Tiger hurt by Hank Haney's writing book

Updated: January 19, 2012, 7:13 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

While stressing that he remains appreciative for all that Hank Haney did for his career, Tiger Woods on Thursday criticized his former coach for writing a book that will be released just prior to the Masters.

Woods and Haney parted ways in May 2010 after a six-year period that saw the golfer win 31 times on the PGA Tour, including six major championships.

"I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing," Woods told ESPN.com in a telephone interview, "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."

Haney told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this month about his book called "The Big Miss" that he spent about 110 days a year with Woods, and as many as 30 a year at his home.

"I was a witness to greatness," Haney said Thursday. "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. I'm not sure I understand the unprofessionalism part. He hasn't read the book. There's a lot of positives in there. I think he's the greatest golfer who ever lived.

"I was just in a position to observe greatness and anyone who observes greatness likes to share it. I feel like I wrote a book that was fair and honest. It's golf history."

Although Woods became aware that a book was in the works, Haney did not contact him about it.

[+] EnlargeThe Big Miss Book Cover
AP Photo"The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods," by Hank Haney, is due from publisher Crown Archetype on March 27.

Woods was at a golf course near his South Florida home Thursday participating in corporate activities for Nike and preparing for his season debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a European Tour event, later this month.

Woods confirmed Thursday that he will play with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as his partner two weeks later at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Woods will make his 2012 PGA Tour debut.

Woods was criticized for leaving instructor Butch Harmon in late 2002 -- with whom he had won eight major championships -- and eventually hiring Haney, especially as he endured a one-win season in 2004.

But starting in 2005, it is difficult to argue against the success of the Woods-Haney partnership. Not only were there those six majors, but a high level of consistency, as well. Starting in 2005, Woods had 57 top-10 finishes in 78 events, with 31 wins. Only 13 others in PGA Tour history have won more than 31 times in their entire careers.

"Again, I want to thank Hank for everything he did for me," Woods said Thursday.

After knee surgery cut his 2008 season short following a playoff victory at the U.S. Open, Woods returned to the game in February 2009 -- having taken nearly nine months off -- and won seven times around the world. In those 19 starts, he finished in the top 10 on 17 occasions.

But Woods' personal life unraveled in late 2009 after he acknowledged marital infidelity -- something that Haney denied knowing about and did not address in the book. Woods took a lengthy break and did not return until the 2010 Masters, scurrying to get his game in order under Haney's guidance. He tied for fourth at Augusta.

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 Woods

A few weeks later, however, Woods badly missed the cut at Quail Hollow, then withdrew from the Players Championship during the final round because of a neck injury. By then, there were already murmurings that his relationship with Haney was in peril.

A few days later, Haney announced he was resigning as Woods' coach.

"It was just time for me to do something else," Haney said at the time. "I'll say that I'm pleased with how Tiger has done, it's a record I'm proud of. ... I just knew it was time to step aside. The criticism ... that's part of the deal."

Aside from a victory at the Chevron World Challenge in December, Woods has not won an official event since parting with Haney. He began working with instructor Sean Foley in the summer of 2010.

"It's hard to believe it's been as long as it has," Woods said. "But for me, winning the World Challenge like that [he birdied the last two holes to defeat Zach Johnson by a stroke], it's a win. I don't have to answer more questions about when my next win is going to come."

But Woods does know he'll be questioned about the book, and the questions likely will come next week at Abu Dhabi and again next month at Pebble Beach. And then Haney's book will be released one week before the year's first major championship.

While Woods acknowledged that the run-up to the Masters could be nothing like his first news conference at Augusta National in 2010, when he returned to the game, the timing of the book's release is not ideal, he said.

"That is what I alluded to earlier," he said. "I just think this book is very self-serving."

Bob Harig is ESPN.com's senior golf writer.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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