The Big Miss, swing coach Hank Haney's highly touted book on Tiger Woods, hits stores in a couple weeks. And while Haney's story of Woods wanting to join the Navy SEALs caused a bit of a stir a few weeks back, the New York Times brings us a few new angles on that story and Woods' relationship with ex-wife Elin Nordegren.
The book primarily focuses on Haney's teaching relationship with Woods, a partnership during which Woods won six of his 14 majors. Still, as with any major work on Woods, the book touches on the scandals that have dominated Woods' life since Thanksgiving 2009. Haney, who quit teaching Woods in May 2010, had an up-close look at the changing relationship between Woods and now-ex-wife Elin Nordegren.
"Tiger really liked her competitive streak [while they were dating] and seemed to enjoy treating her like one of the guys, needling her and even telling raunchy jokes around her, which Elin didn't seem to mind," Haney writes. "But as life became more complicated, I thought Elin changed. By the time she and Tiger married, she remained friendly but had become more guarded, even in her own home. 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."
Haney points in particular to the 2005 Buick Invitational, the first event Woods won with Haney as his coach. At the time, Nordegren was a nanny for fellow tour golfer Jesper Parnevik, and she wanted to celebrate Woods' victory the way Parnevik would: with a major party. Woods would have none of it: "E, that's not what we do," he said, according to Haney. "I'm not Jesper. We're supposed to win."
Ouch. Haney writes that Nordegren's smile grew smaller that day and many thereafter, and "in the future Elin would keep her emotions under wraps whenever Tiger won."
Woods has openly criticized the book, so much so that he even had a rare touchy moment at the Honda Classic press conference not too long ago. And this intrusion into his private life isn't likely to change his stance at all.
Another element of the book concerns the extent of Woods' relationship with the Navy SEALs, and apparently it was extensive enough that SEAL workouts caused one of Woods' most significant injuries. According to Haney, Woods "tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in an exercise with the SEALs, not while running at home."
Well. That would certainly be of interest, wouldn't it? Think Woods' sponsors would be interested in the fact that their cash cow was out participating in activities that could have led to his nine-month sideline stint in 2008-09?
Regardless of cause, Woods tore the ligament in 2007. Initially, it didn't affect him much; he won five of six tournaments to lead off the 2008 season. However, he was clearly wincing in pain during that legendary Torrey Pines U.S. Open win, and shortly afterward shut it down for the rest of the 2008 season.
Haney also contends that Woods' interest in building muscle worked to the detriment of his game and caused injuries. He blamed Woods' weightlifting for injuries to his right Achilles tendon, which Woods tore in 2008 and reinjured several times in 2009.
(Of note: Haney said Sunday afternoon on Twitter that he was "very pleased" with how the book turned out, "but not about the one sentence out of context excerpts.")
As the New York Times tells it, the book has plenty of anecdotes but nothing too surprising or devastating. Haney resigned as Woods' coach via text message in May 2010. And moments like The Popsicle Incident were probably part of the reason:
"When we were watching television after dinner, he'd sometimes go to the refrigerator to get a sugar-free popsicle," Haney writes. "But he never offered me one or ever came back with one, and one night I really wanted one of those popsicles. But I found myself sitting kind of frozen, not knowing what to do next. I didn't feel right just going to the refrigerator and taking one, and I kind of started laughing to myself at how hesitant I was to ask Tiger for one. It actually took me a while to summon the courage to blurt out, 'Hey, Bud, do you think I could have one of those popsicles?'" (Haney would eventually get his popsicle ... though, apparently, at the cost of some of his dignity.)
The Big Miss streets on March 27.
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