The August issue of Golf Digest features an interview Guy Yocom held with Hank Haney less than a week after Haney resigned as Tiger Woods' swing coach back in May.
The interview, at times, shows us a frustrated, somewhat hurt man. Haney was Tiger's swing coach for about six years.
It's a long, insightful interview, and it encompasses many topics. It goes from Haney's frustrations with Tiger to his admiration for him, and then back again.
It shows a man clearly disturbed by Woods's behavior, yet respecting him as the ultimate professional. Haney is most definitely torn between wanting to toss the man under the bus and standing up for a man he considers his friend.
Golf Digest asked him: "Why did you resign? Was it frustration? Pressure? Criticism?"
Haney answered, "Start with all of the above, and keep going. There are so many reasons that add up to the fact it was time to leave."
Later, Yocom asked him if there was any sense that he was leaving Tiger while at the bottom.
"No," Haney answered, "because I don't think his greatest need is more swing theory. What he needs now is help in areas outside what a swing coach can provide. He needs what a friend can offer. Whether he values my friendship and whether he feels I can offer anything as a friend, that's up to him."
Haney mentioned a few times in the piece that he was hurt occasionally when Tiger ignored his communication attempts.
"Every once in a while I sent him some pretty long e-mails or texts on things I thought he needed to do," Haney said.
"I sent one after the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Tiger never even acknowledged he got the e-mail. That was just the way he was. He never responded that he even got it. There was one time when Elin told me, "Hey, Tiger got your e-mail, and he really liked it."
Golf Digest: "You never got used to that?"
"My feeling was, you plant some seeds," Haney said. "If they grow, great; if they don't, you don't take it personally. Not my problem; I just kept planting. Just like a farmer."
But it did appear to bother Haney, although he seemed always careful in the interview to come back with something positive.
Asked if Tiger's lack of communication following his accident last winter bothered him, Haney said, "I knew he had a lot to deal with. I'm not the kind of friend who was always bugging him. I wasn't a high-maintenance instructor; I certainly didn't want to be a high-maintenance friend. I knew he had his hands full and knew that he knew I was there if he needed me.
"He didn't reach out or ask for my help, and I don't know what that told me on how he valued me as a friend. I really didn't have any notions about it, to be honest."
Haney was asked by Yocom about The Masters this year, and if communication with Tiger was breaking down at that point.
"...on Sunday when he warmed up," Haney said, "he wasn't open to suggestions. He wasn't asking what he should do. At one point, I asked him if he was open to ideas, and in his way he halfheartedly did what I suggested. He struggled on Sunday. That was it."
Golf Digest: "The breakup accelerated?"
"I talked to him only two times after that," Haney said. "That was his way of blaming me. Maybe I'm reading too much into it; maybe I'm being too sensitive. But when someone doesn't talk to you..."
But for all of these comments, there were just as many, if not more, compliments to the man he still considers his friend.
Asked if he would alter an answer he gave 10 years ago when he predicted Tiger would win 30 majors, Haney said, "He'll get to 25."
Yocom also asked him who was better, Jack Nicklaus in his prime or Tiger in his prime.
"Jack has the greatest record," Haney said, "but I don't think anybody has ever played the game as well as Tiger Woods has...I don't just view Tiger as the greatest golfer in history, I think he's the greatest athlete who ever lived."
The most telling line of all probably came in the final question to Hank.
"At the end of the day," Yocom asked, "how well do you feel like you really know Tiger Woods?"
"I always felt like I knew Tiger from observing him," Haney said. "I did not feel like I knew him from knowing him."
This might be a good epitaph for Tiger's gravestone someday:
Here lies the greatest golfer to ever play the game. But we never knew him.
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