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Tiger Woods’ former swing coach has described his astonishment at the American legend’s talent – and explained that what he displays on the course is nothing compared to his performances on the driving range. Hank Haney coached the 15-time Major winner between 2004 and 2010. However, he claims that while Woods was rewriting the record books on the course, he had one flaw that stopped him from achieving even more.
Speaking to GOLF’s Subpar podcast, the 66-year-old said: “People speculate all the time about him, but they are guessing. I was there, I spent 150 days a year with him for six years. He was incredible, just unbelievable. I would stand on the driving range and just think, there is no way these guys could beat him. There’s just no possible way, and honestly, he wasn’t nearly as good on the course. Nobody is.”
The period Haney coached Woods marked some of the former World No.1's most successful years, with six Majors, including wins at The Masters in 2005 and back-to-back Open victories in 2005 and 2006. Nevertheless, Haney – who has a wealth of experience coaching professional golfers, including two-time Major winner Mark O’Meara - says that despite his unparalleled success, Woods was the worst at translating his form on the driving range to the tournaments.
“I told this to a few people - I’ve taught over 200 touring pros, and the worst player at taking it from the driving range to the golf course that I ever coached was Tiger Woods. I’m gonna tell you what. He won 45 per cent of the time he teed it up when I helped him, and on the driving range you’d think there’s no way this guy could ever lose, but you are always going to have regression. I’m just saying he hardly ever missed a shot.”
Haney acknowledged that Woods often struggles off the opening tee in tournaments but puts that issue down to pressure: “It was usually in the opening rounds, because in the opening rounds you can lose the tournament but you can’t win it, so there’s more pressure on Tiger. It was just a phenomenon about him. He never hit a bad shot [on the driving range]. People would talk about his driving or whatever. OK, well, tell me the drives he’s ever hit that cost him a tournament? Never. There is none. He never hit one. But yet the first tee shot. Most guys can hit the first tee shot but they can’t hit the last one.”
Woods is back in the public eye this week as host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. It follows a similar role at the Hero World Challenge last year. On that occasion, the 46-year-old explained that while his days of touring full time are behind him, he hopes to return to competition at some point.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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