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Tiger Woods Returns, Sticks with Foley; Coppinwood Invitational

Tiger Woods tweeted last night that he’s returning to golf next week after several months off  — at Firestone with Bryon Bell as his caddie. You might remember Bell as the fellow who set up the flights for one of Woods’ numerous liaisons. He’s also caddied for Woods on several instances.

Anyway, the return of Tiger was a bit surprising considering he hasn’t apparently been working at all with swing coach Sean Foley.

CBSSports.com columnist Steve Elling wrote on Tuesday that Foley had not been working with Woods at all:

Swing coach Sean Foley said in a text message Tuesday night that the pair have not been working together, which seemingly creates the very real possibility that Woods will miss the PGA Championship next month, too. Bridgestone and the PGA are staged in consecutive weeks and Woods has regularly played in both.

“We have not hit any balls,” Foley wrote Tuesday night. “And I have no idea what his plans are as far as when he plays again. It’s up to the doctors.”

Hardly a ringing reason for optimism.

 That made some suggest that Foley must be history — just like former caddie Steve Williams. After all, if Tiger was returning he’d only come back if he and his game were “100%” as his agent, as Wood’s agent Mark Steinberg apparently told Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman. I would have assumed that also meant Woods had been preparing for his return for some time, especially since he hasn’t played competitively in three months.

Apparently though Foley is still in the fold — and is starting to work with Woods again.

Foley’s agent, Chris Armstrong, sent this response to Canadiangolfer.com  regarding Elling’s article and the working relationship between the Canadian swing coach and Woods:

Steve’s article reported things correctly; it was, however, not in reference to the status of their working relationship, but rather an update on actual work currently being done at present.

While it was a correct accounting on Tuesday, it is no longer a correct report. Tiger is busy preparing for next week with the assistance of his swing coach, Sean Foley

He must be getting busy pretty quickly considering last week Foley told me he hadn’t been working with Woods lately, something Elling confirmed.

What can we expect from Woods? I wouldn’t think much. I’d expect we’ll witness a rusty golfer in the midst of a swing change who hasn’t played in 12 weeks. This year, like the last one, has been a bit of a write off for the golfer formerly known as the world’s greatest athlete. I don’t anticipate it’ll change next week.

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The Coppinwood Invitational, held at the Tom Fazio design of the same name, was held on Monday, perhaps obscured a little by the conclusion of the Canadian Open. Nonetheless, Hoyt McGarity shot 66 to win the tournament. It was his first competitive golf in 11 months. The tournament also raised $7,500 for Golf in Schools.

Interestingly, I ran into McGarity once before, a couple of years back at a Canadian Open qualifier. I was caddying in the one-day event, and McGarity was part of the group. He was a long-hitting pro from New York who a shaky short game. I remember him bombing it into one of the holes at Rattlesnake and having a wedge to the green. When he 2-putted, I mentioned it was a good par. Turns out it was a birdie — McGarity hit his drive about 330 and then had a wedge into a 470-yard hole that was masquerading as a par-5.

Great to see the club hosting a cool tournament like this. I wish more clubs would step up and do something similar — or perhaps sponsor junior golfers like we see at Bayview and Beacon Hall. They need to be more than just private enclaves for the rich if we hope to grow the game in this country.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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