the media.

“The funny thing is, it didn’t change the book that much,” Callahan said. “The original outline was 40 chapters. I ended up with 31. Nine that were lost were melted into other chapters in the first half. I waited half a book to get to Tiger. I didn’t want people to be impatient.”

His publisher asked if Callahan was going to contact some of the women linked to Tiger.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t care about them,”’ he said. “Leave that to the floozy books.”

This book was always about the intricate relationship between a father, who didn’t touch a golf club until he was 42, and a son, who has dominated golf at every level.

Callahan was fond of Earl Woods. The intention was not to bash either father or son, although he doesn’t duck any of the dirt.

He writes of the father’s philandering, “Any woman who ventured within fifty feet of Earl was a potential plaintiff.” And of the son’s extramarital affairs, “Golf never needed a shower more than it did after Tiger Woods careened off a fire hydrant into a tree, shaking loose a multitude of cocktail waitresses, lingerie models and porn actresses, none of whom accused him of gentleness.”

Callahan’s research includes interviews with Earl Woods’ sisters, neighbors from his childhood home on Yuma Street in Manhattan, Kan., his first wife and their three children.

His greatest resource, however, was Earl.

In his book, “In Search of Tiger,” Callahan details his trip to Vietnam to find the soldier after whom Earl named his son – Col. Nguyen “Tiger” Phong, who died in April 1976. After learning of his fate, Callahan arranged a tearful meeting with the Phong and Woods families.

He knew the father so well that Callahan often went to the house where Earl stayed at majors to watch Tiger on television. In one scene, Callahan describes how Earl would doze off between shots, but eerily woke up when his son was on TV, sometimes offering instruction. He later claimed Tiger could hear him when he played.

“Come on, Earl. Stop it,” Callahan tells him.

Earl laughed for about 20 seconds and said, “You don’t mind if I believe it, do you?”

“He told a lot of stories,” Callahan said. “All of them weren’t true. They weren’t total lies, they were just a little untrue. The only thing he didn’t exaggerate about was Vietnam.”

Callahan talked to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, but the most intriguing interview was with Ernie Els, who spoke fondly about the time Tiger sought his advice on turning pro, and was bluntly honest about the future.

The interview took place Wednesday of the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, which Els won for his second straight victory. That was about the time Woods announced he would be returning to golf at the Masters.

Els predicted a good week at Augusta National for Woods, but not a green jacket.

“I think he’ll contend,” Els said that day. “I think so. He’s that good. But win it? No. There’s a guilt. There’s a conscience.

“I still say you can’t play your best golf without self-respect,” Els said. “Obviously, Elin married the person she believed he was. If he sincerely wants to become that person, good on him. I’ll support him. Absolutely. That’s what I’ve done my whole career, supported him. But, to be honest, I wonder where he’s going to put his energy now? Into fitness? … Tiger’s going to be a very lonely guy, I think, unfortunately.”

Callahan also includes several recollections from Royce Woods, the daughter from Earl’s first marriage. Woods made good on a promise as a kid and bought her a house in northern California. She lived with her dad when Tiger was young, and cared for Earl in his final days.

“I asked him once,” Royce said in the book, “‘Don’t you ever want to do a little dirt, Tiger? Be a little bad? Spray graffiti paint all over a wall at school, or something?’ ‘You know, I probably would,’ he told me, ‘if I didn’t know I was going to be famous someday.”’
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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.