The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods
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Hank Haney's candid, surprisingly insightful account of his tumultuous six-year journey with Tiger Woods, during which the supremely gifted golfer collected six major championships and rewrote golf history. Hank was one of very few people allowed behind the curtain and observed Tiger in nearly every circumstance. There's never been a book about Tiger that is as intimate and revealing--or as wise about what it takes to coach a star athlete.
From 2004 to the spring of 2010, Hank Haney was Tiger Woods's coach, and Tiger was Haney's only client. In that period, Tiger won more than a third of the tournaments he entered and six of his fourteen major titles. Haney felt hugely honored to help Tiger with his swing, and he approached the job with intense absorption and attention to detail. Haney was with Tiger 110 days a year, spoke to him over 200 days a year, and stayed at Tiger's house up to 30 days a year--sometimes affording him more contact with Tiger than either the athlete's agent or caddy. Haney saw his student in nearly every circumstance: in the locker room; on the course; with his wife, Elin; and relaxing with friends. Haney was there through it all, observing how Tiger's public identity sometimes meshed awkwardly with the roles of husband and friend, and how the former child prodigy came to have a conflicted relationship with the game that made him famous.
difficult. By being able to vary trajectory, he gained better distance control, especially in the wind. Tiger found himself “pin high” more than ever, which is the hallmark of good iron play. Having more control got Tiger away from trying to blow fields away. When he had fewer shots in his arsenal, he played more aggressively. When he was “on,” it could lead to double-digit victories, but more often it led to mistakes that cost him wins. The Nine Shots helped Tiger understand that he was good
eighteenth. It was a good omen. Every time Jack retired from playing in a major—the U.S. Open and PGA in 2000, the Masters in 2005, and now the British Open—Tiger won the championship. In 2000, they’d been paired together in Jack’s last round at the PGA, when Jack also had birdied his final hole. They had a good relationship but a complicated one. Tiger always said all the right things about Jack, once saying that they understood each other without ever having to say anything. Tiger wasn’t too
getting into bad habits. The slow swing with the longer clubs also made him more conscious of correct technique and really ingrained the moves we were working on, just as had occurred when Tiger had filmed the Nike commercial in slow motion, but to a much greater extent. As far as he knew, he was the only player who’d ever used such a program to come back. It was different and special, and he always thought that gave him an edge. Tiger wasn’t quite as diligent in working on his short game, which
to Isleworth a week later, on March 16, that I learned that Tiger had decided to end his hiatus from competition at the Masters, which was less than a month away. I wasn’t consulted on the decision, and I was disappointed to hear the news. I thought it was a bad game plan. Too soon, too much pressure, too easy to have a confidence-killing disaster. Normally after a long absence, six weeks was the time that Tiger needed to get ready. With all he’d been through and the way he’d been holed up
anyone else. He may still. Certainly, he likes to prove people wrong, and with the majority view being that he’ll never be as good as he was, nor ever catch Nicklaus, he has plenty of motivation. He seemed to regain his work ethic in late 2011, but it’s yet to be seen whether he can sustain the effort. If he does, it will again make him different. I’ve never known a player who lost his hunger for practice to regain that same level of hunger. Usually he or she will show spurts of intensity, but if