Tiger Woods: The Worst Decision of His Career

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods waits with swing coach Hank Haney on the practice range during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

For all you fans of The Office, this would be Dwight Schrute’s take on Woods’ decision to fire Butch Harmon in 2002 and begin working with Hank Haney.

"Fact: if Woods had never left Harmon to work with Haney, he would have won at least 18 majors by now."

You see, Woods is the type of guy that restores a 1960 Porsche only to decide that he wants to take the whole thing apart and spend the next two years rebuilding it again.

Harmon’s stance was that the Porsche wasn’t broken so he wasn’t going to fix it, which would seem logical.

Woods, however, wanted to disassemble that pristine 1960 Porsche and start rebuilding it from scratch.   

Obviously, these two stances were on a collision course, and needless to say the guy that wrote the checks had his way.

Woods has clearly made his fair share of bad decisions off the golf course. But on the course, Woods’ decision to fire Harmon and work with Haney was by far the worst decision of his career.

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Although Woods would never admit the error of his ways, it doesn’t take a certified PGA teaching professional to see that Woods’ current swing is a shell of the silky smooth yet incredibly powerful one he displayed back in 2000.

Woods’ decision to begin working with Haney back in late 2002 was largely based on the fact that his good friend and mentor, Mark O’Meara, was working with Haney and was very happy with the results.

Sounds logical until you see O’Meara swing a golf club.

O’Meara is not the most athletic of men, has a rounded golf swing and essentially plays a controlled hook.

Woods’ go-to shot in 1999-2002 was a power fade.  But his upright swing and ability to use his hands to work the ball in both directions allowed him to also play a draw on command.

Yes, the lightning fast transfer of his weight into a stiff left leg during the Harmon years was putting an extreme amount of pressure on Woods' left knee.

But what people tend to forget is that most of Woods’ serious knee problems actually occurred after 2002.  And if you go by Wood's explanation, his most severe injury of all—a ruptured ACL—actually occurred while running with his dog in late 2007.

Woods is not alone in his incessant need to tinker with his golf swing.

In 2008, Padraig Harrington won the final two majors of the season, and then decided that he wanted to rebuild his golf swing.

The result? A single win at an Asian Tour event over the past two years.  

Question: What do Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson have in common?

They are widely regarded as the greatest ball strikers in the history of golf, yet none of them ever had a swing coach.

Golf is an individual sport and Woods is free to handle his career in any manner he would like.

But this writer is convinced that if that mint condition 1960 Porsche had never been dismantled back in 2002, Woods would have won at least 18 major championships by now…if not many more.

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