Chat with ... Armen Keteyian, author of new biography ‘Tiger Woods’
Updated 10:33 am, Friday, June 8, 2018
FAIRFIELD — Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict’s explosive new biography, “Tiger Woods,” was released on March 27.
By the next day, Woods’ representatives — manager Mark Steinberg and spokesman Glenn Greenspan — lashed out with a response, claiming “egregious errors” in the book as a result of “zero fact-checking with us of any kind.”
“In a book of tens of thousands of facts, were there a few typographical or inadvertent mistakes? Yes. All have since been corrected in subsequent printings and they were nothing of significance,” Keteyian said. “What they (Tiger’s team) always do is shoot the messenger instead of addressing the message.”
The book is the most recent effort from Keteyian, a part-time Fairfield resident since 2011, and writing partner Benedict, who lives in East Lyme, to set the record straight on Woods.
He’s not afraid to tell unpalatable truths.
“Jeff and I were looking for another big project after a book called ‘The System,’ which was a deep dive on big college football programs. We were kind of looking for another mountain to climb,” said Keteyian, who will be signing copies of his latest release and New York Times bestseller on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fairfield University Bookstore.
The pair’s literary agent suggested Tiger Woods.
“Jeff and I were both sort of like, ‘Really? Tiger? Hasn’t there been a ton of books written about him?’ ” Keteyian said.
There had, but Keteyian and Benedict felt no exhaustive study of the totality of Woods’ life had ever been taken on. To approach such a massive project, the authors knew from the beginning they would need enough time to digest what had already been written about the golfer and amass and interview sources.
They were given a three-year advance, and set to create a timeline of Woods’ life and the lives of his parents. They conducted more than 400 interviews and had over 250 sources.
“It was an exhaustive process. There’s a reason there hadn’t been a major biography of his life. He’s an incredibly private person,” Keteyian said. “There were a number of nondisclosure agreements that permeated his life, so having time to develop sources and trust of people who had intersected with him was crucial. It’s really like putting a massive thousand-piece puzzle together. And a lot of times the pieces look very much alike.”
Woods’ team would allow the golfer to speak to Keteyian and Benedict only under conditions the authors found unacceptable. They also didn’t have access to Woods’ father, Earl, who died in 2006, and mother, Kultida, with whom Woods had a well-documented, often suffocating, and extremely formative relationship.
“Tigers’ first name is Eldrick. The ‘E’ stands for Earl and the ‘K’ stands for Kultida. Literally and figuratively, he has been surrounded by his parents from the time he was born. To understand Tiger and his greatness and his issues as he grew older, the reader has to understand his relationship with his parents,” Keteyian said.
The book also delves into Woods’ past relationships, sex addiction and rehab, his propensity for gambling and his “savant-like ability” to distinguish by touch the weight of clubs by just couple grams.
In the end, Keteyian said he was surprised by the image of Woods that emerged.
“There were tremendous revelations and surprises. I didn’t know he stuttered until the age of 7. That he didn’t have much opportunity to do anything else but play and practice golf as a child. How isolated and, at many times, untrusting he was of people as his stardom rose,” Keteyian said.
For much of his career, Woods could be entitled, withdrawn and cold-blooded to those around him, while at the same time racking up 79 PGA Tour and 14 major tournament wins. He is a figure not just in the sports world, but in popular culture, that Keteyian said rivals only a few others: Lance Armstrong, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson.
“Our book was really driven by two questions: Who is Tiger Woods? And second: What’s the price of genius? Here’s a truly transcendent, once-in-a-lifetime athlete,” Keteyian said. “You see him once and maybe never again. But what’s the cost of that?”
firstname.lastname@example.org; @justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586