It was perfect timing for Tiger Woods to announce yesterday that he was parting ways with Sean Foley, his swing coach for four years who was in the wings for eight Tour victories, no major championships but lots of drama.
Woods is good at drama and magnificent at making sure the public doesn’t forget him. Just when it sure seemed as if the golf world didn’t need Tiger anymore — that his era had limped to an end and that the fresh face and sweet swing of Rory McIlroy was there to pick up the fallen flag and carry it into the FedEx Cup playoff and the Ryder Cup — Tiger does drama. He says Foley is out, which is a good move. But he leaves the door open as to who the next coach will be, which is a bad move.
Woods has a thing about seeking publicity (and we have a thing about giving it to him), but it’s not serving him well. Don’t make this Foley announcement. Find a new coach, and then make the announcement. Save all the drama and speculation.
His new coach should tell him to let it go, to gladly let the spotlight follow McIlroy and the rest. The glare is flattering maybe 50 percent of the time; the rest of the time it’s a PITA and a huge distraction from the real work of not returning to the Tiger Woods of old — no can do — but of revitalizing his beat-up-but-still-potent middle-age body, mind and soul to find a swing.
His new coach has gotta tell Woods that he can pull off publicity stunts till the cows come home, but all that gets him is useless buzz and bad advice, not a good swing. Knock off the attention seeking. You want attention? Get a swing. You ain’t got a thing if you ain’t got a swing.
Butch Harmon could say that, but he won’t get a chance. Woods won’t want to go back to Harmon and be part of Harmon’s herd that includes Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson. Hank Haney burned a bridge and is out of the question. I like the choice of ESPN senior golf analyst Michael Collins, who wants Woods to pick Chris O’Connell, who works with Matt Kuchar.
All good, but the guy I like is someone who’s old, old school and off the beaten path. This is someone who in seven days will help with this and that with the swing (Woods is this close) and, because of his age and stature, will get away with saying: “Sometimes, son, the lowest ebb means the turn of the tide.” This guy will make the technical fixes but then jam a notebook in Woods’ chest and point Woods to the mountaintop, saying: “Come back when you can tell me what you already know about a golf swing.”