Teed Off (06-05-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
Well, I just finished Hank Haney's book about his time as Tiger Wood's swing coach and, without a doubt, I have rarely read anything so self-serving. All through the book, Haney seems to be trying to justify himself and seems terrified of being seen lacking when compared to Tiger's accomplishments under Butch Harmon.
He even goes so far as to break down stats to minute details. Pitiful.
Hey Hank, the only important results for Tiger Woods are his performance in majors. Driving distance and accuracy, top ten finishes are really not the point. Nor is your whining that he didn't listen to you.
At one point, he claims Tiger shut him out during the final round of the Masters (their last tournament together), which caused Haney to remain silent when the fact of the matter is that was the time Tiger needed someone to shake him up with a verbal assault that reaffirms his belief in himself. When someone of Tiger's stature is feeling sorry for himself, you need to crack him in the head and remind him of who he is and what he is capable of.
With all that said and done, I stick by my original claim that Tiger's problem is not physical, but mental. He has a bazillion swing thoughts looping through his head and is unsure of himself, both as a player and a person. This is what needs to be addressed.
Golf is 80 per cent mental and 20 per cent physical. So why is he screwing around with swing coaches? At this stage of the game, Tiger knows how to hit a ball. All he has to do is to do it and stop thinking so much.
Granted, easier said than done, but that doesn't alter the facts.
I swear it gets me so nuts that I wish I had 30 minutes with the guy. By the time I was done, he'd be fixed and winning majors again. I am certain of that.
All this "touchy feely" garbage that the so-called behavioral scientists and therapists dumped on him has screwed him up to the point he became another David Duval (who they screwed up previously).
A professional athlete has a killer instinct that you cannot simply turn off without destroying what makes him great in the first place. They have a driving need to crush opponents without mercy and be the top of the heap.
Even someone as loveable and likable as Freddy Couples has a beast underneath. Sure, he walks the fairways looking like everyone's idea of a best friend, but make no mistake about it, he's there to win.
I used to joke that I had the killer instinct of a puppy and that was one of my problems as a professional golfer. I always felt sorry for my opponents and, if I was up a few holes on them, I'd gear down and let them catch up. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
But, as I get older, I find that to be less true. Maybe it's all the time in the gym which is altering my perspective. Going for that one last rep in a testosterone filled environment, surrounded by others who live for besting their best lift can carry over into other aspects of your life as well.
You develop a killer instinct where failure is simply not an option and will bust a gut to hit that last goal. It's a good feeling.
I always played my best golf when I was on the edge of quiet rage. My body simply performs better under those conditions, but the problem is maintaining that adrenalin flow for 18 holes, so I have to learn when and where to let the beast out. This is something I have trouble with, as a few of my friends will attest. Sometimes, it just goes over the edge into self-destruct mode or it simply refuses to kick-in at all.
I used to have a caddie in the old days who would say things to me like, "you suck," right before I needed a big drive on a par 5. It used to work.
The bottom line is that if the world wants Tiger Woods back on top and winning majors, then get off his back and let him be himself again. — VNS