Tiger Woods’ former coach Sean Foley has admitted to “over-coaching” the former world No.1 during their four years working together.
Foley, the Canadian son of a Glasgwegian ex-pat, was Woods’ swing coach between 2010 and 2014. During that time Tiger won eight times on the PGA Tour but, significantly, failed to add to his haul of 14 major victories.
Despite finding success as the coach to a string of other high-profile names – including Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Sean O’Hair and Hunter Mahan – Foley continues to be best known for his four-year stint alongside Woods.
And, with the benefit of hindsight, he admits he would do things differently if he had the chance again
Speaking in the latest edition of bunkered (issue 182), Foley said: “Looking back on it now, I think I probably over-coached him. I was there at a time when he needed someone to support him.
“It was a time in his life when a lot of people who’d been in his life for a long time started to ditch him. I think, unfortunately, I approached it from the point of view that good technique will take care of everything.
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“Honestly, sometimes I giggle to myself when I think about it. Like, what was I even trying to tell Tiger Woods? Honestly. I remember one time he wasn’t chipping well and he asked me to take a look. If I had the chance again, I’d probably say, ‘Dude, you’re Tiger Woods. It’s chipping. Look within yourself. I’m sure you have the answer.’”
Foley added that the timing of their partnership was unfortunate, too. They started working together at the 2010 US PGA Championship, just nine months after Woods’ sex scandal was exposed.
“I started with Tiger when golf was pretty much as hard as it had ever been for him,” said Foley. “He said to me, ‘I came to you because you’ve helped good players become great.’ So, it was amazing but it wasn’t by any means easy. Imagine starting anything with someone as they’re going through the crushing aspect of divorce and custody issues.
“I don’t care how mentally strong you are, that’s not a function of your mind; that’s a function of your heart and when your heart is broken, it’s tough to really do anything well.”
• Read the full interview with Sean Foley in issue 182 of bunkered, on-sale from all good newsagents from this Friday. For subscriptions – including international subscriptions – click here.