by Jeff Skinner
The resignation of Hank Haney as Tiger Woods’ swing coach has finally put an end to all the rumors that were circulating about his relationship with Tiger. You can call me crazy but I think Hank Haney is the big winner here. Right now hanging out with Tiger Woods isn’t what is was in years past. Tiger’s inner circle has never been so criticized or scrutinized. For a guy like Haney who finds no joy in the media spotlight he has to feel a little relieved that he’ll no longer have to deal with all the baggage that goes along with coaching Tiger Woods.
Tiger enjoyed success with Haney over the past six years, 25 wins and six major championships, but their relationship has finally run its course. After Tiger dumped the outspoken, media loving Butch Harmon he found “the Anti-Harmon” in Hank. While Harmon loved to talk, Haney was reserved. Where Harmon reveled in the glare of the media, Haney would avoid it as best he could. Their methods were different, but their student flourished under both of them.
With Tiger’s life in pieces since November, everyone on Team Tiger had come under attack. When Tiger couldn’t hit a fairway with a bucket of balls Haney became the media’s biggest target. Hank knew where this was going to end, he was going to be let go, and he probably discussed it with Tiger. So Haney, being Haney, takes the proactive approach and quits. He puts it on himself and quits. He won’t let his role in this soap opera of Tiger’s life continue and leaves what he called the greatest job in the world. That’s Haney’s style.
One of the qualities of Hank that Tiger had to appreciate was his loyalty. He never spoke out of turn, Tiger never tolerates that, and he was always positive about his relationship with the world’s number one golfer. Woods was not treated kindly by Harmon after his departure and that has probably kept him off the list of candidates to replace Haney. (Hank Haney is not Butch Harmon.)
So while some may be asking what Tiger’s life after Haney will bring, I am wondering what Haney’s life after Tiger will be like. I would imagine it is a bitter sweet time in Hank’s life. He is out of the line of fire from Johnny Miller and the rest of the analysts that were calling for his dismissal but he’s gone from the job that most swing coaches would kill for. Working with the best players in the world is what a guy at Haney’s level relish. Haney’s career and bank account exploded during his time with Tiger. The Golf Channel gave Hank three different shows, his golf schools were jammed and his profile was never higher. He certainly owes much of his success to Woods and he acknowledges that.
Tiger will go on and find another coach and win again, as soon as he gets his head on straight. I would think Haney would still have a successful career and maybe just enjoy life a little more without all the distractions that come with Tiger Woods. These things happen in sports. Coaches and players separate and Hank has said it was just time to move on. Woods will have to search high and low to find a guy that is as loyal and humble as Haney.
Woods and Haney both enjoyed professional success during their time together. Tiger’s life right now is like living next to a nuclear power plant, you’re afraid that tomorrow could bring another meltdown. Hank is probably breathing a sigh of relief. He can kick back for awhile and he still has Ray Romano to work with. I bet Romano is a heck of a lot more fun than Tiger Woods right now.