Mahan: Victory 'poetic justice' for instructor Foley
Thursday, August 28, 2014
NORTON, Mass. – What was earth-shattering, stop-the-presses, the-sky-is-falling news to many in the golf media was to Hunter Mahan good fodder for humor.
Tiger Woods splits from instructor Sean Foley?
Wow. Mahan seized upon the opening. “Great, now you have more time,” he told Foley. “We made a joke about it or two.”
It was an easy topic to kid about, too, because Mahan knew that Foley had the news in perspective, that he took Woods’ decision as part of the business, not something personal. In fact, on the first day of his new life as Woods’ ex-swing coach, Tuesday, Foley was at Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Mass., giving a golf clinic. He then toured one of the most tranquil pieces of golf real estate you will ever find, the perfect setting for his mood, which was as peaceful as he could have imagined.
And why not? Foley insisted that the split with Woods was as amicable as possible, that he wasn’t at all stressed out about it.
In fact, “the first person who texted me Sunday night after Hunter’s win (at The Barclays) was Tiger,” Foley said.
Mahan wasn’t surprised by that at all.
“The great thing with him and Tiger, I think they they’ll remain friends after this. It’s not going to be some sort of high school breakup, where it’s going to be back and forth,” Mahan said.
Approached at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he’s been working with Mahan, Foley was in good spirits. He had nothing but positive things to say about Woods and how the split was handled. “I am going to write a book, though,” Foley said.
“Yes. It’s going to be titled ‘Thank you,’ and when you open it up it won’t have any writing.”
Ba-da-bing. Consider that Foley’s way of saying you can forget about any kiss-and-tell book of his four years as Woods’ swing coach, much like Hank Haney did with “The Big Miss.” Though their partnership didn’t produce the major victories that were part of the Butch Harmon era (eight) or Haney years (six), Foley said he appreciates the opportunity to have worked with Woods and hasn’t an ounce of bitterness.
Mahan saw it up close and personal, and insists the public might not have the correct picture.
“It was a great partnership. I know they’ve got a lot of respect for one another,” Mahan said. “I think they both feel good about the decision they made and things are going forward. I don’t think there will be any awkward moments between them. I think they’ll remain friends for a long time.”
Mahan concedes that he felt his victory Sunday at the season’s opening playoff event in some ways vindicated Foley.
“I think maybe it was poetic justice that it happened that way. I think that (Justin Rose) and I both want to play well for Sean because of the criticism he gets for teaching Tiger, which really doesn’t make sense. When other people say he does a great job with us and bad job with him? I think that doesn’t make much sense.”
Having worked for years with Foley, Mahan is an unabashed fan.
“It did feel good to win, knowing that there would be some good stuff written about him. You get angry when people are talking stuff about that when they don’t know anything and the information they have is incomplete.”
For years, Foley has insisted that playing professional golf is way more than the swing, that it’s not all about theories and biomechanics. He has said in the past that he tries to put golf in perspective against the backdrop of a complicated world in which we live.
“He’s definitely a mentor to me in different ways,” Mahan said. “From a golf perspective, he brings a lot of golf knowledge, a lot of swing knowledge. He’s grown a lot as a teacher. He’s become a teacher of professional golf. He’s a better teacher, a better communicator.”
And in regards to his association with Woods, Foley appears to be communicating that all is well, that there are no regrets, no bitterness.