Woods-Foley Relationship Continues to Grow at BMW

By Randall MellSeptember 9, 2010, 3:35 am
BMW ChampionshipLEMONT, Ill. – It’s official: Tiger Woods is buying into Sean Foley’s swing principles.

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.
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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

Poulter figures to undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in that pack at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed the chase pack's predicament the best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?