Inside *The Big Miss*
Ten telling details from Hank Haney's new book (written with Golf Digest Senior Writer Jaime Diaz) about his time coaching Tiger WoodsPodcast: Jaime Diaz on the writing of The Big Miss
March 18, 2012
Haney believes Tiger tore his ACL with SEALsWoods' infatuation with the Navy SEALs has previously been documented in an excerpt that appeared in Golf Digest's April issue.There is more, including injuries incurred in a SEALs exercise called Kill House, "an urban-warfare training simulator" made up of rooms and pop-up targets for the purpose of training for rescues and captures. Haney cites evidence that suggests "a strong likelihood" that Woods might have done "serious damage to his career" in a Kill House exercise. Haney said Tiger told him he'd been shot with a rubber bullet.When Haney once expressed concern about Tiger engaging in these exercises, asking, "What about Nicklaus's record? Don't you care about that?" Woods replied, "No. I'm satisfied with what I've done in my career."
Steve Williams clashed with Butch HarmonSteve Williams, Haney writes, is the greatest caddie in history and wanted Haney to succeed "in part because he and Butch [Harmon] had clashed, Steve feeling that Butch's extroverted personality distracted Tiger." After Woods won his first major championship under Haney's tutelage, Williams expressed relief because he had urged Tiger to leave Butch.Haney said his relationship with Harmon was fine. In fact, when Haney first encountered Harmon after replacing him, he said Butch took him aside, congratulated him and said, "Hank, good luck. It's a tough team to be on. And it's harder than it looks."
Tiger's closest confidant? Mark SteinbergMichael Jordan and Charles Barkley were thought to be close to Tiger, but Haney rarely saw them around Woods. Barkley, with whom Haney worked on the Golf Channel show The Haney Project, wanted to have become closer to Woods, but "he was baffled by Tiger being closed off and keeping him at a distance."Haney writes that "the point man for Team Tiger, agent Mark Steinberg, was Tiger's closest confidant," that Steinberg "considered Tiger a good person trapped in a very complicated and demanding life, and he cut Tiger a lot of slack when he was being uncommunicative or stubborn." Haney was surprised by Steinberg calling Haney one of Woods' best friends. "That always took me aback a bit, because though I felt a bond with Tiger over our obsession with golf, I always sensed he wanted me to stay at a distance. But as I was beginning to figure out, Tiger really didn't let anyone in."
Tiger was often self-centeredHaney writes of Woods often getting up from the table after a meal, even if others were still eating. "When he was done -- and he habitually ate fast -- you were done," Haney writes. "Whenever we got takeout food from outside the club, I'd go pick it up, and I always paid."
Tiger began to neglect his short gameHaney said he recognized early that Woods "was going to be a difficult student. . . One misconception was that he knew more about the golf swing than any other modern player...he'd proved that he didn't have enough to fix himself," Haney writes. "The fact was, purely self-taught guys like Lee Trevino and/or idiosyncratic swingers like Jim Furyk probably knew more about how to correct their games than Tiger did about correcting his."Haney was also concerned that he wasn't as dedicated to his short game after coming back from knee surgery following the U.S. Open in 2008. "There was still room for improvement, and he knew it. I worried that not taking that on was a sign that his drive was beginning to wane in the same way it had in early 2007."
Tiger had zero tolerance for certain tour playersWoods was more likely to befriend players who did not pose a competitive threat "like Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker."But a player of which he was not particularly fond was Ian Poulter, who after a practice round at Oakmont a few weeks before the U.S. Open there in 2007 "was cheeky enough to ask Tiger, 'How are we getting home?' " Both lived in the Orlando area and Poulter knew that Woods had a private jet standing by. Though Woods never extended an invitation, Poulter showed up at the jetport anyway. "Can you believe how this d--- mooched a ride on my plane?" Woods wrote in a text to Haney as the three of them were flying back to Orlando.
Tiger had a bawdy sense of humor"His favorite series was the animated comedy, South Park," Haney writes. "He liked it so much that, in the aftermath of his public scandal, when a Tiger Woods character was lampooned in one of the episodes, Tiger confessed to me that he laughed and actually seemed proud to have made the show." Another example was when the 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman took his team to the K Club in Ireland a month prior to the competition, in part as a bonding experience in which players were assigned roommates. Woods was paired with Zach Johnson."Knowing that Zach is a devout Christian, Tiger, when he got to the suite first, immediately purchased the adult movie 24-hour package and turned the television on," Haney writes. "When Zach walked in, he saw the sights and sounds, but presuming that it was what Tiger wanted to watch, he didn't change the channel or turn it off. Tiger never commented on the movies, nor did Zach. 'It was funny watching him acting like everything was normal,' Tiger told me. 'I got him pretty good.' "
Haney was paid relatively little by WoodsHaney revealed that Tiger paid him $50,000 a year, plus expenses, and gave him a $25,000 bonus for major-championship victories. Tiger is notoriously cheap, particularly when it came to tipping: "He seemed to think it was funny to be cheap," Haney writes. Yet Haney was not bothered by his frugality toward himself."The truth is, I probably would have paid Tiger just to teach him, it meant that much."
Tiger didn't like playing for money because it didn't make him nervous.Rather than playing for money, which wasn't enough of a motivation, Woods had push-up bets with his friends at Isleworth, "150 push-ups per stroke." Tiger once had to do 600 push-ups to settle a losing bet.
After rehab, Elin wanted Tiger to quit golf for two yearsHaney had already observed a coolness between Elin and Tiger before the revelations of 2009, saying that they "weren't openly affectionate." But upon Woods' return from therapy, salvaging the marriage was still a possibility. After a month-long stint in a Mississippi clinic, Woods described his therapy as 'horrible, the worst experience I've ever been through,' and 'the hardest thing I've ever done,' but he didn't offer any details," Haney writes. When he asked about Elin, Woods said, "We're trying," adding that Elin "wants me to not play golf for two years."In his final chapter, "Summing Up," Haney cites his wish list. It included this: "I wish Tiger had come back from rehab a different person. Not a lot different, just a little warmer and more open. . . . I realize now that as hard as I tried to understand Tiger, he tried just as hard not to let me."