Tiger Woods, Sean Foley split lowers Canadian golf profile | Golf | CBC Sports

GolfTiger Woods, Sean Foley split lowers Canadian golf profile

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 | 05:20 PM

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Tiger Woods, left, confirmed Monday that he has parted ways with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley of Burlington, Ont. (Tommy Gilligan/Reuters) Tiger Woods, left, confirmed Monday that he has parted ways with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley of Burlington, Ont. (Tommy Gilligan/Reuters)

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Canadian golf is a little poorer with Monday's news that Tiger Woods has parted ways with swing coach Sean Foley of Burlington, Ont. 
When news broke early Monday that Tiger Woods was parting ways with his Canadian swing coach Sean Foley, you can bet that somewhere Hank Haney had to parse his lips to stifle a grin.

Butch Harmon, too.

Heck, even Steve Williams probably muttered an "I told you so" under his breath and may have been joined by fellow caddie Mike (Fluff) Cowan.

Foley now joins Haney and Harmon on Woods' growing list of ex-coaches (there are just two ex-caddies of note).

Woods broke the news on his website.

"I'd like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship," he 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 ... this is the right time to end our professional relationship."

The split has a remarkable synergy to it.

Woods and Foley first publicly acknowledged they were working together at the 2010 PGA Championship, in which Woods missed the cut and then took the next four months off - a break made necessary, in part, because he failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs that year.

Almost the identical thing happened a few weeks ago at this year's PGA Championship as Woods missed the cut (badly) and failed to qualify for the post-season that started last week with the Barclays. Woods isn't expected to play next until the World Challenge, the tournament he hosts, on Dec. 1.

Validates criticism

In the wider view, parting ways with Foley validates at least some of the criticism that had come the coach's way as Woods struggled, a development that had at least something to do with the former No. 1's well-documented knee and back ailments. 

Many of those critics cited not just Woods' struggles, but a belief that the way Foley had his pupil swinging the club was contributing to his physical problems.

Foley still has plenty of backers and elite talent in his stable - one, Hunter Mahan, won the Barclays on Sunday - and it's now too easy to forget that Woods won eight tournaments since joining forces with Foley, taking back the world No. 1 ranking 18 months ago and hanging on to it for a little more than a year.

Even so, the critics were getting louder and more difficult to ignore, though Woods will surely maintain his decision had nothing to do with outside influences.

Bad for Canadian golf 

From a more narrow Canadian perspective, Foley's departure from the Woods camp has to be considered nothing but bad news. Woods still moves the needle more than any golfer in the world, including Rory McIlroy, and Foley's association with him and other elite talent was perhaps the most significant Canadian-centric development on the PGA Tour since Mike Weir's decline as a weekly contender.

Canada spawned Foley. He cut his teeth instructing here with such little-known former touring pros as Brian McCann and Jessica Shepley. In fact, Foley still works with many Canadian juniors from his base in Florida. His instruction pieces have now graced the biggest publications in the U.S. and Europe, but he had his first one appear in Golf Scene, a small Canadian imprint.

More so than those connections, it was Foley's presence in and around many Toronto-area golf courses, until relatively recently, that made his association with Woods so unique. Walk in to a dozen or so public and private Toronto courses and it won't take long for you to run into a club pro, staff member or regular player who counts Foley as a friend or acquaintance.

For that reason, Canadian golf is a little poorer with Monday's news.

Follow Peter Robinson on Twitter @PRGolfWriter

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