At Firestone, the Tiger Woods-Steve Williams breakup took a turn into acrimony. With 13 major championships among their 73 victories in 12 seasons, the pairing was one of the most successful in golf. But the relationship ended amid finger-pointing and escalating tensions of who said what and when.
The backstory: Williams flew from New Zealand to the U.S. planning to caddie for Woods at the U.S. Open at Congressional. Shortly after he landed in Los Angeles on June 8, Williams learned that Woods, recuperating from an injured left leg, already had withdrawn. So friend Adam Scott dialed up Williams, asking whether he’d work the U.S. Open. Williams says he initially asked for, and received, permission from Woods. The Woods camp reconsidered a couple of days later; Williams chose to keep his commitment to Scott. Scott missed the cut.
By the AT&T National in late June, Woods, according to Williams, phoned Williams and told him it was “time for a change.”
Said Williams, “In caddie lingo, that means you’re fired. Simple as that.”
But Woods, 35, said he fired Williams, 47, during a private meeting July 3, at the final round of the AT&T.
“It was a tough conversation,” Woods told reporters Aug. 2, “but we said what we needed to say to each other face to face and man to man.”
Williams said he’d already been fired via phone; he said the July 3 face-to-face meeting at Aronimink was to discuss reasons for the firing, chief among them that Woods thought Williams was being disloyal.
The “he said/he said” situation boiled over in the aftermath of Scott’s victory Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which Williams termed “the most satisfying win” of his 33-year career. “It’s the greatest week of my life,” he said.
Bigger than those 13 major titles that he and Woods piled up during one of golf’s most dominant runs, apparently.
The following morning, Woods’ longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, fired back: “I’m stunned I’ve had to talk about this situation last night and today after Adam Scott’s good win,” he told Golfweek. “I feel sorry for Adam. But I’m tired of (Woods) taking shots for two years. When someone says something patently false, I feel the need to speak up. To say he (Williams) didn’t get fired face-to-face is ludicrous and tiring.”
Steinberg said Woods was at the AT&T National on Tuesday-Wednesday (June 27-28), flew home to Florida, and then returned to Philadelphia just so he could talk with Williams in person.
“Had he not gone to talk with Steve,” said Steinberg, “there would have been no reason for him to be there Sunday.”