Tiger Woods, an athlete who at one time dominated his sport like few athletes in history, wishes he'd just enlisted in the Navy and become a SEAL.
That's one of many revelations in an explosive story posted Thursday by the sports network ESPN, which details Woods' Tiger's personal and professional turmoil decline over the past 10 years since the death of his beloved father, a Green Beret.
Woods has been given special access to the Navy's most elite combat teamsSEALs over the years. He has been invited to secretive training facilities in the California desert and been taught to shoot, clear buildings and even jump from aircraft, the article claims, backing up reporting with images and interviews with former and active-duty SEALs.
Woods won an astounding 14 major golf tournaments, but as his career and personal life began to spiral out of control, Woods talked openly to friends and confidants about enlisting in the Navy. Breaking Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 majors became secondary to his dream of joining the Navy and passing through the arduous Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL courseBUD/s, the article claims.
"He loved the anonymity of wearing a uniform and being part of a team," the article reportsread, going on to quote an anonymous friend of Woods.
"It was very, very serious," the friend says. "If he had had a hot two years and broken the record, he would have hung up his clubs and enlisted. No doubt."
Woods told his SEAL buddiesfriends that he wanted to be a SEAL and thought he could be a SEAL if he hadn't chosen golf, the article said. Woods has earned over $1 billion as a pro golfer; Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $700 million last year.
To be sure, Woods may have had some difficulties signing up. Woods, 40, passed the SEALs' age limit of 30 a decade ago.
Pro golfer Tiger Woods got special access to Navy SEALs and reportedly considered joining them as his troubles mounted, according to an ESPN article. Woods viewed SEAL weaponry in 2006.
Photo Credit: Cmdr. Jeffrey Bender/Navy
At times, Woods' presence at the training facilities rubbed some SEALs the wrong way. The article reports some SEALs were particularly miffed by an incident at a local restaurant after training one day.
Then there's the story of the lunch, which spread throughout the Naval Special Warfare community. Guys still tell it, almost a decade later. Tiger and a group of five or six went to a diner in La Posta. The waitress brought the check and the table went silent, according to two people there that day. Nobody said anything and neither did Tiger, and the other guys sort of looked at one another.
Finally one of the SEALs said, "Separate checks, please."
The waitress walked away.
"We are all baffled," says one SEAL, a veteran of numerous combat deployments. "We are sitting there with Tiger f---ing Woods, who probably makes more than all of us combined in a day. He's shooting our ammo, taking our time. He's a weird f---ing guy. That's weird s---. Something's wrong with you."
The article also claims Tiger Woods is essentially kaputthrough as a professional golfer. He hasn't hit a golf ball in two months and he can't even run after three knee surgeries and two back surgeries. What does he do for exercise? "Walk," he told a reporter recently.
"I walk and I walk some more," Woods responded.
You can Read the whole article here.