Woods appointed Foley as his third coach in the summer of 2010 after leaving the stable of Hank Haney, under whom he spent six years and won as many majors. Yet despite winning five titles last year in a run which hauled him back to No 1, his majorless drought extended to six years.
In this time, the Foley swing overhaul came under intense scrutiny with critics including Sir Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger urging him to ditch the obsession with a “restrictive technique” and return to “instinct”. Parker McLachlin, a former Foley student, took to Twitter to beg Woods to move from the Canadian with whom Woods plainly enjoyed a close relationship.
Foley, an approachable figure who is popular on the range, does boast his supporters, not least Justin Rose, the Englishman who won last year’s US Open and Hunter Mahan, who won The Barclays tournament at the weekend. But other detractors went so far as to blame Woods’s spinal complaint on Foley, because of the amount of torque the motion placed on his lower back.
Brandel Chamblee, the former PGA Tour professional who the Woods camp threatened to sue last year, was the most vocal of these naysayers and yesterday inevitable welcomed the news. “The only surprise is that it’s taken this long,” Chamblee said on the Golf Channel. “It makes perfect sense – it’s clear it hasn’t been a great fit. If Woods were a football team and Foley were the coach, he’d have been fired a long time ago.
“This is not to disparage Sean Foley in any way. He works with two of the best swings in the game of golf in Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan. But there is a buffet of coaches out there who could take Tiger more towards shot-shape situational type golf, which in my opinion is where Tiger needs to go.”
Woods is unlikely to be daunted by the prospect of overhauling his action yet again. He began working with Harmon as a teenager, during which time they changed his swing twice. The biggest overhaul was after Woods won the Masters by 12 shots.
Many believe that particular new swing produced Woods’s most dominant golf, though he was in his early 20s and had not suffered the serious issues with his knee that would later plague him. Woods’s eight majors while with Harmon included seven in 11 attempts and an unprecedented clean sweep in 2000-01. They parted in 2003.
Harmon, who is working with Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler at present, said of his former charge’s split with Foley: “In Sean’s defence, I had the easiest job in my 10 years [of working with Woods]. Tiger was the healthiest: Sean had the hardest job.”Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler at present, said of his former charge’s split with Foley: “In Sean’s defence, I had the easiest job in my 10 years [of working with Woods]. Tiger was the healthiest: Sean had the hardest job.”