Steve Williams Tiger Woods
Steve Williams received a plethora of mixed reactions in the media yesterday in response to his comments following Adam Scott’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational this past weekend. The tournament was Steve’s first tournament since being fired by Woods, who was in the field and finished a cool 18 strokes behind Steve’s new man. After the winning round Steve’s interview lasted twice as long as Scott’s, highlighted by Williams calling it “the best win of his career.”

The general concensus of criticism directed at Williams revolved around the fact that he’s a caddy, not a player – he didn’t “win” anything. A second point of criticism was that Williams was stealing the limelight away from Scott, who just won himself a World Golf Championship event (these are not majors, but are the biggest tournaments otherwise).

With this all in mind, I wanted to weigh in with my take. As I’ve said before, none of us know exactly how this firing happened or why. All we know is that what was once as bulletproof of a relationship as could be suddenly disintegrated. Whether Tiger fired Steve over the phone or in person I don’t know. I highly doubt Tiger would end the relationship over the phone, but I also doubt that Williams would make up lies simply for the sake of hurting Woods in the media. I’d guess that Tiger called Steve and eluded that they needed to have a serious chat about their future, and Steve was able to read between the lines and see it coming.

As for the criticism Willliams received yesterday, it’s completely warranted in terms of taking the spotlight off of Scott. Scott has long been seen as one of golf’s next big stars, although he hasn’t won enough to back that up. This was the second biggest win of his career, and we all forget that wins for all players on the PGA tour are few and far between (yes it’s Tiger’s fault we forget this). In this regard, shame on you, Steve. Otherwise, I have no problem with Steve’s actions. Bottom line this is a guy with a lot of pride, and he feels very wronged by how Tiger treated him. I can’t say that I blame him a bit. Of course this was not “the best win of his career” in terms of the prestige of the tournament, but I’m sure it was amongst the most satisfying given it was his first tournament with his new guy since the split. Woods was at Bridgestone - he saw Scott win with Steve on the bag as he was packing up his trunk to go home after a lousy tournament. That’s got to feel good.

As for the whole “Williams isn’t the golfer he didn’t win anything” assertion, I get it. Scott is the golfer that got the ball in the hole 72 times, not Williams. But I would say that you better believe the circumstances served as motivation for Scott. He’s long been told his swing resembles Tiger’s, and for most of his career played 2nd fiddle to coach Butch Harmon because of Woods. But the motivation alone is not enough. You can’t deny that Scott hadn’t won a tournament since May 2010, then Steve shows up and he wins the first tournament with him on the bag. Caddies do help, they do make a difference, and the best caddies and players are very much a team. How much of a difference do they make? Sure, it’s very tough to quantify. But I’d say that a good caddie can save you 2-3 strokes a tournament. That’s a pretty arbitrary number pulled out of thin air, but I think it’s also a very conservative one.

What’s missing in all of this is a look ahead – the inevitable awkwardness on the range, on the putting green, and in the locker room. There’s no doubt about it that Woods and Scott will be paired together in a tournament sooner or later, with Williams in tow. Better yet, there will be a day in a major tournament where this situation presents itself in the midst of major championship pressure – you better believe you’ll be able to cut that air with a knife. Steve will be wishing Scott’s ball into the hole that day, for sure.

At the end of the day, Scott deserves the praise for a job well done. But I certainly feel good for Steve as well.

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