Is Tiger Woods Nearing Golf Supremacy Extinction?
It was a quiet morning in the golfing world. The US PGA Championships just concluded with Rory McIlroy at number one. People are getting excited for the Ryder Cup, and everyone's eagerly anticipating the return of the Tiger in December, after he had to pull out of different tournaments due to a back injury. But, golf enthusiasts everywhere raised their collective eyebrows when news broke about Woods' split with swing coach Sean Foley, prompting many to ask "Now what?"
It's been a rocky year for the world's most recognizable golfer, and his December return starts looking questionable now that he's without the services of the man who stood next to him for four years. There aren't any reasons given yet for the split, but it didn't look like it was negative parting. Both Woods and Foley had nothing but praise for each other and good wishes for the future. Foley even went as far as to say that working with Tiger is the highlight of his career.
What the Future Holds
What's the big deal though? This kind of thing happens in sports all the time; team players get traded, fighters switch camps, and body builders change gyms. But, golf is different from almost every other sport in this respect because the relationship between the athlete and the coach is much more personal.
Tiger seems to be in no hurry to find another coach, instigating many to speculate on his next move. He still plans to compete in the World Challenge event in Isleworth, Orlando, but to what capacity will Tiger threaten the higher echelons of the sport today?
The rumor mill's been hard at work trying to sift through the nuances of whether or not Tiger is done as an elite golfer, and this latest move just adds fuel to that fire. His tenure with Foley didn't grant him any titles, which may have been a factor in the parting. Is Tiger Woods making moves to ease back into retirement, or is he planning to be more competitive in future tournaments?
Tiger has come back from much worse. With Foley gone, however, he won't have the same support system that carried him through the darkest part of his career.
The Thirty Percent
Foley is the man who watched Tiger's every move for the last four years. Given the limited amount of movement golfers employ in their sport, coaches pay attention to the tiniest detail of their wards' bodies; you can't just replace that.
New research also suggests coaches - and caddies have a more significant role in securing a win for their golfers than many realize. During a tournament, a golfer is expected to walk - a lot. Whether it's chasing balls, or moving to the next hole, golfers have a lot of downtime before they can call on their skills again.
Just imagine spending that ten to fifteen minutes thinking and strategizing about a single shot. It's a momentous buildup to a split-second release that may spell the difference between success and failure. It's a psychological death trap for any golfer, especially if the first few shots didn't go their way.
Only the person standing next to them can lead them out of their own funk. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington credited his comeback win in the British Open to his then-caddie Ronan Flood. Harrington had two bad shots going into the water to start the tournament, and it was Flood who encouraged him to shoot for a playoff match with Sergio Garcia.
It remains to be seen if Tiger can come back from his injuries on time, but whether he can perform without Foley's guidance is an even bigger question mark that golf enthusiasts will have to wait for till December to figure out.