PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Tiger Woods had a terse exchange with a reporter Wednesday over excerpts from his former swing coach’s new book, and ended the conversation with a long stare and a sarcastic, “Have a good day.”
If that wasn’t enough, he fielded 10 questions about his putting.
And so began a bumpy road to the Masters Tournament for Woods, who has gone more than two years without winning on the PGA Tour, and is approaching the four-year anniversary of his last major title.
Woods is playing the Honda Classic for the first time since 1993, when he was a 17-year-old.
Hank Haney’s book, The Big Miss, is scheduled for release March 27, the week before the Masters. The book is about Haney’s six years as Woods’ swing coach, and Golf Digest on Tuesday began to release excerpts through its tablet applications. In the excerpt, Haney details Woods’ fascination with the military, particularly the Navy SEALs.
“I was beginning to realize that his sentiment ran deep, and that as incredible as it seemed, Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL,” Haney wrote, referring to the summer of 2007. “I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about, it was clear that he had a plan. After finding out that the Navy SEAL age limit is 28, I asked Tiger about his being too old to join. ‘It’s not a problem,’ he said. ‘They’re making a special age exemption for me.’ ”
When asked his reaction to the excerpt, Woods replied, “Well, I’ve already talked about it.”
His agent, Mark Steinberg, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Haney engaged in “armchair psychology” that was “ridiculous.”
Woods’ father, Earl, was part of the U.S. Army’s special forces.
The news conference at PGA National turned awkward when Alex Miceli, a Golfweek senior writer, asked Woods whether he considered being a Navy SEAL at the height of his career.
“I’ve already talked about everything in the book. I’ve already commented on everything, Alex,” Woods said.
“Then I must have missed you answering that question,” Miceli replied.
“Well, I’ve already commented on the book. Is that in the book? Is it in the book?” Woods said.
Miceli replied he had not seen the book.
“You’re a beauty, you know that?” Woods said, trying to smile.
Miceli said Steinberg’s statement suggested something was wrong with the excerpt and he wanted to know if it was true. Woods paused for a moment, said with indifference, “I don’t know,” then stared at him and said, “Have a good day.”
The Haney book figures to be the latest distraction for Woods.
His new swing – the fourth overhaul he has made since turning pro in 1996 – is coming together nicely.
But the putter, the one club in his bag no one could ever question, has become a talking point.
“I had to go back to putting in the reps, and I did,” he said. “I spent almost four hours the other day putting, which was good – two different sessions … with a meal in between,” he said. “I just worked on just going back to my old basics with my dad, and some of the things that he taught me. When I looked at the tape, I got away from some of those things.”