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'An incredible champion - but very, very complex,' says Woods' former coach

By Matthew Knight, CNN
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
Tiger Woods and former swing coach Hank Haney at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine Golf Club in August 2009.
Tiger Woods and former swing coach Hank Haney at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine Golf Club in August 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods' former swing coach publishes book detailing their time together
  • Hank Haney coached Woods from 2004 to 2010
  • Haney criticized for reveal some private text messages sent to the former world No.1
  • Haney says Woods putting form bodes well for Woods quest for a fifth Masters title

(CNN) -- "Any time you're around greatness, like I was for six years, and you see it at close quarters, you're asked about it."

Tiger Woods' former swing coach Hank Haney says it happens wherever he goes.

With the former world No. 1 back in the headlines for the right reasons, the publication of "The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods" is Haney's chance to tell a few more people.

Breaking the code? Haney on Tiger Woods

Haney joined Woods' team in 2004 and knew he'd "catch some flack" for penning the book, but he wanted to share his memories of a person he describes as very complex.

Tiger's Coach Speaks Out

"I mean very, very complex. He's an incredible champion. You know, he's different. But I expected that," Haney told CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.

Woods' ex-coach: These are my memories
Ex-coach Haney: 'Tiger's very complex'
Tiger Woods clinched his first PGA Tour title since September 2009 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday. The 14-time major winner is no stranger to success at the Bay Hill tournament, having tasted victory there on a record six previous occasions. Tiger Woods clinched his first PGA Tour title since September 2009 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday. The 14-time major winner is no stranger to success at the Bay Hill tournament, having tasted victory there on a record six previous occasions.
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Tiger Woods\' Bay Hill victories Tiger Woods' Bay Hill victories

"I mean, when you see somebody that's as great as Tiger Woods, there's probably a reason for it. And you wouldn't expect him to be the same as everyone else."

Haney spent over 100 days in the company of Woods every year, even staying at his Florida home on occasions.

With regular phone conversations, it amounted to the closest relationship Haney has ever had with a player. But they were never really close, according to Haney.

"Tiger is pretty closed off. You don't really get a lot of communication from him, or deep conversations," he said.

The book reflects "exactly what happened" during their time together right down to publication of some text messages Haney sent to Woods.

"I feel like I've been a great friend to you. I don't feel like I've gotten that in return," reads one.

It's a move which has come in for criticism from some fellow coaches.

Rick Smith, former coach of Phil Mickelson, recently said: "I'd rather be broke and not have a penny to my name before I violate the code of player/teacher confidentiality. For all the guys who've committed their lives to teaching, this should be very upsetting."

But Haney rejects charges of betrayal saying the book is honest and fair.

"Those rules are not written rules. Those might be rules that Rick and obviously some other people think are rules. But I wasn't bound by any agreement. I didn't violate any agreement," Haney said.

I mean very, very complex. He's an incredible champion. You know, he's different. But I expected that
Hank Haney, Tiger Woods former swing coach

The "great friend" text was sent when he resigned and reflects what Haney believes to be the truth.

"I always gave an answer that was in the best interest of Tiger Woods. And I didn't feel like that happened in return," Haney said.

But there wasn't one single thing which made him want to terminate their relationship.

"We had a great time together. Tiger won a lot of tournaments. He won 45% of his tournaments the last three years I worked with him," Haney said.

"It was just time for me to go. You know, I had a great time. It was the greatest opportunity a coach or teacher could have. I'm very thankful for it."

Haney was "shocked" when the scandal about Woods' personal life broke in November 2009.

"I didn't know anything. Steve Williams, his caddy, didn't know anything. And obviously Elin, Tiger's wife at the time, didn't know anything," he said.

"I don't think it would be my place necessarily as a coach (to have said something), but it would be my place, I feel like, as a friend. I certainly would have said something and I know Steve Williams would have said something too."

Tiger is pretty closed off. You don't really get a lot of communication from him, or deep conversations
Hank Haney

Haney detects that a post-scandal Woods may have "softened" but says he's getting back to his best.

"He's definitely striking the ball well. I mean, he finished first in greens in regulation, which for the years that I worked with Tiger, I thought that was a key statistic. He was always first in greens in regulation, or near the top."

But it's his recent improvement on the greens which Haney thinks will be key to success in the coming weeks.

"The great thing about Bay Hill to me was that his putting was good. He finished fourth in putting. That's a key statistic. Every player that's won on the PGA tour this year has finished top 10 in putting," he said.

"And going to Augusta, that's the most important thing. Tiger would have won five or six green jackets in a row if he would have fewer than, you know, two three-putts for the 72 holes.

"So if he can avoid three-putts at Augusta, he'll be very difficult to beat. He's great on that golf course. It fits his game."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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