What it’s like when Tiger Woods stares into your soul

Few can say they've wound up on the receiving end of a 'Tiger stare.'

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Tiger Woods’ legendary mental edge is so celebrated, it has entered itself into golf canon separate from the accolades of Tiger Woods, the golfer.

Tiger’s remarkable ability to hunt down, pummel and outlast his opponents might never be replicated in golf (or in professional sports) again. But there’s a downside to being one-of-a-kind, and it’s that his edge is so rare, few people outside of the PGA Tour can claim to have experienced it firsthand.

On this week’s Subpar, hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz talk to one of those people, Arron Olberhoser. The former PGA Tour player (and current Golf Channel analyst) first butted heads with Woods when the two were in college, a memory Olberhoser says changed him forever.

“We step onto the first tee at North Ranch, and that was the first time that I remember getting the blank stare,” Olberhoser said. “We all know the blank stare if you’ve ever played with Tiger and come up against when everything’s on the line. Doesn’t matter if it’s a college tournament or tiddly winks, he wants to beat you.”

As Olberhoser remembers it, everything changed the instant Tiger stepped up to the tee box.

“So, I remember going to shake his hand,” he said. “[Tiger] is always the last one on the tee, as we all know. And here he comes. He walks onto the tee and he’s not looking at you, he’s looking through you as he’s shaking your hand on the tee. Like you’re not even there.”

Olberhoser, then at USC, became one of the first to receive the famed Tiger stare.

“It’s almost half-sociopathic looking, like he’s going to murder you,” laughed. “Honestly. It’s that bad. He means 100 percent business.”

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It was a feeling that stuck with Olberhoser, long before Tiger Woods had become Tiger Woods.

“That, to me, was the first time I had really felt truly physically intimidated by another human being,” he said. “I had to gather myself really quickly and say ‘okay, I’ve got to take care of my business.'”

Ultimately, Tiger’s legendary mental edge would help him reign in yet another victory against Olberhoser.

“He ends up clipping me by a couple, I end up finishing third, he ends up winning the golf tournament,” Olberhoser said. “But I learned a lot about myself that day.”

To watch the rest of Olberhoser’s Subpar interview, including how he played through the FedEx Cup Playoffs with a broken hand, check out the video below.


James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.