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Tiger Woods - The Big Miss

Hank Haney

Tiger Woods - The Big Miss The book starts with the author describing Tiger Woods practice session before the final round of the 2010 Masters. One where Tiger had just return from his "downfall" following revelations about his private life and it gives the reader an early insight in to the psyche and methodology of Tiger Woods. Haney describes how right there and then he could tell that Tiger was unhappy, not in his usual state of mind and likely wasn't going to do well that Sunday.

The book proper starts with the background of the author, including tackling his alcoholic issues and (surprisingly) his own inability to really fix his own golf game to the point where for many years he virtually gave up playing the game. Eventually curing himself of the "driver yips" by totally reconstructing his swing. His connection to eventually coaching Tiger Woods coming through his long time friend Mark O'Meara, who was Haney's first tour level client. By the time we get to the second chapter we get to the meat of the book where after the 2004 Dubai Desert Classic he gets the call from Tiger Woods that he'd be interested in working with him.

The author goes on to describe the experience of working with Tiger Woods, from his initial thought of "this is going to be the easiest job in the world" to the tough reality of dealing with one the most famous golfer, even sportsman, on the planet and the complexities of his character and the spotlight that he was under.

It's really interesting to delve in to the more inner workings of how someone as talented and successful as Tiger Woods go about their business. There are quite in depth parts about swing components, swing theory and how they would work on different aspects of Tiger game in a quite technical and nuanced way over the period of their relationship.

I was perhaps hoping for some real juicy insider information, but really that's not what the book is about, its not an expose, more an observation of a close observer, as much as anything one feels because Tiger Woods himself is so closed and guarded. One perhaps telling comment was how Haney is described as one of Tiger's closest friends, which came as something as a surprise to Haney himself.

"Beginnings" takes the reader through the lean 2003/4 period when the working relationship with Haney was still secret and Tiger's swing was slowly being changed before moving on to "Greatness" where Tiger's domination resumed again after Vijay Singh's incredible 2004 campaign and claiming the World #1 spot.

We're taken through the wins at The Masters in 2005, The Opens of 2005 & 2006, PGA's in 2006 & 2007 and then finally (to date) Tiger's last major title the US Open win on a stress fractured leg in 2008.

"Distraction" targets 2007 as the turning point of Tiger's career, despite the success of the season Haney highlights some signs of decline and increase in distractions. His coach believing that his obsession with the military being one of the main culprits and his increasing attention to his cell phone calls and texts (which became clearer in retrospect of course) which resulted in less focus, less practice and disagreements about fitness regimes having Haney question his work ethic.

"Highest Mountain" details the famous US Open win at Torrey Pines in 2008, the lead up to that and all the associated issues around his two knee surgeries. This gives some real insight in just what it took for Tiger Woods to get on the golf course, let alone win and you have to marvel at the sheer grit and determination of the man. This of course at the time was all kept very hushed up but does make that win all the more remarkable.

By the time we get to "Quitting" we reach what history may define as the point where Tiger's golf career split in two, pre-private life revelations and post with the train of events that followed the crashing of his car in November 2009. We get Hanks viewpoint on Tiger's return, something of an insiders view of the scandal (although little we didn't already know) and then finally the realisation at the Masters in 2010 when Haney first considered quitting acting as Tigers' coach, not being sure if he was about to be fired anyway and noticing the continuing decline in his attitude and work ethic. Tiger it seemed whilst never the most straightforward of characters appearing to Haney to be at the point where his input was being more or less disregarded by the 2010 Masters and he quit soon afterwards.

The final chapter "Adding it up" Haney does some analysis, to rebutt as much as anything that the Tiger Woods Mk circa 2000 was the best he would ever be and to answer critics of why Tiger would ever change anything (an issue touched on throughout the book) from the Butch Harmon methodology that had been so successful for him. Interestingly Tiger won 34% of PGA Tour tournaments he teed up in whilst being coached by Haney versus 27% for Harmon. Top 10 finishes also sides with Haney 73% vs 65%, its an impressive record.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it gives the reader an insight on just what it takes to be the best, to be world class and that seems to produce a number of character flaws that ultimately led to the break up of this working relationship. Well worth a read or listen.

Audiobook notes: I listened to the audiobook version of this book and this was read by the author Hank Haney in a rather flat low key manner, a style perhaps which drew Tiger to him in the first place. A somewhat different character altogether from Butch Harmon. The only real flaw with the audiobook which lasts just under nine hours is that in a few places it's been edited and lines inserted that are different in tone from the general book, slightly jarring but nothing to spoil the listen at all. Tiger Woods - The Big Miss by Hank Haney is available from Audible.

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