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Lee Westwood, instructor Sean Foley part ways

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When he arrived at Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open earlier this week, Lee Westwood did so as a man without a teacher. The tour veteran confirmed that he and instructor Sean Foley terminated their teacher/student relationship at the end of last year.

The pair had been working together since last year’s Open Championship, where Westwood finished third. After that point, however, Westwood didn’t finish inside the top 25 of any tournament on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the 2013 season.

Westwood began the 2014 wraparound season with three consecutive made cuts in November and December, including a tie for third at the Franklin Templeton Shootout. He’s fared much worse once the “Serious Season” began, however, finishing tied for 47th at the Farmers Insurance Open and missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“I just wanted to work on swing positions and stuff like that a bit more,” Westwood told Golfweek. “I didn’t feel like Sean coached like that, so it didn’t really fit what I wanted to do.”

Much is embedded in Westwood’s statement. Without placing blame on either party, given Foley’s methodology and Westwood’s apparent learnings style, it’s clear why the two were ill-suited to work together. But a decline in Westwood’s game occurred long before he decided to work with Foley.

The 40-year-old famously took the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings from Tiger Woods in October 2010, and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the OWGR as recently as February 2013. He’s currently ranked No. 33 in the OWGR.

On the bright side for Foley, his stable still includes Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan. He’s also freed up a roster spot for the top golfers who seem to be lining up to work with him. Last year, Foley turned down a chance to coach Luke Donald due to time constraints, which resulted in Donald decision to work with instructor Chuck Cook, who also coaches Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley.

Westwood, for his part, had worked with Pete Cowen up until the 2012 PGA Championship where the golfer missed the cut. But his rank of 168th in the PGA Tour’s Strokes-Gained putting statistic implies that he might be better off searching for a putting guru than a swing coach.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Joe

    Feb 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    The fact that Lee fought his way back from the brink tells me all I need to know about his character. I give him tons of credit for that. I have seen interviews with Foley, and to me, he comes across as flakey. I don’t appreciate guys that act like they are thinking on a different level from everyone else.

  2. Pooch

    Feb 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I think Lee Westwood is still one of the great golfers we have.If he could find a great short game teacher even Dave Pelz maybe he could close out the big tournaments he has missed.
    I don’t like what Foley has done to Tigers swing.I watched Tiger on the tee box and he looked so stiff and mechanical. The fluidity he once had is gone.I still think Foley’s swing puts a lot of pressure on Tiger’s knee.
    I don’t think Butch teaches a system but teaches the game of golf.
    I don’t want to see Tiger go back to any of his former teachers but take it upon himself to fix the problems and just swing the club like he used to.

    • Jack Nash

      Feb 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Tiger Went to Foley because of his coaching success yes, but mostly because his former teachers although successfull couldn’t help him with his bad knee. Foley’s technique allows Tiger to swing pain free. Unfortunately swing like he did for over 30 years it has taken its toll. Also when you have habits engrained over that period of time they’re a lot harder to break. Harmon and Haney did little other than be around for all his Majors. They got their pound of flesh. I think Tigers looking to a healthy future and an ongoing attack on Jacks record.

  3. cgasucks

    Feb 16, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I must be living under a rock…I didn’t know Westy was working with Foley in the first place!

  4. Matthew Carter

    Feb 15, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    To each his own.
    Good luck Lee!

  5. Square

    Feb 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    One of my favorites. I root for him when he’s in the majors. Seems like a super nice person with a funny wit. Go get one with it Lee!

  6. tom stickney

    Feb 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Hope Lee finds his way; love to see him win a major or two…sometimes coaches and players don’t mesh. Not anyone’s fault- it just didn’t work

  7. yo!

    Feb 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    There are as many opinions about the golf swing as there are golfers. It comes down to people believing what they want to believe. Then they look to find someone who believe likewise.

  8. pk20152

    Feb 14, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Lee can change clubs, balls, instructors, fitness trainers, whatever… he just doesn’t have it between the ears to win a major. He’s this generations Colin Montgomerie

  9. David Dorans

    Feb 14, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I can assure everyone that he will not be returning to Pete Cowens stable either. There was a very sour ending to that relationship in the way Lee went about his business. Let’s just say that when he back tracked to Pete, asked for his help, and offered big money he got a not to polite two word answer! So as a result, look for him to be joining Mike Walker, who worked alongside Pete for many years……….Heard it here first………

  10. Progolfer

    Feb 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Good move Westy. As a professional golfer myself, I can’t understand how guys work with Sean Foley or any instructor that makes guys fit a mold or theory based on preference (another is Hank Haney). Instructors like Butch Harmon– who like to make very small changes and maintain an individual’s general motion– always seem the best to me. If you’re working on stuff that’s going to make you worse for a long time, it’s usually not the best way to go…

    • Setter02

      Feb 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      So Woods, Mahan, Rose have cookie cutter swings… EVERY golf coach/instructor has a theory, EVERY ONE… And no professional golfer in the world or history of the game can make quick changes to something that has been beaten into creating who and what they are as a player currently.

      This is more grasping at straws as his clock is ticking. He needs to make putts, stats don’t lie, especially when the sample size is so great.

      • Kammer

        Feb 13, 2014 at 10:54 pm

        wow, you are the king/queen of blanket statements.

        BUTCH’S theory is to work with the golfer’s natural MOTION.

        • Progolfer

          Feb 14, 2014 at 12:06 am

          Setter02,

          I just don’t see the point of messing too much with what has gotten a player to a high level, otherwise that player becomes too technical and no longer plays golf, but thinks golf. Westwood’s strength was ball-striking and as soon as he joined Foley, he started to miss more. Westwood FINALLY got the putter working (based on a simple tip from Ian Baker-Finch telling him to relax over the ball, not a technical tip) at the British Open last year and if he didn’t start working with Foley at that point, he would’ve dominated that event and won his first major. He started thinking about his swing, and under pressure he crumbled and wasn’t his usual self.

          You’re absolutely right that every instructor has a theory, but I don’t think an instructor should force the player to just focus on hitting “perfect” positions. Too much of today’s instruction is focused on making perfect swings and not on the art of hitting shots. The players that last the longest and PLAY the best had very unique swings– i.e. Trevino, Couples, Jones, Nicklaus, and Palmer to name a few– and owned their own swings. Every human being has a different physiology and anatomy and it’s illogical to make one size fit all.

          Golf has gotten far too technical and has moved away from poetry and art to science and making everybody a robot.

          Kammer,

          You nailed it on the head.

          • Christian

            Feb 14, 2014 at 2:49 am

            That’s a funny comment, esp. the part about Foley wanting his players to hit certain positions. Neverless from above i read that Westwood said

            “I just wanted to work on swing positions and stuff like that a bit more,” Westwood told Golfweek. “I didn’t feel like Sean coached like that, …”

          • Progolfer

            Feb 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

            Christian, I think you were overlooking my point.

            I was speaking in generalities when I wrote, “… I don’t think an instructor should force the player to just focus on hitting ‘perfect’ positions.” Lee Westwood obviously wants to work more on swing positions (as he said), but if you know more about Foley (which I’m assuming readers do) you will find that he basically teaches Stack & Tilt– which is more geared towards maintaining certain spine angles and body angles throughout the swing– which I was referring to when I wrote, “Every human being has a different physiology and anatomy and it’s illogical to make one size fit all.” Westwood just wants to work on simple club positions, not spine angles and body positions and setup angles.

            I hope this helps clarify my comments.

    • Drew

      Feb 14, 2014 at 4:46 am

      Agree about Foley, but don’t lump Haney into that category. I actually think Tiger’s best swing was with Haney circa 06, 07. Tiger lipped out a put for a 62 in a major in 07. His swing was beautiful then. Heck, it was pretty darn solid in 2009, too. He won six majors with Haney.

      Haney doesn’t teach a method like Foley. Haney, like Leadbetter and Butch, learned all their stuff from John Jacobs, which is allowing ball flight dictate what to fix. And swinging on plane. Haney’s first instruction book is one of the best ones a golfer can own, and I own about all of them.

      Foley teaches a single-plane, robotic, driving range, S&T swing that mangles the wedge game. His swing may work for some, but it’s way too driving range oriented for me, and doesn’t transfer well to the course, where you have to hit from uneven lies, from the rough, and hit pitch shots.

    • Jack Nash

      Feb 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Haney and Harmon did nothing to take the pressure off Tigers left knee. They didnt know how. That’s why Tiger went to Foley. His is more than a technical style. There’s also a philisophical style.

      • Joe

        Feb 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        I’ve heard that for a couple of years now, but still cannot think of another single player that has worked with either Haney or Harman, that has had constant knee issues.

  11. Does

    Feb 13, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Ben,

    top 3 finishes in 5 majors doesn’t mean you are awful at putting. Or are in need of help at all.

    • Ben Alberstadt

      Feb 13, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Would have had a couple wins in majors if not for the putter.

  12. Willy

    Feb 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Good. As a Westwood fan, I wasn’t thrilled he went to Foley. But, he knows best. He’s gotta make a living!

  13. RumtumTim

    Feb 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Love those little digs at the end that you so like to do.

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News

New year, new gear: A list of players who have switched equipment companies

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Editor’s note: We filed this story for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report.

The new year brings with it the promise of change, and for many PGA TOUR players, that means new equipment. This time of year is the closest golf comes to free agency, with players switching “teams” to new manufacturers. With many equipment contracts expiring with the end of the year, we’re on the lookout for players who have made big changes in their bag (and often to the logo on their hat).

Here’s a list of what we’ve seen thus far, with players listed by their new company (and their previous one in parentheses). We will continue to update this list with new additions.

PXG
Adam Schenk (Mizuno)
Luke List (free agent)
Hudson Swafford (free agent)
Danny Lee (TaylorMade)
Sung Kang (Titleist)
Jim Herman (TaylorMade)
Kyle Stanley (free agent)
Henrik Norlander (TaylorMade)

Srixon
Matt NeSmith (Callaway)
K.J. Choi (Ping)

Head over to PGATOUR.com for the full piece.

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Equipment

American Express, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship Tour Truck Report: BK to Srixon? MCA has a ton of new shafts, Rickie goes graphite

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TaylorMade

Most of the big action for Team TaylorMade is taking place in Abu Dhabi with Rory and Tommy in the field. After extensive weeks of testing, this is what they have in the bag this week

Tommy Fleetwood WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (tipped 1 inch, 44.75 inches)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Rocket 3 (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (42.5 inches)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @18.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 80 TX (41.25 inches)

Irons: TaylorMade P7TF (4-PW) 
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Wedges: Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (52-10S, [email protected], 60-08T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue  S400

Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro 3
Grip: SuperStroke Mid Slim 2.0

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (D, 3W, 5W, 7W, and wedges), Iomic Sticky @12:30 (irons)

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x ’21 Proto

Rory McIlroy WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (45.5 inches, 59.25 lie, D4)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80 TX (43.25 inches, 58 lie, D4)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @ 18.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7MB (4-PW)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 7.0 (6.5 in PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-08LB)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper (34.25 inches, 2.5 loft, 70 lie)

Ball: 2021 TaylorMade TP5x (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (58R 1+1, logo down)

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (10.5 degrees @9)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 7 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 8 X

Irons: TaylorMade P7MC (3-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (50-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-09LB)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Grips: Golf Pride ZGrip Cord (+3 double-sided tape)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Proto (33 inches, lie at 70, 3.5 loft, D4)
Grip: TaylorMade Red/Black

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ’21 PIX

Other TM news 

Doc Redman put the new Aldila Ascent Red 70 TX in his SIM2 (60 TX pictured below).

Sepp Straka put the new MCA Kaili White 60 TX in his SIM2.

Titleist

The Fujikura Ventus Red trend continues with Russell Henley moving from his KBS TD to Ventus Red 7 X in a TSi4.

Tyler Duncan was testing a custom K Grind lob wedge. He was inspired by Kevin Na’s win and looking at Aaron Dill’s pics on IG. Can you blame him?

Justin Thomas (Abu Dhabi) moved out of Ventus Red 6 TX (tipped 1 inch) in his TSi3 (9 degrees) into a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 X. According to my source, JT was looking for a specific feel with the driver and also one that dialed in the launch windows on a little cutter he has been working on. We will keep you updated if it sticks or if any of the info changes.

Callaway

Akshay Bhatia put the new Apex Utility Prototype in play with a KBS Tour Hybrid Prototype 105 X shaft. Shay also put the new Epic Max LS driver (9 degrees @8.5) with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green “Hulk” 75G 6.5 TX.

Kevin Na tested Callaway’s Epic Max LS (9 degrees) with a Graphite Design Tour AD GP 6 X. No need to panic, that original Epic gamer ain’t goin’ anywhere till it keels over and dies.

Phil Mickelson was spotted testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X shaft in a Mavrik Sub Zero. Not confirmed if it will indeed go in play.

Ping

Scott Stallings (non-staff) put a Ping G425 LST (10.5 degrees @11) driver in play with an MCA Kaili White 60 TX (tipped 1 inch @45.25).

Abraham Ancer (non-staff) also converted to the Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @7.75) with an MCA Tensei AV Raw Blue 65 TX (tipped 1 inch @45).

Cameron Champ lost his clubs en route to Palm Desert and the Ping Tour squad had to build a brand new set of sticks from scratch, top to bottom. Thankfully the gamers showed up and Cam was left with a fresh new backup set.

Srixon

Rumor has it that former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka has inked a deal with Cleveland/Srixon to play its Z-Star XV ball, ZX7 irons and Cleveland Zip Core Wedges. Koepka showed up to Palm Desert with a new set of irons with Tour Issue X100 shafts, a Srixon utility, and his trusty Nike Vapor Pro 3-iron and TaylorMade M5 driver with an MCA Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft. We will continue to update to confirm or deny the rumors. Awesome news for Srixon and BK if true.

Cobra

Rickie Fowler made some significant changes to his bag coming into Palm Desert. The Cobra staffer put the REV33 MB’s back in the bag this time with a fresh set of Mitsubishi Chemical MMT 125 TX graphite shafts. Fowler, who has tested quite a few different shafts over the years, going from KBS C-Taper S+ to Tour Issue X100, loved the integrity of the MMT’s.

In testing, they tried a set that was soft stepped as well as the current set that is straight in. The overall takeaway was integrity on mis-hits and hitting a very specific flight window all while keeping spin the same. Fowler also had the new Cobra RadSpeed Driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 60 TX shaft.

Jason Dufner put the new Aldila Tour Concept 60 TX in his Rad Speed Driver (70 TX pictured below).

Free Agents

Scottie Scheffler finally swapped out his TaylorMade P730’s for a brand new set of P7TW’s (5-PW). Like his older set, they come fully loaded with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts. Scottie did keep his Srixon Utility 3-iron and Z785 4-iron in the bag, however.

Newly minted free agent Ryan Moore showed up to the Desert with a bag only a true gear junkie could love. The six-company bag featured a TaylorMade SIM Driver, TSi2 3-wood, Srixon hybrids, Mizuno MP-18 irons, and Cleveland Zip Core wedges.

Paul Casey put the Titleist TSi3 driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft.

KBS seeded out a new Proto graphite shaft. The yet-to-be-named new edition to the TD line has a higher modulus material on the bottom third to increase stability and lower torque. The feedback with the original TD from players with fast speeds: it needed to be stiffer. This “newer version,” which will probably only come in the category 4 and 5, is very firm.

Patrick Reed went back to his Ping G400 LST driver—that’s all on that.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 American Express

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GolfWRX is live at The 2020 American Express as the tour returns to the mainland United States following its Hawaii Swing.

Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, and of course the tournament’s host, Phil Mickelson, will all tee it up in La Quinta, California, this week.

We have an abundance of special galleries as new gear floods the tour as players return to the continental U.S. for the first time in 2021, as well as general galleries for your perusal.

Special galleries

General galleries

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums. 

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