It's always entertaining and enlightening to chat with Sean Foley. He talks straight, has interesting things to say, and he's not that impressed with himself. That's important, because he's had a bulls eye on his back since he started working with Tiger Woods. Arrows are aimed at his back regularly, especially when Woods doesn't do what everybody thinks he should do: win frequently, as he used to do. Foley, by the way, thinks he'll be winning frequently again, and soon.
"I think Tiger's into a second career," he said Tuesday during a phone conversation. "I think it will be pretty impressive."
Foley and I got to talking about music, and not the music that one finds in the rhythm of a golf swing. I'd heard the lyrics of a song that's on his voicemail now before his voice kicks in, and I'd asked him about the song from the hip-hop duo of Mos' Def and Talib Kweli. He was soon telling me that he had spent the last couple of days going through the 1,100 songs on his iPod.
"I've been trying to get all the music off there that's going into my head and that's not positive," Foley said. "I'm trying to get surrounded by positive songs."
Funny the way mornings go. I'd just read Ron Sirak's excellent piece in Golf World's Jan. 30th issue about Sophie Gustafson, the LPGA player who has suffered from a severe stutter for just about all her life. But Gustafson, who is 38 and a five-time LPGA Tour winner, bravely offered to do an interview in advance of September's Solheim Cup in Ireland. The response was tremendous, and buoyed her. The interview was moving, that's for sure. Gustafson went 4-0 in the Solheim Cup, making an enormous contribution to the European team as it beat the U.S. by two points.
In his piece, Sirak, who follows the women's game closely and knows it better than any writer, incorporated lyrics from Bob Dylan's song "Maggie's Farm" and Bruce Springsteen's "Living Proof." Gustafson will catch The Boss for the 15th time next summer at a concert in Oslo. Sirak is a huge Dylan fan—as I am. His piece was terrific. And, clearly, his and Gustafson's musical tastes are impeccable.
Somehow, then, the morning had turned into a musical interlude. Who knew that I'd be talking music with Foley before we got to golf? But there you have it.
As for golf, Foley had heard from a writer who suggested that the way Woods played on Sunday in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship must have felt like quite a setback—to Foley, that is. Woods was tied for the lead with Robert Rock starting the last round. He shot 72 while Rock shot 70 to win. Woods didn't close the deal.
"I told him that I don't know what world he lives in, but that I saw two days of almost surgical ball-striking with Tiger, on Thursday and Saturday, and then on Sunday he hit six greens and had a putt on the last hole to shoot one-under," Foley said. "He was obviously trying to hole out his third shot (the last hole was a par-five), and so he was 20' past the hole. But I feel like I saw a new Tiger on Thursday and Saturday."
Foley comes down from his home in Orlando to the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound once every nine days or so to work with Woods. The Medalist is a tough track. Even Woods has said so. Foley has been impressed with the way Woods has made his way around the course, to say the least.
That's music of the golfing variety to Foley. Okay, enough stretching of the music metaphor. Well, almost enough. Foley believes that for Woods, the times they are A- Changin'. A second career looms, and, as Foley said, he believes it will be "pretty impressive." We shall see.
Will the former Boss of golf rule again?
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association's first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada's Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round's on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf's Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein