Woods said on his website Monday he will no longer work with Foley, the Canadian whom he hired when his game was at its low point following the upheaval with his marriage. The announcement came one day after another Foley pupil, Hunter Mahan, won The Barclays.
“I’d like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship,” Woods said. “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.”
Woods has been coping with back problems for more than a year. He had surgery March 31 to alleviate a pinched nerve, forcing him to miss two majors during his three months of recovery. He missed two cuts, withdrew from another tournament and had his worst 72-hole finish in a major after returning.
He is taking three months off in a bid to regain his full strength, and said this would be the right time to dismiss Foley. Woods is not scheduled to play again until his World Challenge in Orlando, Florida, the first week in December.
He does not have a coach and said there was no timetable to hire one.
“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 in a statement posted on Woods’ website.
Foley was the third coach Woods hired as a professional.
Woods began working with Butch Harmon as a teenager, and they changed his swing twice. The biggest overhaul was after Woods won the Masters by 12 shots. Many believe the new swing produced Woods’ most dominant golf, though he also was in his early 20s and had not had serious issues with his knee. Woods won eight majors while with Harmon, including seven in 11 attempts and an unprecedented sweep of them in 2000-01. They parted in 2003.
Woods went to Hank Haney and produced another memorable stretch with an entirely different swing. In a two-year period covering 34 tournaments, Woods won 18 times (including four majors) and was runner-up six times. That ended with the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, right before his fourth and most invasive knee surgery.
That was his 14th major, and Woods has not won another since. He remains four short of the record held by Jack Nicklaus.
Haney announced in May he was leaving Woods, although those close to Woods felt a split was imminent. Woods went through most of 2010 without a coach until hooking up with Foley for the first time at the PGA Championship in 2010 at Whistling Straits.
Woods won three times on the PGA Tour in 2012, and then delivered a five-win season in 2013 when he returned to No. 1. But he rarely challenged in the majors, some of that because of injury.
He missed two majors in 2011 while letting leg injuries fully heal. Woods had a share of the 36-hole lead in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2012, but he was not a factor on Sunday. He was two shots off the lead going into the final round of the 2013 British Open and fell back quickly.
He missed two more majors this year because of injury.
Foley, who first worked with Stephen Ames, has Mahan and former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose among his clients.
“It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport,” Foley said. “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.”