Haney portrait of Woods: A player never satisfied

By Doug FergusonMarch 20, 2012, 1:00 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods’ fascination with the Navy SEALs and how he might have incurred his leg injuries are sure to generate plenty of buzz when Hank Haney’s book goes on sale next week.

There also is plenty of gossip involving other players, such as the time Ian Poulter invited himself to ride home on Woods’ plane after a practice round at Oakmont.

But there is a bigger picture in “The Big Miss,” which chronicles the six years Haney spent as his swing coach.

He shows Woods to be a complicated person who sought change to keep stimulated, who was rarely satisfied, self-centered in his pursuit of greatness and whose work ethic in the gym was geared toward being accepted as an athlete.

“In Tiger’s mind, satisfaction is the enemy of success,” Haney writes.

The book goes on sale in the United States on March 27 – one week before the Masters – and it already has been getting plenty of attention because of a few sections that raise questions about how Woods injured his leg.

Haney cites Corey Carroll, one of Woods’ closest friends at Isleworth, as saying that Woods injured his right Achilles tendon doing Olympic-style weightlifting as he returned from reconstructive knee surgery in December 2008.

Haney also tells of a woman who approached him during an outing in Minnesota last year. Her husband was a Navy SEAL in California and told her Woods came in for training in 2007 at a Kill House – an urban-warfare simulator – and “got kicked pretty hard in the leg, and I think he hurt his knee pretty bad.”

Haney said that matched a story from Carroll, who said Woods revealed to him that the complete tear of his left knee ligaments really happened in a Kill House when he had lost his balance and been kicked in the knee.

“My immediate thought upon hearing Corey’s account, which so closely paralleled that of the woman in Minneapolis, was that it was true,” Haney writes. “And if so, it meant that if Tiger never catches Jack Nicklaus, it will very likely have as much to do with the time and physical capacity he lost as a result of his bizarre Navy SEALs adventure as anything else.”

The injuries are relevant because Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, and he withdrew from his last tournament two weeks ago at Doral with tightness in his left Achilles tendon. That’s the same one that caused him to miss two majors last year.

Woods said it was only a mild strain, and he is scheduled to play seven straight days this week, including at Bay Hill.

While the injuries are timely, the rest of the book is sure to satisfy the curiosity of golf fans – particularly those who have watched him win at a record rate – to whom Woods has revealed so little over the years.

Haney became increasingly concerned when Woods began workouts designed to build muscle. It reached a point when Haney and former trainer Keith Kleven tried to persuade Woods that he was getting more muscular in the upper body than was helpful for golf.

Woods so badly wanted to be considered a real athlete that he saw injuries as a badge of honor. Haney said Woods tried to empathize with Derek Jeter and Shaquille O’Neal when talking about injuries.

Haney does not consider the book a “tell-all,” and much of it reveals Woods’ pursuit of his place in history. He also delves into the relationship Woods had with his ex-wife, and how guarded they were in public.

That runs against his comments in January that the book would be about golf, though Haney felt it was relevant.

“I think when you’re such a complex person, an absolute superstar, you can’t ignore everything that happens off the golf course,” Haney said in an interview. “The performance, the dedication, the ability to compete with a clear mind. To me, it said something about Tiger overall as a person. Clearly, there’s a lot of things I left out of the book that didn’t have to do with golf.”

He said Woods ignored phone calls when they started working together, but later began returning text messages. Haney said he was not aware of Woods’ extramarital affairs, except for Woods making the occasional comment about a woman he saw in the gallery. He also wrote that Woods told him his ex-wife wanted him to take two years away from golf after his serial adultery was exposed.

“One of my goals in the book was to paint a picture and let people decide what they want to glean from it,” he said.

Haney said he felt as though he had won the lottery when Woods called him in 2004 and asked him to be his swing coach. He was paid $50,000 a year, plus a $25,000 bonus for Woods winning a major.

He said they had to confront three issues in revamping the swing – protecting the left knee (Woods told him his anterior cruciate ligament was only 20 percent intact after surgery in 2002), the movement of his head and learning to hit the driver.

“Simply put, Tiger played the driver with a lot of fear,” Haney wrote.

He said their second lesson was his first test as a coach. Woods had finished 10 shots behind at Bay Hill, and Haney met him on the range at Isleworth. He said Woods ignored him.

“The message Tiger wanted to send was clear: “When I play bad, when I don’t win, it’s your fault.” He was reminding me that his expectations were going to be incredibly high …” Haney wrote.

“…. I also realized that I was never going to be able to relax with Tiger Woods,” he wrote. “He was going to be complicated, and he was going to surprise me with his moods.”

Haney expects to be criticized for trying to make money off his six years coaching Woods, especially with the book going on sale a week before the Masters. He has said on Twitter in recent months that the memories do not solely belong to Woods.

“I wanted to write the book about my observations of greatness, an athlete superior to his competition,” Haney said. “Obviously, people will have their thoughts. But when people read the book in its entirety … if Tiger read the book, in his heart, he’d have to say it’s an accurate portrayal, and it’s honest.”

Perhaps a more accurate assessment is something Haney wrote late in the 247-page book.

“My guess is that the publication of this book won’t bring us closer.”

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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

Amen.

The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”