Blog Number 6 - 5/7/10

Mothers Day Specials and Comments From the Players Championship
Shuksan and Sudden Valley are offering Mothers Day specials this Sunday. At Shuksan, four people can play for the price of three - $139 golf and cart. At Sudden Valley all moms play free. Call the pro shops to reserve your tee-time. Read on for comment from the Players Championship.

It was another exciting day at the Players. Ryan Moore was at the top of the leaderboard after a spectacular outward half of 30 which included four birdies and an eagle. But he slipped into a tie for 10th with double-bogeys at the 5th and 8th and a spectacularly distressing homeward run of 40. Alex Prugh made a poor start to the round making seven pars and a double-bogey in his first eight holes. Three birdies in a row from the 9th put him back on track but another double-bogey, at the 18th, dropped him back into a tie for 58th. Leading, on 12-under-par, is Englishman Lee Westwood which I'm not unhappy about.

Also of interest at the Players this week has been the rumor (which actually sprung up at Quail Hollow last week) that Tiger Woods is about to split with Hank Haney, his coach of five years, and replace him with Canada's Sean Foley who works with Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames, Sean O'Hair and Justin Rose among others. Two of my favorite bloggers Ryan Ballengee and Stephanie Wei have been following the story closely and, while neither states the split is imminent, there's probably too much smoke for there not to be a small fire at least.

But I don't get it. TW has played two and a half tournaments since his return from exile. He finished tied for fourth at the first, a major championship no less, and admittedly played horribly at the second (I resisted the temptation to say 'like a 36-handicapper' because it obviously wasn't that bad), but that's not reason enough to ditch your coach surely. It's inconceivable Woods would want to let Haney go because of his performance in Charlotte.

So this has clearly been building for a while. But where did it start? 2000 was his most successful year, but the best I ever saw Woods swing was at the Open Championship at Hoylake in 2006. There was no hint of the notorious dip in his downswing, the upper and lower halves of his body worked in perfect harmony and his rhythm was fantastic. I played college golf for Liverpool University at Hoylake so know how difficult that course can be but how easy he made it look.

But I digress. The rest of his record under Haney's tutelage has been pretty good too - 31 PGA Tour victories including six majors (one in considerable pain), four victories overseas and four 'other' wins. The swing Haney taught Woods; flatter, more on plane and with less lateral shift, clearly worked then. Perhaps Woods feels Haney has been taking advantage of the relationship as his former coach Butch Harmon did, appearing in the media ad nauseum. But until the 'Haney Project' aired on Golf Channel, it's likely a lot of golf fans didn't even know what he looked like, and it's safe to assume Haney didn't go ahead with plans for the TV series before signing a waiver form or at least getting a thumbs up from Tiger.

So maybe the relationship has simply run its course, just as Nick Faldo and David Leadbetter's did, or Ernie Els and Leadbetter's, or Phil Mickelson and Rick Smith's. Or could it be this is all just baseless media speculation and that when Woods says he is still working with Haney, and that when Haney says he has received his paycheck from Woods for the next quarter ('You don't pay someone for the next quarter then fire them the next day do you?'), and that when Sean Foley says he has not spoken with Woods about coaching 'in any form whatsoever', they do actually mean it?

And what happens if Woods shoots 64-65 this weekend to win his second Players Championship by two from Westwood and Mickelson?



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