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Golf Tidbits: Trouble brewing in Tiger's Camp?

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Early in his career, Tiger Woods employed Butch Harmon and Mike "Fluff" Cowan as his swing coach and caddie, respectively.

Harmon first started working with Woods when Tiger was romping through the amateur ranks in the early 1990s. They officially split as player and coach in the summer of 2002, but in Woods' own words, he hadn't really worked with Harmon much over the previous two or three years. As is Woods' style, there was never a reason given why he stopped working with Harmon, though there were come clues.

Woods keeps information about himself under wraps as much as possible, and doesn't like to be shown up by anyone, especially someone in his own camp. There were murmurs that Harmon was a little too willing to talk to the media about Woods' game.

After Woods started working with his current swing coach, Hank Haney, there was a disagreement between Harmon and Woods about the state of Woods' game. Harmon was working as a television commentator at the time, and he said he thought Woods was in "denial" about the problems in his game. That drove the two further apart, but after time, they settled their differences.

Meanwhile, in February 1999, Woods made a change and dumped Cowan as his caddie. There was speculation that Cowan was getting too comfortable with his job, and his "celebrity" was becoming bothersome to Woods.

Using those two cases as a starting point, things could be souring between Woods and the braintrust of Haney and caddie Steve Williams.

Haney, acknowledged as one of the top teachers in the game, had worked with Woods' good friend Mark O'Meara before joining Tiger's camp in 2004. Haney has adapted to Woods' way of not talking much to the media and when he does, he does not saying any of substance about Woods' game. However, his celebrity profile was raised recently by the show "The Haney Project", in which Haney tries to get the hideous hitch out of Charles Barkley's golf swing.

Any doubts he might have had about Haney might have been exacerbated at the Masters. After the second round of the event, Woods was seen berating Haney on the practice range. Woods' anger started on the 18th hole that day, when he hit his second shot over the green, then pitched his third to 50 feet.

Those poor shots led to a closing bogey, and sent Woods' anger through the roof. While Woods was berating Haney on the range, Williams quietly walked away. He probably had gotten the same treatment moments earlier, and didn't want to hear it anymore.

Williams has long pushed the envelope since becoming Woods' caddie, though the two have become such good friends that Tiger was Williams' best man at his wedding. Because of that, Williams' leash is longer than the one Cowan enjoyed while he served as Woods' caddie.

Where would Woods go if he decided to break ties from the above pair? Television commentators like Johnny Miller have stated in the past that Woods knows his swing as well as anyone and would do well enough being his own swing coach.

As for Williams, even his statement from earlier this year that he has "no respect" for Woods' top rival, Phil Mickelson, didn't get him fired. Short of getting arrested, Williams will be lugging Woods' bag around courses around the world for years to come.

WILL THE LPGA SHORTEN SCHEDULE AFTER ANOTHER EVENT FOLDS?

Earlier this week, the LPGA announced that the Corning Classic will no longer be a part of the tour's schedule after this year. That may not seem like a big deal to most people, but the tournament is the longest-standing event with the same title sponsor held at the same course on the LPGA Tour.

This year's tournament tees off May 21st and it will be its 31st straight year at Corning Country Club. There is only one LPGA event held at one place that has been on the LPGA Tour schedule longer. The first women's major of the year - the Kraft Nabisco Championship - has been held on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course every year since 1972. The difference in the two is that the sponsor changed several times at the event many still call "The Dinah."

The Corning Classic has been a staple on the LPGA Tour since 1979. The tournament has had a long list of Hall-of-Fame winners, including - Donna Caponi, JoAnne Carner, Ayako Okamoto, Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam.

With the loss of another event, the LPGA will have to shorten its schedule next year. If the tour doesn't shorten the schedule, players and fans alike will have plenty to complain about.

Take at look at this year's schedule to date: one event then a week off, two events before another week off, three straight tournaments then two more weeks off before this week's event teed off. The tour has completed six events since February 12th and had four weeks off. And there is another week off next week.

It's tough for any player to keep a rhythm with that much starting and stopping of tournament play and fans need to check the schedule constantly to see whether the tour is playing. The LPGA has a hard enough time getting television ratings in the spring, let alone in the fall. This season ends November 22nd, why not start earlier and finish earlier? It can only help the tour's television ratings.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Congratulations to this year's one-man Hall of Fame class - Lanny Wadkins. Wadkins won 21 times on the PGA, including one major, the 1977 PGA Championship, and captained the 1995 U.S. Ruder Cup team.

- Look for a lot of big names to play over the next few weeks. The next two events - the Quail Hollow Championship and the Players Championship - are played on quality courses, then the tour heads to Texas for three long- standing events that regularly enjoy strong fields.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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