x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Woods's former Caddie Williams bags career 'best' title

Adam Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational yesterday, and it helped to have the former estranged assistant of Tiger Woods by his side.

Australia's Adam Scott, right, celebrates with caddie Steve Williams on the 18th green after Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tournament in Akron, Ohio.
Australia's Adam Scott, right, celebrates with caddie Steve Williams on the 18th green after Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tournament in Akron, Ohio.

When Adam Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, no one celebrated more than his caddie.

Steve Williams clearly took great pleasure in the fact that one of the golfers Scott beat was Tiger Woods, who recently fired Williams as his caddie for 12 years.

"I've caddied for 33 years - 145 wins now - and that's the best win I've ever had," Williams said. This from a caddie whose tenure with Woods featured 13 majors and 16 world titles among 72 wins worldwide.

The Bridgestone was the first tournament for Woods in three months because of his injured left leg, and his first tournament since he fired Williams.

Williams was irritated at getting cut loose, and he made that clear in an interview with a New Zealand television station two weeks ago when he said he had wasted the last two years of his life sticking by Woods through all his troubles.

If that was not enough of an indication, one only had to see the smile on his face as the fans chanted Williams's name walking to the 18th green. Or the way he pumped his fist when Scott holed a foot-foot birdie on the final hole for a four-shot victory.

And the interviews that Williams gave after Scott signed for a five-under par 65.

Williams has only spoken to a few reporters he knows over the years, but he had so many media people around him after the tournament ended that all anyone could see was the Titleist cap - not the familiar Nike "TW" brand - on his head.

Woods shot a 70 to tie for 37th, 18 shots behind, and his interview transcript was only one-and-a-half pages. Williams did not hit a shot all day and a transcript of his interview was nearly twice as long.

Scott did not seem to mind that Williams's comment became a bigger story than the 31-year-old Australian going the final 26 holes without a bogey for a win that moved him up to No 9 in the world.

Told about Williams's comment that this was his best week as a caddie, Scott smiled and winced. "He's obviously really happy to get a win," he said.

As for the distraction? Scott is used to it by now.

Williams first worked for him at the US Open, the first step toward Woods deciding to end the partnership, and he has been hounded by questions all week about using Woods's former caddie and how much of a difference it would make for him.

"I can talk about Steve now and not Tiger," Scott said, alluding to the countless times he and other players have been asked about Woods.

"I'm sure there are a lot of other golfers who wouldn't mind that, either."

Ahead of Scott in the final round, Rickie Fowler played the kind of golf that usually wins at Firestone on Sunday. He had a bogey-free round of 66, but it simply was not enough to catch Scott. Luke Donald, the world No 1 for the last 10 weeks, also had a 66 and finished tied for second with Fowler.

"Today, I was on," Scott said. "To win here at this place, a World Golf Championship, it's huge."

It did not hurt having Williams at his side. Along with his experience working for Woods, and with major champions Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd, Williams was on the bag for all seven of Woods's victories at Firestone.

"He has such a great knowledge of this golf course and the greens," Scott said. "He's seen a guy play incredible golf, the best golf anyone has ever played around here, so many times. He really guided me around the course nicely. ... So he was, no doubt, a help."

Scott finished at 17-under 263, the lowest score to win at Firestone since Woods had 259 in 2000 in an 11-shot win.

He became the third Australian to win a world title, joining Geoff Ogilvy and Craig Parry.

With a three-shot lead, Scott thought about playing it safe on the 18th. Williams told him to take six-iron at the flag, and Scott obliged with a shot that rolled past the cup and settled five feet away. When they got to the green, one fan shouted out, "How do you like him now, Tiger?"

By then, Woods was long gone.

After missing three months with a leg injury, he finished a tournament for the first time since the Masters on April 10. "I had it in spurts this week," Woods said.

While his old boss was on the mend, Williams agreed to caddie for Scott at the US Open.

Williams said he was led to believe that Woods was going to play practice rounds at Congressional, but only after the New Zealand caddie arrived in America was he told that Woods was not healthy enough for the US Open. That is when Williams decided to work for Scott, and he worked for Scott again at the AT&T National, the tournament that benefits Woods's foundation.

Woods said he dismissed him after the final round that week, and they kept it quiet until Williams was finished working for Scott at the British Open.

Woods said he told him face-to-face. Williams said that Woods fired him over the phone.

"I was told on the phone that we need to take a break, and in caddie lingo, that means you're fired, simple as that," Williams said.

"I was absolutely shocked that I got the boot, to be honest with you," he said. "I've been incredibly loyal to the guy, and I got short shrift. Very disappointed."

But he was not disappointed on Sunday.