March 27, 2012
Haney a Tiger tattle-tale
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
Just as Tiger Woods’ victory at Bay Hill on the weekend had impeccable timing with it coming just before the Masters, so too did the release on Tuesday of his former coach’s tell-all book, The Big Miss (Crown Archetype).
As Tiger goes, so will go sales of this Hank Haney offering, which has raised eyebrows with early excerpts and a well-publicized confrontation between Woods and Golfweek reporter Alex Miceli, who dared ask golf’s marquee player about the contents of the book.
If The Big Miss derails Woods at the Masters, as I first thought it might, it will only be because Tiger is the alpha male that Haney portrays in the book. The initial reaction to the book will likely be dulled by the time Woods heads up Magnolia Lane.
It isn’t salacious and most of the juicy stuff was released before the book, such as Tiger’s fascination with the Navy SEALs, a topic that landed Miceli in Woods’ outhouse for daring to ask about it.
Haney says in the book that he was completely in the dark about Woods’ extra-marital affairs and, to his knowledge, he never engaged in human growth hormone treatments from Dr. Anthony Galea of Toronto, so there isn’t much on those topics.
The lack of salaciousness doesn’t eliminate The Big Miss as an interesting read.
If sex sells, then put this one on the 50%-off rack, but anything Tiger is highly anticipated by golf fans, either hardcore or casual.
Anybody who has been around the game knows that Woods is controlling, sullen, stubborn and secretive. Haney confirms those opinions, at least from his perspective, during his six years of working with Tiger.
For example, you get the feeling the relationship between Woods and former caddie Stevie Williams wasn’t as friendly as it appeared on the golf course. Haney also says the pre-scandal marriage between Woods and ex-wife Elin grew distant over time.
As his coach, Haney paints a picture of an athlete consumed with improving his legendary skills when maintenance may have been the ticket to greater success.
What’s confusing is that as driven as Woods was about improving, his desire for winning majors doesn’t seem as intense as it’s made out to be after reading The Big Miss.
Haney says just a few weeks before the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Woods went to San Diego for a three-day session in parachuting with the Navy SEALs and would continue such trips frequently into 2007, adding the military became central in his life.
According to the book, Haney recalls seeing a bruise on Woods’ thigh that came after he was hit by a rubber bullet.
“There were times when I couldn’t maintain my exasperation. 'Tiger,’ I’d say. 'Man, what are you doing? Are you out of your mind? What about Nicklaus’s record? Don’t you care about that?’” wrote Haney.
“He looked at me and said, 'No, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done in my career.’ End of discussion. He knew how we all felt, but he wasn’t going to debate it,” continued Haney, who speculates that Woods’ may have torn his ACL during one of these trips.
The book also offers some interesting looks at Woods’ relationships with people such as Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, but in writing about Tiger, Haney unintentionally offers some interesting insight about himself.
Haney has been criticized by colleagues for breaking student/teacher confidentiality with this book, in which he seems preoccupied with being blamed for Woods not playing to the level of success he enjoyed while working with Butch Harmon.
With that in mind, you wonder then why Haney has been so critical of Canadian Sean Foley, the guy who replaced Haney as Wood’s coach. Maybe, he just thinks it’s Foley’s turn for comparisons.
You also wonder how long Haney has been planning this book, given the number of e-mails and text messages he quotes throughout, that go back years. Why did he keep them so long if he had no plan?
This anecdote from the book might answer that question. Tiger and Elin once joined Mark O’Meara, Haney and their wives for a ski trip in Utah. Woods, a novice skier, went down one hill with another steeper hill just ahead of him.
Fearing that Woods might not be able to stop and would pick up even more speed once he made it to the steeper hill, Haney saw the potential for injury, but that doesn’t appear to be his main concern.
“I prepared myself for a disaster and could see the headlines: “Tiger Has Ski Accident During Trip with Haney,’” he wrote.
Here’s a news flash Hank: When the brightest light on golf’s marquee goes down with injury, you’re a secondary character, not a co-star, even if you’re there.
With this book you are a co-star with good insights into Woods’ swing and events behind the scenes, but it will now be interesting to see how soon you get back to golf’s centre stage.