SOUTHAMPTON, New York (AFP) - Tiger Woods expressed shock and outrage at former swing coach Butch Harmon here Saturday at the U.S. Open for Harmon's
ripping comments about Woods' current trouble at finding fairways.
Harmon said Woods was "in denial" about his problems, prompting Woods to respond, "For him to go off and say things like that, I don't understand
where he's coming from. It doesn't do himself or anyone any good to do that."
World No. 1 Woods struggled to a 3-over par 73 in the third round at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and even that required a jaw-dropping eagle on the
18th hole from 106 yards out with a sand wedge.
"That definitely put me back in the tournament," Woods said. "If the wind blows and I play a great round of golf, I can still win the tournament."
The eight-time major champion shared 19th on 4-over 214 after 54 holes, nine strokes behind leader Retief Goosen of South Africa.
Woods has struggled with accuracy woes off the tee but insists he is close to fixing them, a contention that inspired Harmon's rebuke in his role as a
U.S. Open analyst for English television.
"When Tiger Woods got here on Monday, he should've looked at this golf course, this setup, and thought, 'Wow. I could win this tournament by six,
seven, eight shots,'" Harmon said.
"That's the old Tiger Woods. The Tiger Woods I saw on Thursday was missing fairways with irons, especially at 14 and 15.
"For him to stand there in every interview and say he's getting close and he feels really good about what he's doing, I think he's in denial."
Woods made his outrage clear Saturday, saying he has not consulted his former mentor for help.
"I don't know why he would say anything like that," Woods said. "Obviously he doesn't really know what I'm working on and he has never asked me and
I've never talked to him about it and no one knows.
"I don't understand why he would ever say anything like that, especially when we have been as close as we are. And we have resolved everything, I
thought. I thought everything would have been cool."
Harmon was Woods' swing coach from 1997 to 2002, becoming one of Woods' few confidants during his rise into a global superstar.
After Woods won his first major at the 1997 Masters, Harmon and Woods reworked the pupil's swing in 1998 and won seven majors in 11 tries.
Woods dumped Harmon as coach in 2002, saying he could fix any problems with his swing. Woods has not won a major since but has insisted for some time
that the solution to his swing woes is close at hand.
After three U.S. Open rounds, Woods had reached just 20 of 42 fairways in regulation to rank 46th and had reached only 30 of 54 greens in regulation.
Does Woods, 28, still consider Harmon, 60, a friend? Even Woods was unsure.
"That's what I don't understand," Woods said. "I mean, friends say that face-to-face. If you go say something like that, you go right up to my face
and say it. And that's what we used to do and I think that's the way it should have been handled.
"I just don't understand why he would say something like that. Maybe he is just on TV and trying to be more controversial or saying things. I don't
know. I haven't had a chance to talk about it so I can't say what was on his mind at the time, why he would come out with things like that."
Asked if a face-to-face meeting as at hand, Woods said, "I don't know."
Harmon's comments followed those earlier this month to Golfweek magazine saying he had no interest in reuniting with Woods.
"I have no desire to go back to the same situation where I spend all my time at tournaments with Tiger Woods," Harmon told the magazine. "I sat on
that hot seat for 10 years, and now someone else can sit in it."
Harmon suggested reviewing films of Woods' prime 2000 swing. He dismissed the notion that Woods was unhappy with Harmon's celebrity status and that
caused the break-up.
"I'm not sure anything happened," Harmon said. "Tiger decided on doing this his way and doing it alone. I think he felt he got to the point in his
life where he didn't need the help of an individual. Who's to say he's wrong?"
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