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Tiger and Haney's split unavoidable

Hank Haney's been living on borrowed time.

In January, while Tiger Woods was in rehab for sex addiction in Mississippi, I was told that he placed an SOS call to former swing coach, Butch Harmon.

Knowing the river of bad blood that existed between them, it was nonsensical to think that Woods would ever swallow his pride and go back to Harmon.

"I'd be shocked if that were true. I can't ever see him doing that," a source close to Woods told me at the time.

Yet a source at Callaway Golf had heard the news from Harmon himself.

If he made that call, it reveals just how desperate Woods had become.

And just how little faith he had in Haney - whom he likes, on a personal level - to fix a deteriorating golf swing.

"Just so there is no confusion I would like to make it clear that this is my decision," Haney said in a statement announcing his resignation.

I wonder whether he's playing with semantics.

While it may have been his decision to resign late Monday night, last week there were strong whispers that he'd lost his position of influence within Team Tiger.

The straw that broke this particular camel's back came at Quail Hollow two weeks ago, where Woods missed the cut - for only the sixth time in his professional career - and came to see he couldn't trust his swing.

The selling point of Haney's idiosyncratic swing theory is that a player just has to look at the ball flight and make adjustments to fix errant swings. But, not for the first time, Woods couldn't find the fix.

Woods didn't have Haney with him last week - even though the soft-spoken Texan was in Ponte Vedra Beach for meetings with the Golf Channel - and if there was ever a sign that a change was imminent, he was getting swing tips from Pat Perez.

Woods spoke of working on a new move and of going back to playing a draw - which he's struggled mightily with - though in typical Woods style he publicly denied that he'd cut Haney loose.

"Hank and I talk every day, so nothing's changed," Woods said at The Players championship.

"According to the press, I've fired him five times by now over the course of my four years or whatever it was, six years?"

Was? Using past tense seemed to me at the time to be quite the Freudian slip.

Haney, meanwhile, who is among the more thin-skinned swing gurus, was mounting an offensive after Johnny Miller called for his sacking.

"I really believe [Woods] needs to, every night, watch the U.S. Open in the year 2000 in Pebble and just copy that swing and forget the Haney stuff. That was the best golf anybody has every played in history," said the outspoken Miller.

Haney believes that missed putts and inadequacies in Woods's short game are to blame for his poor performances.

"In the last 2 1/2 years, Tiger has won 44 percent of his tournaments and finished Top 3 in 61 percent," he told GolfChannel.com, "In the 2 1/2 years before I started working with him, he won 24 percent and finished Top 3 in 43 percent."

In fairness to Harmon, Woods was in-between coaches in those 2 1/2 years, having effectively ended his association with Harmon in mid-2002. And Harmon - who had been very critical of Haney's methods - could lay claim to having been with Woods when he was at his most devastating, in the early part of the decade.

Forget what Woods publicly says about not having played enough tournaments since his comeback, or about his neck hurting and ignore the turmoil in his private life.

He's a shrewd operator. And he's as mentally tough as they come.

The swing wasn't working, and it should've been after six years.

Nor was it lost on Woods that Haney failed to fix Charles Barkley.

Not that it's all been a waste of time, because Woods became a better iron player under Haney. He could shape the shots and hit them at different trajectories and with precision.

But there's no question that he went from one of the best drivers of the golf ball in the game - long and straight - to a very mediocre, and crooked, driver.

Haney seemed to leave the door open.

"I wish Tiger well, not only with his golf, but in finding peace and happiness in all aspects of his life," he said, "Tiger knows that if he ever needs me in any way, whether it be with his golf or just as a friend he can always call. I will always, as I have been in the past, be there for him."

The question now becomes where will Woods go?

Perez's coach, Mike Abbott, is a name being thrown around. Abbott, like Haney, advocates a flatter swing plane, though without the complicated moves Haney employs.

A Woods insider says he wouldn't be surprised if there was no coach for a while.

"He's a real student of the swing. He knows what he's trying to do, so I think maybe he'll just find someone to have a look at him instead of changing the whole swing and starting from scratch again." he said.

What is certain is that turmoil is the dominant theme of Woods's life right now.

As he said plaintively during a news conference in Pennsylvania on Monday, "It's just getting old, dude."