Williams: 'This is the most satisfying win ever'
AKRON, Ohio – Steve Williams took exception to Tiger Woods’ claims that he was fired face-to-face the Sunday of the AT&T National July 3.
“That’s incorrect,” Williams said, moments after he had helped Adam Scott to a stirring victory in the Bridgestone Invitational. “He told me over the phone. He said we were taking a break. In caddie lingo, that means I was fired.”
Adam Scott and Steve Williams
Take a look at photos of Adam Scott and caddie Steve Williams on the golf course together
Williams confirmed the two did meet that Sunday, a few days after the phone call, “but only so he could explain why I was fired.”
They haven’t talked since and Williams said he didn’t cross paths or see Woods at all during the Bridgestone Invitational.
The most successful player-caddie partnership in PGA Tour history – in 12 years, Woods won 73 PGA Tour tournaments and 13 majors with Williams on the bag – is for now a less-than-amicable divorce. Williams did not mince words, speaking first with CBS, then with a crowd of reporters.
“This is the most satisfying win ever,” Williams said. “I’m not denying that.”
Asked if the pair of fist pumps at the end of the tournament – first when Scott birdied the 72nd hole, next when a crowd of fans saluted him – had a little extra meaning, Williams smiled and said, “absolutely.”
Explaining that the fallout from Woods’ sex scandal and fall from grace had been especially tough on him and his family, Williams felt he had been loyal and was stunned when he got fired. “I got short shrifted.”
Why was he fired?
“Because I worked for Scotty,” Williams said. “Plain and simple.”
Williams confirmed Golfweek’s account of the story, that he had flown from New Zealand to the United States, thinking Woods was going to play in the U.S. Open. When he landed in America, he discovered that Woods had withdrawn. That was a bit unsettling to Williams, who then was asked by Scott if he could caddie for him. Woods sent a text that said it was okay, then tried to block the move.
Tiger Woods & Steve Williams
A look at the success of the 12-year partnership between Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams
But by then, Williams had committed to Scott and wasn’t going back on his word.
Scott said he had actually tried to employ Williams several weeks earlier, at Colonial. Having split with his caddie, Tony Navarro, at the Players Championship, Scott needed a caddie for the Colonial, “but Steve had already flown back to New Zealand.”
The fact that Williams was available at the U.S. Open was “fortunate for me,” Scott said, and he refused to get in the middle of this soap opera. But it’s a soap opera that has taken a wild twist, with Williams – for so long chastised as a bully when he worked for Woods – becoming a crowd darling during the Bridgestone Invitational.
Throughout Sunday’s final round, fans screamed support for Scott, yes, but also for Williams. “Can’t wait to read the book,” someone yelled to Williams, standing greenside at the par 3 15th. And as Scott marched into the victory spotlight at the 72nd green, what greeted him? Roars of “Ste-vie Wil-liams . . . Ste-vie Wil-liams . . . Ste-vie Wil-liams.”
Williams, who has caddied for heralded winners from Raymond Floyd to Greg Norman to Woods, smiled perhaps more times than he did during 12 years with Woods.
“The people here have been astounding. This has been the greatest week of my life as a caddie,” Williams said.
Asked if he felt that he was being seen as a sympathetic figure, Williams smiled, and nodded his head.
“Probably,” he said. “I’m sure they’re sympathetic to (my situation).”
For his part, Scott could only laugh when asked if he had ever heard a crowd cheer for the caddie as a tournament came to a close.
“I had no idea how popular a New Zealander can be,” Scott said. “They appreciate him a lot, I guess.”