As Tiger Woods fights his way back to the top of the golf world, winning for the first time Sunday since his 2009 sex scandal, his former coach is set to release a book saying he doubts the golf great will ever be quite so good again.
Former coach Hank Haney writes in his new book "The Big Miss" that after the National Enquirer published a story about Woods' affairs with other women, his golf game went from declining to potentially irreparable.
"Unlike the Tiger who in his 20s and 30s was virtually indomitable, today's Tiger has discovered that in life real disaster lurks. Plans don't come true. Things can go wrong. That realization creates doubt, and in competitive golf doubt is a killer," Haney writes.
The book, which goes on sale Tuesday, chronicles the six years Haney coached Woods, from 2004 to 2010, and shows how Woods' life and career changed abruptly in 2009 when he confessed to cheating on his wife, Elin, with dozens of women.
"Tiger always had a wall up, behind which I'd long imagined there was some kind of personal turmoil," Haney writes. "I'd been expecting something to break."
Haney quit shortly after the sex scandal that sent Woods tumbling from sports icon to headline cliche, though Haney writes that his decision was more about Woods' "difficult" personality and "his moods" than about the scandal .When Woods was unhappy with his golf game and attributed his problems to Haney's coaching, he would give him the cold shoulder or not respond to text messages, em ails, and phone calls.
"I wish we could have been better friends," Haney writes. "I realize now that as hard as I tried to understand Tiger, he tried just as hard not to let me."
Woods kept Haney in the dark when he took up training with the Navy SEALS as a hobby, escaping for weekends away where he would engage in mock hand-to-hand combat with real troops. Woods trained at home by going for runs in heavy military gear, and considered quitting the PGA tour to become a Navy SEAL, Haney writes.
"I asked Tiger about his being too old to join," Haney writes. "'It's not a problem,' he said. 'They're making a special age exception for me.'"
Though Haney pressed him to stop the training, Woods continued, injuring himself repeatedly in the process. During the same period, Woods' cell phone began going off more and more on he golf course, and he stopped practicing in order to answer it.
"History would show this was a time when Tiger's affairs were going pretty strong," Haney said.
The affairs and the SEALS training, which Haney said both began around 2007, changed Woods' ability to play the game, Haney said.
"The 2007 season was when I first began to think that Tiger was closer to the end of his greatness than he was to the beginning. In hindsight, I think Tiger did too," he writes.
When the news of the affair hit the front pages, his game declined even further.
"'Rusty' was a gentle description of Tiger's game. He simply didn't have his old command. His body speed seemed slower, and for the first time I'd ever observed, he was mis-hitting a lot of shots," Haney said.
Woods' emotionally-detached behavior carried over into his and Elin's marriage, even before the scandal broke, Haney notes.
"I'd noticed that while he and E had been playful in the early years of their relationship--competing against each other in tennis, Ping-Pong, skiing, or running--there was some distance between them as the years went on, a certain coolness," he writes.
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"She and Tiger developed a calm, almost cool relationship in front of other people, and conversations with them tended to be awkward and strained. I never saw them argue, but they weren't openly affectionate either," he said.
After the National Enquirer began publishing stories alleging that Woods had cheated on Elin with dozens of women, Haney said that the Woods' marriage fell apart.
"I sensed a force field up between Tiger and Elin, who didn't speak directly to each other," he writes.
While Woods was typically quiet and hesitant to discuss personal issues with his coach, he shared with Haney some of his feelings about the scandal.
"What I learned is that for the rest of my life I can't have sex with someone unless I genuinely feel something for them. If I do, I'm putting myself in jeopardy," Woods is quoted as saying.
Woods bounced back from the scandal and began competing within weeks, but never at the level he once had, Haney writes.
"No other golfer or athlete has seen more slip through his grasp than Tiger. But the biggest miss of all gives him a chance for the biggest recovery. It's a destiny that would match his greatness," he said.
- Tiger Woods
- Hank Haney