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HANKHANEY golf coach I N T E RV I E W E D BY

SCOTT T. MILLER

11.9.12

In March, Hank Haney released The Big Miss, an autobiography recounting his years as Tiger Woods’ coach. Under Haney, Woods won 31 PGA Tour events from 2004 to 2010—34% of his official starts—including six majors.

MILLER: Did you hear from Tiger after the book came out? HANEY: No, the last time I talked to Tiger was the day after I resigned. He said: “Hank, the most important thing is that we’ve been great friends. And we just need to make sure we stay like that.” I never heard from him again. At times in the book it seems you’re one of Tiger’s only friends. Is it lonely being Tiger?

Well, it’s not easy being Tiger. He’s different. Still, I always thought everything that made him different contributed to him being great—that if you changed one thing, it might be like a Rubik’s cube and you might change the whole thing. To some extent, that’s what you’ve seen since the scandal. Things have changed, and he’s clearly not the golfer he was. [Pauses.] And I know that quote right there is going to be an exclamation point, in a box in the middle of the page. But I’ll just have to live with that. I’m not taking a shot at him. It’s just the way it is. Everybody can see it.

What made him different? Just a single-minded focus. As I wrote, it bothered me when he’d breeze by little kids who wanted his autograph. But Tiger

MISSY FRANKLIN

was after something more than being adored. He wanted to be the best golfer he could possibly be. And what does standing around signing autographs have to do with that goal? It doesn’t.

Tiger appears in the book as more fragile or emotionally complex than many knew. Did you ever feel like you figured him out? When I started, [Tiger’s first coach] Butch Harmon told me: “Hank, it’s harder than it looks. It’s a tough team to be on.” When [current coach] Sean Foley started and was so brash and said everything Tiger was doing was wrong, I thought, It’s harder than it looks. And he’s going to find out. It’s not like coaching anyone you’ve ever coached before.

O ly m p i c g o l d m e d a l i s t

INTERVIEWED BY

wayne drehs

11.13.12

taking an Olympic gold medal through security. And it’s my Olympic gold medal.

DREHS: You arrived in London a 17-year-old full of promise and left a five-time Olympic medalist. Does it seem crazy when you think back now? FRANKLIN: It seems insane, like I made the whole thing up. When I pull my medals out at the airport, I sort of sit back and realize, I’m

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Where do you keep them? My trainer wanted to see them. So I was like, “Dad, where are my medals?” He told me he had put them in a safe-deposit box. I’m like, “Were you going to discuss this with me? They’re my medals. You need to tell me what you’re doing with them.” He just smiled. Of course he was right. You get mail by the boxload now. Anybody ask you on a date? One boy sent me flowers and left his number. I called him and said,

“Thank you, this is very sweet, but my schedule is quite busy right now.”

Wait. You called him? He went through all of that trouble to send me flowers … of course I’m going to call him and thank him! Justin Bieber sent you a care package. Despite having Bieber Fever, you sent it back. Why? It was really sweet of him. But it was considered a form of special treatment that could have jeopardized my amateur status. I’ve given up way too much and sacrificed too much to keep a Justin Bieber T-shirt and lose it all. You decided to swim collegiately at Cal, turning down potentially millions in endorsement money. Why? College swimming can help me mature as an athlete. Oh my gosh, I have so much to learn as a swimmer and a person. My underwaters aren’t anywhere near where I want them to be. I’m a pretty strong puller, but my kicking is weak. I can’t wait to go to Cal next fall, but that means I’ll be leaving home. And every time we talk about that my parents and I start crying.

from top: RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES; MICHAEL SOHN/AP IMAGES

Hank Haney Interview  

In ESPN The Magazine's Interview Issue, I spoke with Tiger Woods' former golf coach Hank Haney.

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