Editor's Note: Click here for Davis Love's response.
The announcement came as no surprise. After all, Woods hadn’t won a major title since hiring Foley in 2010 and 2014 had been a disaster – even if injuries were a big part of the problem.
And so the speculation began – and continues, even though Woods said on Monday that he’s in no hurry to find a replacement.
Who will Woods hire next? The rumors that he would try to go back to Butch Harmon, who was his coach during his most dominant days, started instantly. That’s not happening. Harmon works with Phil Mickelson and Woods and Mickelson sharing a teacher would be roughly the equivalent of the Yankees and Red Sox sharing the same manager.
Hank Haney? Forget it – did you read the book?
Swing coaches worldwide have been mentioned. One list of candidates included the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee – who wouldn’t be a bad choice – and Woods’ ex-wife, Elin Nordegren.
There’s one name that appeared on ZERO lists who would be the perfect pick for Woods, even though he’s never been a fulltime swing coach, mostly because it would have involved a massive pay cut.
Before you roll your eyes, give it some thought. Love is the son of the late Davis Love Jr. who was one of golf’s most revered and respected teachers before his tragic death in a private plane crash in 1988. Because of who his father was, Love grew up around great golf teachers – among them Harvey Penick – and has an understanding of the golf swing and how to fix swing flaws that goes beyond most of his peers on Tour.
For years, Love has been a go-to guy on the range when players are struggling. Golf is unique in that it is the one sport where competitors will help one another when one of them is struggling. Remember the last time Woods had a hot putter, back in 2013? He credited the improvement to a tip he got from Steve Stricker.
Love is a very confident teacher. Years ago, Tom Kite, who was one of Love’s mentors on Tour when he first came out, approached Love on the range in Greensboro and asked Love if he would take a look at his swing.
Love agreed – on one condition. “I don’t want to walk out here tomorrow and see you asking someone else for help,” he said. “I’ll tell you what I think but you better listen and you better not be trying something else a couple of days from now.”
Kite, as Love explained later, is one of those guys who is constantly seeking swing advice. “If a guy walked up to him on the street and suggested a change, Tom might listen to him.” Kite agreed and the two men went to work.
Love doesn’t just know the golf swing, he knows how to teach the golf swing. He’s been doing it in one form or another all his life.
There’s more – Woods likes Love, which is a statement that can’t be made about a lot of other players. He also respects him, which is an even shorter list. They’ve known each other since Woods first started playing Tour events as a teenage amateur. It is impossible not to like Love. Woods would listen to him and he would enjoy spending time with him. That’s no small thing. Plus, Love wouldn’t worry about telling Woods the truth about his swing or his game because he doesn’t need the job and won’t be worried about getting fired.
The timing is perfect. Love turned 50 in April. He can play on the PGA Tour forever because he has 20 victories, which makes him a member for life. He played 22 times on the PGA Tour this year and his highest finish was a tie for 35th place. Clearly, he could migrate to the Champions Tour whenever he wants and probably beat up 6,500-yard golf courses with slow greens.
But he doesn’t really want to do that. Back in June, he stood in the locker room at Congressional Country Club – during the event sponsored by Woods’ foundation – and talked about his future.
“I’m going to play here (PGA Tour) for as long as I can,” he said. “I know there will come a time when I have to go over there (Champions Tour) but I hope it isn’t for a while.”
Most top players feel that way when they turn 50. They still believe they can find the magic one more time while competing against the best in the world. Reality sets in at some point and off they go to the world of 54-hole, no cut tournaments. Love knows that time will come – but, at the moment, isn’t very fired up about it. (For the record, he'll make his senior debut this week in Hawaii.)
Why not take a hiatus for a couple of years and see if you can fix the greatest player (arguably) in golf history?
There will still be plenty of time to be successful on the Champions Tour if and when Love chooses to go there full time. He is already a lock Hall of Famer but this would be a unique addition to his resume.
Think of it: Won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship; Played on six Ryder Cup teams and captained the 2012 Ryder Cup team; Fixed Tiger Woods.
Love can do it. He might even want to do it – if asked.
It isn’t as if there’s a no-brainer, this-is-the-guy-for-Tiger swing coach out there. Why not try something out of the box?
The last time inside the box worked in a tournament Woods truly cares about was six years, and two swing coaches, ago.