Tiger Woods through discussing book

Updated: February 29, 2012, 7:30 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- A day after Tiger Woods' agent strongly criticized an excerpt from a book about his client, Woods on Wednesday deflected questions on the subject during a Honda Classic news conference that at times became contentious.

Portions of former coach Hank Haney's book, "The Big Miss," were released this week, prompting Woods' longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, to issue a statement rebuking Haney, especially regarding parts that pertained to the golfer's admiration for the Navy SEALs and the military.

"For Haney to twist that admiration into something negative is disrespectful," Steinberg said.

Haney wrote that Woods discussed leaving golf for military life, a subject the golfer would not discuss during his news conference.

"I've already talked about everything," Woods said. When pressed, he deflected questions and ended by telling the inquisitor "you're a beauty" and to "have a good day."

In an interview with ESPN.com in January, Woods was asked about his reaction to Haney's book, which is due to be released in late March, the week prior to the Masters.

"I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing," Woods said, "especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend."

Haney was Woods' swing coach from 2004 to 2009, a period in which the golfer won six major championships and 31 tour titles. Asked his level of disappointment now that some details from the book have emerged, Woods said: "It's still the same. Nothing has changed in that regard at all."

Woods is playing in the Honda Classic, which starts Thursday, for the first time since 1993, when he was a 17-year-old amateur who got an invitation to the tournament and missed the cut. Woods will be grouped with Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter during the first two rounds at PGA National.

[+] 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.

He is trying to win his first official PGA Tour title since the 2009 BMW Championship, the 71st of his PGA Tour career. Woods also has gone nearly four years without winning a major championship, a quest Haney has surmised was consuming Woods long ago -- before his off-course troubles in late 2009 halted his winning ways.

"For me, the job got harder," Haney wrote. "There was more urgency and less fun. 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, in questions unrelated to the book, did not back off the attempt to catch Nicklaus, who won 18 major titles in his career. Woods' 14th and last came at the 2008 U.S. Open.

"It's going to take an entire career to do it, and that's something I knew starting out," said Woods, who is 36.

For what it's worth, Nicklaus won four major titles after turning 38, including three after age 40.

"My opinion, I still think Tiger will regain what he does, he will come back and play very, very well," Nicklaus said Tuesday. "Whether he will break my record or not, that's another issue. I think he probably will. He still has to go do it, not only do it, but he has to win more majors [five] than anyone [has] playing today. That's a pretty good task."

Senior writer Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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