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It's Tough Being Tiger…Now

Show of hands, please: How many of you would trade places with Tiger Woods right now? Thought not.

Let’s review. The whole world knows about his sex life and that his wife’s about to become his ex and is gearing up to take the children and at least half his stuff. He used to be the best golfer on the planet and he can’t keep the ball on any course. And he has a neck injury that might be healed who knows when. Now, comes the news that he’s waving at his swing coach in the rearview mirror.

Suddenly, all those millions don’t buy so much, do they?

The world of Woods keeps on spinning right out of control and there’s no telling where or when it will stop. Hank Haney, who had worked with Woods on his swing for the past six years, announced that the professional relationship is over. His departure has been speculated for some time and while he insisted it was his decision, it is widely believed that Haney performed the duties of a good soldier and fell on his sword.

Although, to be realistic, something had to give. Six years and the fact that Tiger still can’t drive it in the fairway should tell them both that a change was long overdue. Haney couldn’t make Charles Barkley or Ray Romano better, either, so his track record isn’t the best right now, despite all the money he’s made from being such a high-profile teacher.

In fairness, it has been awfully hard to say whether Woods’ woes are attributable to his personal issues, physical ailments, swing flaws or some combination thereof. It’s tough to play golf with a hurricane in your head, a bulging disk in your neck and a low hook and a high slice. But if the doctor can’t figure out what’s ailing you, it’s time for a second opinion and, apparently, Woods is looking for a new practitioner.

Or not. It could be that he will take matters in his own hands and attempt to dig it out of the dirt himself. After all, Ben Hogan never had a swing teacher. But Hogan wasn’t featured prominently on TMZ and Us Weekly, either.

If all this sounds confusing, just try to put yourself in Tiger’s head while he tries to figure things out. What he does next, only he knows and he probably doesn’t know himself right now. But we wonder, just wonder, if Woods still has Butch Harmon on his speed dial. If Tiger wants to return to the form that made him the best player maybe ever, he will chew on some humble pie and make the call to Butchie.

Harmon, for whatever reason, could see what no one else could – even Tiger – and communicate those thoughts to Woods in such a way that he could digest them and put them to work. That’s the job of a golf instructor and Harmon isn’t thought of as the best for nothing.

But it’s not that simple. To some, a lot of bridges were burned when Tiger walked away from Harmon, and if a relationship is to be re-established, some amends are in order, probably on the part of both parties.

Then, there’s the Mickelson problem. As you know, Harmon is Phil Mickelson’s teacher and Phil would be thrilled if Woods wanders aimlessly in the desert while he and Butch climb over Tiger’s back to become No. 1 in the world. If Woods and Harmon are thinking about reuniting, it’s certain that Mickelson will have a say in the matter.

That puts a lot of heat on Mickelson to do the right thing. On the one hand, Phil could tell Tiger to hunt somewhere else for a teacher, that he should leave Mickelson’s good thing alone. And he would be well within his rights to do so.

On the other hand, Mickelson could be magnanimous and tell Woods to join the team, so that Phil could beat Tiger at his own game, knowing full well that it will take more than some swing keys to get Tiger better, which would make vaulting to No. 1 in the world all the sweeter.

On the third hand, Harmon could relish the chance to show the world that he really is the best teacher in the game. He was the guy who was on the scene when Woods played perhaps the most dominating golf of anyone since, well, nobody. Harmon was the brains of the operation and here’s the opportunity for him to ride off into the sunset of his career with the certain knowledge that no one did it better than Butch.

Still, Harmon, 66, might want no part of Tiger’s growing circus train. He’s not looking for any more notoriety – although the money wouldn’t be bad – and he has no interest in helicopters taking his picture alongside Woods on the practice range at Isleworth. He’s certainly not likely to go out with Tiger after dark.

Woods is already rumored to be talking to Canadian instructor Sean Foley, who teaches Sean O’Hair, Hunter Mahan and Justin Rose. Foley is, of course, in full denial mode. Regardless, the sweepstakes now officially begins for the behemoth task of putting a broken Tiger Woods back together again.

Does anyone in his right mind really want this job?


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