The Last Word: Woods' whistle blower has done the dirty work for us

Haney's warts-and-all book might have been avoided had Tiger not built so many barricades

Hank Haney stands accused of treachery. He has written a tell-all book on his time with Tiger Woods and the locker room is up in arms, or least in three-irons. "He's violated our code," screamed Rick Smith, a former mentor of Phil Mickelson who sounded awfully concerned about the future of his profession. "I would rather be penniless than break the player-coach confidentially."

Who was aware that golf coaches are bound by such an ethical protocol? Maybe they always have been and maybe, while being ordained, they must take the "Yipocratic Oath" and swear they will never reveal why their clients are suddenly missing from two feet. Or maybe they aren't and maybe Smith is over-reacting. Maybe, like Tiger himself, he hasn't yet realised that which has long been inevitable. With Woods there is a void. And voids, like divots, are eventually filled.

Woods has never accepted this. When he was a teenager he asked his father, Earl: "Why do they need to know everything?" The thing was, "they" didn't need to know everything in those days. But then his sporting prowess delivered everything and more than it had ever promised; then he became a phenomenon, one of the most celebrated athletes in history; and then the scramble intensified to uncover the secrets behind the icon.

And all the while, Tiger stood there guarding his underworld, like a modern-day Cerberus, wearing three visors, snarling at would-be intruders. But if nothing can get in, something can always get out. It did and it will. Woods would be better off writing his own "warts and all" tome and at least stopping the dissidents cashing in on his legend. Alas, it's too late for that.

First he would have had to understand "why they need to know everything?". That's a difficult concept with which to come to terms. Why should Woods be required to give us any more than the sport? Why can't we be satisfied with watching Woods play golf better than anyone before? Why do we need to know what he had for breakfast, or, indeed,if he ended up having the waitress for breakfast? In short, why do we consider this any of our business?

If "The Big Miss" – Haney's book is published on Tuesday – tells us anything, it's that what a sports star is and who he or she happens to be are intrinsically linked. Haney is being lambasted for not only picking apart the golf swing but picking apart the man. Yet if he, or his ghost writer, were to produce a work of any genuine insight the person and the sportsman could not be separated.

That point may appear obvious to you and me but it escapes Woods and his sympathisers. He doesn't see, they don't see, that his own petulance, self-absorption, pettiness, aloofness and miserly qualities helped him become a 14-time major winner. Granted, as Haney points out, his obsession with the military probably did lead to injuries as a result of training with the navy Seals which may well see him stuck on 14 victories, but there you go. Someone once observed that "biography is a system in which the contradictions of a human life are unified". Whatever else anyone accuses Haney of, he is helping to unlock the riddle. We will never quite get there, but thanks to Haney our understanding of Woods will be a lot more advanced.

But then, our heart will go out to Woods, because we will read Haney's "revelations" concerning his characteristics, we will pour over the insults in his private text messages and private conversations, and any of us with the barest trace of humility will sit there, uncomfortable in the knowledge that if any of the people who we, ourselves, have become close to wrote a book about us then we, too, could be made to look like A-grade nutcases. That thought makes us chide Haney, yet we shouldn't.

He is merely colouring in the gaps for posterity and not only his own posterity. It was Woods who insisted on these gaps. Whether he approves or not, there is a genuine desire to know what has made Woods tick and what may carry on making him tick. Haney's book sales will prove so. And why not? It is natural for us to want to delve deeper into the psyches of our sporting superstars.

It's plainly not enough to admire, or marvel, or eulogise. We wish to get under their skin. After all, they are vicariously living our wildest fantasies and for that reason we believe they owe us.

We yearn to be them, but then an insider such as Haney opens up and makes us realise the price that must be paid to be them. One of the costs is having that which you wish to remain private out there to be ridiculed. Rory McIlroy has the right idea. Give 'em plenty; don't leave 'em wanting. Let them in and they might let you off. And if you can't, then don't shoot Hank. He is but merely the messenger.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil