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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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Tour News

Arnold Palmer Invitational Tour Truck Report: Rickie’s iron experiments continue, MMT train rolls on, Rose tests a ton

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The fleet of tour trucks arrived southwest of Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

It’s an appropriate place to be digging into the nuances of pro golfers’ gear, given the club building, tinkering, and general gear junkie-hood of the tournament’s namesake, Arnold Palmer, whose 10,000 club-filled workshop is gear nut’s cave of wonders.

Let’s dig into the tweaks and wholesale switches we’re hearing about at the King’s place.

Titleist

Byeong Hun An plugged a Mitsubishi MMT Utility 125 TX shaft in his Titleist U500 2-iron.

Bernd Wiesberger is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD DI9 TX shaft (tipped 1.5 inches) in his TSi2 3-wood as he searches for more of a consistent cut ball flight. His current gamer features a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 8 TX shaft with the same tipping.

Denny McCarthy, Robert Streb, and Byeong Hun An are all testing new Project X EvenFlow RipTide shafts (which began tour seeding in late January).

And on a related note, while we haven’t heard specifics of anyone putting one in play, we spotted prototype Scotty Cameron 11.5 putters that feature an expanded range of sight lines (more photos here).

Vokey

The report from @vokeywedgerep: “Tons of fresh wedges this week anticipating firm and fast greens at Bay Hill as well as prep for The Players. Many players checked loft and lies, also.”

Bernd Wiesberger has a fresh set of wedges and Byeong Hun An added a 60T SM8.

Doug Ghim, who is usually in an SM8 60-08AD+, is going with a different grind/bounce profile this week: 60-06K.

Patton Kizzire switched to a 52M Proto.

JT Poston is switching to SM8 56-10S reducing some bounce on his wedge (from 56-14).

Jazz Janewattananond may have some of the most unique wedge stampings on tour. Gotta love the skateboard tricks (and the skateboarder stamped by AD) on the 60T!

 

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A post shared by Aaron Dill (@vokeywedgerep)

Callaway

Both Kevin Kisner and Matt Every have switched into Mitsubishi MMT iron shafts (125 TX) as the composite iron shaft surge continues (more on the MMT shafts here).

Francesco Molinari is testing a Callaway Epic Speed (Triple Diamond) driver.

Tyler McCumber has a fresh set of MMB irons.

Sam Burns is in an Epic Speed LS driver with a Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft (and going down three swingweight points, D6 to D3)

Marc Leishman moved into an Epic Speed 4-wood with a Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X shaft.

Matt Wallace is putting an Epic Speed driver (9 degrees) in the bag with a Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X shaft.

Maverick McNealy is gaming “Proto Top Gun irons” (that we are eager to get a look at!) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.

Ping

Tyrrell Hatton is testing a Fujikura Ventus Red 6 X (tipped 1.5 inch) shaft in his G425 driver. Compared to his gamer, Hatton saw an increase in ball speed, more consistent spin, and less curve to the right.

Cobra

Jason Dufner testing a prototype 3D-printed Cobra putter “Agera.” It seems to feature the same SIK Descending Loft Technology (DLT) as the King Supersport-35.

Rickie Fowler returned to his Rev33 irons—albeit with some fresh grinding to the soles of the sticks. Have we arrived at Rev34?

TaylorMade

Pretty quiet on the TM front—save for some superb limited AP headcovers.

 

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A post shared by Chris Trott (@trottiegolf)

Robert MacIntyre is taking the full SIM2 plunge: SIM2 Max driver, SIM2 Titanium 3-wood, SIM2 Rescue (19.5 degrees).

Tommy Fleetwood is gaming the 2021 TP5x ball.

PXG

Jim Herman is testing a PXG Gen4 driver with a Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6X (tipped 1 inch).

Zach Johnson was testing a Gen4 driver as well.

Scott Garrison/KBS

Jordan Spieth got a new SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0 grip on his Scotty Cameron 009 putter.

 

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A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

Bryson DeChambeau’s SIK Pro C got a loft and lie check.

Free agents

Justin Rose is looking at new blade-style prototype Axis1 Rose putter models—as well as both Mizuno MP-5 and MP-18 irons—in addition to Ping G425 5 and 7-woods (both LST and MAX) with Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Orange shafts.

A final note: If you’re wondering what 1990 champion Robert Gamez will be playing, here’s a look—Wilson D7 irons, Wilson Staff blades, multiple Cleveland RTX wedge varieties, and a T.P. Mills flatstick. Nice!

Check out all our photos from Bay Hill, here.

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Interesting photos from the Arnold Palmer Invitational (plus links to all photo galleries)

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This week, the PGA Tour is at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida, and GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy some interesting things from the grounds and around the practice area as players were getting ready to battle for the $9.3 million purse at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Justin Rose’s new Axis1 (Blade) proto

Justin has been using an Axis1 putter for years, but this is the first time we’ve spotted him with a blade-style prototype version.

Rickie continues to tinker

Rickie Fowler’s bag is always interesting, and this week the Rev33’s are in play.

John Augenstein’s WITB

The 2019 U.S. Am runner-up turned professional in late 2020 has quite the club setup.

Camilo Villegas with new Srixon ZX7 irons

Camilo always has a very interesting club set up based on his unique dynamics into the ball—lots of forward shaft lean and low dynamic loft. Thanks to their more aggressive VT sole the new Srixon ZX7’s seem to be a perfect fit for the Colombian.

Justin Rose continues to test

It was exactly a year ago at the 2020 API, Justin Rose started to tinker with his club setup, and this week in 2021 it appears that he is still working to get dialed in and testings drivers.

Speaking of drivers, Rose was as caught talking to Jason Dufner about his new Cobra RAD Speed, and might have ordered one to test.

A story in 4 parts – the assumed conversation

Rose– “Oh, I like the look of this Duff!”
Duff– “It’s my new one. I like it”
Rose– “Interesting, what’s it all about?”
Duff– “It has all this weight to make it stable, & you adjust it here.”
Rose (on phone )- “Hey cobra can I test one of those Rad drivers?”

 

Kisner with a unique putting drill

Keith Mitchell continues to use HZRDUS T1100 in his driver

With all the talk about players including Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen moving to longer and much more flexible driver shafts, Keith Mitchell continues to buck the trend with one of the stiffest shafts available – the ProjectX HZRDUS T1100.

Here’s a look at Louis with his stock Ping ALTA CB stiff shaft.

Alex Noren loaded up with golf balls

We know there is a lot of water around the course this week at Bay Hill, and it looks like Alex Noren is prepared like an 18 handicap headed out to play from the back tees with four dozen balls ready to go.

Dufner putting with his wedge

Jason Dufner was seen working on his putting using the popular bellied wedge drill which forces you to work on producing a level stroke and precise center contact.

Hideki Matsuyama’s bag must be heavy

Hideki is the ultimate tester, which is why we love him at GolfWRX.

Bryson potentially testing grips

It looks like Bryson was getting ready to test some new Jumbo-Max grips, or just had a fresh set installed this week.

Paging Ping – Harris English needs a new putter headcover

That ratty old thing must hold some sentimental value to Harris based on its condition.

Charl Schwartzel back to Miura irons

Charl has gone through a number of iron sets in recent memory and at the API it looks like he’s back to a set of Miura 001 blades.

Spieth testing new utility

Jordan Spieth had a few extra Titleist utility irons next to his bag on the putting green, and it could be that he is working on his gapping because of the long par 3’s at Bay Hill.

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WGC-Workday Championship Tour Truck Report: New putter for Rory, more AutoFlex experiments

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First and foremost, prayers and love to Tiger Woods and his family.

TaylorMade

Rory McIlroy is going back to an older model putter this week at Concession swapping his Spider X for a TP Juno.

Robert McIntyre AKA “Bobby Mack” put a new TaylorMade Rescue ’21 Hybrid ([email protected]) in the bag with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black Hybrid 100 6.5 TX.

Matthew Wolff put a new TaylorMade (19) UDI in the bag with a Mitsubishi MMT 125TX.

Collin Morikawa was testing SIM2, SIM2 Max hybrids this week with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shafts.

Dustin Johnson alongside TaylorMade’s Keith Sbarboro was testing SIM2 drivers with Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X, Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661 and an LAGP Proto.

Callaway

Jon Rahm made adjustments to his Mavrik Sub Zero 5-wood to optimize launch. The 5-wood has 16.4 degrees of loft and a Black Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X. The adjustments were to the lie of the club going from 59.8 to 58.9 and weight distribution from 12g Front/6g Back to 10G Front/6g Back. Dialed.

Min Woo Lee put a new Epic Speed ([email protected]) with a Fujikura Ventus Red 7X. Lee also debuted his new logo which is on fire.

Titleist 

Genesis Invitational champion Max Homa tested TSi2 5-woods to give him some options for some of the tee shots at Concession. It’s equipped with a Graphite Design Tour XC 8 TX.

Lanto Griffin swapped into a shorter driver going from 45 to 44.5 in his TSi3 (10). Griffin’s driver has a Project X HZURDUS Smoke Black 70 6.5TX

Justin Thomas put a TSI3 (9) in the bag this week. The new set up is powered by a Mitsubishi Diamana ZF TX

Ping

Cameron Champ switched back into a shorter length Ping G425 LST this week going from 45 to 44.25 inches. The shaft is a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 70 6.5 TX (@44.25 , Tip 1.5, D4 SW).

Louis Oosthuizen did something interesting. He had a Ping build him a G425 LST (10.5 @ 9.4, Small -) with the company’s lightweight Alta Slate CB 55 stiff shaft. The 2010 Open Champion was looking for a softer feel with the driver, which isn’t surprising, considering he was seen taking a hard look at Adam Scott’s TSi with an AutoFlex. The whippy lightweight plot thickens…

Ping released a bunch of new putters this week for seeding. Multiple staffers tested them and we will see on Thursday if any go in play.

Cobra

Cobra’s Ben Schomin (and king of the mullets) is doing something to Bryson’s driver—wanted to post this because of the respect for Ben’s hair. Hair aside, Bryson did put a new LAGP Axis Blue 6X in his driver and was also testing new Rad Speed 3 Woods.

Misc/Free Agents

Tommy Fleetwood swapped out his Callaway MD5 Jaws wedges for a set of Titleist Vokey’s (52M, 56M, and 60T) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.

Adam Scott (Titleist staff) was testing long center shafted Odyssey Two Ball 10.

 

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