Tiger Woods and his swing coach Sean Foley have parted ways.
Foley is the guy behind the revamped swing that has become the subject of rampant debate in the golf world. He has worked with Tiger since 2010 — a tumultuous period in which Tiger missed a bunch of time due to injury, fell to 58th in the world, and then returned to No. 1 before his most recent string of injuries.
He won nine tournaments during that time, but no majors.
Tiger thanked Foley in a statement, saying, “Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him.”
Foley coaches some of the top players in the world. Guys like Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan swear by him. He’s one of the most eccentric characters in the sport, as this paragraph from a 2010 ESPN article shows:
“An avid reader, Foley engages in conversations that allude to Copernicus and Newton, biomechanics and myelin, the material that grows on neural pathways through rigorous practice, facilitating repetition of human movement. ‘For me, the ultimate, easiest golf lesson would be with a mechanical engineer,’ Foley said. ‘I wouldn’t have to change how I personally think about the swing. With Tiger, it wouldn’t be over his head, and the material wouldn’t be new to him.'”
As BI’s golf expert Jay Yarow noted last year, Foley taught Tiger a controversial swing concept called “stack and tilt.” Here’s how it works:
“In this method, a player keeps his weight centered, instead of shifting towards the right foot during the back swing. In the follow-through, the torso flexes, and the spine tilts. The idea is to keep the player balanced, simplifying the golf swing.”
Foley’s quest to turn Tiger in the perfect golf-ball-hitting machine has been heavily criticised by some.
The Golf Channel’s Brandlee Chamblee is probably his harshest critic. In 2013 he called Tiger “over-coached,” and said of the swing Foley gave him, “I think he’s got way too much going on. It’s a very complicated golf swing that he’s trying to work on, that much fold, shaft lean, the down and the up that he has, the excessive down, the excessive up.”
Paul Azinger blamed Tiger’s struggles on his frequent swing tinkering throughout his career — of which Foley was a vital part. Said Azinger in July:
“I think one of the big differences that’s very rarely articulated is the fact that while Tiger in his dominance always — for whatever reason — was in this quest to get better, I don’t remember Jack ever saying that. Jack might have made some tweaks and twerks, here and there, minor tweaks and twerks, but Tiger has made astronomical changes in a quest to get better. As a result, Tiger has actually gotten a little bit worse. I think we can all pretty much see that.”
Tiger recently said he’ll take a few months off to rest his injured back. He says he has no timeline for hiring a new coach.
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