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.”

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''