Tiger on the defensive on book, putting

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA. (AP) - It didn’t take long for Tiger Woods to go on the attack in his first trip to the Honda Classic in nearly 20 years. But he was in the press room, not on the golf course.

His road to the Masters is not off to a smooth start.

After closing out 2011 with a birdie-birdie finish to win the Chevron World Challenge against an 18-man field, there were high hopes for Woods going into the new season. And the way he has hit the ball, there is reason for optimism.

But he failed to close out a win in Abu Dhabi with a share of the 54-hole lead against Robert Rock. In the second-to-last group at Pebble Beach while paired with Phil Mickelson, he closed with a 75. The putter is getting attention, especially after missing a 5-footer on the last hole to get eliminated in the second round of the Match Play Championship.

And now, excerpts from Hank Haney’s book on his six years as Woods‘ swing coach are starting to be released.

So when he was asked about the relentless scrutiny of his swing, his putting, just about everything, Woods fired the first volley.

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I think you’re one of the guys that does that, too.”

There was nervous laughter before Woods continued.

“It’s part of who I am and what I’ve accomplished,” he said. “I think it would have been probably similar if Jack (Nicklaus) was probably in my generation. Didn’t quite have the media scrutiny that they do now. And it’s just a different deal and I know that a lot of players don’t get the same analysis with their games that I do. But it’s been like that since I turned pro.”

When questions turned to the book, Woods grew testy.

Haney’s book, “The Big Miss,” is scheduled for release March 27, the week before the Masters. Golf Digest on Tuesday began to release excerpts through its tablet applications, and in one of them, Haney details Woods‘ fascination with the military, particularly the Navy SEALs.

“I was beginning to realize that his sentiment ran deep, and that as incredible as it seemed, Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL,” Haney wrote, referring to the summer of 2007. “I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about, it was clear that he had a plan. After finding out that the Navy SEAL age limit is 28, I asked Tiger about his being too old to join. `It’s not a problem,’ he said. `They’re making a special age exemption for me.’”

When asked about the book, Woods said his disappointment with Haney hasn’t changed. When asked his reaction to the excerpt, Woods replied, “Well, I’ve already talked about it.”

His agent, Mark Steinberg, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Haney engaged in “armchair psychology” that was “ridiculous.”

“Because of his father, it’s no secret that Tiger has always had high respect for the military, so for Haney to twist that admiration into something negative is disrespectful,” Steinberg said.

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