Category: Tiger's Caddie


May 15, 2013

Volunteers dispute account of Woods-Garcia controversy

Posted at 3:54 PM by Mike Walker

After Sergio Garcia complained about Tiger Woods pulling a club before Garcia had played his shot on the par-5 second hole of the Players Championship on Saturday, Woods said that a marshal had told him Garcia had already played his shot. One marshal on the hole told Sports Illustrated that he did not tell Woods that Garcia had played the shot, but another marshal told the Florida Times-Union that he did talk to Woods about Garcia’s shot, although he talked to Woods after – not before – Garcia played his shot. From the Florida Times-Union:

Two Players Championship marshals who are part of the walking escort team for Tiger Woods are disputing an account in Sports Illustrated of the incident involving Woods and Sergio Garcia during the third round last Saturday.

Garcia claimed that Woods distracted him during his second shot at the second hole when Woods pulled a fairway metal out of his bag to hit out of the left trees, drawing a response from the crowd.

Woods said he was told by a marshal that Garcia, on the far right side of the fairway, about 50 yards away and obscured from Woods’ view, had already hit before he selected a club. Replays have since shown that the crowd made noise when Garcia was over his ball, but not in his backswing.

Two Players marshals, John North and Gary Anderson, were quoted by SI as saying that Woods didn’t ask any marshals about Garcia's status, and none was given.

But two volunteers -- marshal Brian Nedrich and escort Lance Paczkowski -- told the Times-Union that they did communicate with Woods about Garcia's shot.

Both said the claims there was no communication between Woods and volunteers are wrong and said that Woods was only mistaken about the sequence of events.

“It is not true and definitely unfair to Tiger,” said Nedrich, who was a marshal at the second hole. “That’s because I was the one Tiger heard say that Sergio had hit.”

While Woods was mistaken in his post-round comments about when he was told about Garcia's shot, Woods was not being intentionally misleading, the volunteers said.

“It’s disingenuous to suggest that Tiger is a liar because he got a minor detail wrong,” Nedrich said. “Basically, he told the truth.”

“Tiger Woods did not lie,” Paczkowski said. “Was there a small mistake in what he remembered? Yes. But I don't think it rises to the level of lying.”

"The comments from the marshals in today's [Times-Union] story definitively show that Tiger was telling the truth about being told Sergio had hit," said Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, in a statement. "I hope this demonstrates to some reporters the importance of accuracy and not jumping to misplace conclusions."

 

August 09, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Stevie Williams done talking about Tiger

Posted at 2:10 PM by Mike Walker

As they say in New Zealand, there’s no use locking the barn door after the sheep are stolen, but Steve Williams is finished talking about Tiger Woods, according to Fox News’ Robert Lusitech.

“I said what I said but I’m not going to say any more about Tiger,” he said.

Williams also said that his post-round comments Sunday following new boss Adam Scott’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational were “a bit over the top.” After Scott’s win, Williams told CBS Sports’ David Feherty that it was “the best win he ever had,” despite having caddied for 13 of Woods’s 14 majors, and also for Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd.

“Looking back on it, I was a bit over the top,” he told FOXSports.com from Atlanta, where he and Scott were preparing for this week’s PGA Championship. “I had a lot of anger in me about what happened (with Woods) and it all came out.”

Say goodbye to Holywood: Rory-mania helps drive McIlroy from Northern Ireland
One of the reason’s Rory McIlroy has decided to join the PGA Tour in 2012 is that he’s lost his privacy at home in the Belfast suburb of Holywood since winning the U.S. Open and becoming a global sports superstar, according to The Independent (UK) newspaper.

"It is part of the reason, yes," said the 22-year-old. "I have had security guards at my house every night since I won the US Open patrolling around the area. It is something that I just had to put in place I'm afraid. There have been people driving up the driveway and stuff which isn't very nice. It's tough but it is just the world we live in unfortunately. If you're in the position we're in you're so public."

Life has changed for McIlroy since he won the US Open in record style. If his profile was raised dramatically in America then in his homeland the roof blew off. Where once Holywood, the Belfast suburb he has lived in all his life, had been his sanctuary, now it became a goldfish bowl. No escape, little privacy.

"It's definitely a lot tougher than it was three months ago," said McIlroy. "There are moments when you think, 'what's happening here, what's going on?' But this is always what I wanted to do. When you grow up and dream of being a professional golfer and dream of winning majors, all you really think about is the golf and playing in front of great crowds on unbelievable courses, winning trophies. You never think about the other side of it and that is the side that takes a bit of getting used to. It is also something that you don't really expect."

Tom Watson’s driving range advice: Warm up with a 3-iron
The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune’s Jack Walkden caught up with Tom Watson
at a First Tee charity event in Benton Harbor, Mich., on Monday, where Watson offered advice on warming up and handling pressure. Watson showed the huge crowd how to warm up. He stretches and then swings with a 3-iron.

"If you hit it great on the first swing, life is good," Watson said. "If you hit it lousy, it doesn't mess with your head because the 3-iron is the toughest club to hit. That's my warped sense of thinking."

He showed fans how to swing, though he said you can play well and have a poor swing.

"Adam Scott has a great golf swing," Watson said. "However, Lee Trevino had the best control of a golf ball that I've ever played with. He could make a ball do whatever he wanted it to do and he had terrible mechanics. It shows that you don't have to have a perfect swing, but it helps.”

Watson showed how to hit a draw, how to hook and slice. But most importantly, Watson explained how he handles pressure.

"I learned from Byron Nelson," Watson said. "He said when he was under pressure, he always wanted to get the round over with. So when he was under pressure, he had to slow his pace down. He had to walk slower because when you're nervous you always want to go fast.

"You will also see me yawning sometimes during a tournament. I yawn when I'm under pressure to fill my lungs with air. That helps me get my rhythm back."

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June 24, 2011

Tiger's caddie to carry Adam Scott's bag at AT&T National

Posted at 4:28 PM by Mike Walker

Tiger Woods's caddie, Steve Williams, is keeping busy while his boss recovers from his knee and Achilles injury. After looping for Adam Scott at the U.S. Open, Williams said he would caddy for Scott again at the AT&T National outside Philadelphia next week, according to Brian Wacker of PGATour.com.

With Tiger Woods still sidelined due to injury, Steve Williams will be on the bag for Adam Scott in next week’s AT&T National, the caddie confirmed via text message on Friday.

Both Scott and Williams have said that Williams will be back on Woods’ bag once Woods returns from injury.

“He is Tiger's guy and that's how it is," Scott said at the U.S. Open. Scott added that he got Woods’s approval before hiring Williams.

Scott split with longtime caddie Tony Navarro earlier this year.

Woods has given no indication when he will return to competitive golf. He said on Twitter this week that he wasn’t healthy enough to play the AT&T National but was “feeling stronger every day, but still not 100%.” If Woods plays his normal schedule, his next tournament would be the British Open at Royal St. Georges in England, which begins July 14.

June 13, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Tiger photographed on crutches

Posted at 2:59 PM by Mike Walker

If you’re having trouble understanding why Tiger Woods is skipping this week’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Suburban D.C., check out RadarOnline.com, which has a photo of Woods hobbling on crutches with a protective boot on his left leg. RadarOnline.com says the photo was taken Friday in Orlando.

It’s tough to play golf if you can’t walk. 

Congressional’s top-secret history

Bill Pennington of The New York Times files a fascinating historical piece about when Congressional Country Club was used a training ground for the Office of Strategic Service, the World World II spy service that became the CIA.

The practice range became a rifle range, and bunkers were used for grenade practice. The dense wooded areas were perfect for nighttime commando exercises, and an obstacle course, set with booby traps, stretched across the first and second holes. Hand-to-hand combat was taught next to a mock fuselage from which paratroopers learned to jump. Men crawled on their bellies across fairways sprayed with live machine gun fire, and the greens made excellent targets for mortar practice. So did the caddie shack and every rain shelter on the course.

“We literally just blew the place up,” said Al Johnson, who, like most of the living O.S.S. veterans — there are about 200 — is in his late 80s.

Adam Scott says he cleared Stevie hire with Tiger

According to Barry Svruga of The Washington Post, Adam Scott is getting his money’s worth out of new caddie for the week Stevie Williams. They’ve played their second practice round at Congressional on Sunday, and Scott said that he cleared the move with Williams’ boss Tiger Woods.

"Steve knew I was in between guys,” Scott said, “and we’ve talked a lot over the years. Anyway, when Tiger had to withdraw, I called him to check if he was available for the week. That’s what he’s doing, and I’m really grateful he’s doing it.”

Everything regarding Woods, though, ends up being a big deal. The 14-time major champion won’t be at Congressional because of lingering issues with his left knee and Achilles’ tendon, and Scott is looking for a permanent caddie. Scott said Williams, who has not worked for anyone other than Woods since they paired up in 1999, called his boss.

“He checked it all out with Tiger,” Scott said. “It’s just for the week. It’s no big deal. But I’m very grateful to both of them for that chance while I’m still looking for a guy full-time. . . . Hopefully I can use his experience late on Sunday. That would be great.”

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August 25, 2010

Furyk doesn't get Mickelson leeway, Tiger returns to Jersey and Chambers Bay fights back

Posted at 12:12 PM by Steve Beslow

DQ'd and PO'd
The big story this morning is Jim Furyk getting bounced from the Barclays, the PGA's first FedExCup Playoff event, for sleeping through his alarm and missing his pro-am tee time. This is a pretty well-known rule, and it's very closely enforced--I distinctly remember when John Daly was disqualified for the same infraction at Bay Hill (which, in a bizarre turn of events, also got two other Tour players ejected from the tournament). So at least everyone's held up to the same standards, right? Waggleroom's Ryan Ballengee isn't so sure.

The PGA Tour has announced that Jim Furyk - currently sitting in third position in the FedExCup standings - has been disqualified from this week's first round of the Playoffs at The Barclays for missing his 7:30 pro-am tee time by five minutes. The disqualification is the set penalty for tardiness for these pro-am outings...

While I completely understand keeping non-members out of the Playoffs, this seems a bit unjust. Furyk will be impacted for four weeks because of this disqualification and his alarm clock not working. On a regular event, the penalty seems more appropriate - it has just a week's worth of impact (though longer for a guy who is on the verge of certain money list thresholds).

For a Playoff event - a major-lite Tour stop - to have a pro-am seems a little out of whack, but acceptable. To cause a guy to have such a severe penalty in his quest for $10 million, though, seems unconscionable.

Phil Mickelson missed his pro-am tee time for the Byron Nelson Championship in 2007 due to poor weather blocking his plane from making it from Alabama to Dallas-Ft. Worth's Love Field the night prior. Mickelson took his time getting to Las Colinas in time for the pro-am, but was not disqualified by Tour officials. That set off an uproar of anger about the exemption.

Somehow I had completely forgotten about that Phil exception (and how peeved a lot of Tour pros were about it). Unfortunately, I think this is a case where two wrongs don't make a right: the Tour was outrageously foolish to allow Phil to play in that tourney in 2007, and they'd be just as out of line letting Furyk play this week, because, as Dustin Johnson will tell you, a rule is a rule is a rule. That said, this rule is stupid, and they should figure out a way to change it...fast. The Tour relies on pro-ams for support, so I understand why they're so sensitive about players taking their responsibilities seriously, but there are options short of DQs that can keep the players in line. How about a fine, somewhere between $10,000-$100,000, or, even better, a percentage of their earnings from the tournament (so the better they do, the more they lose)? That way if players don't show they'll be plenty hurt, but they'll have the opportunity to earn their keep come the weekend. Still, Furyk might want to consider investing in a travel alarm clock.

Welcome back, Tiger
As a proud son (and current resident) of the Garden State, I take a lot pride in our most prized resources: overflowing cranberry bogs, copious lower-back tattoos and, of course, renowned championship golf courses. The PGA Tour returns to the jewel of Bergen County this week, Ridgewood C.C., and the local media has rolled out the welcome mat to all of the Tour's stars. Well, almost all of them...

Tiger Woods is back in New Jersey — which means certain people should be alerted. Women, in general. Perkins’ waitresses, strippers and porn stars, in particular. And, of course, given the condition of his golf game, any fans at the Barclays Classic standing near a tree along a fairway.

Woods is officially single now, with the price of his freedom — or was it Elin’s? — a reported $100 million. And while that, along with his struggle to right his career, might have the crowd at Ridgewood Country Club abuzz, forgive us if we’re not excited about his appearance in Paramus. After all, the guy has treated the state like it’s one big waste bunker.

When he was playing in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in 2005, Woods was upset when a local golf pro accidentally parked in his reserved spot. Then at the height of his superstardom, he played most of his practice rounds at dawn, before fans were allowed on the course. When caddie Steve Williams committed an infraction during the first round of the tournament, Woods refused to disqualify himself.

He signed only a handful of autographs that week — when Phil Mickelson won the tournament and the hearts of New Jersey fans — and when his Sunday round was over, Woods high-tailed it out of town. Even though there was a chance he could have been in a Monday playoff, he couldn’t get out of New Jersey fast enough.

Last year, when the Barclays was played at Liberty National, Woods criticized the greens and called the course “interesting” — which is PGA-speak for “What a dump.” Again, autographs, or any interaction with fans, were rare.

And now, he’s back in the Garden State. Oh, joy.

It should be pointed out that the Star-Ledger, while a relatively well-respected journal, may hold a bit of a grudge against Mr. Woods. It was their reporter who tattled on Stevie Williams, saying the caddie stepped on Tiger's ball in the 2005 PGA Championship, an accusation that Woods and Co. vehemently denied. That having been said, there's no doubt that New Jersey is Mickelson territory at the moment, as is the entire Tri-State area. This week will be a good test for the "New Tiger" we've been hearing so much about. If he can keep a smile on his face, keep nodding his head and keep signing his name, he may win back the favor of some of the most boisterous fans in golf. Oh, and shooting under par wouldn't hurt.

Nothing Amateur About Chambers Bay
With all the attention the Barclay's is getting this week, the always fun U.S. Amateur is getting (typically) overlooked. While the tournament itself is great, there's some added excitement this year as it's being held at Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open. Here's a take on the course setup from Golfweek's Sean Martin, who sees danger for the amateurs this week...and the pros in the years to come.

Ten feet. That’s often the difference between a great shot and a bad one at Chambers Bay.

NCAA champ Scott Langley hit 4-iron to Chambers Bay’s par-3 15th hole during Tuesday’s second round of stroke play at the U.S. Amateur. The left-hander pulled it 10 feet right of his target, then watched his ball bound through the green and into a bunker. Had Langley hit his mark, his ball would’ve funneled down a slope and likely ended up close to the hole.

“It’s like playing golf in my driveway,” Langley joked about the firm conditions at Chambers Bay...

Chambers Bay’s fast, firm conditions, and extreme putting surfaces, are driving players wild at the U.S. Amateur. The conditions are exacerbated by the course’s extreme undulations and lack of rough, which can cause balls to bound more than 50 yards away from a player’s target.

Most players are paying the young course compliments, but some are leaving with a bad taste in their mouth. This is an important week for Chambers Bay, the three-year-old links-style course along the Puget Sound. This year’s U.S. Amateur, the first national championship here, is a dress rehearsal for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

The scoring average for the 156 players who played Chambers Bay on Monday was 79.87. Three players broke par at Chambers on Monday, with Augusta State’s Patrick Reed leading with 68. Seventy-nine players shot 80 or higher Monday at Chambers Bay. That’s more than 50 percent. Five shot in the 90s, including two 95s.

Martin is quick to point out that, while certainly tough, he's not ready to call the conditions unfair. So far it sounds like the players aren't doing too much complaining either (at least not outwardly), but I think we can all agree that amateurs tend to be a little less ornery than Tour pros when it comes to course conditions. Still, I'm excited about the possibility of a U.S. Open course that really fights back. It's not like Pebble and Bethpage Black are pushovers, but relying on weather and deep rough is old hat at the Open--fairways and greens so hard you can bounce a stone off them? Rough so thin it couldn't stop a feather? Now we're talking U.S. Open golf. Is it 2015 yet?

June 22, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Tiger's instincts clashed with Stevie's advice at Pebble

Posted at 1:13 PM by Michael Chwasky

In a year when Tiger's lost his marriage, his coach and a whole bunch of endorsement dollars, you'd think he'd be keen to keep one his most successful relationships in tact. However, as Hank Gola of The Daily News reports, Tiger openly hinted in a post-round interview on Sunday that advice from his long-time caddie Steve Williams actually hurt his chances of winning a fourth U.S. Open. 

In regard to his wayward approach shot on the tenth hole, a mere 125-yard approach that missed the green and landed in a nasty patch of cliffside fescue, Woods said:  

"Stevie said take dead aim right at it, and in my heart I said 'no'. There was no chance, I have a sand wedge in my hand, and I can't play at that flag. You land the ball on the green, it will go past the flags."

.

And then on his mistake on the tough par-3 12th hole:  

"I hit the wrong club on 12," he added. "My instincts were telling me to hit a 5, play it to the right, just draw it in there, and we thought 4 would be better, hold it up against the wind and I made just an awful swing."

The bottom line: Tiger has obviously acquired the same tendency that many great players have had over the years -- blaming anything and anyone but himself. 

Former Open champ MIchael Campbell breaches etiquette while missing cut

Five years after winning the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Michael Campbell's game, and ability to conduct himself like a pro, have evidently deserted him. According to TVNZ, Campbell, who missed the cut by 12 strokes, played his ball up the fairway on the 18th hole while playing partner Paul Goydos went back to hit a second tee shot. Then Campbell, who shot 19 over par for two rounds at Pebble Beach, proceeded to putt out before his playing partners reached the green. Campbell has now missed the cut in four of the five past U.S. Opens. 

Goydos chalked up Campbell's behavior to the "bogey train" he was riding, but still disappointing behavior from a former Open champ. 

McDowell thinks competing in British Open will be "cool" 

Newly minted U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell is fired up and ready to make a run at a second major championship at St. Andrews next month. In a report on Yahoo, McDowell, who tied for 11th at St. Andrews in 2005, said, 

“It’s a golf course I know really well. It’s all about course knowledge and local knowledge. To go there as U.S. Open champion and with an opportunity to win another major is going to be cool. There’s no doubt I’ll take an amazing amount of confidence from this week, to know I have the ability to get one of these across the line … the peace of mind to feel as calm and as confident as I did coming down the stretch.”

The bottom line: McDowell's win at Pebble was well-deserved, but even par won't get it done at St. Andrews.

February 23, 2009

Tiger is not here, but the prep work has begun

Posted at 10:37 AM by David Dusek

MARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods has not arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club yet, site of WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but starting this morning at around 7:15, his caddie, Stevie Williams, began doing the scouting work for the world's No. 1 player.

Steviewilliams_350 Walking alone in the morning sunshine over the emerald green fairways, Williams, right, walked briskly and purposefully from one hole to another. In the fairways he stopped briefly to write down the yardages needed to clear fairway bunkers, but ignored the numbers on sprinkler heads.

The majority of his attention was paid to greens, the shaved areas around the putting surfaces and the collection areas.

On the seventh green, a roller coaster set above the 476-yard par 4, he stood on the front edge and made three paces to a first flat area where a hole might be cut, stopped, then made five paces to another next flat area. He repeated this exercise several times, mapping the green.

He walked the 576-yard par-5 eighth hole in about five minutes, but spent the next 10 minutes examining the large bowl-shaped area short and left of the green.

On the 10th hole, one of the few fans on the course called to him, "Hey Stevie! Is Tiger coming today?"
"Nay," was his simple response, as he strode on and continued his work.

Like everyone else, those fans will likely have to wait until dawn tomorrow for their first look at Woods.

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

December 16, 2008

Butch, others chime in on Stevie's comments about Phil

Posted at 11:29 AM by Mike Walker

The fallout from Steve Williams's comments about Phil Mickelson probably won’t subside until Tiger Woods answers reporters' questions at his Chevron World Challenge on Wednesday. It will likely go something like this: “I’m disappointed, it’s been dealt with, I respect Phil, Stevie is my caddie, next question. I said, next question.”

But if Woods doesn’t want to talk about Stevie-gate, he’s pretty much the only one. Most prominent of the many commentators taking Williams to task is Woods’s former coach Butch Harmon. Now working with Mickelson, Harmon said he was shocked to hear what Williams said about Mickelson.

"I can't believe he said what he said. I think it's deplorable he would say something like that," said Harmon, adding that he was "extremely upset."

"Golf is a game of honor and integrity and that was a very uncalled for remark. I don't think it's any reflection of what Tiger thinks of Phil Mickelson."

Harmon added that Williams would likely get a personal reprimand from Woods.

"I would have loved to have heard a recording of the conversation between (Williams) and Tiger. I worked with Tiger for 10 years and I can tell you he wouldn't have been very happy with that."

Lawrence Donegan, The Guardian (UK) reporter who got Williams to confirm an initial report of his comments about Mickelson at a New Zealand charity event, asks what would have happened if another player's caddie had badmouthed Woods in the same way. The answer, Donegan writes, is obvious:

What we do know, however, is that when the world No. 1 returns after injury sometime in the new year Williams will be at his side, as ever. No doubt some will find this to be a commendable act of loyalty on Woods' part but in truth it will be the ultimate act of contempt for a fellow professional, Mickelson.

If that sounds too apocalyptic, then ask yourself this: what would have happened if Mickelson's caddie, or any caddie working for a leading professional, had publicly insulted Woods in the same manner? The answer, of course, is the caddie would have been fired on the spot.

The Canadian Press somehow finds a way to relate all this to hockey, pointing out a double standard in sports where Dallas Stars left winger Sean Avery is suspended for politically incorrect remarks while Williams is left free to speak his mind. (The writer, Tim Dahlberg, favors sanctions over free speech.)

Hockey, which tolerates muggings on a nightly basis and has never felt the need to be politically correct, was so offended by a few words that Avery was sent packing after playing only 23 games of what was supposed to be a four-year stint with the Dallas Stars. When last heard from, he was at an undisclosed location undergoing treatment for anger management issues.

Golf, which regards itself as the ultimate gentleman's sport, has apparently left it up to Tiger Woods to decide the fate of his caddie. That's perhaps appropriate because Woods yields far more power in the sport than PGA commissioner Tim Finchem.

But let’s give the last word (for now) to Steve Elling of cbssports.com, who looks at friendly Mickelson and his caddie Bones Mackay and then at the standoffish Woods and Williams and wonders if caddies and players start to resemble each other the way dogs and their owners do.

It never dawned on me until this serve-and-volley exchange began how much the respective caddies and players are alike. Mickelson and Mackay are approachable, if not even affable, often handing out autographs and goodies to fans for hours. Meanwhile, Woods and Williams are there to kick ass and take down names, not write the latter on pieces of memorabilia for eBay hawkers.

It's sorta like the old saw about dog owners. Fat guys buy jowly bulldogs and high-maintenance rich chicks buy poodles. You know, because dogs often mirror the personality and appearance of the owner.

Tiger Tracker | Tiger's Enemies and Rivals | Tiger's 2008 Season | Phil's 2008 Season

December 12, 2008

Steve Williams: Great caddie, better storyteller

Posted at 11:30 AM by Mike Walker

In 2025, when some scribe sits down to write the definitive Tiger Woods biography, I know who the main source will be: Woods’s caddie Steve Williams.

Articles and TV pieces about Woods understandably tend toward mythology and hagiography. For example, a recent magazine profile of Woods contains this quote: “The best golfer ever, for sure. One of the greatest athletes in any game, ever. One of the great humans at anything, ever.” That’s why hearing Williams talk about his boss is a great corrective. Woods, as Williams tells it, is a great golfer and tremendously dedicated, sure, but also funny and a little profane, in short, a real person.

On hiatus since Woods’s knee surgery in June, Williams has been in his native New Zealand, spending time with his family, racing cars and raising money for his charity. Reporter Murray Hills of New Zealand's The Taranaki Daily News caught up with Williams at a charity event and heard some great stories about Woods’s U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines and the famously frosty relationship between Woods and Phil Mickelson.

"Tiger had no right to win at Torrey Pines. He was told not to play. He had only two words to say about that f... y.., I'm winning that tournament.

"It was a phenomenal feat to get around in the condition he was in and win. Every day, he would get back to the motel and just collapse. He really wanted to win that tournament. I knew if he teed up on the first hole, he would get to 18."

Williams’s story about Mickelson is even better.

The pair were duelling for the lead in the third round. Tiger waved to a packed grandstand seating 5,000 people that bordered the 17th fairway. The crowd responded.

As a hush fell back over the crowd, a fan yelled out "Phil." No response from Mickelson. Again the fan yelled out "Phil." Again no response. The fan changed tack. "Hey, Mr. Mickelson."

When Mickelson turned and waved, the fan yelled out "Nice tits." The crowd erupted in laughter; Mickelson went double bogey, bogey and his tournament was over.

And Williams on Mickelson?

"I wouldn't call Mickelson a great player ... 'cause I hate the prick."

We better enjoy all this candor and humor from Williams while we can. Once he rejoins Team Tiger he'll have more important things to do than entertain us.

October 17, 2008

Steve Williams thinks Shark was as good as Tiger

Posted at 4:39 PM by Mike Walker

Tiger Woods main advantage over Greg Norman is temperament, not talent, said caddie Steve Williams. He should know. He’s caddied for both of them.

Currently on an unscheduled and lengthy vacation since Woods underwent knee surgery in June, Williams is spending time with his family in New Zealand and driving race cars.

Williams spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald while on a charity visit to a children’s hospital in Auckland and he made some insightful comments about Norman, Tiger and what it takes to win in golf. Norman, despite an at-the-time record tenure of 331 weeks at No. 1, managed just two majors. By contrast, Woods is the ultimate closer, so much so that when he has the lead on Sundays at a major, everyone is playing for the second-place check. (At least that’s how it’s worked out so far.)

The difference between Woods and Tigers, said Williams, wasn’t their good shots—and we all know they could hit those—but rather how they handled the bad ones.

"I certainly wouldn't have got to where I am today without caddying for Greg, because I learned an awful lot. Greg had a great understanding of the mechanics of the golf swing. He didn't require a lot of coaching, and it was great working with him. But Greg had his faults. His greatest weakness was his inability to shake off a bad shot, or something he didn't like. He just couldn't get over it."

Woods's fury after a bad shot is there for all to see. He erupts. In fact, it is said he is the most fined player on the US PGA Tour for swearing and club abuse. That every shot he plays is televised makes it easier for the golfing officials with their penalty infringement books.

Williams sees it all - and he understands. "The thing a lot of people don't like about Tiger is his temperament is obviously not ideal, but he has that knack of being able to get over it very quickly," Williams says.

"He likes to take the frustration out and get on with the job. Call it controlled aggression. Tiger lets it all hang out, and plays a miraculous shot straight afterwards.

"That was something Greg could never do. He'd dwell on it. That was his downfall. Greg didn't have the personality type of Tiger. If he did, I think he would have been equal to the best of what Tiger has done. In my eyes, Greg was certainly as good a player as Tiger."

Williams gets regularly roasted by media members and fans for his tenacity at keeping people and cameras away from Woods, but keep in mind who’s asking him to do that. In interviews, Williams proves to be one of the more thoughtful, candid and intriguing people in the game, not Tiger’s Yes Man, but very much his own.

*If you're playing the pointless but unavoidable game of parsing opaque statements regarding Tiger’s return to competitive golf, here’s what Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald, "What [Tiger] said was that he wouldn't be 100 per cent physically fit for another 18 months. He played [and won] the US Open operating at five per cent."

My guess: If you don’t expect to see Tiger in Augusta next April you haven’t been paying attention these past 10 years.





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