Tiger Woods' former coach suggests the golfer wanted to become a Navy SEAL
Hank Haney is releasing a book about his six years working with the 14-time major winner
Haney says former world No. 1 Woods seriously considered turning his back on the sport
Woods' agent has denied the claims, saying he just admired his father's military heritage
Tiger Woods has done it all in the world of golf. He has won 14 majors, topped the world rankings for a record 623 weeks in a row and enjoyed a lifestyle which the majority of people can only dream of.
But it seems that the world’s top-earning sportsman once thought about giving it all up – to join the Navy. According to a book written by the 36-year-old’s former coach Hank Haney, Woods seriously considered quitting golf to become a Navy SEAL.
SEALs are the special operations arm of the U.S. Navy, so called because of their ability to operate in the sea, in the air or on land. According to Haney, Woods became infatuated with the idea of joining the specialized force.
“Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL,” read an excerpt from Haney’s forthcoming book on the website of Golf Digest. One of the magazine’s journalists helped write the book.
“I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about it, it was clear he had a plan,” Haney said.
“I thought, ‘Wow, here is Tiger Woods, greatest athlete on the planet, maybe the greatest athlete ever, right in the middle of his prime, basically ready to leave it all behind for a military life.’ “
The book is based on the six years Haney spent as Woods’ swing coach, which ended in May 2010 after the former world No. 1 dropped out of the first round of the The Players Championship with a neck injury.
Haney also revealed that in 2004 Woods went on a four-day special operations training course at Fort Bragg.
“Tiger did two tandem parachute jumps, engaged in hand-to-hand combat exercises, went on four-mile runs wearing combat boots, and did drills in a wind tunnel. Tiger loved it, but his physical therapist, Keith Kleven, went a little crazy worrying about the further damage Tiger might be doing to his left knee,” he wrote.
“One morning I was in the kitchen when he came back from a long run around Isleworth, and I noticed he was wearing Army boots. Tiger admitted that he’d worn the heavy shoes before on the same route. ‘I beat my best time,’ he said.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg rejected Haney’s claims as “armchair psychology.” He suggested Haney was twisting Woods’ admiration for his late father, who was in the U.S. Army special forces.
“Because of his father, it’s no secret that Tiger has always had high respect for the military,” Steinberg said in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel.
Haney also suggested Woods put pressure on himself to overhaul fellow American Jack Nicklaus’ record total of 18 wins in golf’s four major tournaments.
“He never mentioned Nicklaus’ record, but it started to weigh more heavily at every major,” read another excerpt from “The Big Miss.”
“And Tiger’s actions indicated he believed he had less time to do it than everyone thought.”
Woods has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and is rebuilding his career following the scandal about his extramarital affairs which led to his divorce in 2010.