Hate to be Rude: Haney vs. Foley
Thursday, March 10, 2011
DORAL, Fla. – The swords are not only out; they’re sharpened.
It has been clear since last summer that you won’t find Tiger Woods’ former coach, Hank Haney, and his new one, Sean Foley, yukking it up with each other at the same dinner table or wine bar. But now the animosity seems to have reached an all-time high.
In a Golf.com Q&A posted today, Foley was quoted as saying, “There was nothing about what he was doing in his previous swing that made any sense to me. But I know if he repeats something 500 times, he'll figure out how to sequence it and make it work.”
Asked about the fact Haney once said he felt he knew Woods “from observing” rather than from “knowing him,” Foley said, “Hank built most of his career around Tiger. I found most of that interview to be unprofessional. I don't understand how, if you don't get to know the person, how you can teach them.”
Well, as you might expect, such comments riled Haney, who vented via Twitter, saying among other things that he didn’t “get Foley’s interview one bit.”
Asked by a reader whom he’d rather take a lesson from – Sean Foley, Axel Foley or Mick Foley – Haney tweeted, “Axel Foley. I loved Beverly Hills Cop.”
As the saying goes, Gurus will be gurus.
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Tiger Woods has built a well-earned reputation over the years for talking without saying much. That wasn’t the case Wednesday, which served perhaps the most interesting quote I’ve ever seen from him.
It came while explaining why he has revamped not just his swing under Foley but also his pitching, chipping and putting. That helps underscore his excessive thinking and the fact none of his game is second nature at the moment.
“I have to change everything,” the winner of 14 majors and 71 PGA Tour titles said. “It’s the whole release pattern. It’s the release, how I release the putter, how I release the short game, how I release irons, drives – they are all related. It’s just something I’ve had to change. . . . You want to have the same type of swing, with the putter all the way up to the driver. It’s the same motion, just smaller.”
Considering how successful he has been, considering how great his short game has been over the years, I’m not sure he had to “change everything.”
Much less anything.
Even if 50 masked men were pointing machine guns at him.
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Responding to all that changing, Haney said the only thing he changed in Woods’ short game was his bunker play.
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Here’s another thing that has changed about Woods: His confidence.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Woods talk about lacking confidence, but he said as much Wednesday when asked about his struggles of late.
“Obviously it is about confidence, yes, but also it’s motor patterns because I revert back to similar motor patterns (of his old swing),” Woods said.
What’s more, I haven’t known him to place much importance on outside opinions. But he expressed appreciation for the support of Jack Nicklaus, who last week said he thinks Woods will break his record of 18 majors.
“For (Nicklaus) to still believe that I can still play top-notch golf certainly is a confidence booster, there’s no doubt,” he said.
Someone else’s words a confidence booster? This is a new era for Mr. Woods.
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Thirty years ago, I ended up at a four-man breakfast table here at the Doral Golf Resort with David Graham, Tom Weiskopf and a young blond golfer to my immediate left whom I didn’t recognize.
When Weiskopf and the other guy left, I asked Graham the name of the person I couldn’t identify.
“He’s an up-and-coming player from Australia I think you’ll be hearing a lot about because he has a lot of talent,” Graham told me. “His name is Greg Norman.”
A few weeks later, Norman finished fourth in his first Masters and got the nickname, “The Great White Shark.”
You might say Graham was right. We did hear a fair amount about Norman since then – through a fascinating Hall of Fame career.
Flash forward three decades. I spent a couple of hours with the Shark last Friday at Golfweek’s Golfest at The Villages in central Florida. What struck me most was the peace he projected. He gushed about his love of being home on weekends after tending to his several businesses during the week.
“I enjoy my life now more than ever,” said Norman, who remarried in November. “I’m very content. There’s no drama. It’s very peaceful. I traveled my whole life, so it’s nice to be able to turn the car toward home.”
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Jeff Rude’s “I Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.