Grant Waite stuck between Woods and the tees

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2014
Grant Waite
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
TOP COACH: Kiwi golfer Grant Waite has been talked about as a possible new coach for Tiger Woods.

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Kiwi Grant Waite is at a crossroads in his career - and the world's most famous golfer might choose which path he takes.

The recently turned 50-year-old from Palmerston North has been suggested as a leading candidate to be the next coach of Tiger Woods which, if he gets the job, would likely be at the expense of a tilt as joining the Champions PGA Tour.

Waite, who did not respond to requests to comment, is in Canada coaching and playing as he tries to get his game up to Champions Tour standards.

His mother, Rae Waite, confirmed her son wanted to play on the 50+ tour, and said she had not heard the Woods' rumours but had her fingers crossed they were true.

''It'd be great for Grant. I'd be so proud of him. I already am of course, but I think he'd do a fantastic job, he's got a great way with people and he's got a good brain for playing and coaching.''

Waite won once on the PGA Tour, at the Kemper Open in 1993, and was runnerup to Woods at the Canadian Open in 2000.

Manawatu Golf Club professional Andre White, who is a friend of Waite's and did a small coaching stint with him several years ago, suggested Waite would succeed whichever path he chose.

White has worked closely with New Zealand PGA Tour professional Tim Wilkinson.

''I was talking to Tim the other day who had just played with Grant and he said Grant was still ripping it, still hitting it very long and straight and still had that smooth swing.''

That smooth swing is what has sparked rumours behind Waite joining Woods.

Woods has complimented Waite's swing in the past and with the Kiwi now ranked inside Golf Digest's top 50 coaches, the move made sense.

Woods has not commented since dropping coach Sean Foley.

White believes Waite has the game to join the Champions Tour, but said it was a case of now or never.

''I think he'd do a great job and he definitely has the game, though he hasn't played a lot of top competition golf lately. With the Champions Tour you have to do it and get on there when you're as young as possible.

"You don't want to be trying to crack it at 55 or 60, you want to do it when you're 50. But then, if Tiger Woods comes knocking, that'd be tough to turn down.''

White said what made Waite so appealing as a coach wasn't just his smooth swing, but his knowledge of the game and how well he understands why he hits the ball so well.

Long time New Zealand golf coach Mal Tongue said Waite had all the characteristics to be a good coach, but predicted Woods would go back to Butch Harmon.

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''The thing with Grant is he's had quite a few coaches himself, he had a great, great swing which was technically pretty good. He's a bit off the wall and you need to have that to be a good coach, you need to come up with new ideas.

"If Grant gets [to work with] Tiger, good on him, it's a potential career-maker. It would catapult him up, if you have Tiger Woods behind you, who else would you need?

''If I was Tiger, though, I'd be looking at when I was playing my best and want to go back to then, and that was with Butch.''

- The Press

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