“How can you pick anybody but Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open?” That was the statement uttered by famed golf teacher Hank Haney. Based on his performance this year, as well as his pedigree, there is no doubt that many people agree with Haney. Besides the fact that he has forgotten more about a golf swing that the majority of the population will ever know, Haney is intimately familiar with Tiger’s game. He was Woods’ swing coach for quite some time before burning that bridge with his book “The Big Miss”, which didn’t go over too well with the most famous golfer in the world.
Haney seems to think that the putter will be the key for Woods at Merion Golf Club next week. “The rest of his game is right there,” he said. “His ball striking is down a little bit. (But) the most important thing is putting. You can swing it all you want, you can strike it all you want. But you better putt. I think he’s a clear favorite at the U.S. Open.”
The popular opinion has been, and will likely continue to be, that Woods should be able to walk away with the U.S. Open without so much as breaking a sweat. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I would not be surprised if Woods is in contention late in the weekend. Haney seems to believe that because Merion is a short track it will equalize the field, taking the driver out of play on several holes. He thinks that plays right into Woods’ wheelhouse.
“The intimidation factor is creeping back in for sure. Especially when he gets on the lead. There’s nobody that can close like Tiger Woods. Everybody knows that,” he went on to say. Even if Woods is starting to intimidate the competition, the damage has been done. He will never have the impact on his competitors like he did in his prime. The rest of the field knows that he can be beaten and, as such, should be able to overcome any apprehension about going up against the great and powerful Woods.