Swing coach Foley steps into Tigers lair

By Doug FergusonMarch 16, 2011, 1:41 am

Transistions ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. – Sean Foley had a peaceful Tuesday morning on the PGA Tour. No more than a half-dozen people paid attention as he walked a practice round with a client who was coming off a strong finish that was sorely needed.

That would be Stephen Ames, who tied for third in Puerto Rico.

It’s that other client – Tiger Woods – who brings Foley more scrutiny than ever, and lately, more criticism.

Woods was 100 miles away in a made-for-TV exhibition on his home golf course, although that won’t stop the growing debate about where he is in this “process” of changing his swing, and whether he is heading down the right path.

Foley was expecting this when they first began working together last August at the PGA Championship.

“When I started with Tiger, I didn’t think it would be a month and then he’d kill everyone,” Foley said. “Remember, I got him right after Akron, the low point of his professional career.”

It was last year at Firestone, where Woods had won seven times and had never finished worse than fifth, that he had the worst 72-hole score of his career (298) and tied for 78th against an 80-man field.

A few months later, Foley said he stopped reading golf stories and turned the volume down when watching golf on TV.

He says the criticism doesn’t bother him.

“Look, I’m a Canadian who at 19 was a white kid at an all-black university,” said Foley, who played college golf at Tennessee State. “This couldn’t even be called criticism what I’m going through now.”

With Woods, criticism comes with the territory.

“For some reason,” Woods said last week with a grin, “I tend to get a little bit more scrutinized than most players do, analyzed to the nth degree about what goes on within one round of golf. That’s something new to him. He has not quite faced that. But he said the one positive thing is I’m always on TV, so he gets to look at a lot of golf swings.”

Hank Haney caught it just as bad, if not worse, when he was revamping Woods’ swing through 2004. One player jokingly said he was thinking about suing Haney for loss of wages if Woods didn’t regain his form.

Woods eventually picked up Haney’s instruction and went on to win six majors and more than 40 percent of his tournaments, astounding numbers that no one else in this generation has come close to matching—except for Woods earlier in his career.

Foley says he has an “alligator’s hide” when it comes to taking criticism. Trouble is, he also has an alligator’s mouth when it comes to talking, and he replaced a swing coach who has rice paper for skin and prefers to do his talking in 140 characters or fewer.

Haney took Twitter to an extreme last week during the Cadillac Championship.

It started last September when Foley said in an interview with foxsports.com, “Let’s be honest about this, it’s not like he was flushing it with Hank.” Then came an interview with golf.com in which Foley said nothing about Woods’ previous swing made any sense to him.

Haney fired off more tweets than Vijay Singh hits balls on the practice range, using Woods’ results as affirmation.

“I think it was more of a reaction to what I had said that I never fully understood what they were working on,” Foley said. “He’s got every right to comment back. But to the extreme and the amount … I was like, ‘Do you have anything else to do?’

“Tiger and Hank won a lot of majors, a lot of tournaments, and you can’t take that away from the guy. And he helped Tiger,” Foley said. “He’s allowed to say what he wants. If I offended him, I didn’t mean to. But Tiger helped build Hank’s career, not the other way around.”

All this must be somewhat amusing to Butch Harmon, who is not immune to criticism. Harmon recalls hearing the skeptics after Woods won the Masters by a record 12 shots and decided to overhaul his swing.

“Everyone said we were crazy, that I was going to ruin him,” Harmon said Tuesday.

It worked out OK.

Even now, as it was when Woods was with Haney, there are a number of experts who think Woods ought to just go back to Harmon and repeat what he was doing in 2000 when won 10 times around the world, including three straight majors. Harmon says it’s not that simple. The equipment is different, Woods’ physique has changed and “he’s had three surgeries since I had him.”

Harmon came from a no-nonsense family of golf teachers – father Claude, a former Masters champion, along with brothers Billy, Craig and Dick, who died five years ago. He also had the experience of taking Greg Norman to No. 1 before working with Woods.

His only advice is to Foley as a coach, not what Foley is coaching.

Harmon says Foley has it the toughest because he took the job when Woods was at his worst – not only with his golf game, but trying to patch together a personal life torn apart.

“I had it the easiest,” Harmon said. “I had him when he was a teenager. He was young. He did everything I asked him to do. He wasn’t married. He didn’t have those outside problems. Sean is young (36). He’s got a big ego. He’s been thrown into a difficult situation. He probably got Tiger at the worst time. When Tiger left me and went to Hank, he was still a good player.”

Harmon said he has talked to Foley about not letting the media beat him up, to accept praise and criticism in equal measure, and to expect the latter far more often.

“He’s never been in the hot seat,” Harmon said. “And this is a hot seat.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.