Tiger Woods Considers Hiring Sean Foley as Successor to Coach Hank Haney

Tiger Woods is considering Sean Foley as a replacement for former swing coach Hank Haney.

Canadian-born Foley accompanied Woods during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, yesterday morning. Woods has been without a coach since Haney resigned in May after six years with the 14-time major tournament winner.

Two of Foley’s clients, Bridgestone Invitational winner Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair, practiced with Woods yesterday. During the round, Woods said he asked Foley to video his swing so they could look at it while he played. He didn’t rule out working with the coach more in the future.

“Certainly it’s a possibility, no doubt,” Woods said in a news conference. “But there also are a lot of other coaches out there that I’ve talked to.”

While Woods and Foley were linked together after walking a practice round along with Mahan during the Players Championship in May, Woods said at the time there was no connection between the two.

After reviewing yesterday’s footage, Woods said he was “heading in the right direction” with his swing and was “pretty excited about that.” Woods had been relying on his own video camera since splitting with Haney. Foley rarely walks on the course without a video camera slung over his shoulder.

Woods hasn’t won a tournament this year and hit a low point two days ago at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, where he finished 30 strokes behind Mahan in a tie for 78th out of 80 players.

Seven Wins

Woods had won his previous four tournaments at Firestone and had amassed a U.S. PGA Tour record seven victories overall at the course.

Woods, who finished fourth at the Masters Tournament in April and the U.S. Open in June, said he was surprised it took him so long to hit bottom.

“I thought I would have been here a little bit sooner, with all that’s going on,” he said. “But somehow I’ve been able to play a little bit better than I thought for a stretch, and then it finally caught up with me last week.”

Woods’s season has been filled with off-course turmoil. A one-car accident outside his Florida home in November led to his admission of marital infidelity. He apologized for his behavior in February and underwent treatment for “personal” issues before returning to the sport at the Masters, the first of the four annual major tournaments.

Underdog

He comes into the PGA Championship, the last major of the year, with 15-1 odds, an underdog to Phil Mickelson at 12-1. It’s the first time Woods hasn’t been favored to win a PGA Tour event since 1996 or 1997, according to Jeff Sherman, assistant manager at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Race and Sports Book.

Woods will play the first two rounds with defending champion Y.E. Yang and 1998 and 2004 winner Vijay Singh. Last year, Woods gave up a 54-hole lead at a major for the first time to finish as runner-up to Yang.

Woods, who has shot above par in three of his past four events, said the last time he struggled so much was when he changed his swing in 1997.

“I won one tournament in two years,” Woods said. “But then I had a nice little run after that.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Kohler, Wisconsin, at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

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