Wild Tiger

After resigning as Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Hank Haney said that it was strictly his decision and told Golf.com that “Tiger won’t spin it any other way.”

Later, Woods wrote on his website that “Hank Haney and I have agreed that he will no longer be my coach.”

If not backspin, that’s at least some sidespin, no?

The story behind the Haney resignation story is that it was probably a case of, “You can’t fire me, I quit.” (Or “You can’t quit me, I’m fired,” as the old joke goes.)

There have been rumors and reports of Woods sending out feelers to other teachers, and not having a lot of communication with Haney, so this may well have been a case of seeing the writing on the wall and making the first move. Not being called on to come to the Players Championship to help Woods sort things out after the missed-cut debacle at Quail Hollow was one sign.

So, Haney decided to call it quits himself, though Woods couldn’t quite bring himself to phrase it exactly that way.

A few days earlier, Woods couldn’t bring himself to say that anything was bothering him physically, saying that he felt “absolutely 100 percent.” Two days after that, he withdrew from the Players Championship during the fourth round with a neck injury that he said had been bothering him for some time (which he later specified as since two weeks before the Masters).

Earlier this year, he revealed that he was bothered by an Achilles injury in 2009, something he had not mentioned previously.

Woods has been taken to task by some for a credibility gap on his physical condition, but I can understand where he’s coming from on injuries. Talking about playing with an injury sounds like you’re making excuses, so it’s not unusual for a golfer to keep an injury quiet. Anthony Kim played with a bad thumb for months before anyone found out about it.

I can’t defend him all the way, though. He didn’t have to emphatically state that he was 100 percent. That just looked silly (or worse) when the neck problem became bad enough to cause him to ride off the course in the middle of a round.

The neck woes probably explain Woods’ odd performance at the Players, where he struck the ball well enough most of the time—he hit 14 greens in regulation in both the first and second rounds—but hit a number of awful shots. Some of them were so bad that you don’t expect a pro to hit them, let alone the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Here’s a rundown of Woods’ “worst hits” from the Players.

First round
1st hole—tee shot into the native area to the left
7th hole—popped up 3-wood off the tee goes only 190 yards, leaving 242 yards to the hole on the par four
12th hole—tee shot into native area to the left
16th hole—second shot to the par five ends up 47 yards to the left of the hole
18th hole—tee shot into the water on the left

Second round
1st hole—tee shot into the native area to the right
11th hole—tee shot into the native area to the right
14th hole—drive travels only 233 yards and goes so far to the right that it ends up in a water hazard on an adjacent hole that isn’t supposed to be in play, leaving 257 yards to the hole on the par four

Third round
He hit only 10 greens in this round, though he didn’t hit as many terrible shots
18th hole—popped up 3-wood off the tee goes only 221 yards, leaving 234 yards to the hole on the par four

Fourth round
1st hole—drive misses fairway by 20-25 yards on the left
5th hole—drive into the water on the right
7th hole—drive into native area to the right (next-to-last shot of the day)

Due to the neck injury, we don’t know when we will see Woods again. Presumably, he won’t come back until he’s healthy. So, we might not see this kind of display again. But if he plays in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and uncorks these kind of shots, they will be even more costly than they were at TPC Sawgrass.

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