Posted January 05, 2014

Easing Toward Retirement, Steve Williams Reflects on Tiger, Norman and Other Highs and Lows of His Caddying Career

News, Tiger
Steve Williams, Adam Scott

Steve Williams, left, has caddied for Adam Scott since 2011. (Credit: Getty Images)

Steve Williams might be easing toward retirement, but don’t expect him to go quietly.

The ever-outspoken veteran caddy, who says that 2014 will be his final full-time season on Adam Scott’s bag, opened up this week to Brian Wacker of PGATOUR.COM, reflecting on a nearly four-decade career that began in anonymity but wound up turning Williams into golf’s most famous sidekick — a plus-size personality in a traditionally low-profile trade.

Williams touches on familiar topics (the early “disappointment” of getting fired over the phone by Greg Norman; the later “disappointment” of his falling out with Tiger Woods) but he also covers some fresh territory, like his biggest regret (hint: it involves the one time he chose to keep his mouth shut) and the shamed-faced moment, on Raymond Floyd’s bag, when he almost soiled himself over a snake.

It may surprise you to learn that when Woods offered him a job in 1999, Williams wasn’t sure he whether he should take it (“He’d won the Masters, yes, but you don’t know who you’re going to get on with a guy.”)

Once he got with Woods, though, Williams quickly realized how much they had in common. “I’m as competitive as he is. Even caddying you want to do the best you can do and here was a guy who had one thing he wanted to do: Win. We got on good. One of the nicest things I found early on was he always thanked you at the end of the day. My first impression after a few weeks was, ‘This guy’s been brought up well.’ He said please and thanks and those sorts of things.”

There were downsides, of course. For one, the intensity of the spotlight that shined perpetually on Tiger made Williams feel “claustrophobic.”

“You get this weird sensation when you caddie for him that you want to crawl under a tree because people are always looking at you.”

The swarm of publicity, Williams says, forced him into a role that didn’t come naturally to him.

“It’s not really my personality to be the enforcer, but it didn’t take long to figure out what Tiger wanted.”

Eventually, what Tiger wanted was to part ways with Williams. Exactly how the dismissal went down is a matter of dispute, but Williams recalls it this way:

“I left New Zealand with the intention of caddying for Tiger in the U.S. Open that year. I was told by his agent he was going to play, even though he had been hurt for the previous month. I had my father-in-law with me and a friend flying in from Oregon who was going to come to the U.S. Open, too. But when I got to the States, I learned (Tiger) wasn’t playing, so we went to Oregon, where I have a summer house. That’s when I got a call from Adam Scott, who had recently let go of his longtime caddie Tony Navarro. Adam heard Tiger pulled out and wondered where I was. I phoned Tiger about it and he said, ‘No problem.’ After some thought, though, he didn’t agree with it. Tiger changed his mind. Well, I’d already told Adam I would be there. I wasn’t prepared to ring Adam up and say I can’t do it. I’m a man of my word. I had no idea I was going to get fired over it. I also hadn’t worked a lot. Not that I needed the money, but I wanted to work. I was told (by Tiger) after U.S. Open that I no longer had a job and it’s as simple as that.

“Things don’t always transpire the way you want them to. The disappointment for me was that he claims he fired me at AT&T. He didn’t. He fired me over the phone after the U.S. Open. I went to the AT&T knowing I didn’t have a job (with Tiger). That’s just the fact. The conversation wasn’t that heated, but I knew he was upset and I tried to explain my side. It also wasn’t easy sitting around not knowing when you’re going to work. Adam is a friend of mine and I saw that as a great opportunity to caddie for a friend (in the U.S. Open and at the AT&T National).”

Working for Scott produced what Williams describes as the greatest moment of a caddying career that has found him on the winning bag in 14 major championships.

“I’m hard-pressed to go past the 10th hole in the playoff at Augusta National with Adam and Angel Cabrera. Convincing Tiger to hit lob wedge instead of sand wedge on 18 at Torrey Pines in the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open was a big call, but it wasn’t like Tiger was trying to win his first major. Major championships are very hard to win — Tiger made it look so easy, I don’t think a lot of people outside the game realized what he was doing. It ain’t that easy. No Australian had won at Augusta. When Adam read the putt, I told him his read wasn’t close and it broke a lot more than he thought. I hadn’t seen the putt before but as I walked down the fairway the first thing I said to myself was ‘It’s quicker than you think and breaks more than you think.’ Everything on the other side of that green was slower than you thought, and the same was true with fast putts. He might’ve missed that putt and not gone on to win and then he’s still trying to win his first major.”

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19 comments
tman214
tman214

It is funny how Steve has been on the bag for the best players in the game... He gets fired by Tiger and goes to Scott and look who wins his first major, has a break out year and gets player of the year. It must be luck... Everyone thinks that caddy's don't do a thing and it's the player who hits the shots. I would love to see half of these people go out and caddy. Best part is everyone is all about Tiger, when Tiger feels he is above everyone and can manipulate people. Heaven forbid you say anything bad about Tiger, you will be getting a phone call from his people to get blackmailed, don't get me wrong hes great to watch when hes got it going, I am feed up with Tiger always getting his way.

Teedoff
Teedoff

Golf.com is pathetic.  Apparently this article didn't generate enough attention titled as the above would indicate so they had to bait readers with inflammatory remarks by Williams on their homepage.  Golf.com employs the worst bottom feeders in the business.

MorphySmith
MorphySmith

If Williams thinks he was fired from the best job in his career over a disagreement about caddying for Scott in a single tournament then he is still in a state of denial. No employee would ever go against his employer for a single issue like that, especially when he claims he didn't need the money. Just call Scott up and say Tiger changed his mind. not a big fing deal.

Serge_Storms
Serge_Storms

Steve and Tiger both have big egos, I'm surprised that relationship lasted as long as it did.  I think Steve is a better match with Adam Scott.

FIGJAM
FIGJAM

Steve Williams is the best thing to happen to the world of professional golf. Without HIM, the professional golfers will not be able to play to expectation or to their capabilities. The moment he decided not to work with the golfer, their world come crashing down and destined never to win another major.


Some says Majors are held only with his permission. Some says he is the King of the jungle and Tiger and Shark are his personal pets. All we know is , he's called The One and Only "STEVE WILLIAMS"

Steve Phillips
Steve Phillips

What is the point of this article? Very shallow!

Lance
Lance

Strange. I didn't see the part about Tiger firing Steve in the interview with pgatour.com. Where does that lengthy quote came from?


It's interesting that Steve's point about the role of a caddie is to try to prevent error. While generally I agreed, I also read that to mean if the result is good due to a caddie's advice, he got the credit for it. What about advise that caused bad result? the player is to be blamed? He mentioned his regret with Raymond on the 17th hole. If he advise Raymond to aim at the pin and Raymond is not comfortable about it, the result can also be disastrous. So how do you know if your advise (or lack there of) is good or bad for the player? 

BubbaJoBubba1
BubbaJoBubba1

@tman214 ???????????? Seriously.........take an English grammar class and get back on your meds...............

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@ShutFaceGolfSays the guy who could not wait to click on the link to the article about him.   That is why he continues to get media time.

BubbaJoBubba1
BubbaJoBubba1

@FIGJAM Do you have to breathe through your mouth when your nose is so far up Steve William's butt??????  He's a loudmouth blowhard period............the only person he loves is himself and the other caddies have absolutely no respect for him.  The sooner he's out of golf the better..........

MorphySmith
MorphySmith

@FIGJAMwow. a caddy the best thing ever? not a chance. 

please tell us about the best shot Williams ever hit in a tournament.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Steve Phillips So everything posted on the www has to be a deep, world changing story?  The point was to ask Steve Williams a few things about his career as likely the most famous caddie in the history of golf.

Dick Nuggets
Dick Nuggets

@BubbaJoBubba1 @tman214   You might want to enroll in those same classes Bubba.  Looks like you're having difficulties formulating sentences yourself.   

Dick Nuggets
Dick Nuggets

@MorphySmith @FIGJAM Morphy, since when has a caddie ever been expected to hit the shot?  You must not be aware of all the things they have to do to be prepared to intelligently navigate a course with greens running at 13 on the meter.  Please tell me you don't think they just sleep in, show up to the course 10 minutes before a tee time, and slug their players bag around the course while playing angry birds on their phones all day.......

BubbaJoBubba1
BubbaJoBubba1

@JoeCabot "most famous caddie in the history of golf"..............don't watch much golf do you?

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