Tiger Woods, post-back surgery, will have trouble breaking Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 major championships, according to Hank Haney, who coached the former world No. 1 to five grand slam titles and wrote something of a tell-all book about their time together.
"He has to have Phil Mickelson's Hall of Fame career and do it after turning 38 with four knee operations and a back operation," Haney told Teddy Greenstein on Thursday about Woods’ need to win five more majors to surpass Nicklaus. "It will be hard but not impossible. I have him as the favorite in any tournament he plays. But people who say his next major will be the hardest to win … no, this is the easy one. The hard one is to tie, and it would be even harder to beat him."
Woods missed the first Masters tournament of his career after he underwent microdiscectomy surgery on March 31 and will be absent for next week’s U.S. Open as well as he continues to rehab from the procedure. At 38 and stuck on 14 majors since he won the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods may be running out of gas and -- as Greenstein noted, quoting NBC analyst and 1973 U.S. Open winner Johnny Miller -- watching his "wick" burn down.
"Everyone has only so much in the tank, and Tiger started [competing] at an earlier age," Haney said. "He not only has to get healthy, he has to get healthy enough to practice. Does he have the motivation? If the desire is there, he will return to No. 1 in the world."
Haney also gave a shout-out to Woods’ ex-caddie Steve Williams, who apparently enjoyed the heck out of "The Big Miss," while taking a swing at Tiger whom he called a "sociopath" and a "jerk."
"He thought it was great," Haney said about the review of his book by Williams, who gained a measure of notoriety for being somewhat thuggish when he was on Tiger’s bag. "He knows everything is true. He lived it. I know about his reputation, but he's an ethical person and the greatest caddie there has ever been. Look at what he has done with Adam Scott, taken him to No. 1 in the world."
For which the 2013 Masters winner is purportedly far more grateful than his previous employer, according to Stevie.
"I asked Steve how it is working with Adam," Haney reported. "‘Hank, it's so great. Every day when I get done, he tells me, 'Thank you.'"
Haney, who rarely misses an opportunity to get a dig in at Woods while touting him to win every event he starts, note it wasn’t Tiger's fault that he treated people the way he did.
"He doesn't try to be a jerk. He just doesn't get it," Haney said. "There is a price for greatness. I think that comes across in the book."