CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sean O’Hair not only is looking for his game, he’s now looking for a new swing coach.
O’Hair, who has missed his past five cuts and has not finished among the top 20 all year, has decided to split with Sean Foley after a relationship that began nearly three years ago in the Canadian Open.
During their time together, O’Hair won the Quail Hollow Championship and played in the Presidents Cup. But whatever had been going right started going very wrong this year, and it was time for a change.
O’Hair fired caddie Paul Tesori at the end of last year, and recently split up with caddie Brennan Little. Foley was next to go.
“He hasn’t been happy with how this year has gone, and he feels he needs to make a change in direction with his instruction,” Foley said Tuesday. “We had a good run up until the 2011 season. Sean is a good friend of mine. I love the kid. But this is business. I don’t look at it from an emotional standpoint but a rationale standpoint.
“He has to do what’s good for his career,” Foley said. “He’ll have my complete support, and I’ll always cheer for him.”
Foley more famously began working with Tiger Woods in August, and his stable includes Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose and Stephen Ames. For O’Hair, it was not an issue of time with the coach as much as it was wanting to change.
“What worked so well for so long … you keep doing the same thing and it doesn’t work as well,” Foley said. “It’s like in the NBA. You win a championship one year, two years later the coach gets fired for having a losing record. That’s the business.”
NELSON AWARD: Former PGA Tour commissioner Dean Beman has been selected for the Byron Nelson Prize, awarded to a person in golf who embodies the philanthropic spirit for which Nelson was known.
Beman was the architect for the PGA Tour business model, serving as commissioner from 20 years starting in 1974. Under his leadership, nearly all PGA Tour events devoted themselves to charity efforts.
“During my years as commissioner of the PGA Tour, I always pointed to the HP Byron Nelson Championship as the event other sponsors should use as a model in their own communities,” Beman said. “Byron Nelson was always held up as the gentleman and golfer who should be emulated by our members. For me, there is no greater honor than receiving a prize which bears his name.”
Beman will be honored May 24 at the opening ceremony of the Byron Nelson Championship. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which operates the tournament, donates $100,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice. Beman has selected The Duvall Home in Florida, which provides residential and day training to those with developmental disabilities.
WORLD PERSPECTIVE: The European Tour sent out a news release Tuesday on Lee Westwood, the No. 1 player in the world, hopeful of capturing what he considers to be the fifth major. That would be the PGA Championship at Wentworth later this month, not The Players Championship, which Westwood is skipping next week.
Westwood made it clear last year that he doesn’t rate The Players Championship among his top five, instead putting the World Golf Championships behind the majors.
Then again, he’s not a PGA Tour member.
And he’s not alone.
Martin Kaymer of Germany, who is No. 2 in the world and not a PGA Tour member, will be at The Players Championship next week. He referred to it as one of the majors “because of the world ranking points.”
But asked if he would rather win The Players or a World Golf Championship, he got even more specific.
“The World Golf Championships, and preferably the one at Firestone because it’s a fantastic golf course and a beautiful place,” Kaymer said. “It’s a small field of great players, and you can call yourself a world champion.”
FOOTBALL TIME: Back on the PGA Tour for the first time since the Masters, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer played as if they were home in Europe when they arrived for the Wells Fargo Championship.
They were invited to take part in a soccer game against a local club in Charlotte. They were joined by Mick Doran, the caddie for Camilo Villegas, and Stuart Cage, one of McIlroy’s managers.
About all that is known is the final score. The Charlotte team won 7-4. Details after that get a little fuzzy.
Kaymer said he scored the first goal for the European side and tried to inspire the team. That brought laughter from McIlroy, who said the German didn’t even show up until after halftime.
“It was good, good fun,” McIlroy said. “I think four or five players turned up, a few caddies. Played a local team from here who were a lot better than us. It was 4-1 at halftime. We got it back to 4-all halfway through the second half, and then they turned it on at the end and beat us. Luckily, no injury, so we’re ready to go for this week.”
Doran put it all into perspective.
“They were a good team, passing it beautifully, and we were just sort of chasing after the ball,” he said. “I think they let us score a few goals after the half just to make a game of it.”
DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy spent an hour on the putting green Monday at Quail Hollow while working with Dave Stockton, a two-time major champion and putting specialist who also works with Phil Mickelson. Stockton said he began working with McIlroy on Monday. … The Seve Ballesteros Foundation will be the charity for Europe’s PGA Championship at Wentworth next month, 20 years after the Spaniard’s last year of winning on the tour’s home course. Ballesteros won the PGA Championship and the World Match Play Championship that year. … Tommy Gainey already has won more than $1.25 million this year on the PGA Tour with a swing that is not exactly textbook. And that’s OK with him. “I don’t worry about what people say about my swing. I know it’s unorthodox. I know it’s ugly. But it works,” he said.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the seven sudden-death playoffs on the PGA Tour this year, four have gone more than one hole.
FINAL WORD: “I turn left for a living, and for some reason, my golf ball goes right all the time.” – NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, who has won the past five Sprint Cup Championships.