Tiger Woods: Ranking the Success He's Seen Under Each of His Swing Coaches

David KindervaterCorrespondent IApril 18, 2011

Tiger Woods with instructor Sean Foley
Tiger Woods with instructor Sean FoleyStuart Franklin/Getty Images

Tiger Woods doesn't subscribe to the idiom, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Amidst the third major swing overhaul of his 17-year PGA Tour career, Woods is finally beginning to show signs of progress—as evidenced by his fourth place finish at the Masters Tournament last week.

But you have to wonder why one of the best professional golfers of all-time would attempt such drastic measures.

Woods is perpetually dissatisfied with his game. Even when he's winning, he finds reasons to change what seems to be working—all in the name of perfection, that pursuit of the seemingly unattainable. 

Take 1997 as an example: At the Masters Tournament that year, Woods won his first major championship, lapping the field by 12 shots in a legendary performance that prompted him to—that's right, change his swing.

During his pre-Masters presser this year, Woods alluded to some of the reasons for his much-publicized swing changes over the years, citing age and health concerns, as well as realistic repeatability.

But it seems to run a bit deeper than that—Tiger Woods simply can't leave well enough alone.

Under the direction of coach Butch Harmon from 1993 through 2002, Woods won eight of his 14 major championships and five World Golf Championships. But with his ego telling him to adopt swing strategies Harmon didn't agree with, the two went their separate ways despite all the success.

After a year on his own, Woods started working with Hank Haney in 2004, and a partnership was formed that would lead to six more major championships and statistical proof (more tournaments won, leader in greens in regulation three times) that he was playing the most consistent golf of his career.

That is, until he had to undergo knee surgery—commencing a major championship drought for the first time in five years.

Then there were the personal setbacks and the embarrassment that followed; Haney was history.

All intricate swing details aside, Woods' results with both Harmon and Haney were very similar. Each was essentially working with a different person physically. Such is the maturation process with almost any 20-something individual.

But both served as an able guide for arguably the most athletically gifted player ever on the PGA Tour.

The success that followed each has been historic.

Which brings us to the present. The jury is still out on Woods' current instructor, Sean Foley. Woods has wholeheartedly committed himself to Foley's teachings and even seems to have embraced his new mentor's life philosophies.

But for how long?

One thing's for certain. Tiger Woods will need to see some measurable amount of success before we find out.