He’s a believer, a convert.
That was the big news of the day at the BMW Championship in Woods’ continuing bid to resurrect his game.
Foley worked with Woods again on the practice range before Wednesday’s pro-am and followed him early in the round. Afterward, Woods went as far as saying he is “committed” to Foley’s methods and likes where his game’s headed.
Those are large admissions in Woods’ world as he overhauls his swing for the third time as a professional.
But while Woods is committed to what Foley’s teaching, he isn’t committing to the coach yet.
In the midst of a news conference where he sounded very much like he was officially bringing Foley on board as his coach, Woods was asked point blank if Foley is now his coach.
“He’s coaching me,” Woods said.
They’re still in the courting phase.
“We’re working on it,” Woods said.
So what’s the problem?
Hunter Mahan remembers his first dance with Foley before he committed to him as his coach two years ago. Mahan knows the multi-level dimensions of the courting process in golf. And he sees wisdom in what he suspects Woods is doing.
This, Mahan believes, is about more than Woods committing to Foley’s teaching philosophy. It’s also about the partnership they’re considering, the relationship and the nature of their personalities.
It isn’t easy getting in Woods’ inner circle. A swing coach is often a confidant. There’s a trust the best swing coaches forge that goes beyond the value of a golf lesson.
“When you introduce a new coach into your game, it’s a big change,” Mahan said. “It’s a big step.
“Your coach is going to be with you a lot, on and off the course. You’re going to get personal, to know each other very well. So you really need to make sure your personalities mesh.
“Even though the information a coach is giving may be good, if your personalities don’t sync up, it just won’t work out. It won’t work if your personalities clash.”
Foley officially began working with Woods a month ago, and despite the expected stumbles in understanding a new swing, Woods is clearly making progress.
In the first two FedEx Cup playoff events, Woods has recorded five scores in the 60s.
That’s one more than he posted in the eight PGA Tour events he played leading into the playoffs.
Woods will tee it up Thursday at the BMW Championship looking to win his first PGA Tour event since he won this tournament a year ago. He’s also looking to run his streak of rounds in the 60s to four. After starting the FedEx Cup playoffs 112th on the points list, Woods has climbed to 51st. He made up ground tying for 12th at The Barclays two weeks ago and tying for 11th at the Deutsche Bank Championship last week, but he needs another good week to move into the top 30 and advance to the Tour Championship.
The progress bodes well for Woods, who is looking to win at Cog Hill for the sixth time.
'I just have to keep heading in the right direction,' Woods said.
Foley is clearly helping. Woods is hitting more fairways. His misses are less wild.
“I’m pleased at the progress I’ve made in my game working with Sean,” Woods said. “That’s been nice to see the progress, to be able to go out there and hit the golf ball the way I know I can, to know the fixes and understand the concept. That is something I am proud of. I’m showing some good signs so far and just got to keep building.”
Saying he was “committed” to Foley’s philosophy bodes well for the future of their relationship and the possibility they’ll officially become a team.
“I needed to understand the whole concept before I committed to what I was doing,” Woods said. “I’ve committed to the concepts, and more than anything, I understand what he’s trying to teach. So that’s the biggest thing.”
Woods said he’s advanced more quickly understanding the new swing and how to fix it than he did overhauling his swing under Butch Harmon and Hank Haney.
Mahan isn’t surprised.
“It’s very simple,” Mahan said. “Tiger will get this in a couple months. He will get it a lot faster than he did with Butch and Hank. Sean’s teaching is based on scientific principles. It’s not theory. It isn’t what he thinks. It’s what he knows, what has been proven.”
The relationship might be the last piece Woods needs before committing entirely to Foley as his coach.
“I think it’s going to be a good partnership,” Mahan said. “Tiger wants to figure things out himself a lot of the time, and Foley will give him exactly what he needs. That’s what makes Foley a good coach. He knows how to talk to a player. It’s good to have information, but if you don’t know how to talk to a player, it doesn’t do any good.”
So the courting continues.