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July 14, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Mr. Hank Haney in the media room. We appreciate all your help over the last few years, especially with Messrs. Barkley and Romano. Now you're here to join in the fun. You're on the golf course playing in the Celebrity Am.
HANK HANEY: I've heard about this over the years all, my friends playing in it. I've always been busy this week. Since I don't have any of those students anymore, so now I'm going to work on my friends a little bit and just have some fun up here.
It's just a beautiful place. It's incredible. And this tournament has such a great reputation, so it's fun to be a little part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I was going to ask you, but you already answered it. If it wasn't for a certain situation, you'd be on the other side of the pond this week, would you not?
HANK HANEY: Exactly. I would be. I was over there at JP McManus's charity tournament. And that's something that I enjoyed. Obviously it's fun over there. I love links golf. So I'm anxious to see how the British Open turns out this week. But normally I would be there. I'm not sure how many years it's been.
But I've been to a lot of them. I mean, I started coaching Mark O'Mara about 30 years ago. So I've been going to major championships for a long time. But I would say that I'm thrilled to be here. Having done that for 30 years, it's nice to have a little change of scenery.
Q. For once in this week it's about you. So withdrawal versus delight of being here; and, of course, Lake Tahoe?
HANK HANEY: Absolutely. I mean, this is, like I said, such an incredible place. And it's such a fun atmosphere, too. It's a little different. I'm used to going to golf tournaments and there's a little more pressure there.
You know, the only pressure here is will Charles not hitch on one swing. (Laughter).
Q. Hank, if Charles is on one end of the range and Ray is on the other end of the range, both in obvious need before they tee off, how are you going to allocate your time this week?
HANK HANEY: There's no one in more need than Charles. (Laughter). So he's going to get the majority of it.
But I'm really proud of Ray. He's done a great job and kept me updated on how he's doing. And he's playing better and shot 82 the other day with an 8 -- imagine 8 and two 3-putts. So he's getting closer. And in our last show he had actually a 20-foot putt to shoot 79. But he missed it. He's doing better. But I'm anxious to see how he's doing without me for all these weeks here and see if he's regressed or see if he's gotten a little bit better.
I think I'm going to see Charles this afternoon. He's supposed to be coming in, and we're going to get out there and see how bad it is. (Laughter). That wasn't too confident of a statement, was it?
Q. With regard to Ray, you said, I think, first show with him that you were going to go out on a limb and say he could break 80.
HANK HANEY: I didn't say when. I just said he would. Now, his friends said, yeah, you'll break 80 when you turn 81, that's when you'll break 80.
But he'll get it done. He will. I kind of misjudged where our starting point was. I was told that he was a 12 handicap. And I kind of think he was a little more than that, you know, when we started. But he's doing a lot better now. And he's shown some flashes of really good golf.
So he's getting close. He shot -- a couple of his last rounds were 80 and 82. And when you've done that, you're getting close. You're knocking on the door. At least he's knocking on the door again.
That idea that, you know, he almost broke 80 one time was one time about four years ago. It wasn't something that he did every week. He had a little farther to go than I anticipated, but he's doing better.
Q. Was it a sudden decision to resign as Tiger's swing coach; and, if so, what was the final straw and what are you up to now?
HANK HANEY: It wasn't a sudden decision, no. It was something that I had been thinking about for quite a while. I mean, teaching, coaching, doesn't matter who the player or what the sport or what the team is, there's a life span. Nothing lasts forever.
I had six great years with Tiger. It was an incredible experience. And I'm so thankful of the opportunity that I had. But I knew when I started that, that that wasn't going to be a forever thing. And I'm just thankful of the time I had. There was not one thing that -- there was no straw that, like you said, that broke the camel's back. It was none of that.
I just knew that it was time for me to move on. I probably told Tiger everything I was going to tell him. I felt like he'd improved a lot. His record, I think, in the last three years he won 45 percent of his tournaments. He had 85 percent top 10 finishes. That's pretty good. And you look back, I don't know how that would stand in history, but it's pretty darned good, certainly in this era. There isn't anybody that's come close to that.
There wasn't any one thing; it was just a whole combination of things. I just knew it was time for me to move on.
Q. Was there any one point, though? At one point did you make a decision: This is it?
HANK HANEY: No, not really. I mean, just when I made the decision. I had been thinking about it for quite some time. And there was some interruptions. Obviously Tiger had an interruption when he had his knee surgery. He had another interruption when he had the trouble this last year. So there were some pauses in kind of the proceedings where we didn't work together a lot.
And that probably made more time pass on the clock, if you will. Maybe it would have happened earlier. But who knows. Maybe it would have happened later. It wasn't any one thing. I just knew it was time for me to move on to different things.
And I've done a lot of things I'm doing in my life with my TV show on Golf Channel. "The Haney Project." I have my Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head. I'm opening up a new academy in China on the island of Hainan with Mission Hills. And I've just got a lot to do. And I've enjoyed working with touring pros. I've been doing it for 32 years. But 32 years of coaching is a long time.
Q. Talk about the British Open. Why don't you put your handicapping on the field, and then where would you figure that Tiger would be going into this week?
HANK HANEY: Where did I think he would be going this week?
Q. Where would he be handicapped in terms of the field, is he ready to win this?
HANK HANEY: I think he's going to win the British Open this week. That would be my pick. But if you're asking me to pick a winner at a golf tournament, it's always very difficult. You have to putt good.
There's a certain amount of luck in putting. You're not putting on a pool table. Things can happen. You can hit a great putt and it doesn't necessarily go in. But if I'm asked to pick a winner, I pick the best player. And Tiger is the best player. He's on his favorite golf course, and he's had a great history there.
When you look at players having history on certain golf courses, it usually bodes well for them in the future. And I really believe that this will be a great week for Tiger. The conditions are supposed to be tough. He can handle the conditions. Mentally he can handle them, and he has all the shots. He has all the golf shots. So I really feel like he's going to get his game going this week, and I think he's going to win that tournament.
Q. I heard that Hank Haney has some game. Tell us about your game.
HANK HANEY: My game? (Laughter) My game is always a work in progress. I enjoy playing. I play a lot. It was one of the perks of playing with Tiger, I probably played with him 30 or 40 times a year. So I always tell people I think I learned more from Tiger than he ever learned from me.
And I enjoyed playing, though, and I love the game. There's no doubt about that.
Q. Did his performance at Pebble meet what your expectations were before the U.S. Open?
HANK HANEY: Well, I thought -- you know, he finished -- when I analyze how he does and how he's done in the past, it's much different than what a lot of other people's analysis is.
A big part of winning golf tournaments is you must putt well. And Tiger struggles sometimes like all golfers do with being consistent with their putting. Now, Tiger is more consistent than most. He's a phenomenal putter.
He's, I think, the greatest pressure putter the game has ever seen. But you still have to make putts. This year at Augusta he finished fourth. He had five 3-putts. If you have any 3-putts, it makes it more difficult to win.
Steve Williams keeps statistics of Tiger, and for all the tournaments he's caddied for him, if he doesn't 3-putt, he wins 85 percent of the tournaments he plays in. This year he has five 3-putts at Augusta, loses by two or three, whatever it is.
And everybody wants to talk about his bad drives. But a bad drive doesn't cost you a shot. A 3-putt always costs you a shot. You could hit a bad drive and still make a birdie. You can hit a bad drive, make a par. But if you have a 3-putt, it costs you a shot every time.
This year at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he had four 3-putts. Those greens average 3200 square feet. They're very small greens. Four 3-putts is a lot of 3-putts at that tournament. Once again to lose by just a few.
So I think to my way of thinking really that's what the difference was in those tournaments, short game and putting. And I think at the U.S. Open he hit the ball good enough to win. Steve Williams felt like he hit the ball good enough to win, in my conversation with him after the tournament.
And I think that St. Andrews is a great course for him. A long hitter reduces the par on that golf course. There's par 4s you can drive. There's par 5s you can get to in two. And it's a venue that really favors a long hitter and certainly somebody that's great at links golf. So I think this would be a good week for him.
I thought the U.S. Open, fourth and fourth, you know, is not what you call real bad. Tiger wants to be in position. He was in position in both of those tournaments. More so at the U.S. Open than at the Masters, probably, because he was 4 behind the second best player in the world.
But I didn't think he did too bad at those tournaments, especially considering everything he's had to deal with this year.
Q. How much do you talk to Stevie and do you talk to Tiger at all?
HANK HANEY: I saw Tiger last week in Ireland. And Stevie, I talk to every once in a while. We're good friends. We worked right alongside one another for six years. So we're good friends, yeah.
Q. Would you say you check in with him after almost every tournament or is it just --
HANK HANEY: No, we just keep in touch once in a while, and he kind of tells me how things are going and how he's doing. And we're just friends. But I'm not involved on a daily basis, that's for sure. I'm not even involved on a weekly basis, but I do keep in touch.
Q. And what is it about -- you talked about St. Andrews favoring long hitters, I believe. But what is it about the greens there that you think might reduce Tiger's chances of 3-putts there, or is it just about his attitude about the course?
HANK HANEY: I think he's put a big emphasis on putting this week. Just reading his interviews and reading Steve Williams' interviews, you can tell there's a big emphasis on putting.
Tiger knows that you're going to have some really long putts at St. Andrews. He knows a big factor without a doubt is the putting. Obviously looks like he's using a new putter this week. Obviously he's had some concern about his putting.
You know, once again, driving the ball, it's not going to win you a golf tournament. You have to putt. And that's the biggest concern.
St. Andrews, you have to lag putt. And Tiger is a phenomenal lag putter. He hits his putts so solidly. That's a big key on lag putting. But he also has a great feel for it. And I think it just kind of feeds right into his wheelhouse.
Q. Of all the competitors in the field this week, whether it be an athlete or entertainer, who do you like the most? Seeing their swing, watching their mental game, who would you most like to coach and maybe try to take all the way?
HANK HANEY: Well, where's all the way? You know, is Tony Romo playing?
Q. I believe he's in the field. And Jerry Rice.
HANK HANEY: Tony Romo is a friend of mine, and just a great player. You know, Brett Hull is another friend of mine and a really, really good player, too. Of course, I'm from Dallas, so those two guys are buddies of mine. But they're both great. Tony's a great player.
Tony Romo can really play golf. And there's other players here that can obviously play very well. They're not the only ones. But they're two of the better players for sure.
I think Tony -- Tony is a real student of the game. He's a student of the game in football. He's a student of the game in golf. He loves to learn about the game. He tries to get better. Brett's a lot the same way. But those two guys are two of the guys that I think have just a lot of game.
Q. Between athlete or celebrity, who do you see faster results with? You've coached both. Charles and Ray aside, but as a rule, who do you see the greatest rewards from with the least amount of effort? Is it the athlete, who has already got that competitive edge, or is it the entertainer that's really a hack and can really make some big improvements?
HANK HANEY: The entertainers are -- they're competing in a way, too, because they're performing. I mean, especially people like Ray Romano performs live shows in front of big audiences. So it's not like he's not used to performing. Athletes are performing in front of audiences and they're performing a sport. But it's still performing under pressure.
So both of them, to me, seem to be able to handle that situation, to be under pressure, to be able to perform when they have to. Both the athlete and the entertainer seem to be able to do that.
Obviously, gifted athletes are typically a little bit easier to change, because they just have a little better control of their body. They're more athletic, so on and so forth. So I'd probably pick the athlete.
But you only have great ones here. These are all great athletes here. And with great athletes comes a lot of other challenges, too.
Q. Who is up next on the show? And how did the show come about? Did the Golf Channel come to you, or did you take this to the Golf Channel?
HANK HANEY: You know, I think it was just a collaboration, to be honest with you. We had an idea for a show teaching different people and then making it more of kind of a reality show, if you will. And then it just evolved into the opportunity to do more of a celebrity edition of it. And it turned out Charles was willing to do the first one.
He's obviously such a big draw. There's like five million people that have gone on YouTube to laugh at his swing. Unfortunately. Because he's such a great guy. And he's one of my favorite people.
So I really wanted to -- my goal was just to try to help Charles. That was my goal. But the show has been great. And I think Golf Channel is very excited about it. And obviously I am, to be a part of it, it's been a great opportunity for me.
Rush Limbaugh is next. And we're all looking forward to that. He's already been -- we haven't even started filming yet. We're supposed to meet on Wednesday, I think, we're going to film a little something on Wednesday. So we'll get started.
But he's already been talking about it on his show and he's talking about it on his website. He's got a lot of listeners, like 20 million of them. So it's obviously very good for the Golf Channel to have somebody like Rush Limbaugh on there.
Q. Rush played here a few years back. Now you have all three of them. Could you consider this a scouting trip for future years?
HANK HANEY: This probably is. This probably is. I'll have to keep coming back here, because as the years go by I'll have more and more students here. That's a good point. I'm not sure who will be next.
But we've had some great success with the show. We've had a lot of people that are interested in doing it and that makes me feel good. It's been fun.
Q. What exactly is the selection process, and how many times do you have celebrities or athletes saying: How about me?
HANK HANEY: We have a lot of people that would like to do the show and that have expressed a lot of interest. And the selection process just, once again, just kind of a team effort between myself and Golf Channel and the producers.
Obviously Golf Channel has its core audience, and we would like to bring in some viewers that maybe don't always watch the Golf Channel. I think that's what we did with Charles, and Ray Romano and Rush Limbaugh now, too. Those were three good picks. Not sure where we'll go from here. But we'll probably have something really interesting for the next year.
It will probably get tweaked just a little bit. I'm not sure exactly what that will be. But we'll make it even more interesting for the fourth here.
Q. You talked about 32 years working with touring pros being a long time. Do you think this is strictly, exclusively your future? Do you think this is strictly your future? Do you see yourself going back to that?
HANK HANEY: No. I've taught over 200 touring pros. I had the opportunity to work with, I think, the greatest player in the history of the game. And I'm not sure where you would go from there.
I've had a lot of great students in my career. There's no doubt about that. And I've been very, very fortunate. But I think that from here on out I'm going to concentrate on junior golfers and doing my show and everything with Golf Channel. And just I'm really excited about what I'm doing in China, because it's a chance to not just help junior golfers but also impact a whole nation that's growing in golf.
Golf is growing at 60 percent a year over there. And I'm very excited about that opportunity. So you never say never, but I can't see that teaching touring pros is in my future.
Q. Have you ever played Edgewood before? Is this your first time here?
HANK HANEY: I've played here one other time. It's a beautiful golf course. And it's certainly not easy. But it's as pretty as it gets. It's always in beautiful condition. It looks like it is when I looked coming in and that lake looks pretty nice out there, too. It's pretty rough duty here.
Q. With what you just said about teaching touring pros is not in your future, how many are you still teaching?
HANK HANEY: Zero.
Q. Is this almost a semi-retirement announcement for teaching pros?
HANK HANEY: My only student was Tiger Woods. I decided when I had the opportunity to teach Tiger Woods that I was going to give it 100 percent and give it everything I got.
That's what I did. I did that for six years. And I kind of felt like I want to do the best job I can possibly do. Like I said, I'm proud of how he did while I was helping him. And I don't have any students now. So I'm all right with that number, though. It's okay. I like helping amateur golfers. I like helping beginning golfers.
I spent a lot of time teaching other pros how to teach better. That's something that interests me a lot. And just doing things like today, going out and helping some friends. That's fun for me.
But I don't know if it's a retirement announcement, because I'm still teaching, but I don't know about teaching touring pros anymore. I don't think that's going to happen.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, Hank.
End of FastScripts