Golf

Should Williams be catching heat?

Tiger Woods reacts to ex-caddie's comments.
Tiger Woods reacts to ex-caddie's comments.
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Robert Lusetich

After more than 20 years of covering everything from election campaigns to the Olympic Games, Robert Lusetich turned his focus to writing about his first love: golf. He is author of Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season. Follow him on Twitter.

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Last December, Adam Scott was on stage at a dinner held before the Australian PGA Championship, being asked about his true feelings toward several of golf's big names.

THING OF THE PAST

Golfweek looks back at the longtime relationship between Tiger Woods and former caddie Stevie Williams.

When the affable Australian appeared reticent to dish on players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, he was assured his remarks would remain off-the-record.

Scott shot his interviewer a look of incredulity.

We live in an age where the most banal, trivial and truly worthless of thoughts — cleverly branded as "social media" — isn't allowed to go unexpressed.

What chance, then, something actually interesting would stay in the room?

Scott wisely avoided any controversy, and those in the audience at the Hyatt Regency Coolum were the poorer for not getting to hear him speak his mind.

His caddie, though, is a different animal.

He speaks his mind, though he'd do well to stay away from microphones for a while.

Steve Williams doesn't own a smart phone, doesn't have a Twitter account or a Facebook page and, though he has a website, wouldn't know how it works.

He is as old school as they come and, in many ways, naïve to the way the media works.

He's dumbfounded that his latest — and clumsiest — dig at his estranged employer, Tiger Woods, was reported by British newspapers despite an agreement that his remarks at a Friday night dinner in Shanghai were off the record.

He shouldn't be, especially given that his description three years ago of Mickelson as "a pr**k" at another supposedly off-the-record banquet in New Zealand circulated around the world.

I wasn't at the annual European Tour caddie awards dinner Friday, but someone who was there told me the beer was flowing freely and the speeches were peppered with salty language.

In other words, par for the course at these events.

Williams good-naturedly accepted a mock award for "Celebration of the Year."

It was a dig from his peers at his over-the-top jubilation in the aftermath of Scott's victory at the Bridgestone Invitational in August which, after claiming the credit for, he called the greatest of his career; ridiculous, obviously, given that a) he hadn't hit a shot and b) he'd been alongside Woods for 13 major victories.

The jilted Williams badly wanted Scott to win at Akron, he said on Friday night, to "shove it up that black a*******"; meaning, the orifice belonging to Woods.

Even considering the ribald tone of the evening, and given his disdain for his former employer, it was poor judgment to insert color into the equation.

But does that make him a racist?

Williams says not, according to an apology issued through his website.

"I now realise how my comments could be construed as racist," he wrote. "However, I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologise to Tiger and anyone else I've offended."

That apology, of course, was never going to be enough for the sanctimonious PC crowd which, predictably, is calling for his head.

One British newspaper has even quoted an anti-racism group as saying there needs to be an investigation.

An investigation? By whom? The caddie police?

Others have suggested the entire sport's been tainted by Williams' remarks.

Really?

How ludicrous and offensive a position.

But, of course, moral indignation sells, and so now the blow torch has been applied to Scott, too.

Except that he thinks he's got himself the world's best caddie and he's not about to fire him; at least not over this molehill being built into a mountain.

"There was a lot of ordinary language used last night," said Scott, who was at the awards dinner.

"It was just this that was reported. I don't think that stuff has ever left the room before, and there's probably good reasons why."

Scott said Williams "did the right thing" in issuing an apology and, for him, the matter's closed.

''Look, anything with Tiger involved is a story,'' Scott conceded.

"I value Steve's contribution to my game and to have him on the bag. While he's caddying, I hope he can caddie for me."

Two US Open champions who were also in the room, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, also came to Williams' defense.

"I don't think Stevie Williams was trying to be racial," McDowell said. "He tried to make a joke of it, and it came out wrong."

McIlroy said it was "unfortunate" there was such bad blood between Woods and Williams.

"Stevie has apologized for his comments, and I think now that he's done that, everyone can just move on and sort of put it behind them," he said.

Well, for a few days at least.

Woods and Williams might very well find themselves on a crowded tee box Thursday in the first round of the Australian Open in Sydney.

Tagged: Tiger Woods, Adam Scott

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