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Woods says Harmon out of line

Tiger thinks former coach may be trying to be controversial in his TV gig.

Published June 20, 2004

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Tiger Woods keeps saying he is close. To what, nobody is sure. He certainly is not close to winning his ninth major championship. And he left no doubt he is no longer close to former teacher Butch Harmon.

After 73 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Saturday left him nine shots behind Retief Goosen at the 104th U.S. Open, Woods made it clear he's not too pleased with the numerous comments attributed to Harmon concerning his game.

"It doesn't do himself or anyone any good to do that," Woods said.

Harmon has been quoted recently about various flaws in Woods' game. They worked together for 10 years, with Woods winning eight majors through the 2002 British Open.

Their teacher-student relationship ended on good terms, Woods said, simply because he believed he could figure out his swing on his own.

But seven majors passed without a victory, and as Woods' driving became woefully inaccurate and his hold on the world's No. 1 ranking loosened, many observers felt Woods should give Harmon a call.

Harmon, who has numerous clients, has been working for Europe's Sky Sports this week and his comments were broadcast by ESPN.

"Tiger Woods is not playing well; he is not working on the right things in his golf swing, although obviously Tiger thinks he is," Harmon said. "He should have felt, "I could win this tournament by six, seven, eight shots.' That was the old Tiger Woods."

Harmon added: "But for him to stand there at every one of his interviews and say "I am close, I feel really good about what I am doing,' I think it might be a bit of denial."

Woods might have been kidding himself Saturday when he felt he had given himself a chance to win by holing his second shot at the 18th hole for eagle. The 73 was his worst round of the tournament.

Asked about Harmon afterward, Woods did not hold back.

"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's 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've been as close as we are. And we've resolved everything, I thought. I thought everything would have been cool. For him to go off and say things like that, I don't understand where he's coming from."

Woods said he believes Harmon should have talked to him rather than make his opinions known to the public. "Friends say that face to face," he said. "That's what we used to do and I think that's the way it should have been handled.

"Maybe he's just trying to be more controversial on TV, 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."

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