Not-So-Perfect Ending

By Rex HoggardMay 12, 2010, 11:45 pm

As breakups go this one seemed tame by comparison. A split that seemed months in the making was muted by two parties singing off the same page regardless of whatever metaphorical wedge had sent them in separate directions.

Be it irreconcilable differences, the contempt of familiarity or the intensity of an unyielding spotlight, it was time for Tiger Woods and Hank Haney to call it a half decade. It’s best for Woods, who has appeared lost and lonely on the golf course in nine curious rounds this season, and for Haney, who has endured more scathing analysis than any swing coach in history. More than any swing coach deserves, that’s for certain.

The only disconnect in the Woods/Haney split is who pulled the plug. “It was my choice,” Haney has said. While Woods said in a statement on his website, “Hank Haney and I have agreed that he will no longer be my coach.” That doesn’t sound like a man who received a “it’s not you, it’s me” text late Monday.

But even that is window dressing to the larger picture.

Hank Haney
Tiger Woods won six majors while working with Hank Haney. (Getty Images)

Those who have questioned Haney’s work with the world No. 1 suggest Woods was not the dominant player he was pre-Haney and figure he won despite Haney’s teachings, not as a result of them.

Critics claim that since the two began working together in March 2002 Woods has not enjoyed the same type of dominant victories, like his 15-stroke masterpiece at the U.S. Open in 2000 or his 12-shot walkover at Augusta National in 1997, that he did when Butch Harmon was calling the shots.

Lost in that argument are the only numbers that count, however. In the half dozen years Haney and Woods worked together the pupil won 32 percent of his starts and 26 percent of the majors he played.

By comparison, Woods won 27 percent of his Tour starts under Harmon, who he split with in late 2002, and 30 percent of his Grand Slam at bats.

Statistically Woods slipped in driving distance under Haney’s tutelage, likely a byproduct of age and circumstance more so than a swing flaw, while – contrary to the anti-Hank company line – he improved his driving accuracy, from 56 percent in 2004 to a high of 67 percent in 2008, and greens in regulation.

There is no way to know what Woods could have accomplished without Haney along for the ride, but with him the resume is hardly pink-slip worthy (31 Tour titles and six majors).

Either way this spilt is best for everyone concerned. Haney is a quiet man who is passionate about the golf swing but proved to be ill-equipped to handle the scrutiny that comes with that coveted spot on the practice tee next to Woods. While Woods needs answers, direction – both on and off the golf course – and a clean bill of health.

All indications are Haney is relieved it is over.

Post-Haney the conversation has quickly turned to what, or who, is next for Woods?

Our best guess is Woods goes it alone, at least in the short term. Rebound relationships never last and it’s best to leave dysfunction to the professionals on Jerry Springer and NBA coaches.

In the year when Woods was “between” swing coaches (2003) he didn’t win a major but collected five Tour tilts. Depending on the results of this week’s MRI a similar year in 2010 could be a victory of form, if not function, for Woods but it remains to be seen if he even has five more starts in him this year.

Those who watch these types of things say Woods needs a hybrid between Haney and Harmon. A coach that doesn’t teach a method, which means that whoever takes over isn’t interested in a wholesale swing change, and someone he has good chemistry with. Those with thin skin need not apply.

Whenever Woods starts the search for a new set of eyes expect there to be a conversation like the one that Harmon had with Dustin Johnson late last month. Johnson had been working with Allen Terrell since he arrived at Coastal Carolina University as a freshman but the hard-hitting phenom recently decided he needed a change.

When Johnson visited Harmon the instructor laid two pictures out, one of Johnson and the other of Hamron’s father, famed instructor Claude, both at the top of their back swings. Both players had closed club faces at the top of their swings, and Harmon made it clear he was not interested in changing that, Johnson’s signature move.

Woods will need a similar epiphany before he signs on with anyone, and among the names that have surfaced early as potential replacements none would be considered “method” teachers.

Sean Foley – whose current clients include Sean O’Hair, a frequent practice-round partner for Woods, and Hunter Mahan – has been mentioned, as has Todd Anderson, whose stable includes Brandt Snedeker and long-time Woods friend Charles Howell III.

Contacted on Tuesday both coaches said they had not been approached by Woods or anyone within his camp about a possible meeting or partnership.

Woods may need direction more than ever right now, both on and off the course, but the measured man seems content with his own swing thoughts at the moment. As for Haney he walks away with 31 Tour titles and a six-pack of majors, but his most prized parting gift may be the anonymity that came with Monday’s text message.

It would be any swing coach’s dream to work with the best of a generation, maybe of all time. Not every dream, however, comes with a perfect ending.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”