Hank Haney's highly anticipated book, The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, hit bookstores on Tuesday, and there has already been blowback directed at the author from Woods and his representatives.
Haney, a veteran golf coach who worked as Woods's swing coach from 2004 to 2010, details his time spent with the golf legend, though he doesn't offer any provocative accounts of Woods's alleged sexual liaisons.
That has not prevented Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg, from slamming the book, and Haney, for what is perceived as a personal attack against the famous golf pro.
I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing, especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend, Woods told ESPN.com in January, adding that he wouldn't waste his time reading Haney's book.
Steinberg issued this statement on Monday: Haney admits he never had in-depth, personal discussions with Tiger. This self-serving book is full of guesses and false assumptions. Most don't merit a response, but his stories about Tiger's injuries are simply not true. Tiger's injuries, and how they occurred, were exactly as described at the time they happened. Despite repeated claims that this is a golf book, it's not.
Haney, for his part, has stuck by his decision to write the book -- and has been fielding many a comment and question from fans on his Twitter feed.
Here are just five key points from The Big Miss:
Haney wrote about the first time he met Woods. It was in 1993 at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch in Texas. Woods, then 17, was with his father. Haney described Woods as being quiet.
My first thought is that there's a natural reason for the wariness, Haney wrote. Tiger is a black kid in a white sport, visiting a Southern state, where he's not wrong to assume that a lot of people who'd rather not see him rise to the top of the game are going to be nice to his face. I remember reading his account of 'the look' he's gotten at some country clubs, and how he's been schooled by his dad on the subtle forms of racial prejudice.
Haney denied knowing about Woods's extramarital activities. He said he never saw Woods act inappropriately with other women and never even heard rumors. He was shocked to hear about the affairs.
But after the shock, there was recognition, Haney wrote. Whether working with me on his game or during downtime, Tiger always had a wall up, behind which I'd long imagined there was some kind of personal turmoil. His scandal brought home the uneasy sense of pressure building that I'd always had around Tiger. On some deep level, I'd been expecting something to break. As I reflected back, I realized that I'd never thought of Tiger as happy. Whether with friends, business associates, other players, his mother, or his wife -- indeed, with just about everyone except an audience of kids at one of his clinics -- he seemed to keep the atmosphere around him emotionally arid.
But the texting...
Haney described a period when Woods was distracted from his golf game. He wrote about one particular issue that would be a hint of times to come: Tiger also started allowing another distraction to interfere with his practice. His cell phone was going off a lot more, and whereas before, he either turned it off or simply ignored it, now he was taking time to answer it or check out the texts. He always used a flip phone, which allowed more privacy as far as the number or message being readily visible. Of course, the whole world would eventually see and hear some of the messages, but at the time, I never suspected that he was texting women.
Haney wrote that Woods enjoyed defying the stereotype of golfers being out of shape. The way Haney saw it, Woods was also trying to escape his nerdy past, one that allegedly included being dubbed Urkel, after the Family Matters character, by his former Stanford University golf teammate Notah Begay.
He liked being one of Nike's so-called golf athletes, Haney wrote. He liked being considered buff. He liked using terms from other sports, like 'reps,' 'game speed,' 'taking it deep,' or 'getting good looks,' and applying them to golf. And he liked the impression that his swing was so violently athletic that it put him on constant guard against injury.
Don't get too close
Haney describes Steinberg as the one who understood Woods best.
After I'd been Tiger's coach for only a few months, Mark would make a point of telling me that I was one of Tiger's best friends, Haney wrote. That always took me aback a bit, because though I felt a bond with Tiger over our obsession with golf, I always sensed he wanted me to stay at a distance. But as I was beginning to figure out, Tiger really didn't let anyone in. It was interesting that Mark also advised that when it came to Tiger, the best policy was 'Don't get too close.'
The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods was published by Crown Archetype and is available in print and electronically.