Tiger Woods’s ex-coach has two words of advice for his successor.
“Good luck,” Hank Haney said today in a telephone interview, a day after announcing that he is leaving the No. 1- ranked golfer after six years as his swing coach. “Anybody who has that opportunity will make the best of it. I did the best job I could.”
Woods, who has topped the official world golf rankings for the past 259 weeks, won six of his 14 major tournament titles under Haney’s tutelage. Of his 71 U.S. PGA Tour victories, 31 came with Haney as coach.
“The record speaks for itself,” said Haney, 54. “And I’m pretty proud of it. You can’t look back. I’m not looking back at all. I feel great. Why would I feel bad?”
Asked if working with Woods had become too restrictive and if the split has given him a feeling of freedom, Haney replied: “That’s not hard to figure out. I feel like anybody else would who’s in this position. It is a great day. I feel fantastic. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I have had.”
He said he was more upset by a phone call from his ex-wife telling him his dog had died than by his split from Woods.
Haney stood by a statement on his website that the split was his decision and that he wasn’t fired by Woods.
“Just so there is no confusion, I would like to make it clear that this is my decision,” he said in the statement. “Tiger Woods and I will always be friends, but I believe that there is a time and place for everything. I feel at this time and at this place in my life I want to move forward in other areas.”
Woods said on his website that Haney “has been a great help to me” and they remained friends.
“I would like to thank him for all he has done for me the past six years,” Woods said.
Haney said in the interview that he plans to focus on a teaching show on the Golf Channel television network and his work with the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. He is in the process of opening an academy in China.
“I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy,” he said.
Following the Quail Hollow Championship, where Woods missed the 36-hole cut for the first time since 2005 in a regular PGA Tour event, NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller criticized Woods’s swing. Miller said Woods should return to the principles he used under former coach Butch Harmon.
Woods won four straight majors with Harmon during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
“I think you can probably pick apart every golfer and they will have flaws in their golf swing,” Woods said during a news conference outside Philadelphia yesterday, when he talked of working with Haney. “I know I have my flaws and I’m trying to get those better.”
Woods, 34, pulled out of the Players Championship two days ago because of a neck injury that he said began bothering him about two weeks before last month’s Masters Tournament.
“I knew that it was bothering him, but I didn’t know the extent of it,” Haney said. “He’s a tough guy and doesn’t really make excuses. He won the U.S. Open on a broken leg, so I didn’t know the severity of it. Who knows?”
Woods said his neck problem is unrelated to the Nov. 27 accident outside his Florida home that sparked revelations of numerous extramarital affairs and led to the unraveling of his personal life. He became the subject of tabloid headlines and talk-show jokes, lost sponsors including Accenture Plc and AT&T Inc., and spent almost five months away from the sport.
Woods’s off-course troubles had nothing to do with the split, Haney said today.
“With what Tiger has been going through, I’ve just been supporting him as a friend and I always will,” Haney said. “Everybody has tough times and everybody makes mistakes.”
Woods said yesterday that his future playing schedule is undecided and that he’ll have a scan to determine the cause and extent of the neck injury when he returns home.
“When it spasms to the point where I can’t turn, you can’t make a golf swing,” Woods said. “That’s awfully frustrating for me, because I know what I can do, and I just can’t do it.”
Haney said in his statement that Woods will be successful again regardless of who his coach is.
“He is an incredible athlete with an incredible work ethic,” Haney said. “Tiger has been through a lot in the last six months, and I really believe that given the chance -- mind free and injury free -- we will all see Tiger Woods play once again like we all know he can.”