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Hank On Tiger: “For whatever reason, Tiger doesn't prepare for majors as hard as he could"

Robert Lusetich talks to Hank Haney about Tiger's game following the U.S. Open at Merion and while the former swing instructor still doesn't like the new swing, what I found more interesting was the concern about his preparation.

“Tiger doesn't have as good a chance of winning on courses that he doesn't know well,” he said. “He is a great greens rememberer, but if he hasn't played the course his greens reading won't be nearly as good.

“He struggled at TPC (Sawgrass) after they changed the greens and now he knows them, as an example. Watch next year at Doral with the new course; he will likely struggle.”

Haney said Woods needed to put in more time to learn the greens at Merion but didn’t.

“For whatever reason, Tiger doesn't prepare for majors as hard as he could,” he said. “He plays the course in a rushed way maybe once or twice before the tournament week, then in the tournament week Tiger has gotten into a routine of playing nine-hole practice rounds on some days.”

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Reader Comments (89)

Haney can't be right -- Bamberger said Tiger was one of history's greatest golfers because he played a practice round at Merion when it was raining.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Well, this will certainly get Hank deleted from Tiger's Christmas Card list.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Tiger's not all that interested in golf. He clearly loves to bench press. I'd be he doesn't half-ass his lifting the way he does his golf preparation. He just likes it more.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCOB
Hank its hard to putt with a sore elbow and a Nike Putter.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentervwgolfer
It seems that obvious follow-up questions would have been: When he was winning the 14 majors did he prepare differently or, Hank, are you saying that he should change how he prepares for the majors? Just saying....
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Well he just won a major at the Players. You can not call it a major all you want but it's the best field all year and on a tough course. I think Tiger likes 9 holes and some putting or balls each day is because he doesn't like to burn himself out leading into a grinding week. As soon as he wins one of the BIG 4 again(and he will) everyone will say playing 9 holes each day is the best way to prepare. Only 1 guy in history has more majors so i kinda trust Tiger when it comes to how to prepare for events.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmilyWinter
Spot on, COB. I'd be surprised if TW even likes golf anymore, much less loves it. HBL, Haney says in his book that he noticed in 2007 that Tiger stopped working as hard on his game.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
Haney sort of likes to have it both ways: he says in book that tiger stopped working as hard, and he also said in book that tiger played better in 2007 bc he finally followed Haney advice of not hitting balls after rds.

I don't know the best way to prepare for a major, but getting their on Sunday tiger played the course through twice, and was there everyday + the 18 holes prior to Memorial. Phil on the other hand played two days the week before, and then flew in on Thursday. Last year Rory barely played Kiawah, and then did ok for himself at the Pga champs. Point being I think we maybe overrate preparation.

Haney is right that Tiger is a great greens remember, it's a talent, but it can also hurt him. He has a harder time (I think) adjusting to change.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I predict this thread will hit 50 responses. I am posting mostly to make sure I am not off by one on the high side.


Since Tiger doesn't consider the Players a major, he likely doesn't put the same pressure on himself to win it, which makes his winning it an insufficient answer to the question of whether or not his head is in the right place to win majors. Also, the one guy in history who has more majors than Tiger prepared in a very different way than Tiger has of late, so perhaps there is a better way.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
I'll post to help RES get to 50. McGinness was all over this last night, basically saying Hank should just stop talking and that Tiger has won 14 majors, nuff said. Didn't Tiger play 7am "speed golf" practice rounds back when he was winning all those majors? Maybe he didn't play "a lot" at Merion this year prior to the Championship because his arm was hurting. Who knows? Seems like they all prepare in different ways. I recall Phil going to Garden City Golf the day before one of the Bethpage Opens.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
Ok, I'll help you get to 50, too. Tiger had his worst performance in ages at memorial. He blew it off as "a bad week" but maybe alarm bells should've sounded? Clearly, it was the same kind of performance he turned in at Merion. Decent off the tee, poor with irons, crappy short game and worst putting of his career (except for Pinehurst as Lusetich points out)
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
Also helping to go to 50.

Perhaps worth looking at the contrast between Tiger's amazing record at favored venues and his major record at unfamiliar venues. I don't remember precisely, but he has won Bay Hill a rediculous amount of times, Memorial too, and Pebble Beach is a favorite. He seems to have racked up a lot of the pedestrian wins on tracks that he "likes."
Compare that with the British Rota and the various US Open venues, maybe the majors ARE more difficult, b/c he doesn't know the greens as well.
Maybe there is something to Hank's analysis.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterForeright!
The burden of expectations combined with dwindling time is enough to sap enthusiasm.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAziz
EmilyWinter "Well he just won a major at the Players. You can not call it a major all you want."

Wow even Fred Funk posts here.
Helping to 50...
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnoozing Marshall
Just about everything Haney has said about Tiger to date has been truthful, and pretty much on target, I don't know why this would not be accurate as well. Tiger's GIR stats just btw:

2002 - 70.96%, Rank 1st
2003- 68.63% -26th
2004 - 66.90% - 48th - Hired Hank this year
2005 - 69.89% - 6th
2006 - 74.15% - 1st
2007 - 71.02% - 1st
2008 - 71.39% - 1st
2009 - 68.46% - 16th
2010 - 64.07% - 167 (Haney quit in May, Tiger did not play until April)
2011 - 67.74% - 37th
2012 - 67.58% - 32nd
2013 - 67.19% - 39th (to date)
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Tiger singing the praises of his compression and distance under Foley while referring to his before-swing as 'wipey'. Haney won't be letting that go any time soon.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnoozing Marshall
When are people going to take a serious look at the elephant in the room: Tiger's major drought coincides neatly with the tour drug policy enactment.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
Helping it race to 50

Haney' analysis of his ball striking issues are spot on (and his scrambling is an issue too). His comments about Tiger putting well in his wins is however off: Tiger putted well at Doral and Bay Hill, not Torrey or the Players.

Also while Tiger has won a ridiculous amount at Torrey and Bay Hill (where his results are schizophrenic), his winning percentage at Doral, Memorial and Augusta is only slightly above his career winning % on tour.

Note, I would also be more impressed if Haney had said this ahead of time, rather than picking Tiger to win.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
It's not just Tiger. These guys used to roll into town on Sunday night or Monday and start the preparation but only the "scrubs" seem to be doing that anymore. Nine hole practice rounds are definitely the "in" thing. I believe it's related to the overwhelming amounts of money being won on tour. Who wants to be bothered with practicing. Especially out on the golf course where human contact is possible with fans.

Hank continues to make other teachers look so much classier. I don't remember the last time I heard Leadbetter or Rick Smith or one of the other top instructors blast a former student.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
@Foreright, In addition to his record at places like Doral, Memorial, Firestone, Bay Hill, Torrey, etc. there are also a few majors Tiger won as "familiar" courses. He's won two PGAs at Medinah and two Open Championships at St. Andrews, plus the '08 US Open at Torrey, a regular Tour stop. My view is that from '97 until '02, he was so good, he could have won al la John Daly at Crooked Stick, no practice at all. My sense is he just broke down. Don't know about PED's etc. But from a pure golf perspective, he was a marvel from when he first turned pro through '02.

In late '90's brought a friend of mine down to Westchester to see Tiger. Friend was a Tiger hater then and now. 5th Hole was a big down hill Par 5. All the guys were laying up. Tiger hit into the right rough. Took out an iron; my friend said, "See, he's laying up". I said I didn't think so. Woods took a big swing, and my buddy said, "See, he popped it up". I said I didn't think so. That thing went so high and came down softly on the green. Group ahead going to next tee had stopped to watch and they all just shook their heads. I believe they then realized what they were going to have to face for the next 25 or so years. I don't love him and I don't hate him, but he was some player as a kid.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
The "tour drug policy" argument is stale given that Tiger has won 7 times in the last year. One might be able to make that argument if he were still winless, but lets not pretend that Tiger needs performance enhancing drugs to win majors but not other premier events like the Memorial, Bay Hill and TPC. That dog don't hunt.

He was hurt at the Memorial and at Merion. That's why he played poorly. Oftentimes the simplest answer is the right one.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
Haney still upset about that fudge popsickle
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPGT
First off, it is Fudgsicle, not fudge popsickle (and not Fudgicle which went out of business eons ago)

Second, what Tiger was hogging in the freezer were Sugar Free Popsicles.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJatinder
The last three comments are why I love this site. Kudos Chris, PGT, and Jatinder. (Come on 50)
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexicographer
Tiger will not win another major until he learns how to hit the "Pelz 8".
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
After recent events, I don't think Pelz calls it the "Pelz 8" anymore.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
What hole is Tiger on?
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Weed Keeper
Tiger has the beginnings of the YIPS. In the past 15 years have we seen even one fat yippy pitch or chip? I think not. Just these past few majors that he wants so much we've seen numerous pressure induced yiped chips and it's getting into his putting stroke as well. This will get worse as time goes by and he has more pressure on him at majors.

I also believe his body is too beat up to practice hard any longer.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeoffreyC
"great greens rememberer" that a word?
Pro, I think it is like "The Horse Whispererererer".
20 more to RES's 50.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie

It is three words.

Onward to 50!
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
Thanks RES and Mashie. Are we there yet?
Somebody mention aliens or Bigfoot..........please!
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKG
Pro, wife up north for the weekend. We're up over 30. Gonna be a long night. Back to the topic. Don't know how much Tiger prepared for '02 Open at Bethpage. But I was on the 4th tee, 1st or 2nd Rd., when he flew the FW bunker. My yardage book at the time had the carry at 305. Google Earth confirms. No one challenged that bunker, Daley, Els, no one. You just could not carry the ball that far back then. They all flared it out right. Tiger carried and hit a mid-iron in. He had a 43" steel shafted driver as I recall. The other guys had switched to graphite.

It wasn't a fair fight He was a wonder back then. Something to behold. My dad took me to the Stadium in the mid-50's to see Mickey. Same feeling. I know he's won four times this year. But, it's not the same.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
Haney's talkin' practice.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterA.I.
The MICK! Played a round of golf w/ The Mick and Max Baer, Jr. back in the mid '70's. I was a few years out of school and just starting out in the golf industry. They were in town for a big pro-celebrity event. WOW! Growing up a Yankee fan, even though I grew up in the Deep South, it was the thrill of my life! He hit it a mile! Max Baer was a riot and you can't image the crowd of ladies they both drew. Jethro, the Bodine!

Back to TW. When he came out on Tour, I remember him playing at the old Tournament of Champions at La Costa. I think it was #17, the long par 5 along the lake, everyone played that hole cautiously and everybody laid up on their second shot. Remember falling out of my chair when the young Mr. Woods flew it on the green! Steel shaft and all. Don't remember exactly how long that hole was, but nobody, nobody, in the field even thought about doing that. He was so much longer than the rest of the field it wasn't a fair fight.

As I use to ask my father on long car trips, "Are we there yet?"
Getting a Tiger thread to 50 responses is child's play. Haney needs to find the mute button his clicker.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
I don't think Tiger really fears any of these guys out on Tour. There's only one guy who's in Tiger's head, and he makes bear tracks.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMFCAMV8
Terry, I agree, it should have been easy. I would have thought this thread would have busted 50 long ago. But we are just puttering along. Tiger fatigue perhaps? That can't be the case here at Shackland.

I remember hearing that Tiger prepared for the 1997 Masters by spending hours in the Golf Channel video archives watching footage of old Masters Tournaments. I know he used to go over early for the Open with O'Meara to fish and play links golf. So, he used to prepare somewhat differently. And he also used to win majors. I know that people say that he is distracted with kids and stuff, but don't most people who have jobs also have kids? Is that an okay excuse for half-assing it? Because I usually have to come up with a better one than that.

In contrast, if I recall correctly, Mickelson -- with three kids at home -- overhauled his approach to majors with the help of Rick Smith and Pelz prior to the 2004 season, that is, became more focused and diligent in his preparation. Since the beginning of 2004, Phil has 4 wins and 11 top 3's in majors -- awfully close to Tiger's 6 and 13. Of course, Phil can over-prepare, as he did in injuring his wrist prior to Oakmont and in working on 11 different ways to hit a 115 yard wedge into 13 at Merion.

Either way, they both are preparing better than Luke Donald.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
It's a sad state of affairs that when I introduce the legendary golfer Mickey Mantle to the thread, it only generates one post: This may add some spice. Early 1996, sitting at supper with a bunch of top flight amateurs. I think it was at the Travis. Conversation shifted to how good Tiger was. He was still an Am. Consensus, he was, even as an amateur, the best player in the world!! Only guys who didn't see it were most of the tour guys. '97 Masters proved the Garden City supper group correct.
06.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie

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