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Tiger Woods is in full swing




Hank Haney has given more than 40,000 golf lessons, worked with about 200 touring pros and built an instructional empire. His theories fill three books and six instructional DVDs.

But the key to coaching Tiger Woods, and why corporations hire Haney to speak, is salesmanship.

"I've got the hardest selling job in the world," the 52-year-old Haney said. "I've got to convince arguably the greatest player, one of the greatest athletes of all time, of what he needs to do to get better."

When the Haney-Woods merger went public in March 2004, many insiders predicted Woods' stock would plummet. But the world's No. 1 player has increased in value. Woods has 24 victories since Haney replaced Butch Harmon.

After going 10 majors without a victory — matching the longest drought of his career — Woods has won five major titles with Haney's help.

Woods, 32, will go for another at the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Woods has played five times this season and is making his first start since undergoing surgery on his left knee in April. Still, he leads the FedEx Cup standings with three victories, a second and a fifth. His lead over No. 2 Phil Mickelson in the Official World Golf Ranking equals the gap between Nos. 2 and 174.

Haney's status has also risen significantly. Woods' nine victories in his last 12 events provide validation for a mission that began amid widespread skepticism.

Haney is enjoying the benefits of his labor. The Westlake, Texas, resident recently embarked on a new endeavor, the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. The organization has 142 students from 23 countries. He has also been working with kids through clinics sponsored by the First Tee and FedEx.

"At this point in my career, I like to feel that in some small way I'm giving back to the game," he said. "You feel like you're having an impact not only on their golf, but also on their life."

Woods was coming off consecutive five-victory seasons and had just won the 2004 WGC Match Play when he sought Haney's help. Why he wanted to fix something that seemingly wasn't broken was a mystery.

Haney understood. That's why his phone rang. Woods wanted more ownership of his swing, a la Ben Hogan, and he felt Haney, well-versed in the legendary Hogan's philosophy, was best equipped to assist him.

"Ben was able to understand his swing probably more than most players ever could understand theirs and how to fix it," Woods said earlier this year. "That's the whole idea of understanding your game, so you can fix it on the fly. I'm satisfied with winning, but you can always improve."

Haney said he spent 34 days working with Woods, from the start of this season through the Masters.

"He doesn't just stand out there and say, 'OK, tell me what I need to do,' " Haney said. "It's a team deal. He's very open-minded, but I have to give Tiger very good explanations for everything. It's fun, but it's not the easiest job I've ever had."

"Everybody in the world wants to critique everything you're doing."

The opinion that matters is Woods'. Asked if he ever compares his swing now with his swing during his record stretch from 2000 through 2002, Woods nodded.

"I'm better," he said.

 

 

 

Read more at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com

 

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