So Sean Foley lashes out at golf bloggers and other naysayers for denigrating Tiger Woods. What else is new?
For sure, when Foley told Matt Adams on Sirius/XM Radio’s “Fairways of Life” on April 17 that criticism of the most famous golfer in his stable of PGA Tour pros had gotten “out of hand,” it was hardly the first time the apparently thin-skinned golf guru has told Tiger scolds to take a hike.
"They don’t even have a clue," Foley told Golf Canada a year ago about the many authorities who, at the time, were dumping all over him and Woods for what they considered an unnecessary, and at the time unsuccessful, swing overhaul.
But Foley did not stop at Champions Tour player Lee Trevino or TV analysts Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller. He fired salvos at Woods’ former coach, Hank Haney, and even got in a dig of his own at his student’s expense.
"When did Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller and guys like that forget how hard golf is when you have conflict and you don’t have clarity?" Foley asked, noting that Woods’ psyche and struggles with his short game were more to blame for his on-course woes than his swing.
Foley seemed to seek soap boxes far and wide for his attacks on the punditry. "I wasn’t aware that compressing the ball more made the ball go lower," Foley told Sports Illustrated/Golf.com in a March 2011 interview. "People need to get their facts right. This is science, not opinion."
Foley saved a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for Woods’ ex-coach -- and this was a year before Haney’s tell-all book about his former student hit the shelves. "There was nothing about what he was doing in his previous swing that made any sense to me," Foley told SI’s Farrell Evans.
Fast-forward to this week and it’s the same story, just on a different day.
"Everyone has a job to do, and I get it. But if it is about the game of golf, Tiger Woods is an extremely important part of the game of golf, and I think everyone understands that,” Foley said, basing his assessment on the fact that tour purses had skyrocketed since Woods turned pro in 1996. “It has just gotten to the point where the tearing down of Tiger as a person and a golfer has become just too much. It’s just out of hand."
Golf watchers have paid close attention to Woods’ game since he took the tour by storm as a 20-year-old. Interest in the way he played the game turned personal after his sex scandal went viral at the end of 2009, and the golfer’s sometimes churlish behavior -- like venting his frustrations by kicking a club at The Masters -- has hardly softened the judgments.
Still, Foley abruptly swung his 20-minute conversation from philosophy and swing techniques to a plea for everyone to lay off Tiger.
"I realize it is 2012 and we have dot-coms, and you have to write five articles a day, and you run out of things to write about," he said. "But we should be in a position where we are trying to help and lift up and support a player like Tiger Woods instead of tearing him down, because everyone in the golf industry is better off because of his existence."
The essence of Foley’s message? Give Tiger a break.
"Tiger is a wonderful person, and he is a good dude, and he lives a complex life,” Foley said. “I think it’s got to slow down, and it has got to stop, the daily referendums and the criticism."
For sure, his play of late -- the good (Bay Hill), the bad (WGC-Cadillac Championship), and the seriously ugly (The Masters) -- is more than enough to warrant continued scrutiny of Woods’ game. A little less petulance, both on and off the course, by the former No. 1 would surely go a long way toward ending what Foley sees as a daily drumbeat of negativity.