Tiger and Manning and Hank

by Jeff Skinner

There was plenty of excitement at the Quail Hollow Pro-Am yesterday. Peyton Manning was playing with his buddy Tiger Woods and Manning was busy signing autographs all day. The two of them had the largest gallery and Manning was doing his best Arnold Palmer imitation signing autographs and chatting with the fans throughout the round. Woods even stopped to sign a few and we all know that’s the toughest signature to get in golf. Maybe a little bit of the showman in Manning rubbed off on his playing partner. The biggest rumor floating around is that Tiger may be getting ready to make a coaching change. After Tiger’s third round at the Masters he was heard cursing and complaining about his swing and his inability to finish off his rounds with good holes instead of stumbling over the last few holes. The level of noise created by the rumor has prompted Woods to come out and say that he is not looking to change and the rumor is “…complete speculation.” “It has nothing to do with Henry” he said. Woods went on to say that his public outburst was his way of venting and dealing with his less than stellar round. Tiger’s temper is well documented and so is his willingness to change. He has changed his swing and coach before, so it would not be something new.

If Tiger thinks leaving Haney will improve his game he will do it in a flash. Woods is his own man like no other on tour; however, leaving Haney might be a mistake. Any time a player is having difficulty many like to point to their coach. Haney’s contemporaries are not immune to criticism and players leaving them. David Leadbetter, Rick Smith and Butch Harmon have had players leave for other coaches. That’s the nature of the business. Haney is a self-effacing, soft spoken man that has definite theories on the golf swing. Haney has said that Tiger knows more about the golf swing than most players on tour. “I have learned more from Tiger than he will ever learn from me,” Haney has said. Haney must be easy to get along with, we watch him try to correct the worst swing in golf each week when he works with Charles Barkley on the Golf Channel’s “The Haney Project.” Haney is a Golf Channel veteran, last year he had the “The School of Golf” and this year “The Haney Project” is one of the Golf Channel’s most watched programs. It appears the Woods/Haney relationship has been good for both of them.

I saw Haney at a golf show recently and was struck by his candidness and matter of fact style. He was open and forthcoming with all the questions about Tiger and their relationship. His was able to communicate his ideas and theories in plain and simple terms. Haney said he always gets a kick from the amateurs that are upset when they can’t master the swing when they take one or two lessons and rarely practice. “This is the best golfer in the world and I spend about 100 days a year with him. And you guys expect to get it in a few lessons.”

If Tiger wants to make a change Haney will be the first to know it. I think Tiger is right, it is all a bunch of speculation and only a rumor. Haney is a good coach and a better guy. It would be Tiger’s loss. Where else is he going to find a coach that is willing to coach the best player in the world and the worst player at the same time? A win this week and all this “speculation” is long gone.


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