Sean Foley is a Toronto-based swing instructor for several tour players, including Stephen Ames, who is in the field this week at the Open. When I was on the golf team at Florida A & M in the early 1990s, I was a teammate of Stephen's younger brother, Robert. We competed against Sean, who played for Tennesse State. Even back then he was the consummate swing doctor. He is the only golf instructor I know who has read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Golfing Machine by Homer Kelley. He is equal parts Renaissance man, philosopher and golf geek.
This week he is my main man on the ground at Torrey Pines. Over the wonderful noise of the Pacific Ocean, he gave me his take on the first round and the course conditions.
"Patience is the name of the game at Torrey pines in the first round at the U.S. open. The golf course is playing very difficult, and creating and sustaining momentum during the round is extremely challenging as all missed shots are penalized without compromise. Those players who are able to accept the bogeys and bad lies increase their chances of playing well or, shall we say, surviving. This is my second U.S. Open. I was with Stephen at Oakmont last year. Even though the courses are completely different, the test is the same: A gruelling test that challenges the mind of the player and creates so many emotional reactions. Golf can sometimes be a game of who handles failure the best, and that is ever-present here at this U.S. open.
Stephen played well today but scorewise got nothing out of his round. He hit 12 fairways and 14 greens, which is always good in a major, but teed off late in the day so the greens were extremely bumpy and it was difficult to keep the ball on-line. When the greens get fast and bumpy like they do late in the round, short putts become tough to make. It looked like Stephen was trying to putt on a Brillo Pad on the 18th green. All in all we were happy with his 3-over round of 74."