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Haney abandons the “hot seat”

May 11th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Did Tiger Woods let Hank Haney go, but allow Haney to save face by announcing that it was his decision? Or was this a voluntary decision, as Haney claims: “Just so there is no confusion I would like to make it clear that this is my decision.”

Woods could have let Haney say he was quitting to avoid having the media rip into him for canning his beleaguered teacher, whose approach with Woods has been slammed by Johnny Miller of late, among others. And then again, Haney might have actually made this decision on his own – he had plenty of reasons to do so:

The Case for Haney Quitting

  • He is tired of working for the ill tempered Woods.
  • The thrifty Tiger may not be paying him all that much compared to what he makes elsewhere.
  • He can go out on top, the architect of Tiger’s best sustained stretch of golf.
  • The super sensitive Haney can get away from the constant criticism for Wood’s failures (though I suspect he will continue to experience some fallout).
  • He can devote full time to building his business, which includes a junior academy.
  • He is tired of traveling to tournaments and spending 120 days a year with Woods.
  • He will have more time for his celebrity makeovers on the Golf Channel, assuming the GC still wants him now that he is no longer Woods’ coach.
  • He’s been ignored by Tiger of late.

When Butch Harmon got sacked by Woods seven years ago, he was relieved to be off the “hot seat.” After six years sharing the limelight with the world’s most recognizable, and now most controversial athlete, Haney no doubt feels the same way:

Tiger Woods and I will always be friends, but I believe that there is a time and place for everything and I feel at this time and at this place in my life I want to move forward in other areas.

So, to the 1,001 story lines of the Woods Post 11/27 Saga we can now add the anticipation of his announcement of his next coach, and his quest for Swing #4 of his pro career.

It would seem as if applicants would be lined up at the gates to his mansion, but the job is not without its shortcomings. Tiger is very possessive and likes to have his instructors at his beck and call, so a coach might have to give up his stable of players. A coach must be available to travel a lot, a problem which could be intensified if he doesn’t live close to Woods. He must be a great instructor, and be philosophically in tune with the super picky and knowledgeable Woods. And finally, he’d better have a thick hide because the media is going to be micro analyzing his every move with Woods.

As for Woods, he’s got to make a great selection for these reasons: (1) It takes him a long time to incorporate swing changes into his game and the major’s clock is ticking, so he can’t afford to make a mistake and adopt a swing that’s not effective; (2) He knows he’s going to have to defend his selection to the media, much like a presidential appointee, so he’d better make a good one.

Woods comeback from the scandal was never going to be easy and yet is getting downright ridiculous. Divorce proceeding are evidently underway, he’ll have no family to come home to, he could be suffering from various addictions, he’s lost sponsors and will likely lose a big chunk of his fortune, he’s been the subject of ridicule for nearly six months, the heckling’s begun (I suspect this will get worse), he’s now suffering from neck injury, his swing is a mess, and now he’s lost his coach. What’s next?

To say that his quest to become the best ever is in peril is a gross understatement. Indeed, if he can pull it off now, if he can rebound from what must be the lowest of lows, his scandal and the subsequent fallout could be trumped by one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports. Now isn’t this a story worth following?

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 BD // May 12, 2010 at 5:21 am

    I think the best explanation for Haney’s leaving is the third one you mentioned: “He can go out on top, the architect of Tiger’s best sustained stretch of golf.” Whatever fame and glory Haney was ever likely to get for being Tiger’s coach, he has already received. To stick around at this point, with Tiger’s career taking on water faster than a pegboard raft, is just asking for trouble.

  • 2 BD // May 12, 2010 at 5:44 am

    If you’ll permit me to engage in some amateur psychoanalysis for a moment, I wanted to share this thought about Tiger, his neck injury, and Haney:

    I wonder if Tiger is now so down on himself, out of guilt, shame, and embarrassment for so spectacularly destroying everything he has worked for, that he is in the process of sabotaging the one thing he has left: his golf game. What made me think of this was the image of so many people in the galleries at the Masters and THE PLAYERS applauding him just as they would have before all of this happened. It’s as if the fans are saying, “we don’t care about all that personal stuff, just keeping being your old self on the course.” I wonder if Tiger, rather than embracing that welcome, at some level cannot reconcile it with his own conscience. IOW, he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be applauded, by anyone, because he feels like a complete jerk. So now he’s going to find a way subsconciously to screw up even his golf game in an effort to ensure that everyone hates him as much as he hates himself. Hence, the sudden neck injury and the parting of ways with his long-time coach.

    I’m afraid we’re witnessing the psychological equivalent of a double-dip recession. Up to now, Tiger and his handlers have been MANAGING this crisis, and seemingly doing a pretty good job of it. This gave Tiger something he could focus his energies on and thus allowed him to muddle through the last few months. But now the reality of it all has sunk in, and no amount of p.r. expertise can do anything to mitigate it.

    Hope I’m wrong. The whole thing seems pretty tragic, or potentially so.

  • 3 Phil // May 12, 2010 at 8:01 am

    BD,
    There was some talk about Haney not wanting to tarnish his brand. Still, with Woods’ driving, the Haney legacy will always be in question. That’s an interesting idea, that at some level Woods is in a self destruct mode. His rehab and comeback have seemed forced, like they are on a much faster track than they should have been.

  • 4 Mel // May 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

    BD’s comments are interesting. Back in December I read two articles that approached the scandal from a serious (rather than a tabloid) angle. (Sorry, can’t remember where those articles were and there is no point in googling Tiger Woods these days – 1,000’s of hits!) One article – written by a psychiatrist – put forward the idea that Tiger wasn’t just using the women for sex, he was actually trying to form relationships with them. He theorised that this shows a guy who on the surface looks confident and self-assured but inside is desperately looking for someone to love him for himself rather than for who he is – and of course because of who he is it is impossible for him to ever fill that need. The other article speculated that Tiger was probably “done” since he didn’t have the personality to accept himself as a lesser human being – that his successes were largely due to his (and everyone else’s) unfailing belief in his own superiority.

    Whatever the reason it IS tragic. A man who had literally everything throwing it away in the tawdriest manner imaginable. (And I doubt we’ve seen the end of the PED scandal.)

    Great blog Phil. Love articles (and comments) that get my brain working.

    Cheers!

  • 5 Phil // May 13, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Mel,
    Thank you. And it works both ways – I love to read comments as they get me thinking. That’s food for thought – that Tiger was looking for relationships and comfort from many of his women. Very possible if he was not getting what (or all) he needed at home.

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