Tiger Woods is still the best golfer on the planet but he hasn’t been the same since his sex scandal went viral in 2009. So says Woods’ ex-coach, Hank Haney, in an interview that ESPN The Magazine published on Thursday.

Woods remains the best player that there is,” Haney said, but the former No. 1 is “clearly not the golfer that he was” before his private life went spectacularly public after his Thanksgiving 2009 car accident and everything else that followed.

Haney, who last spring published a tell-all book about his years as Woods’ instructor, professed to rue his “slip-up” in tossing red meat at every carnivorous golf writer in the universe. But surely Haney knew the interview he claimed he “didn’t want to do” would focus on his legendary former pupil.

Haney had some interesting takes on what made Tiger great (“total single-minded focus”) and his former pupil’s life outside the ropes (“It’s not easy being Tiger”), but what caught this New Englander’s eye was his off-handed reference to a certain erstwhile Patriots coach. While noting, as he gave himself a virtual pat on the back, that Woods was not nearly the golfer he was while “winning 45 percent of his tournaments with me,” Haney suggested we go back and review the tapes.

“That’s just the way it is. People are always like, ‘You’re taking a shot at him.’ I’m not taking a shot at him. But it’s just the way it is. Everybody can see it,” said Haney, who made sure we knew that he hadn’t heard from Woods since the two broke up back in May 2010. “But you know what? You don’t even have to see it. It’s like what Bill Parcells always said: ‘You are what your record says you are.’”


Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer