What Tiger Needs For His Next Swing Coach

Tiger Woods has fired Sean Foley.

Ok. So officially, Tiger says only that he “will no longer be working with Sean,” but that’s just a nice way of putting it. Here’s the official statement from Woods’ website:

“I’d like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship,” Woods said. “Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him. With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando, this is the right time to end our professional relationship.”

Did anyone NOT see this coming? His five wins in 2013 aside, Tiger has—by his standards—failed miserably in the Major tournaments that matter to him most.

I think we need to be fair to Foley, however. The Tiger of 2013 is not the Tiger of eight years ago. Injury and mental distractions have reduced him from all-time great to a “merely good” PGA TOUR player. Worse, his Mojo has been broken since YE Yang ran him down at the 2009 PGA Championship. It was at that point that all of the other players on TOUR realized that Tiger was human after all and started playing like they had a chance to win when he was in the field.  At this immediate juncture, there are plenty of players who a sane betting man would pick ahead of Tiger in any given tournament.

My sense is that if Tiger wants to continue his quest for Jack’s record, he’s got to find a swing and a coach that minimize his chance for injury. Even as a younger man, knowledgeable golf observers noted that the strain the swing was putting on his body could shorten his career. For my part, I have always thought that he would not play as long as people might hope.

If Tiger were to ask my advice, I’d tell him to find a guy who can teach him to swing like Tom Watson. At 64, Watson continues to be able to play better than most. Yes, he missed the cut in his last PGA TOUR start, but look who joined him on that list.

Watson’s swing is timeless.

Tiger also needs a head shrink. He needs someone who can convince him to dial back the pressure he puts on himself. I think that if Tiger thinks less about winning (and particularly about winning Majors) and more about simply getting inside the top ten on weekends, the Majors are more likely to come.

Neither of those are likely to come to pass.

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3 thoughts on “What Tiger Needs For His Next Swing Coach”

  1. What Tiger needs is someone who can help calm his game, give him confidence, and not be a sycophant.  That eliminates many teachers, leaving one good choice – Butch. 
    But perhaps he could really just use a mentor/father figure – Jack, Arnie, Lee, Gary or Tom.  Trevino says he can fix Tiger in 5 minutes.  If one of them wants a project, take project Tiger. 

    The swing is secondary.  Tiger knows as much as the swing coaches at this point, and he needs to find a swing which doesn’t hurt him, not be forced into a swing that someone else thinks he needs. 

    This is what I don’t get, I am 230-240 off the tee, 90% fairways .  I carry a bunch more weight and 10 years on Tiger and my back usually has some level of hurt to it.  I swing easy, and work though swing issues mostly on my own.  Tiger swings 20mph or more faster than I do.  Can he not ease up, swing easier, and still not get it 300 into the center of the fairway, just about every time?  If he is there, he is going to win tournaments.  And if he is in the fairway, his likelyhood of reinjury drops dramatically.  He just has to stop killing the ball. 

    New coach or no, Tiger is going to improve next year.  I am not making my “Tiger gets no majors” bet next year.

  2. I’ll agree with Martin – up to a point. He needs a mentor. Lee Trevino would be a good choice. So would Gary Player.

    But it’s going to take more than a year to get over the “history.”

  3. I think that when you’re coaching yourself, you run into the same problems as when you act as your own lawyer or editor. You’re too close to the problem. Further, when things go wrong, you end up beating yourself up because you didn’t see the problem ..

    At the very least, he will need another set of eyes.

    Notah, perhaps?


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