Tiger Woods has decided to part ways with swing coach Sean Foley after more than four years together, according to a statement released on TigerWoods.com.
"I'd like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship," Woods said on his website. "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.”
In his statement, Woods, 38, said he does not have a swing coach, nor does he have a timetable for hiring one.
Woods is recovering from a back injury and last week he said he will not be hitting any shots “for a month or two.” His next scheduled event is his own World Challenge event, which takes place Dec. 4-7 in Orlando.
Foley was Woods' third swing coach. Woods began his professional career with Butch Harmon and worked with him until 2004 when he switched to Hank Haney. Woods split with Haney in 2010 and hired Foley.
Known for his extensive use of video and his unorthodox teaching style, which incorporates hitting shots barefoot and hip-hop music, Foley also works with top PGA Tour stars Justin Rose and recent Barclays winner Hunter Mahan.
Since Foley began working with Woods prior to the 2010 PGA Championship, Woods won eight times on the PGA Tour, including five wins in 2013. However, Woods has not added to his major total of 14 since the 2008 U.S. Open.
During his time with Foley, Woods has battled through a slew of injuries, including his back, Achilles, neck and elbow. He missed this year’s Masters and U.S. Open following back surgery, and he was not a factor at the British Open and PGA Championship.
As Woods’ major drought continued and he continued to struggle with his driver, Foley endured criticism from many quarters.
After Woods shot 77 in the second round of the 2014 British Open, Golf Channel commentator Brandel Chamblee declared the end of the "Tiger Woods Era."
“I’d say this was a coup d’etat by self-immolation,” Chamblee said on the broadcast. “We’re talking about a guy who has willfully dismantled a golf swing that made him the best player in the world. Saying ‘I want to get better’ is one thing. But most people say that because, well, they’re not good enough, and they’re not the best. Well, he was the best, and he willfully dismantled the golf swing that made him the best player in the world.”
Chamblee said either of his two previous swings — Harmon’s or Haney’s — was good enough to break Jack Nicklaus’ major record.
“If he had never abandoned Butch Harmon’s swing or Hank Haney’s swing, either of them was good enough to ride into the sunset with 25 major championships,” Chamblee said.
“He keeps blaming his putting, but it’s not his putting (that is the problem), it is his swing, and he needs to sort that out,” Baker-Finch said. “Tiger should shoot a score every day until his next tournament, not hit perfect shots on the range with Sean and TrackMan. Just go play golf and enjoy getting it in the hole in the lowest number possible. I think that’s what he used to do when younger.”
At the Barclays last week, Mahan said the criticism of Foley was unfair.
“I hear them and I see their background and it's like, well, you don't even deserve it because you don't even know anything,” Mahan said. “It's comical the power some people have without doing any sort of homework. It frustrates me and kind of angers me a little bit.
“But you know, that's the world we live in and that's just kind of the way things are, and Foley is better for it because he can handle a guy like Tiger — a lot comes with that and I think he's done a pretty good job of containing himself and not letting it bother him,” Mahan said. “He just does his job every day and does it better than anyone."
For his part, Foley maintained that Woods' struggles in 2014 were related to injuries, not his golf swing. In a statement on TigerWoods.com, Foley said that he and Woods were parting on good terms.
"My time spent with Tiger is one of the highlights of my career so far, and I am appreciative of the many experiences we shared together," Foley said. "It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him."