ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods’ swing coach says criticism of his client is getting out of hand.
“I know everyone has a job to do, and I get it,” Sean Foley said this week on “Fairways of Life,” a radio show hosted by Matt Adams on XM Sirius. “But if it is about the game of golf, Tiger Woods is an extremely important part of the game, and I think everyone understands that. It has just gotten to the point where the tearing down of Tiger as a person and a golfer has become just too much. I think it is just out of hand.”
Woods has been under more scrutiny than any other golfer since he turned pro in 1996 when he was 20 and won twice in seven starts on the PGA Tour. The criticism has sharpened in the two years since Woods was exposed for extramarital affairs that cost him his marriage and impeccable image.
He tied for 40th at the Masters, yet most of the attention was on how Woods kicked his golf club after missing a tee shot on the 16th hole of the second round. He said the next day, “I’m frustrated at times and I apologize if I offended anybody that that.”
Foley began working with Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Woods has shown signs of getting back toward the top of his game. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month for his first PGA Tour win since the scandal in his personal life unfolded the night of Thanksgiving 2009.
Foley has gone through his share of criticism, too, especially in the early stages of Woods learning a new swing.
“I realize it is 2012 and we have dotcoms, and you have to write five articles a day, and you run out of things to write about,” Foley said. “But we should be in a position where we are trying to help and lift up and support a player like Tiger Woods instead of tearing him down, because everyone in the golf industry is better off because of his existence.”
Foley’s comments came at the end of a 20-minute interview, and he raised the issue without prompting.
“That is basically one thing I want to get out,” Foley said. “Tiger is a wonderful person, and he is a good dude, and he lives a complex life. I think things have got to slow down, and it has got to stop, the daily referendums and the criticism.”
Woods’ performance in the Masters has kept him in conversations, however. It was his highest finish in a major as a pro — except for the three times he has missed the cut — and kicking his 9-iron became a lasting image of his week at Augusta National.
A few days after the Masters, former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said on Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio that Woods’ antics were an “embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta.” The comments were startling because Azinger has long been a supporter of Woods.
“I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way,” Azinger said. “He’s not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill, I thought, ‘Here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.’ I don’t know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule.”
Jack Nicklaus was asked Tuesday about Woods’ game and said he didn’t know what was going on.
“I don’t know what goes (on) between his ears,” Nicklaus said. “That’s really the X factor. His golf game and his golf swing looks pretty similar to what I’ve been looking at and he hits a lot of great shots. But you never know what’s going on in somebody’s head.”
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