Mahan, Rose defend swing coach Foley

By Jason SobelAugust 25, 2014, 2:30 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Sean Foley's pupils call him more than just a swing instructor.

He's part-mental guru, part-biomechanical engineer, part-motivational speaker and part-confidante all rolled into one slick-haired, tattooed, camera-wielding hipster package.

For the past four years, he also played another role – scapegoat. When Tiger Woods struggled, it was often blamed on Foley's teachings; when he prospered, it was often said that it happened in spite of him.

With Monday’s announcement that Woods is officially splitting with Foley to move in a different direction going forward, essentially he’s adding his name to the list of those who have labeled the coach a scapegoat during their time working together.

It might be perfect timing for Woods to make this switch, considering he’s still nursing a back injury and will be able to start anew when he returns to the range. There is some irony, however, in the fact that the announcement comes just one day after another Foley student, Hunter Mahan, claimed the title at The Barclays, which comes not far off the heels of yet another, Justin Rose, winning twice this summer.

As luck or coincidence or maybe intuition would have it, at Ridgewood Country Club this past week, I asked both of those players for their reactions to the ever-growing sentiment that Foley was the cause of Woods’ on-course travails.

“It's comical,” Mahan stated flatly. “It frustrates me and kind of angers me a little bit. But you know, that's the world we live in and that's just kind of the way things are, and Foley is better for it because he can handle a guy like Tiger – a lot comes with that and I think he's done a pretty good job of containing himself and not letting it bother him. He just does his job every day and does it better than anyone.”

Rose was more diplomatic, but no less adamant in his view that Foley has shouldered too much of the blame over the past half-decade.

“It’s difficult to hear,” he said, “because I put a lot of trust in him with my game and I believe in his abilities to help me with my game.”

To be certain, there were a few separate criticisms from the masses in play here.

One is that Foley’s teachings have led to a technically inferior swing for Woods. If he’d had enough attempts, Tiger would have ranked 168th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy this season, finding the fairway just 55.10 percent of the time. Is that an indictment of Foley or do the statistics of Mahan and Rose – who rank eighth and 74th, respectively, in total driving – prove that more blame should have been placed on the student than the teacher?

“You look at Tiger driving a golf ball and you look at Hunter Mahan driving a golf ball and to be honest, you look at how I drive the golf ball, it’s not like Sean’s missing a trick,” Rose explained. “It’s not like he doesn’t understand something, like his players can’t drive the golf ball. Some coaches have a certain method and their players hit six to eight [degrees] down on the driver and their players are never going to be great drivers of the golf ball. Sean doesn’t preach a method. From that perspective, I believe that he makes the appropriate fix for me. I work on the opposite things that Tiger works on. He’s trying to do the best job with each man from what he’s got to work with.”

Another major criticism is that Foley’s method caused undue pressure on Woods’ lower back, an injury which has plagued him for much of the past year, leading to him taking a second extended absence two weeks ago that will keep him out of competition until December.

“I think with Tiger,” Rose continued, “they’ve had to work around a lot of things. It’s probably very frustrating for Tiger and it’s probably very frustrating for Sean. … There are definitely moves that Sean is trying to get out of there that are compromising his health.”

And then there’s the constant criticism that Woods’ swing simply isn’t as good as it once was. That it pales in comparison with that of 2000, when he won three major championships and rarely ever hit one awry.

It’s this appraisal which so often leads to conjecture about why he left Butch Harmon’s camp in the first place and whether they could ever reunite once again.

“People say, ‘Oh, Butch 2000 – just go back to that.’ Unfortunately, it’s not possible, biomechanically and speed and wear and tear,” explained Rose. “I’m sure Tiger would love to do that; I’m sure there are many aspects of that Sean would love to recreate.”

“People have no idea who Sean Foley is and what he's doing,” Mahan said, “and obviously no one knows Tiger, so you're not going to get anything there. Most of the people haven't made any sort of effort to get to know Sean and understand what he's trying to do.”

For the past four years, Woods made that effort. He bought into Foley’s swing theories; he tried to listen, tried to make it work for him.

The results were mixed. Last year, he won five times; this year, even when he wasn’t injured, his game was a shell of its former self.

By officially cutting ties with Foley, he is essentially professing what so many others have claimed during this period: The instructor was the reason for his problems.

That might be true, but it shouldn’t serve as a full indictment of Foley’s skills as an instructor. The full picture must also include the resumes of two other high-profile players who have won this summer while crediting him – and while also empathetic to the constant criticism he’s received.

“I find it hard to see him criticized, because I believe a lot in him,” Rose said. “He’s a great guy and he’s sensitive. He takes it well and doesn’t take it too personally, but it’s difficult to hear when you’re giving it 100 percent.”

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.