SWING coach Hank Haney has knocked holes in the firewall that Tiger Woods built around himself.
Haney's book 'The Big Miss', which comes out next Tuesday, throws light into hitherto unexplored corners of Tiger's life and character, probing the golfer's relationship with his ex-wife and other players.
Reading extracts published both in the 'New York Times' and the 'New York Post' over the weekend, one understands the reluctance of Woods to answer questions about Haney's book. Especially with the season's first Major, the US Masters, looming in just over a fortnight's time.
As his coach of six years, Haney was a member of Tiger's inner-sanctum and the excerpts from his book paint Woods as a focused, aloof and controlling individual who enjoyed toilet humour and playing childish pranks.
Haney describes how Woods discouraged his then wife, Elin Nordegren, from engaging in overt celebration of his victories. For example, three months after their October 2004 wedding, Elin suggested throwing a party to celebrate Tiger's win in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, like they used to when she was nanny for Jesper Parnevik.
Haney writes that Woods shot down the idea, saying: "That's not what we do. I'm not Jesper. We're supposed to win." According to the coach, Elin's smile "got smaller" as the marriage continued. "In the future, she would keep her emotions under wraps whenever Tiger won."
Though the book is primarily about golf, Haney does not shy away from the scandals that eventually would rip Tiger's marriage asunder.
Charting the relationship between Woods and Nordegren, he explains: "Tiger really liked her competitive streak and seemed to enjoy treating her like one of the guys, needling her and even telling raunchy jokes around her.
"But as life became more complicated, I thought Elin changed. By the time she and Tiger married, she remained friendly but had become more guarded, even in her own home."
Haney knew nothing of Woods' extra-marital encounters until they became public in the wake of his car crash outside his home in November 2009.
Yet he recalls Tiger's phone going off more and more in 2007 and, instead of turning it off or ignoring it as he had before, Woods answered it or checked his texts. Two years later, the world discovered the calls and texts were coming from women.
Haney describes how Tiger, a fast eater, would invariably get up and leave the restaurant once he'd finished his own meal, even if Elin was present.
"When he was done, you were done," the coach recounts, adding that whenever Woods ordered a take-out, he invariably had to pay for it. "He seemed to think it was funny to be cheap."
One prank Tiger played was on Zach Johnson when they roomed together at The K Club during a reconnaissance visit by Tom Lehman a couple of months before the 2006 Ryder Cup.
Tiger "immediately purchased the adult-movie 24-hour package and turned the TV on," Haney writes. But Johnson, a devout Christian, ignored the porn. "It was so funny watching him acting like everything was normal," Woods said.
Haney recalls cringing when Woods ignored "little kid autograph seekers who were begging him to stop," while his account of the knee ligament and Achilles tendon injuries which caused Tiger so much trouble in recent years differs entirely from the official version.
Explaining how Woods became obsessed with military training in 2007, the year after his father's death, Haney reveals Woods attended three-day sessions with Navy SEALS, which involved parachuting, hand-to-hand combat and firearms training. He says it was during one of these that Tiger tore his left ACL and not running at home. Haney also claims that Tiger hurt his Achilles tendon while doing Olympic-style weight lifting after he "became inordinately interested in muscle-building".