AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Haney announces that he’s done with touring pros |

AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Haney announces that he’s done with touring pros

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneGolf coach Hank Haney sets up Charles Barkley with a golf grip for playing left-handed. Is Barkley considering playing lefty in the future?

STATELINE – Hank Haney has decided that Tiger Woods is his final touring pro pupil.

Haney made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“I had the opportunity to work with, I think, the greatest player in the history of the game. And I’m not sure where you would go from there,” Haney said.

Haney has coached more than 200 touring pros, including Woods and Mark O’Meara.

“I don’t know if it’s a retirement announcement because I’m still teaching, but I don’t know about teaching touring pros anymore. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The 54-year-old Haney said he is interested in coaching junior golfers and friends and furthering the game in China.

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“From here on out I’m going to concentrate on junior golfers and doing my show and everything with the Golf Channel,” Haney said. “I’m really excited about what I’m doing in China because it’s a chance to not just help junior golfers but also impact a whole nation that’s growing in golf.”

Haney ended his six-year coaching association with Woods in May, resigning when Woods was dealing with a neck injury and trying to repair his marriage.

“It was something that I was thinking about for quite a while,” Haney said. “Nothing lasts forever. I mean, teaching, coaching, doesn’t matter who the player or what he sport or what the team is, there’s a life span.

“There wasn’t any one thing. It was just a whole combination of things. I just knew it was time for me to move on.”

Woods won six of his 14 major championships and 31 PGA Tour titles during his partnership with Haney. Haney said that Woods won 45 percent of the tournaments he entered during that span and finished in the top 10 85 percent of the time.

“It was an incredible experience, and I’m so thankful of he opportunity that I had,” Haney said. “I’m proud of how he did while I was helping him.”

Their split wasn’t unpleasant as Woods followed up Haney’s resignation announcement by thanking his former coach for his contributions and friendship on his Web site.

Haney believes that Woods is on the verge of bringing his game back together. And this might be the weekend he does it since the British Open is at St. Andrews, one of Woods’ favorite courses. Woods has been dominant at St. Andrews, winning the 2000 Open by eight strokes and the 2005 Open by five shots.

“I think he’s going to win the British Open this week,” Haney predicted. “Tiger is the best player, and he’s had great history there. When you look at players having history on certain golf courses, it usually bodes well for them in the future.”

Fourth-place results by Woods in the Masters and U.S. Open indicate that he isn’t far off his game, Haney said.

“I didn’t think he did too bad at those tournaments, especially considering everything he’s had to deal with this year.”

Haney is looking forward to season three of “The Haney Project.” After working with Charles Barkley in season one and Ray Romano this season, Haney said his third golfing project has been determined: Rush Limbaugh. The radio host and conservative political commentator has agreed to have his game dissected for viewers on the Golf Channel.

“He’s already been talking about it on his show, and he’s talking about it on his Web site,” Haney said. “He’s got a lot of listeners, like 20 million of them, so it’s obviously very good for the Golf Channel to have somebody like Rush on there.”

Including Limbaugh, all three Haney projects have participated in the American Century Championship. Could Haney be looking for a fourth pupil this weekend?

“I’ll have to keep coming back here because as the years go by I’ll have more and more students here,” he said.