Posted by: Rolf | March 1, 2012

The Big Miss

Tiger’s reaction this week to the soon-to-be-published book “The Big Miss” by his former swing coach, Hank Haney, has been needlessly contentious. Instead of deflecting interest in a book whose mere existence he clearly views as a “betrayal of trust,” Woods only piqued interest in it by refusing to comment on questions about excerpts posted this week on Golf Digest’s Web site.

The most startling revelation “that Woods considered giving up golf to try to become a member of the Navy Seals” isn’t even breaking news. Haney had made a similar observation to the writer Tom Callahan, who included it in “His Father’s Son” book. Shortly after the book’s 2010 publication, Woods said he had never entertained the notion. When pressed, he added: “Well, I’ve always wanted to become a SEAL. That’s something that I told my dad from the very get-go, either I’m going to become a professional golfer or I’m going to become a Navy SEAL.”

So it’s not the story that Woods would seem to have a problem with, it’s “the storyteller.” Woods’s testy exchange on Wednesday with a reporter who persisted in trying to ascertain what, if anything, was incorrect in the book was a case of displaced anger.

Tiger Woods Gets Testy With Reporter

Woods’ reaction to the book only spurs interest. He called it “unprofessional” and “very disappointing” in January, which Haney said was odd because the golfer hasn’t read it. When Golf Digest published excerpts this week about Woods’ self-imposed pressure to catch Nicklaus and serious contemplation of becoming a Navy SEAL, agent Mark Steinberg lashed out via e-mail to The Associated Press in which he dismissed Haney’s “armchair psychology” as ridiculous and called into question his loyalty.

“His armchair psychology about Tiger, on matters he admits they didn’t even discuss, is ridiculous,” Steinberg said in a statement. “The disruptive timing of this book shows that Haney’s self-promotion is more important to him than any other person or tournament. What’s been written violates the trust between a coach and player and someone also once considered a friend.”

I can’t blame Haney for writing the book or having it released right before the Masters. It won’t hurt golf overall or the Masters in particular. Considering how many fans have insatiable appetites for all things Woods, Haney is providing a public service for the golf world.

Michael Fineman, the president of Fineman Public Relations, a San Francisco-based firm that has never represented Woods, wrote in an e-mail: “Tiger’s team missed a prime opportunity to take the high road with a more dignified public response; Team Tiger has done little in three years’ time to effectively reassure the oft-forgiving public that their hero has learned the lessons of being justifiably humbled.”

How can Woods help himself? “Bottom line,” Fineman said, “Team Tiger needs a life coach.”

See you at the first tee…

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