Monday, March 19, 2012

Did Tiger Woods wreck his knee training with the SEALs? Hank Haney thinks so

The Navy SEALs may have been able to do what Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh never could: Take down Tiger Woods.

The Big Miss, Hank Haney's highly touted book on Tiger Woods, hits stores in a couple weeks. And while Haney's story of Woods wanting to join the Navy SEALs caused a bit of a stir a few weeks back, the New York Times brings us a bit of a twist on that story. According to Haney, Woods "tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in an exercise with the SEALs, not while running at home."

Well. That would certainly be of interest, wouldn't it? Think Woods' sponsors and the PGA Tour would be interested in the fact that their cash cow was out participating in activities that could have led to his nine-month sideline stint in 2008-09?

Regardless of cause, Woods tore the ligament in 2007. Initially, it didn't affect him much; he won five of six tournaments to lead off the 2008 season. However, he was clearly wincing in pain during that legendary Torrey Pines U.S. Open win, and shortly afterward shut it down for the rest of the 2008 season.

Haney also contends that Woods' interest in building muscle worked to the detriment of his game and caused injuries. He blamed Woods' weightlifting for injuries to his right Achilles tendon, which Woods tore in 2008 and reinjured several times in 2009.

(Of note: Haney said Sunday afternoon on Twitter that he was "very pleased" with how the book turned out, "but not about the one sentence out of context excerpts.")

As the New York Times tells it, the book has plenty of anecdotes but nothing too surprising or devastating. Woods liked to text and talk on his cell phone; Woods joked around with former wife Elin Nordegren but remained even more committed to winning than he was to her. Haney coached Woods during six major wins but resigned via text message in May 2010. And moments like The Popsicle Incident were probably part of the reason:

"When we were watching television after dinner, he'd sometimes go to the refrigerator to get a sugar-free popsicle," Haney writes. "But he never offered me one or ever came back with one, and one night I really wanted one of those popsicles. But I found myself sitting kind of frozen, not knowing what to do next. I didn't feel right just going to the refrigerator and taking one, and I kind of started laughing to myself at how hesitant I was to ask Tiger for one. It actually took me a while to summon the courage to blurt out, 'Hey, Bud, do you think I could have one of those popsicles?'" (Haney would eventually get his popsicle ... though, apparently, at the cost of some of his dignity.)

"The Big Miss" streets on March 27.

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