British Open: Will Tiger’s MC end Hank Haney’s paycheck?

July 17, 2009 | Drew Forrester

With Tiger’s missed cut at the British Open, that marks three majors in ’09 and no “Woods” name on any of the trophies.

There will be almost immediate speculation that Woods might be considering parting company with his swing teacher, Hank Haney.

Tiger will deny it, of course.  He’s not a fan of media/public drama.

And, in fairness to Haney, a few of Woods’ bad shots on Thursday or Friday were more about the wind and weather than they were bad swings.  

It wasn’t like he played horribly at Turnberry — he’ll wind up missing the cut by one shot, hardly an embarrassment.

But missing the cut to Tiger IS an embarrassment because he’s better than everyone else.

And I have a weird feeling Haney might pay the price for that.  It won’t be ugly.  Woods will write him a nice going away check, I suppose.  Unlike Butch Harmon, who parted ways with Tiger with blood on his hands after yapping to Golf Digest about his relationship with Woods, Haney will be fired in a friendly manner. 

There aren’t a lot of people in Tiger’s camp that he can fire.  His wife is on solid ground.  Steve Williams isn’t going anywhere. That leaves Hank Haney.  And in ’09, despite winning three times, Tiger has made some sloppy swings in critical moments. He fired and fell back at The Masters, never really got it going at The Players Championship and battled his swing at the U.S. Open last month.  

Hank, I’m afraid, is going to pay the price for that sometime in the next month.

Woods has always been fascinated with changing his swing and coming back to beat people.  It sounds strange to say, but Tiger gets bored with winning.  So, ever so often, he fires a coach, changes his swing and comes back to beat everyone again.

The only problem…there really aren’t any swing coaches left for Tiger to consult.  The “big three” — Leadbetter, Harmon and Haney — are not available.  Well, Leadbetter is, but Tiger would NEVER seek him out.  He’d never go back to Harmon.  And that leaves?  No one, perhaps.  

It will be interesting. 

Maybe he’ll play left handed at the PGA Championship next month at Hazeltine and win that tournament by five shots.

He’s done everything else, why not?



1:20 pm —

That’s the end of Tiger’s trip to Scotland.  

Woods just made double bogey at #13 to go to +7 for the tournament — and that’s three shots above the cut line currently projected at 4-over par.

I know, it’s never smart to count Woods out.  I did it last June at Torrey Pines when he limped around during the U.S. Open.  I proclaimed him “beaten” about five times that weekend and, of course, he came back to win over Rocco Mediate.

There’s not going to be a miracle this time.

Turnberry, the weather, and Tiger’s bad golf swing have conspired to send him home early.

He has an hour of golf left to play, but it’s over for Woods.  Tell Elin, Sam and little Charlie he’ll be home for Saturday morning breakfast at the club in Isleworth. 

It’s not, however, over for Tom Watson.  The 5-time Claret Jug winner has been splendid again today, striping the ball around Turnberry and finishing his round at 70 and -5 for the tournament through two rounds, deadlocked with first time British Open participant Steve Marino.  And if the weather calms down for the weekend, watch out for Watson.  



12:20 pm —

Now THIS is a British Open.  The only thing missing is Jim McKay.  

The bad weather arrived today at Turnberry and the scores are reflecting the difficulty of an already-tough layout that has been beefed up with wind, rain and tall rough.  

Tiger Woods is always the story in golf and that won’t be any different this afternoon.

He’s looking like a decent bet to miss the cut at this year’s “Open Championship”, as Woods just slipped to +4 with eight holes to go.  Right now, it’s likely that +3 is going be the number, which means Woods has to play the final eight holes in one-under par. Typically, he could do that blindfolded.  Today, though, isn’t typical.  And with only one par-5 left to play, Tiger will have to play some outstanding golf down the stretch in order to be around for the weekend.

That said, if Woods DOES make the cut, he’ll still be within striking distance of leader Steve Marino (-5). 

Tom Watson has steadied himself after a disastrous start and is firmly in contention as he finishes up his round.  If the weather lightens over the weekend, Watson just might stay in the thick of this thing.

Don’t look now, but Sergio Garcia is now even-par as he tries to climb back up the leaderboard.  Garcia – along with Lee Westwood, perhaps – remains the “best player to have never won a major” but this just might be his week if he finishes off the job this afternoon and sneaks in under the cut.  

Yesterday wasn’t the British Open.  It looked more like a club championship in Marina Del Rey, CA.

This, today, is the British Open.  Wind, rain, rough, bad shots, high scores, lost balls…we’ve had it all.

It’s fun to watch.