Tiger fires back at Haney over claims he considered quitting golf to become Navy SEAL
The first excerpt from an eagerly awaited new book on Tiger Woods provoked fury in the golfer's camp.
But the snippet in former coach Hank Haney's memoir that sparked the trouble wasn't about Woods' womanising but the claim that Tiger, at the height of his powers, supposedly considered relinquishing his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's majors record in order to become a Navy SEAL.
Woods' manager Mark Steinberg called it 'disrespectful' and 'ridiculous', and the former world No 1 had a feisty exchange with one reporter who had the temerity to ask questions about the book during a press conference for the Honda Classic, which begins in Florida on Thursday.
On the course: Tiger Woods at PGA National on Wednesday ahead of the Honda Classic
Steinberg issued a statement saying:
'Haney's armchair psychology about Tiger, on matters he admits they
didn't even discuss, is ridiculous. Because of his father, it's no
secret that Tiger has always had high respect for the military, so for
Haney to twist that into something negative is disrespectful.'
Yet, Steinberg's outrage is undermined by his client's past comments.
Haney wrote: 'When he talked about
it, it was clear he had a plan. I thought, wow, here is Tiger Woods,
greatest athlete on the planet, maybe the greatest athlete of all time,
basically ready to leave it all behind for a military life.'
Is this really that different from
the press conference thoughts of Woods two years ago, when he spoke of
the time he had spent on special ops training
Military man: Former world No 1 Woods in 2004 arriving at a golf clinic in Fort Bragg on a humvee
'I've always wanted to be a SEAL,'
said Tiger, back then. 'That's something I told my dad from the get-go.
Either I'm going to become a professional golfer or I'm going to become a
Navy SEAL. A lot of my friends are special ops operators.'
Perhaps a more interesting revelation
is when Haney is playing the role of psychologist – as Steinberg knows
full well, it is part of the role of any good coach – and throwing cold
water on Woods' reputation at the time for being fearless.
'The more I observed him the more it
became clear that he wasn't,' writes Haney. 'Sometimes, to make it less
of a big deal, he would remind himself that he had never considered
himself a particularly good driver. “That's why my name is Woods,” he
would joke. “Maybe it would have been different if my name had been
Career change: Woods was ready to leave golf for the Navy SEALS, according to former coach Haney (right)
Haney also reveals the pressure Woods feels in trying to catch Nicklaus's all-time record of 18 majors (he currently has 14).
'He never mentioned Jack's record but
it was clear it weighed heavily with every major,' reckons Haney. 'And
Tiger's actions indicated he had less time to do it than everyone
There was one final blast from Steinberg.
'The disruptive timing of this book
shows that Haney's self-promotion is more important to him than any
other person or tournament,' he said.
'What's been written violates the
trust between a coach and player and someone also once considered a
friend.' Haney's book, The Big Miss, is released on March 27 – eight
days before the start of the Masters.
In action: Tiger Woods hits from the sand during a pro-am before the Honda Classic on Wednesday