Reporter: Tara Brown
Producer: Stephen Taylor
He's one of sport's all-time greats. To golf, what Bradman was to cricket.
Tiger Woods is only 33, but he's already had a brilliant career and he's now the wealthiest and probably the nicest sportsman on the planet. And all done with a smile - what a smile!
But beneath all that toothy niceness lurks a real tiger. This guy is the ultimate competitor. And that's what makes him so thrilling to watch.
This week,Tigermania comes to our shores when Woods competes at the Australian Masters in Melbourne. Just by showing up, he'll make the tournament a roaring success.
But that's not enough for Tiger Woods - every time he walks out to the tee; he's hunting for a win.
TARA BROWN: When you're the best sportsman in the world, the scrutiny is unrelenting. Even when you're just out practising your game, there are always countless camera lenses and thousands of eyes trained on Tiger Woods's every move. Mostly it's in awe - how can one man make the complicated, and often unfair, ways of golf look so simple? Tiger Woods rarely agrees to interviews. He's so famous he doesn't have to. At first he's quite serious, business-like, but when it appears there's no mistaking that trademark smile. In trying to explain golf, in 1916 the 'New York Tribune' wrote, "Golf is in part a game, but only in part. "It is also in part a religion, a fever, a vice, a mirage, a frenzy, "a fear, an abscess, a joy, a thrill, a pest, a disease, "an uplift, a brooding, a melancholy, "a dream of yesterday and a hope for tomorrow."
TIGER WOODS: Damn. (LAUGHS)
TARA BROWN: And all I thought you did was hit a ball.
TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah, that too!
TARA BROWN: I can't imagine golf being "an abscess" for Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: No, I wouldn't look at it like that, no.
TARA BROWN: Just a bit of a sore sometimes?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes, absolutely.
TARA BROWN: Sore perhaps from the repetitive strain of lifting so many trophies. In his brilliant career so far he's won 92 professional tournaments but the ones that really count are the prestigious majors. He's won 14 of those, second only to the great Jack Nicklaus, whose record of 18 majors is well and truly in Tiger's sights.
TARA BROWN: What motivates you today?
TIGER WOODS: Winning.
TARA BROWN: Winning?
TIGER WOODS: Mmm.
TARA BROWN: Still?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-hm.
TARA BROWN: Will it forever, do you think? I mean, how much winning is enough for you? Because you've won a darn lot.
TIGER WOODS: I've won a few times, yes, certainly, and I'd like to win more.
TARA BROWN: What about the world's expectation that every time you play they expect you to win, they even expect you to make history. Does that ever scare you?
TIGER WOODS: It's not scary, no, but it's frustrating sometimes in the sense you have to explain yourself when you don't win. Even, you know, sometimes people just outplay you, that's just the way it goes, or the fact that you make mistakes.
TARA BROWN: Yeah, I think it's because you make it look so easy. I mean, is winning still easy for you?
TIGER WOODS: It's never been easy. Never. Never ever.
TARA BROWN: As the legend goes, Tiger could swing a club before he could walk. At three, he was on American TV outplaying and outwitting comedian Bob Hope. As a teenager he won almost every golf competition he entered - including the US Amateur title three times in a row. Then in 1996, at 20, Tiger turned professional. And such was the anticipation, he already had $60 million worth of sponsorship deals lined up.
TARA BROWN: Did you ever think that to be a good golfer meant that you would be the most famous sportsman on the planet?
TIGER WOODS: That's never my intent. It's...I could give... I really didn't care about being famous. The only thing I care about is winning golf tournaments and winning major championships, and trying to beat these guys out here. That to me was my goal.
TARA BROWN: In many ways Tiger Woods is the accidental celebrity - the star who doesn't want to be a star. In fact, the young Tiger would do anything to avoid the spotlight, and even now sometimes feels uncomfortable in its glare.
TARA BROWN: As a kid at school who did public speaking courses to push through his shyness, how do you cope with the fame and celebrity that goes with your success?
TIGER WOODS: It's good on one occasion, in the sense that you can help a lot of people. And frustrating in the sense that sometimes, you know, people really don't leave you alone at certain times and especially when you have a bite to eat and you've got food in your mouth. So that aspect sometimes can be a little bit of an annoyance but the people mean well - that's the thing, they mean well.
TARA BROWN: Are you ever that shy kid anymore?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, absolutely.
TARA BROWN: What makes you shy?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know. I'm certainly not a person who is gregarious and certainly outgoing, but more reserved than anything.
TARA BROWN: Sure. Do you think you were born to be this successful or were you made?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think life experiences and I think having two great parents certainly shaped that, given me the tools and the confidence and the knowledge to go ahead and do that, and the guidance. And that's instrumental - not everyone has two great parents.
TIGER WOODS: Tiger's parents, Earl and Kultida, were the first to recognise his rare talent. Sadly Earl Woods died from cancer three years ago, but what he taught Tiger about competition and sportsmanship will never be forgotten.
TIGER WOODS: We went at each other all the time of just trying to beat each other 'cause it was so much fun and it was all good-natured, that's the thing - it was never bad-hearted or anything like that. And we love each other so much, on so many different levels. Our relationship was very unique and very different because we weren't just a father and son - he was my best friend, he was...he was a mentor, I mean, he was a role model.
TARA BROWN: Mmm, you must miss him a lot?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, each and every day.
TARA BROWN: Do you think you have to be pushed to be a champion?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think ultimately it's up to the person. You can't push someone into that position. They have to enjoy it.
TARA BROWN: What's not to enjoy about this? He smashes the ball a huge distance... COMMENTATOR: And gets a nice kick out onto the fairway. ..there's his pinpoint accuracy, topped off with the never-flinching ability to sink the longest and most important putts. Expect anything different? But before we deify him too much, remember - this Tiger's human and golf's an unpredictable sport. Tiger Woods can, and does, get beaten. Mild-mannered Australian pro Peter O'Malley has done it. I'd be happy to do that all the time.
PETER O'MALLEY: He's number one. He's expected to win. I just went out and tried to enjoy myself, played good golf and he had a bad day and I got over the top of him.
TARA BROWN: It was a few years ago at a tournament in America. The commentators thought it was the biggest sporting upset of all time... ..but Peter took it all in his stride.
PETER O'MALLEY: It's always nice to be able to say that you've beaten Tiger Woods.
TARA BROWN: So is it just that he's the best player or is there something else about him?
PETER O'MALLEY: I think there's something about him. I think he has a fantastic aura about him.
TARA BROWN: When I caught up with Peter O'Malley, he was in training for this week's Australian Masters tournament in Melbourne, and another showdown with the Tiger.
PETER O'MALLEY: It's like a rockstar, or superstar, come to town with all the media attention. It is like a circus coming to town.
TARA BROWN: A circus you want to be a part of?
PETER O'MALLEY: Oh, you obviously want to be a part of it, exactly.
TARA BROWN: And what is your plan - complete annihilation or are you going to go easy on us?
TIGER WOODS: I would like to win, there's no doubt. That's the whole idea of competing, is to win.
TARA BROWN: In fact, just by turning up in Melbourne, Tiger Woods will get US$3 million, plus expenses. But for the organisers and the sponsors, he's worth every cent - the event is already a sellout. Success sells and there's no-one more marketable than Tiger Woods. He brings so much money to golf, he's now being called the world's first billionaire sportsman.
TIGER WOODS: I wish I'd made that much.
TARA BROWN: It's a ridiculous amount of money. We're talking about golf.
TIGER WOODS: This is true, this is very true.
TARA BROWN: Good on you for achieving it, but it is ridiculous, isn't it?
TIGER WOODS: Mmm.
TARA BROWN: That's all you're going to say about it - 'mmm'?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I say, I, I wish I made that much.
TARA BROWN: Well, how much have you made then?
TIGER WOODS: Not that.
TARA BROWN: Close?
TIGER WOODS: Not that.
TARA BROWN: Will you, one day?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know.
TARA BROWN: Is that a driving force?
TIGER WOODS: No. Never, ever.
TARA BROWN: Tiger maintains golf has never been his first priority - his family is. And with wife Elin Nordegren his family is growing. They now have two children - 2.5-year-old daughter Sam and son Charlie, nine months old.
TARA BROWN: As a parent, how has that changed you as a golfer and a person?
TIGER WOODS: Lack of sleep. (LAUGHS) Lack of sleep. I don't sleep a whole lot but now I sleep a hell of a lot less and it puts things in perspective, you know, real fast. Going through watching my Dad get sick and, you know, ultimately passing and then the birth of my two kids, it's...it's pretty special to see, you know, my kids light up and see the smile on their faces.
TARA BROWN: Do you plan on shaping your children's talents?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say necessarily shaping their talents, I think providing the environment for them to choose whatever they want to choose and be successful and, you know, be leaders in their own right. And hopefully Elin and I can do that for our kids.
TARA BROWN: Do they have any talents?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I don't know - a little young. (LAUGHS)
TARA BROWN: Not playing golf behind your back or anything?
TIGER WOODS: Not that I know of.
TARA BROWN: No doubt Tiger makes a great dad - his regard for children is legendary. He's poured millions of his own money into supporting disadvantaged kids through specially designed learning centres and scholarships.
TARA BROWN: What are you trying to achieve through your foundation? What is the help that you're trying to give?
TIGER WOODS: I'm trying to give these kids a chance in life. They're our future and it's sad to see these kids going through abuse and neglect. And you don't ever want to see that in a child's face.
TARA BROWN: It's hard to believe Tiger Woods is still just 33 years old. If he wants, he's got decades left in the sport and who knows what the record books will say when he finally decides to give golf away? Not that there's any talk of retirement yet.
TIGER WOODS: If I can give 100% and and feel that my, my best is still good enough to win, then I'll keep playing. If I know that I can't put it together anymore like I used to, there's no sense for me to get out there and embarrass myself anymore. I won't do that.
TARA BROWN: You once said that golf is a platform - it's what you do, not who you are. How would you sum up who you are?
TIGER WOODS: Um, pretty hard worker, pretty hard worker, no doubt.
TARA BROWN: Driven?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely.
TARA BROWN: Focused?
TIGER WOODS: Mmm.
TARA BROWN: And hates losing?
TIGER WOODS: Pretty much.
TARA BROWN: Loves winning?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely.
TARA BROWN: Thank you very much for your time.
TIGER WOODS: You've got it. Thank you.
TARA BROWN: Thank you, terrific.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks for having me.