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July 14, 2011

Hank Haney


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Hank Haney. Thank you for joining us. Once again, it's great to have you back at Lake Tahoe. Hank was out here last year working with Charles Barkley a little bit. I think we all remember that.
HANK HANEY: That was fun. It's always interesting with Charles, no doubt about it.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of Charles, we understand that there's been rumor that he's going to the left side this year.
HANK HANEY: Yeah, but I heard he came out a righty today. I've been trying to talk to him to see if we could get him to practice a little lefty. He actually does pretty good like that.
There's no hits or anything. But somehow he showed up this morning righty.
But I heard he warmed up great on the range. But it seems like it's just -- it's only like 50 yards, maybe, at the most from the practice tee to the first tee. But for him it must seem like it's 550 yards, because once he gets over that first tee, something different happens.
But hopefully he's hitting some good shots today. I just like to see him enjoy himself. He's so great for the game of golf. And the game of golf loves him.
You see by the reception he always gets here, he's just one of my favorite people in the whole world. I just want to see him play better golf.
He's probably the most humble, gracious, giving professional athlete celebrity that I've ever seen, and one of my favorite people in the world. And it bothers me when I see him out there just struggling so much.
But it's kind of his trademark now. I don't know, he's probably made millions off the hitch. Who else has had five million people look at their swing on YouTube, you know?
THE MODERATOR: If you were to sum it up for one reason, for Charles to do this hitch, what is it?
HANK HANEY: Obviously it's a mental issue. It's kind of a form of the IPS. It's not mental in that it's solved by positive thinking, if you will. It's more of a neurological problem. The IPS -- the technical name is focal dystonia. You have a hard time getting the message from the brain to the body. It's really similar to what you see in the NBA when a player can't shoot free throws. They might make them in practice and they can't make them in the game.
You used to see Chuck Knoblauch, couldn't throw the ball from second base to first. You know, there's catchers that can't throw it back to the pitcher. They can throw somebody out at second base but they can't throw back to the pitcher.
You see it in something as simple as writer's cramp where people literally cannot get the pen to touch the paper. So it's a disorder that's similar to that, and sometimes you just have to try to find a different pathway.
That's when he goes left-handed he doesn't have a problem. He doesn't hitch. But unfortunately he's got to learn the game all over again. And I don't know if he's ready to do that.
But last year he played -- he had kind of a mixed set last year. The last day, he had lefty woods, and he went one-handed right-handed irons and then he went two-handed right-handed short game. He had a little combo going. I'm not sure what he's got going today. I'm going to go out and check him out.

Q. Will you work with him this week?
HANK HANEY: I'll go hang out. I'm always trying to have a look, see if I could come up with something. I have some more ideas. I just want to try them out. You just keep trying out different ideas and see if you can find a cure.

Q. Tell us what Hank Haney has been up to in the last year. I know you've had a few of the folks out here, Ray Romano, obviously Charles, and there was another gentleman that does a radio show?
HANK HANEY: We had Rush Limbaugh, my Haney Project show on Golf Channel, it's been great. It's been an incredible opportunity for me. And I've enjoyed doing it. I've had great students. Even though we struggle with Charles, he's just a great guy. And it was a good show. At the time it was the highest rated show they had on the Golf Channel. So it was really good.
Ray was fun to help. Rush Limbaugh was just a real pleasant surprise, to be honest with you. For a guy who talks for a living as much as he does I wasn't sure what to expect.
He's obviously incredibly opinionated, but probably -- that's an understatement. Probably as good a student as I've ever had. Probably if not the best, one of the best listeners that I've ever taught.
He was an incredible student. He sent me an e-mail last week, said he played with Al Michaels and shot 80 the other day. And he was up in the 90s, 18 cap and above, when we started. And he's had some really good successes. It's nice to see one of my projects turn out.
I had a lot of good professional students. I've had a lot of good amateur students, too. But it's never easy to change in golf. It's always tough. It's a hard game for everybody that plays.

Q. Who do you pick this weekend?
HANK HANEY: Well, now I mean I'd have to look at the leaderboard. When I first -- when the tournament first started, I was going with some kind of European. And I just threw Lee Westwood out there. I don't know what he shot today.
But the thing is you can't pick players to win tournaments to be honest with you. Anybody that does that is just throwing a wild guess out there.
Oh this guy's in good form, it doesn't really matter, because in order to win a tournament nowadays, you're going to have to have a lot of special things happen to you.
Like this year at the Masters when I was watching, I told people on my Twitter I said whoever wins is going to have to have something really special happen to him. Charl Schwartzel, he chipped in on No. 1, incredible shot. He holed out on No. 3. There's your winner right there. He's had two special things happen to him already.
You just can't predict how that's going to happen. Somebody who wins this tournament on Sunday is going to have something great happen to them. They're going to hole out. They're going to chip in. And I don't know how anybody could say I knew he was going to hole it from 175 yards.
And they're going to have a great week. Rory McIlroy is a great player. He's going to win a lot of golf tournaments. He's got incredible talent. But he had the best tournament of his life. He had the best week of his life at the U.S. Open.
And there's probably 75 to 100 players that have, if they have the best week of their life, they could win. And that's what will happen this week.
Now, it was a little different when I coached Tiger, last three years I coached Tiger, he won 45 percent of his tournaments. So I always picked Tiger Woods and I was right 45 percent of the time. But now it's a little different. There's not a clear-cut dominant player.
It takes a special week for somebody to win.

Q. At the start of the press conference you talked about Charles Barkley being really good for the game of golf. As I walk around the course out here I see so many young kids out here with their moms, with their dads. Talk about how the American Century tournament is a tournament that is good for golf. It seems like there's a lot of youth that love coming to this thing every year because it gets them close to the game of golf and they get to see some of their great athletes is that your perspective on things, too?
HANK HANEY: Absolutely. Last year was my first year to come. But I heard about the tournament, watched it on TV. To be honest with you, this is one of the real special weeks of the year. This is a really special event. I mean, there's nothing like this. To have these great athletes and celebrities here, and like you said, the great support from the gallery and the kids out on the golf course, I mean, this is a really, really special week for golf. And it's fun to be a part of it.
It's just fun to be here observing it, watching it, and you realize just when you get to do things like this how great the game of golf is.
The great things that golf does for charity, but to see all these players out here that are having a good time, and all the fans that are having so much fun, it really, really makes you feel good about being involved with golf.

Q. One of the favorites is Tony Romo. We've seen him play. He hits it far. Can you talk about him and his game and how much you know about how he plays?
HANK HANEY: Yeah, I've played with Tony and watched him hit balls before. Obviously I live in Dallas, and so does he.
He's a great guy. There was a lady out on the like sixth hole today. She had a T-shirt on that said "Tony Romo for President." So I took a picture with her, and I emailed it over to Tony this morning.
I said we need to win a Super Bowl before we worry about president. But he is a really good player. I mean, he's had some good success winning some tournaments this summer. He won Drew Brees' tournament in San Diego, which is pretty much the same collection of players.
He's got a great golf swing. And he just -- he's a really, really good player. He shot like a 66 or 67 in one of the top amateur tournaments in some really severe weather last summer. So I knew when I saw those kind of scores and tough conditions, he's a really, really good player.
But there's other great players here. And he's certainly one of them, no doubt about it. But once again, picking a winner, how do you know who is going to make the putts. That's the one thing about golf.
The best player should hit the ball the best, he should hit the most greens. He shut hit par 5s in two, and all that you can predict.
But you can't predict who is going to make the most putts, because in putting it's luck, to a certain extent. You're not putting on a pool table. You're putting on an imperfect surface you could hit a great putt, the right speed, the right line, and it still might not go in. That's why you just really have a hard time predicting who wins golf.

Q. Is there something you can do, when you talk to these professionals out here, what they say is they get more nervous over their putts here than they would throwing a touchdown pass or pitching. How do you get them out of that?
HANK HANEY: But the thing is you have to realize is that the ball -- the ball doesn't know you're nervous. If you weren't nervous you would be the only one that wasn't nervous. So I've never really worried about that too much, to be honest with you. I think people make a little too big a deal out of that. Everybody's nervous on the first tee. Everybody's nervous on the last putt.
But that doesn't mean you can't perform. I mean, that ball's never like -- that ball's never going to ever sit there on the green and think like Tony's nervous now so I'm not going to go in the hole. That's not the way it works.
It's just what the club does to it. And if you make the right swing, regardless of how nervous you are, then you can still execute the shot. The thing that being nervous does is it tends to speed you up. It tends to take you out of the proper thought process, and that's what causes the problem.
So you just have to kind of slow down a little bit. You hear it in all sports. The great ones, like the great quarterbacks, the game kind of slows down for them. And that's the same thing with golf.
You have to be able to control yourself, but being nervous is normal, it's a normal reaction -- you want to be nervous. That's why everybody who plays they love to be nervous. They want to be at the end of the tournament and be nervous. That's what they're here for. They'd love that opportunity to be nervous.
The guy that's in -- I'll tell you, Charles isn't nervous coming down the last day. He's not nervous. He wishes he was nervous, but he's not.

Q. Back to Romo very quickly. What's he got to do to get over the hump and qualify for a U.S. Open, because he tried to qualify a couple times?
HANK HANEY: Tony's tried to qualify for the U.S. Open. That's tough. That's a -- it's a tough qualifying, tough qualifying for anybody to make.
He just needs to have the right couple of days. That's all. I mean, he's got the game.
There's plenty of players that have played in the U.S. Open that have qualified for the U.S. Open that aren't as good as Tony Romo, without a doubt, so he just needs to have the right day at the right time. And whether or not it ever happens, who knows. But he has the game to do it.

Q. Looking at Tiger's swing, you've obviously worked with it in the past. With all the medical problems that he's having with his knee right now and how he swings the golf club, is he going to be able to get back to swinging the way he used to swing when he was winning, or is he going to have to make adjustments that his body doesn't allow him to do anymore?
HANK HANEY: I'm not really privy to exactly what he's trying to do with his swing or exactly how bad his knee is or what the situation is. But obviously he's had four knee surgeries, and if you have one surgery on your knee, on your ankle, on your shoulder, on your wrist, any joint, you have one surgery, you're going to have an arthritic condition. That's just the way it is, at some point in your life.
And every person that's had surgery feels that. He's had four. So he's going to be in some level of discomfort for the rest of his career. Now, it's just a question of whether or not he can tolerate that.
And I think the biggest question is can he get himself healthy enough so that he can practice and prepare like he needs to. I mean, I don't think -- when you sit there and you add it up, and everybody's like when is Tiger going to get back to playing, when is he going to get back to practicing? That's the bigger issue. When is he going to get back to where he can practice and play enough to get his game going?
If you sit and you add it up, in the last 36 months, he's missed probably 16 or 17 months. That's a lot of missed time.
First the knee surgery, then the other issues, now the knee injury. He's missed a lot of time. But if he gets back to where he can practice and prepare, he hasn't lost his skills. I think everybody's -- people are making a little too big deal out of his swing, you know? And obviously he had a lot of success when Butch helped him and he's had a lot of success when I helped him. And he hasn't had much success the last couple of years.
But he hasn't -- he hasn't been able to play and practice as much. I don't know if his problem is a technique issue or -- I just think it's a question of he needs to get where he can play and practice, ask then I think then we'll be able to see.
But obviously him being away has given a lot of other players opportunities to gain confidence, to gain experience, and they've gained this confidence and gained this experience, and now they're prepared to use it against him.

Q. As long as we're on the Tiger subject, what's your personal opinion about whether or not he'll catch Nicklaus, and two, did you see the Faraday Show where Trevino said: I can fix Tiger Woods in 15 minutes?
HANK HANEY: I love Lee Trevino. He's one of my favorite people and incredibly gifted and just such a great figure in the game of golf. And Lee's son, Tony, worked for me for about 12 years. So -- but it's easy to say.
I could fix somebody in 15 minutes. As a teacher, you always look at someone and you think he just needs to do this, and this, and this. I thought the same thing with Charles Barkley. I can fix Charles. He just needs to do this and this. That's how teachers think. But when you get in there it's a little more difficult than what you realize.
And I know when I started with Tiger, Butch told me, Hank it's a little more difficult than it looks. And you know what, he was right. And it's not easy to change. It's not easy to, especially with gifted athletes. So it's not just so easy to go in there and say well Tiger just do this or that.
And I think that's probably what Lee thinks when he's saying that. But it's just a little more complicated than that. And Tiger's a really smart guy. He's incredibly talented.
Given the opportunity to practice and play, if he still has the desire and the passion, and he has the body that will allow him to do it, then there's no reason to think that he couldn't still break Nicklaus's record. You can go on both sides of the coin.
You can say, okay, Nicklaus won when he was 46. Tiger has 40 more majors to play in. But these majors are slipping by. And then you look and you say he just needs to win five more. But the fourth and fifth one will be the really difficult ones. But you can say he's got plenty of time, he could do it. Then you look and you say he has to win more majors than Phil Mickelson has won in his own career, and he has to do it after the age of 35.
When you start looking at it like that, you think this is going to be really difficult. But I wouldn't put anything past him, if he can prepare and play. Obviously this is a concern. This was supposed to be a minor injury. How many months has he been out now? And he's not -- you just don't get back -- even if he played in the British -- everybody is like is he going to play in the British? He hasn't even practiced. He hasn't practiced, hasn't played, how could he be competitive? He's arguably the greatest or the second greatest player that's ever played the game. But he's still got to play and practice.

Q. Was Hank Haney better for Tiger Woods or was Tiger Woods better for Hank Haney?
HANK HANEY: Without a doubt, I mean, helping Tiger was an incredible opportunity for me. I mean, to have that opportunity as a teacher, to have the opportunity to work with someone like Tiger Woods, someone that talented, someone that gifted, to have a chance to teach the best player arguably in the history of the game was an incredible blessing for me.
I've had so many great things happen to me in golf that's right at the top of the list for sure. So I don't think there's any doubt that it was better for me.

Q. As far as the Hank Haney Project, what's up? Can you give us a little tip yet?
HANK HANEY: We're working on that. We're still kind of trying to determine who is next. We've got somebody really good lined up, we just have to kind of finalize exactly what we're going to do.
I think next year it will be our most exciting season ever. I'm really excited about that. And we're looking at doing a little kind of a mini series with a couple of football coaches maybe before the season starts, too. So we're getting ready to do something on that end.
But we're kind of going to hopefully expand the series a little bit. It's been great. It's been a lot of fun. And it's fun for me to walk around out here, everybody hey, I watch the show and everybody wants to be on the show.
They all want me to do the Average Joe Show. And I always tell them, I said -- I think it's because everybody wants to be the average Joe. I don't know if anybody wants to watch the average Joe. But they all want to be the average Joe. But we have a lot of fun doing that show.

Q. Any of those potential subjects on this list this week?
HANK HANEY: You know -- (laughter) -- I've got to wait for the signal from my leaders on that one. But we're getting close. It's going to be good, though.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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