There's clearly some ill will between Tiger Woods and star instructor Hank Haney over Haney's book about his former pupil. Titled The Big Miss, the book chronicles Haney's teaching relationship with Tiger, which spanned six years and 31 PGA Tour victories, including six major championships. Despite Haney's insistence that the book isn't a tawdry tell-all, Tiger expressed his disappointment in the (as yet unread) book, slated for release prior to The Masters. "I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing," Woods told ESPN.com earlier this year, "especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend. There have been other one-sided books about me, and I think people understand that this book is about money. I'm not going to waste my time reading it."
Tiger's bad feelings reached a crescendo prior to this week's Honda when a reporter asked him about the passage in which Haney asserts that Woods came close to ditching golf to join the Navy Seals. "I've already talked about everything," Woods told the reporter. He then told the persistent scribe, "you're a beauty" and to "have a good day." As for lingering resentment over the book? "It's still the same. Nothing has changed in that regard at all."
Earlier this year, Haney plead not guilty to the charge of besmirching his former pupil. "I was a witness to greatness," Haney told the AP. "And I get asked the question all the time about Tiger. I wanted to talk about it and I wanted to share it with people. That's the bottom line."
It seems that the simple fact that Haney is spilling the beans about their relationship is what has raised Tiger's ire. Woods never has been about sharing. He always has been private in the extreme. His splits from former agents, caddies and instructors were the result of those individuals sharing too much of Tiger’s life for his liking.
“I’m not sure I understand the unprofessionalism part," said Haney. “He hasn’t read the book. There are a lot of positives in there. I think he’s the greatest golfer who ever lived."
Now that excerpts are leaking, though, we have a better idea of what's getting Tiger's goat, including the assertion that Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors became a burden. "There was more urgency and less fun," Haney writes. "Tiger was more irritable and impatient. He never mentioned (Jack) Nicklaus' record, but it started to weigh more heavily at every major. And Tiger's actions indicated he believed he had less time to do it than everyone else thought.
"In retrospect, 2007 was when Tiger began to lose the joy of playing and began to look at his career as something he wanted to get over with sooner rather than later."
Woods still insists that he'll catch Nicklaus, even if it takes longer than anticipated. "It's going to take an entire career to do it, and that's something I knew starting out."
Woods should have considered the law of unintended consequences before wading into this discussion. Tiger's protestations assure this book an extra boost of publicity. As if it needed any.