SYDNEY, Australia – Tiger Woods’ caddie Steve Williams says he won’t tolerate any heckling of his star player whenever the world’s No. 1 golfer returns to competition.
On Friday, Woods apologized for cheating on his wife, Elin, and said he’s unsure when he’ll return to golf. Woods indicated that he could make his return sometime this season.
Williams has a reputation for not tolerating heckling or unauthorized use of cameras in the galleries when Woods is playing.
“Nothing changes,” Williams told The Sun-Herald newspaper from the Gold Coast in Queensland state, where he was on vacation with his family.
“My job is to give him the best information I can and get him around in the fewest possible strokes. And as I have always pointed out, it is to try and give him a level playing field.
“I won’t do anything differently. I won’t view him any differently. I will do the utmost best to be as professional as I can.”
Williams said Woods could get a positive reception when he returns.
“I think when Tiger gets back to playing, people will be appreciative of the fact he is going to play,” Williams said. “There are some cases where other people – not necessarily sports people, who lead a high-profile life have been in similar situations – and they haven’t returned to (their) profession.
“There are always going to be people who are going to knock you. … Being the No. 1 player in the world and being as successful as Tiger has been, there have been people who have knocked him anyway. I am sure there might be a few more; it goes with the territory.”
Williams said he thinks Woods has a well thought-out plan in his recovery process.
“As he pointed out in his statement, he has one more visit to the place where he is receiving his counseling,” he said. “Then I would imagine his focus might change a little bit from then. Hopefully (it will be) his final visit, to the place he is receiving treatment. Then his focus might turn a little back to his professional life, which is playing golf.”
Meanwhile, former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, now a television commentator, said he fears that Woods will not play golf again this year.
“I was hoping he’d be back for the Masters, but I read into (his statement) that his comeback’s not going to be any time soon,” Baker-Finch said.
“My gut feeling is he doesn’t come back until he’s 100 percent better, focused on golf and ready to win, and I don’t think it will be for the majors. I can’t see any reason to come back (this year) if not for the majors.”