Tiger's search for new coach begins after Foley split

By Rex HoggardAugust 25, 2014, 8:47 pm

In the three months between the time Tiger Woods split with then-swing coach Hank Haney and began working with Sean Foley in 2010, the former world No. 1 played just five events. But it was clear, at least to Tiger, that he needed the proverbial second set of eyes.

In the wake of Monday’s news that Woods split with Foley the new elephant in the room has become “what is next” for the man with the most scrutinized golf swing in the history of the game?

“Presently, I do not have a coach, and there is no timetable for hiring one,” Woods said in a statement posted Monday on his website.

Whether Woods reaches the same epiphany now that he did in 2010 remains to be seen. What is certain is that his list of potential new swing coaches is starting to dwindle.

The social media consensus is that Woods – who was injured for much of 2014 and failed to post a single top-20 finish in seven events – should reunite with Butch Harmon, who he worked with from August 1993 through August 2002. That, however, isn’t going to happen.

“No I would not (reunite with Woods), and he’s not going to call and ask,” Harmon told GolfChannel.com on Monday.

Although Harmon maintains a monsoon of respect for everything Woods has accomplished, he’s also well aware of the demands of being Tiger’s swing coach and neither party is interested in a reunion tour. The same could be said for Haney, whose 2013 book “The Big Miss” did not sit well with Woods, and Foley.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Harmon figured.

Although there is no shortage of possible candidates after Harmon, finding the right fit for Woods, who has shown a growing affinity for TrackMan technology and a more scientific approach to the golf swing, is an exercise in competing interest.

Among the short list of possible replacements after Harmon it seems that Chuck Cook – who was ranked among the top 50 teachers last year by Golf Digest and whose Tour stable includes Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald – has emerged as an early favorite.

Although attempts to reach Cook were not successful, many of those polled on Monday said he would seem to be a logical choice to help guide an extremely logical and high-profile player.

“Chuck Cook is a TrackMan guy, his name will be batted around,” said Claude Harmon III, Butch’s son who teaches Ernie Els and Brooks Koepka, before adding with a laugh, “I know I’m not getting a phone call (from Woods).”

Most of the other possible candidates to replace Foley had the same outlook when polled by GolfChannel.com, including Todd Anderson, the 2010 PGA Teacher of the Year who helped coach Brandt Snedeker to the 2012 FedEx Cup title; Pete Cowen, a European Tour staple who guided Henrik Stenson to the same title last year; and Scott Hamilton, whose list of Tour players is a who’s who of Tour ballstrikers including Boo Weekley, Steven Bowditch and Brendon Todd.

Nor does there seem to be a consensus as to whether Woods needs a second set of eyes going forward.

“I don’t think he needs a swing coach,” Butch Harmon said. “If I were advising Tiger I’d tell him, ‘you’re the greatest player that ever lived, just go to the range and hit shots.’ Only he knows what his body can and can’t do. In this day and age you can get all the technical coaching you need with TrackMan. He’s good enough to do it himself.”

In a text message exchange Haney agreed that Woods doesn’t need a swing coach at this juncture, while others contend that the idea of going it alone is neither in Woods’ best interest or his DNA.

“He’s always had a coach. People say he should be a natural golfer, but he has always had a coach,” Cowen said.

And Hamilton pointed out that while there is plenty of information available via TrackMan and the PGA Tour’s ShotLink program, knowing how to use that technology has its own set of pitfalls.

“There are guys that manage without (a swing coach), but there is so much technology out there, both good and bad. You need someone to help you understand the technology,” Hamilton said.

The one thing nearly every swing coach pointed out is that Woods must come to terms with his physical limitations before he makes any more staffing decisions. At 38, Woods has played a full season on the PGA Tour just three times in the last seven years due to various injuries ranging from knee and Achilles issues to his most recent back troubles.

“I think he needs to understand what he wants to do, and his fitness is paramount,” Cowen said. “A swing coach won’t do any good if your player is not healthy. You can’t compensate for an injury. Technique has no part in that.”

Since teaming with Foley in August 2010 Woods played just 56 Tour events, winning eight times in the only two seasons (2012 and ’13) he managed to record a full schedule, which is likely why he didn’t sound as if he were in a rush to bring anyone new onboard on Monday.

“He knows what his body can do. He’s a very good student of the golf swing. Once his body gets healthy he can go back to playing the way he knows he is capable of playing,” Butch Harmon said.

Most observers agree Woods will return healthy in 2015. Whether he will have that second set of eyes to guide him through this next phase of his career is anyone’s guess.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.