"I was too arrogant": Top golf instructor Sean Foley on time with Tiger Woods

"I was going into Desert Storm! And I knew too, I knew I was going to be compared to everything he had done at 22 years old."

Matt Chivers's picture
Fri, 12 Nov 2021

"I was too arrogant": Top golf instructor Sean Foley on time with Tiger Woods

Top golf instructor Sean Foley has admitted to being "too arrogant" and "overcoaching" Tiger Woods during his four-year stint with the 15-time major winner.

Foley is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, golf coaches in the world. He has shown this in his work with people such as Woods, Justin Rose, Danny Willett and Lydia Ko.

The man from just outside of Toronto joined Woods for the first time at the 2010 PGA Championship, the season after Woods picked up six PGA Tour titles.

Foley's time with Tiger came under intense scrutiny from various members of the golf world and the top coach has been very open about his time with Woods.

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"I would say at that time, I was too methodological and I think the original players that I met on tour, it was perfect for all of them - I was too arrogant. I underestimated the state that he (Tiger) was in," Foley told Claude Harmon III at GOLF's Top 100 Teachers Summit.

"He won five of his last six tournaments in 2009, came back and by the middle of 2010, he couldn't break par. But nothing changed, he still had the same swing, same putting and same chipping.

"I overcoached him in the sense that I thought a lot of the issues were technical, more so than where they were at. That being said, I could say that about everyone I've coached. You don't get it right all the time.

"We're still very close and I was there for him at a time when everyone was leaving his world and I was coming into it. I was going into Desert Storm! And I knew too, I knew I was going to be compared to everything he had done at 22 years old.

"I understood it was going to be difficult but I was there for him. I defended him, I loved him, I did my job as a coach. It's irresponsible to think that you could do it again, everyone's a genius if they can do it again."

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Woods experienced a lot of success under Foley, who was the third coach he teamed up with during his professional career. He had previously worked with Butch Harmon and Hank Haney.

He secured his first victory for three years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2012 and he followed this up with wins at the AT&T National and the Memorial Tournament in the same season.

In 2013, he won five times including yet another trophy at his beloved Bay Hill and he also won the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Major championships still alluded him though.

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When the pair split in 2014, Foley had lived his dream of coaching the best player in the world and Woods described Foley as "one of the outstanding coaches in golf today."

Even though Foley has worked and continues to work with top players, he was in awe of the extra mile that Woods would go to. His dedication was like no other and he reminisced about this to Harmon.

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"His mind, his breathing, his understanding of how much he had to slow down, it's all next level. We were talking about the late factor, the first time I met Tiger I was meant to show up at 7 am. I showed up at 10 to 7 and he told me I was 20 minutes late," Foley added.

"He is the only one who has ever been 30 minutes early, so there is a lot to say about that. That might be worth 12 majors actually over 15 years, but Tiger fully believed that you should get through your whole wedge practise and short iron practise without hitting the ground.

"He would hit 100 balls and there would be no sign that his feet had been on the ground whatsoever."

Players, fans and experts love to hear stories like this from Foley and it whets the appetite and desire for Woods to return to the PGA Tour as quickly as possible.

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