| USA TODAY
Is Brooks Koepka the next Tiger Woods? One golfer preaches caution over hype
SportsPulse: Adam Scott discusses how Brooks Koepka has been able to dominate the field over the past few years and why people should be cautious when comparing him to Tiger Woods.
ESPN aired its smart and remarkable documentary “Tiger Woods: America’s Son” on Sunday. It’s one of the best docs ESPN has ever done.
I wrote about the documentary this week and watching it again didn’t make it any less striking. It’s the first of two examinations of Woods airing within a month. The second debuts in December on HBO.
HBO has a lot to live up to as ESPN set the gold standard on Woods, documentaries and race.
Here are the five most significant takeaways:
1. In many ways, the core of the documentary orbits around one sentence spoken by one of the Black interviewees when he says: “In this country, if you look Black, you are Black.”
We watch Woods morph from his younger self who seems to strongly believe this, and an older version, who seems to distance himself from the notion, and sees himself as multi-ethnic (which of course he is). He’d invented the term Cablinasian.
This is where the documentary is at its best. It’s a racial deep dive discussion into how Woods sees himself, how we see Woods, and how those opinions have morphed and changed over the decades.
2. Discussion about the history of Black golfers is fascinating and likely something most people don’t know. One such story was about Dewey Brown, who became a professional in 1928 but was only able to do so because his light complexion allowed him to pass as white. Someone later reported that he wasn’t and Brown was subsequently kicked out. A whites-only clause was added after that and stood until 1961.
In 1976, the documentary says, there were 11 African American players on the PGA Tour, the highest number ever. In 1997, there was only Woods. In 2020, there are four.
3. You really see how Woods’ father, Earl, believed his son would transcend not just golf, but also race, and elevate himself to something bigger than both.
“My heart fills with so much joy,” Earl once said, “when I realize that this young man is going to be able to help so many people. He will transcend this game, and bring to the world a humanitarianism which has never been known before.”
So, no pressure there.
Woods was just 20 years old at the time.
4. As much as anything, the doc is simply an entertaining piece of storytelling. It’s further proof the complicated story of race can be told with grit, honesty and eloquence.
5. Lastly, what makes this documentary so powerful, and granular, is the influence of The Undefeated. There’s a reason this documentary feels different from so many other journalistic Woods endeavors. The fearlessness of the site runs through the genome of this doc, particularly when it seeks the historical perspective and blunt opinions of former Black golfers and caddies, and also Black journalists.
It’s all part of a solid piece of work by ESPN. A very Black piece of work.