Tiger Woods wasted little time putting the final-round 75 in Dubai behind him.
His plane landed in Orlando at 5 a.m. ET on Monday. Three hours later he was on the practice range at Isleworth with Sean Foley.
“He’s not the best ever for no reason,” said Foley as he prepared to board a plane for Los Angeles and the Northern Trust Open.
Foley pointed out that he’s “seeing things in spurts, and you have to have spurts” before 'consistent excellence.'
But, he added, “when the wind started to blow, Tiger lost his feel for the low shot. So today we worked on a guaranteed shot, which is the low-bullet fade.”
Foley acknowledged that Tiger hasn’t had a lot of tournament reps, playing just two tournaments this year.
“You can sit on the range all day and look great but it’s one thing to do it on the range,” Foley said. “It’s another to do it in a practice round and another on the back nine on Sunday.”
Would Foley like Tiger to play more events?
“It’s not up to me,” he replied. “The record shows that his [schedule] hasn’t been a bad way to do it. His kids come first and that’s where he’s at.”
Foley did agree that with all the focus on swing changes, Tiger’s short game has suffered. But he’s convinced that can be remedied with a good week of work.
And to those who’ve wondered if making swing changes at 35 is somehow tougher than at 25, Foley offers a new age defense.
“If you study neuroplasticity,” he explained, “there’s not a whole lot of evidence to support the old adage that people can’t learn new things as they age. People can change when they’re 80.
“And we’re not talking about a huge change. It’s a conceptual change. When you hit 35 percent of your fairways it can’t be a whole lot of fun to play. We’re trying to get it where he can drive it better. The distance is coming back. And the accuracy will get better.
“We’re piecing the puzzle together nicely. It’s all been very positive. I’m happy with his understanding of what he needs to do.”
Foley’s happy. But the public and the press are impatient. They expect victories.
“When he feels more comfortable,” said Foley. “I imagine we’ll see that at some point this year.
“When you’re dealing with learning and motor patterns, there’s really no schedule. But he’s impressive to watch, there’s no doubt about that. When what I see in practice starts happening on the golf course, it’ll be fantastic.
“But it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.”
For his part, Foley doesn’t let on to feeling pressure to get Tiger to the winner’s circle.
He’s enjoying the ride.
“One hundred percent,” he says, popping off one of his favorite phrases. “Tiger’s a good guy. He treats me like all my other guys. He’s just a man, like you and me.”