Fired swing coach enjoys O'Hair's win

Sean O’Hair has guaranteed himself a spot in the FedExCup playoffs this year. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/AP)

A lot of folks from the Philadelphia area were glued to their television sets Sunday nervously watching Sean O’Hair fight his way to his first PGA Tour victory in more than two years at the RBC Canadian Open. But there was one guy watching with special interest in Orlando.

Sean Foley, who was fired last May as O’Hair’s swing coach, told Monday that “I just tried not to bite my nails off” while watching O’Hair go down the stretch in a tense duel with Kris Blanks. Blanks lost to O’Hair’s bogey on the first hole of sudden death after lipping out a 6-foot putt for a bogey.

“I’m so pleased for him,” Foley said to the web site. “It just goes to show with players at this level, it doesn’t matter who coaches them or helps them out, they are the talent. Sean was fantastic last week. He is my friend.”

Foley began working with O’Hair in 2008, coincidentally, at the Canadian Open. The West Chester resident went on to enjoy his best season on the tour in 2009, with one win, nine top 10 finishes, a fifth-place finish in the FedEx Cup and a berth on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

 But after a winless 2010 and a slow start to this season, O’Hair decided to make a change. He fired Foley and brought in Steve Dahlby, who started working with O’Hair when the player was “11 or 12 years old,” he said.

O’Hair said he and Foley, who has also worked this year with Tiger Woods, stay in touch and remain friends.

“I don’t think I’d be here without Sean Foley,” O’Hair said Sunday at his post-round press conference. “Sean really helped me learn about myself and about my game. He took me a long way in a short period of time. I learned a lot with him.

“It was time to make a change. Really, it’s that simple. We’re still close friends. We still chat quite a bit. You know, in this business, nothing’s guaranteed. We’re always trying to find a way to play better.”

O’Hair managed to find it last weekend and as a result, found some great new tournaments on his schedule coming up both this year and next.

Prior to the Canadian Open, O’Hair had not qualified for the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, nor the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Now he is in the field for both, and he will play those two events next month on back-to-back weeks after taking this week off.

O’Hair also guaranteed himself a spot in the FedExCup playoffs this year, and next year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui, plus the Masters.

“It’s great I’ll be going to Hawaii,” he said. “I’ll be able to take my (6-year-old) daughter. She’s been asking me to take her there.”

Here is a comparison of where O’Hair ranked before and after his victory:

PGA Tour money list: 143rd before, 45th after ($1,263,731)

FedExCup standings: 147th before, 43rd after

World Golf Ranking: 114th before, 60th after

--Joe Juliano