Maginnes On Tap: Give Sean Foley some credit

Tiger Woods and Sean Foley talk Aug. 10 at the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods and Sean Foley talk Aug. 10 at the PGA Championship.

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8:20:01 AM ET. 04/19/2014




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Sean Foley is a genius. There, I said it but you are likely to hear it again and again. Ironically he is getting the last laugh while his prize pupil’s future is once again in question. But since Sean has been maligned for so long for Tiger’s failures, it’s time to start giving Foley some credit – maybe even a lot of credit.

Hunter Mahan and Justin Rose, who captured this season’s first two WGC titles, each have worked with Foley before he and Tiger Woods were introduced. Woods, for that matter, is leading the tour in total driving, a combination of accuracy and distance in which he ranks seventh and 18th, respectively. Whether or not you want to believe it, Woods is getting better in the areas that he and Foley have been working the last couple of years. If Woods has been held back, it is with the flat stick.

From the PGA Championship two years ago, it has been easy to target Foley for his failure to take the greatest player in generations back to the winners circle. Hank Haney chimed in on Twitter last year and engaged in a rather ungentlemanly one-sided exchange with Foley. Butch Harmon’s name keeps coming up as the potential savior for Tiger’s game, yet Harmon has demurred when those questions arise. All the while Foley just keeps doing what he does. That is, show up and help some of the game’s best players reach their potential.

If Foley was a self-promoter like so many others in his position, we would see him on the cover of every golf magazine. He could have dozens of golf schools and a team of teachers all over the globe, and who knows, perhaps that is in the cards. But at least for now Foley seems content with where he is and what he is doing with his core of players. He considers himself an avid reader and according to his bio, points to Gandhi and Malcolm X as inspirations. Not exactly a limited golf guy whose reading credits never went beyond Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book.”

If you punch www.seanfoley.com into your computer you get a real estate agent from California’s web site; www.seanfoleydvd.com will get you to the golf teacher. Not exactly the same kind of marketing that we see from some of the other top teachers in the game.

When you visit Foley’s site you can hear testimonials from Sean O’Hair, Steven Ames, and Mahan and Rose. One thing is evident: all have formed a bond with Foley. When O’Hair captured Wells Fargo a couple of years ago the first thing he did in his press conference was thank Foley for “changing his life.” Mahan and Rose have recently shown the same kind of support for their instructor.

It is not unusual for players to give credit to their instructors. It’s not new that they’d defend an instructor when others criticize. What makes this situation different is the fact that Foley has been able to maintain his individual relationships with high-profile players in light of the fact that every move he makes with Tiger is dissected and chronicled.

There are those who are going to judge Foley on Woods’ performance alone. That is the nature of the game today. But while that is going on, he has other students who are emerging at the top of the game.

Foley didn’t make Mahan or Rose the talented players that they are. But to a man they give him a lot of credit. Perhaps someday the rest of the golf world will do the same . . . regardless of whether Tiger ever wins again.

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