While Tiger Woods hobbles around the golf course in a walking boot amiss in one of the worst winless droughts of his career, our focus has shifted on the men who have professionally carried his bags.
It’s remarkable that Woods has employed only two caddies (Mike “Fluff” Cowan and Stevie Williams) during his PGA career, showing that loyalty is an important component of his professional DNA.
Each brought a different approach to the game that was much-needed and helped mold him into one of the all-time greats.
From the beginning of their relationship, everyone considered Tiger and Fluff as golf’s oddest couple. One had the look of a young corporate executive, while the other was stuck in the sixties.
Together, they helped make the PGA Tour become more relevant to the fans, as the galleries were SRO each week to watch the prodigy at work.
And the results were legendary, as Woods won two of his first eight tournament appearances and became the youngest Masters champion (21 years-old) with a record-breaking performance.
Fluff offered his tour experience that Tiger desperately needed to learn, as he knew how to successfully attack a golf course. Woods took full advantage and became professional sports “true guarantee” each time his name appeared on the leaderboard.
Their relationship deteriorated as Tiger relied less on Cowan and more on his own instincts for club selection. He even kept his own yardage during round play. Neither side ever gave a reason on why Fluff was relieved of his duties, but I feel Woods wanted to take more control of his career.
Arguably, Stevie Williams is the most famous caddy in golf today. He earns his money by being the only person to successfully question Tiger on his approach to a shot.
Yes, Williams can be aggressive in his attempts to deflect distractions from the public.
Some have called him a bully, as his actions have brought unwanted controversy. You might remember Williams wrestling away a camera from a fan that disrupted Woods on an errant tee shot.
Loyalty is a two-way street in this relationship, as Tiger often refers to “we” when answering questions on his round play from the media. Poor club selection is a group decision, as no one will be singled out for their miscues.
Stevie has confessed to adjusting the distance on certain approach shots to the green for Tiger’s own good. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle on the course is Woods himself. It’s a big risk to take, because if you’re wrong at a major, then you could be looking for work the next day.
Williams’ biggest fear is silence on the course, because it’s an indication of Tiger being nervous, and his communication level will dwindle to basically none for that round. Then, he must gauge when to be assertive and blunt in offering his opinions to Woods.
Love them or hate them, Stevie and Fluff will be forever be linked to Tiger.
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