Tiger Woods returns to golf this week, and that means it’s also time for a return of the TW off-course tales. You might remember that Woods had a one-car accident nine years ago almost to the day of his return at the Hero World Challenge. That little fender-bender resulted in the complete detonation of Woods’ life, exposing his infidelity and eventually costing him his marriage, his sponsors, and the respect of much of his fanbase.
The Woods scandal also apparently meant the end of two significant friendships in Woods’ life: Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan. The Undefeated dug into Woods’ connections with two of the most famous athletes in America, and found little there. Barkley hasn’t talked to Woods since 2009, and Jordan apparently torpedoed the last of his friendship with Woods in a 2016 interview.
“I could understand if he was trying to get back with his wife at the time and she said, ‘Hey, get rid of all your old friends,’ and he called and said, ‘This is the situation,’ ” Barkley said. “I would’ve understood that. But I just wish he would have been man enough to call and say that. To just disappear totally was disappointing.”
Jordan, meanwhile, told ESPN’s Wright Thompson in 2016 that Woods can’t get past the public’s image of him, and can’t reconcile his own history with present-day reality. “The thing is,” Jordan said, “I love him so much that I can’t tell him, ‘You’re not gonna be great again.’ ” Yeah, you can see why that might be a bit searing to Woods.
One friend who has remained close with Woods is Notah Begay III, the Golf Channel analyst and former player who shares a long history with Woods. Begay made a compelling point: Jordan and Barkley were a decade or more older than Woods, and Woods, by nature an introvert, just grew out of his friendship with the two.
“To be fair, all athletes are sensitive,” Begay said. “Tiger is at times sensitive. Michael is at times sensitive. Charles is the least sensitive. But they’re all relatively young. Things come full circle. Who’s to say they won’t get to a place where they’re friends again? You say you’re sorry and you pick up where you left off. That’s a true sign of a friend.”