Will Tiger again be the artist instead of the mechanical robot?
Finally, Tiger Woods parted ways with his swing coach Sean Foley on Monday.
“I’d like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship,” Woods said on his website. “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. With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando, this is the right time to end our professional relationship.”
Foley said his time with Tiger was “one of the highlights of my career so far, and I am appreciative of the many experiences we shared together.”
“It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport,” Foley said. “I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him.”
Woods noted that he does not have a coach and “there is no timetable for hiring one.”
While Foley’s mechanical approach may be a good fit for less talented players like Justin Rose or Hunter Mahan, a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Woods needs someone capable of understanding his genius. It was clear that Foley was not that person. He seemed to turn Woods into a robot and his swing seemed to lack the imagination and the natural flow from the days when Woods would dominate majors. It also seemed to impact Woods on the green for Woods has had trouble reading the greens since 2010, especially when the speeds have changed.
Woods may have hired Foley to help fix his swing while he was more limited physically. When he gets healthy, he may be his best coach. Or maybe someone like David Leadbetter can gel with Woods. But it was evident that person was not Foley, and players and former players started to speak out about the weird relationship.
Paul Azinger told Golf Digest that under Foley, Woods has “gone from the artist to the engineer. And it’s difficult to watch a Vincent van Gogh paint by numbers. And we’d all like to see him become Vincent van Gogh again.”
“We want to see Tiger come back and get all this stuff out of his head. The golf swing takes a second-and-a-half,” Azinger said. “What’s running through his head in that second-and-a-half that’s caused him to lose face and path awareness, because that’s all a block and a hook is? Something’s happening in the strongest, the greatest mind that golf has ever known. It’s different and he’s got to fix it. It’s not just physical.”
There is probably too much baggage for Woods to team up again with Butch Harmon or Hank Haney, his two previous coaches. But Woods probably realized that for him to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and maybe even 20, he needs to swing naturally and joyfully again without thinking about every minute detail about the swing and paralyze himself by micro-analysis.