Haney Tiger is Better in All Areas


A Tuesday conversation with Hank Haney, Tiger Woods' swing coach, confirmed the bad news for everybody else. Woods, Haney told me, is a better player in every phase of his game than the Tiger Woods who finished second to Trevor Immelman at the Cialis Western Open last July 9.
That date also marked the last time Woods lost to anybody in a PGA TOUR event. He's going for seven straight this week at the Buick Invitational.
Tiger Woods and Hank Haney
Tiger Woods and Hank Haney work together during Tuesday's practice round.
'But you never get completely there,' Haney told me. 'That's why it's so much fun working with him. We know that every day there will be a challenge.'
What's left unsaid here is the universal knowledge in golf that Woods is clearly the best player in the world. Since there is nobody to chase down in the world rankings, the only thing left to pursue is perfection. Woods has said he knows he won't ever completely get there but if he keeps getting better, no one will pass him.
Meanwhile the sniping at Haney has died down to a whisper. 'I'm happy for Rex Grossman,' Haney said. 'One or two years ago I felt like Rex Grossman.'
By way of explanation, Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and has been the target of heavy criticism this year. Now the Bears are in the Super Bowl and Grossman is at least partially responsible.
Similarly, Haney came under heavy public attack in his early days of working with Woods. But he has been more than partially responsible for Woods' latest sustained brilliance.
Meanwhile, don't expect to see Tiger Woods making the rounds on the talk shows any time soon. But his absence won't be for any lack of interest on the part of the networks.
According to Woods' sources, Tiger has a standing offer to guest on a number of shows. Included among them are 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'
Do expect to see Woods on Leno if he wins the Masters, for the fifth time, in April. That victory could conceivably coincide with Woods breaking Byron Nelson's long-standing record of 11 straight PGA TOUR wins.
Eyebrows were raised recently when Vijay Singh and Paul Goydos won the first two events of the PGA TOUR season using a Titleist Pro V1 prototype ball that wasn't listed as such on the USGA's conforming golf ball list.
'Certainly a legitimate question that has a pretty simple answer,' said Dick Rugge, the USGA's Senior Technical Director. 'While the ball may be referred to by Titleist and journalists as a 'prototype', that is not the actual name of the ball. ... Titleist has 13 different 'Pro V' models on our conforming list. All of them are allowed for play under the Rules of Golf.'
Added Rugge: 'The PGA TOUR rules officials have the authority to check whether or not a ball being used is on the conforming list, so it is rather unlikely that any TOUR player--winners or otherwise--could be using a ball that is not on the conforming list.'
A quick check with Titleist officials confirmed that the winning Pro V1s used by Singh and Goydos are, indeed, on the USGA's conforming list.
ROGER THAT: Sources say we shouldn't be surprised if Callaway Golf wedge designer Roger Cleveland puts design plans for a full set of irons into the pipeline. Most recently, Cleveland has been best-known for Callaway's X-Tour wedges. None other than Phil Mickelson helped inspire Cleveland to come up with a PM grind and 'Mack Daddy' grooves for the wedges he uses on TOUR.
COMFORT ZONE: You have to give John Daly, or at least the people who run his website, credit for candor.
Daly's people recently announced a new John Daly clothing line about which the website said this: 'At first glance Big John may seem like an unlikely candidate to headline a golf apparel collection.'
As you might imagine, comfort, not style, is the key to John Daly Apparel
TaylorMade sources say Daly was so enamored with a recent trial of the company's TP Rescue hybrid that he has taken his 2-iron out of the bag. The TP Rescue has a smaller head, a tighter, more compact look and is designed for better players.
On the Monday night version of long-running game show Jeopardy one of the categories was 'A Few Good Men.'
The $600 answer in that category was: 'In 2004 this Fijian set a new record for pro golf winnings in one year, $10,905,166.'
The correct answer, as delivered by one of the contestants, was, 'Singh.'
Memo to any of Vijay Singh's critics who don't believe he belongs in a category labeled 'A Few Good Men': You can't handle the truth.
The LPGA has modified its criteria for sponsor's exemptions. Specifically, a sponsor's exemption is now available (over and above the normal exemptions) to the U.S. Women's Amateur champion if that player is still an amateur and the event is staged in that player's home state.
What this means is that reigning champion, Kimberly Kim of Hawaii, will now have a chance to play in next month's SBS Open at Turtle Bay and the Fields Open in Hawaii.
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