Sean Foley, Tiger Woods’ former instructor and as insightful a mind as any on tour, spoke favorably Tuesday at the Honda Classic about Woods’ desire to trade time spent practicing for time spent with his children.
“Compared to when I started working with him,” Foley told the Toronto Sun, “I’d say he’s in a far better place with that.”
Foley is learning firsthand just what that’s like. With two young sons of his own, Foley, like Woods, has scaled back his workload. The 40-year-old instructor said he is now limiting himself to three players, and in years past he was so overworked that he often mixed up the names of his students. According to the Toronto Sun, Foley admits that the baggage associated with coaching the world’s top player (and arguably most recognizable athlete) took a toll on him more so than the long hours logged with Woods on the range.
At this point, both Woods and Foley seem to be feeling the effects of the tremendous time and efforts each has spent honing their craft. They’re also experiencing a new source of satisfaction and accomplishment that is more fulfilling and less momentary than hoisting a trophy.
“If you win a tournament, it feels good, but you go home and your kid takes a bee-line at you and jumps in your arms that just feels better,” said Foley. "So I’m sure, as we all get older, we all have this kind of discussion with ourselves. And I’m sure [Tiger’s] had that.”
In February Woods acknowledged that he’s spending less time practicing now than ever and more time with his kids: “I just have to manage my time practices differently. Over the years, especially now that they’re getting a little older where they’re getting more activities after school, that plays a role in my practice time and it’s just life. It’s just the way it is. I would much rather have it that way than not be able to see my kids.”
Priorities for both Woods and Foley are changing, and Foley has admiration for Woods’ public disclosure of that fact.
“The golf world doesn’t want that, but he’s my friend, and to watch him with his kids, he’s easily one of the most patient fathers I have ever seen,” said Foley.
“My hat’s off to him because I think he’s seeing things for how they matter, and if that upsets the golf world, then so be it.”
It seems as though Foley attributes Tiger’s recent woes not to injury or a lack or trying, but rather to Woods’ changing views on what’s important in life. Does Tiger even want to return to top form? Regardless, Foley hasn’t ruled out Tiger rediscovering the kind of play his fans are longing for.
“He’s Tiger Woods. If he wants to, he will. It’s that simple.”