by Jeff Skinner
The Golf Channel aired the full Jim Gray interview with Hank Haney last night and as usual Gray did a superb job. He asked all the right questions and if Tiger Woods wasn’t going to be sitting down with Gray then Hank Haney is the next best choice. Haney spent over 100 days per year over the last six years with Woods tweaking his swing and picking his brain. He gave Gray some surprisingly honest and insightful answers to questions that Woods would never answer. The fact that one of Tiger’s inner circle is speaking out is shocking.
Tiger has always insisted that his associates keep quiet about all things Tiger. He has jettisoned an agent, caddy and swing coach for remarks made to the public or the fact that they were a little too forthcoming with information about Tiger. With Haney, Woods had found the ultimate company man. Prior to this he only spoke of Woods in positive terms and always skirted any sniff of controversy. Haney knew enough to not “bite the hand that fed him.” With Haney’s resignation he was free to speak openly. Gray asked him about being in Tiger’s inner circle and Haney said no one ever told him how to behave with the press but he did admit that Tiger liked to keep things private and it’s not easy being Tiger nor is it easy being in the inner circle. In this interview we see an insider speak more openly about Woods than we have ever seen before.
One of the questions that Woods refused to answer many times was “What are you in therapy for?” His response was always a terse “It’s personal” followed by a glare and a “Next question.” Haney actually says the previously forbidden words, sex addiction. When Gray asked what Woods was in therapy for Haney seemed a little uncomfortable but said in an almost whisper of a voice, “The only thing I knew about was his issue with sex addiction.” Woods can’t be happy with that.
Asked how much the scandal was effecting Woods he said “100%… it is effecting him, how could it not, he is a human being.” He denies knowing anything about Tiger’s extracurricular activities but said he was there for a friend that needs help. He thinks that if there was no scandal, Woods would be playing better and he would probably still be coaching Tiger.
Haney defended Tiger’s driving and even compared him to all of us that hit it well on the range but can’t bring it to the course. Imagine that, Tiger has the same problems as we do. I think not.
Gray got Haney to discuss Tiger’s reluctance to be open with the media and Haney said “I think Tiger would be better off if he was more open” but he also said he never wants to make any excuses for how he plays and that is part of the reason he doesn’t discuss his injuries more openly.
As far as the rumors about performance enhancing drugs he was adamant that Woods has not taken any and those rumors are “100% false.” He did say there is a lot of jealousy on the tour but says he witnessed the blood spinning procedures and there was never any foreign substance put in Tiger’s body.
Haney was always a loyal Tiger supporter and did nothing but speak in encouraging and positive tones. But he was disappointed with Tiger’s lack of support for him over the last few weeks. “I feel like I was treated well for the most part. Obviously, I took a lot of criticism and he could have stepped up, maybe a little more and been a little more supportive.” It did bother him that Woods didn’t come to his defense when he was taking so much heat recently.
Haney insists it was his decision to resign and that he is still Tiger’s friend and will support him and help him anyway he can as a friend but his days as a coach for Tiger are done.
While Haney still insists that it was his decision to leave Woods you can’t help but think that the writing was on the wall and this was a mutual decision made by Hank and Tiger with Haney given the option of resigning before he was let go. Haney says if Tiger were to call him he would help him, as a friend, with anything he asked. If Tiger is still Tiger, and it looks like he is, I don’t think Hank has to worry about getting that call. Tiger’s camp can’t be thrilled with the content of Haney’s remarks and Hank may have hurt any chance of remaining “Tiger’s friend” but at least we got an insider’s perspective from one of Tiger’s inner circle.