Hank Haney has time to make a call. After all, Tiger Woods went to the gym at 7 am and at 10 am is still there, providing [photopress:golf_ap_tiger_haney_300.jpg,full,alignright]Haney, his swing coach, with the time to grab his cell. I’d been chasing Haney for an interview for a while, but was still surprised to hear his voice on the other end of the phone given the timing. I’d assumed he’d be too busy working with the world’s best player to bother with a media call. I was wrong, which led to a half hour phone conversation, much of which will be included in a National Post column later this week.
Strangely, when asked how the work with Tiger was going, Haney said, “It is getting better.”
Man, Tiger has won just about everything lately and it is just “getting better?”
“He’s got plenty he could improve on, he knows that,” Haney said.
With that we covered a lot of topics:
“This is more fun than when everyone was all over us,” Haney says. “One thing Tiger won’t do is try to stay the same. He’ll always try to improve. That is just his nature. He always wants to do better and know what he can fix. It is the way he thinks. If he thinks he can’t get better he’d be bored to death.”
On Woods’ competition:
“You have to assume everyone else is getting better as well. And if that’s the case he knows he has to keep improving as well. Certainly his record would indicate he’s a lot better than everybody, but the reality is the margin is pretty slim.”
On what Tiger is working on:
“He’s worked really hard on his short game and has done a really good job of eliminating his three putts. Doral was a tournament where he had four three-putts. He had five three-putts at the Deutsche Bank where he lost to Mickelson by two shots. Those are the only tournaments he’s lost in the last six months. You want to try to get to the point where things like that don’t happen, but if they do, then you can overcome them.”
“Some of putting is just luck. You’re not putting on a pool table. Take the putt at the 18th at Bay Hill. It was the shot in that really excited Tiger, not the putt. There’s only so much you can do with the putt. Read it good, start it on line and hit it the right speed and it still might not go in. There’s an element of luck in there.”
RT: But if you’re the best ball striker, you’ll have better luck.
“That’s very true.”
On taking Woods or the field this week:
Swing coach David Leadbetter, who was in Toronto a few weeks back, said he’d take Tiger over the field if he was making a bet on the Masters. Surprisingly, Haney wouldn’t make the same bet. Too many people can have a great putting week, he points out.
“What happens if Mike Weir or Zach Johnson have the best putting week of their life?” he asks. “That’s what people don’t get.”
On the Rumors About a Split with Woods:
Last year there was lots of speculation that Woods and Haney had split last year, and eventually Tiger had to indicate that simply wasn’t the case. What’s Haney’s perspective?
“That was a rumor spread by my competitors,” Haney said without naming names. “The truth was my wife was sick, and I had to take some time off. But [his competitors] continued to spread those rumors even when they knew the truth.”