Don't chide Foley for Tiger's woes


The sun came up Monday morning, Sean Foley well aware of the impending reverberations to hit the golf world, his tenure as Tiger Woods' swing coach having been brought to an end with a news release that was posted on the golfer's website.

If Foley was despondent or shocked or upset or even solemn, he certainly did not let on during a phone interview in which he mostly thanked Woods for the opportunity and acknowledged that sometimes a parting such as this is inevitable.

"We both sensed it," Foley said. "I know the world won't want to believe that two people can go in different directions without being upset with each other. It was a wonderful opportunity. I'm very grateful. This is not a sad day."

Foley knew what he signed up for back in 2010 when Woods called him on the Saturday night of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, his struggles on a Firestone Country Club course he otherwise has owned a clue that his game was a mess at the same time he was trying to put his personal life back together.

Woods would need more than a year to win again, but he captured nine worldwide titles under Foley's guidance, including five in 2013, a player-of-the-year season in which he had the second-best scoring average, the best all-around ranking, as well as the season money title.

But Woods didn't add to his 14 major titles under Foley, posting four top-10s in 12 attempts while also missing four majors due to injury.

And while Foley has become fodder for a multitude of critics as Woods failed to win one of the four biggest tournaments and his struggles with the driver continued, he should not be blamed.

While the golf swing experts can pick apart the various nuances of the swing and try to decipher what Woods is doing right or wrong amid Foley's influence, the fact is that there is too much that is unknown.

Woods' former teacher, Hank Haney, was suggesting as long as four and five years ago that the golfer was not putting in the work necessary to succeed. Practice sessions were less, commitment not the same. That's one man's opinion, but if that is the case, then how is it Foley's -- or any teacher's -- fault?

And then there is what happens behind the scenes. Woods' practice sessions aside from tournament play are not open to the public to be poked and prodded. While Foley might have offered advice, who said Woods always took it? He is his own man, with his own thoughts, and many players use bits and pieces of what they are offered.

A coach can only do so much. He can't give advice between the ropes. He can't necessarily control how much a player practices or even works on his short game. It is an individual sport, and the blame almost fully rests with the guy hitting the shots.

It is true that Woods' inability to figure out the driver and how to get it in play consistently has been a vexing problem. And yet, how much better was it five years ago when Woods won seven times worldwide?

In 2009, Woods ranked 86th in driving accuracy, hitting just over 64 percent of the fairways. Last year, he was 69th although his percentage was just 62.5 percent.

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