Tiger Woods: Firing Steve Williams Wrong PR Move, Right Golf Move

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IJuly 21, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Tiger Woods waits with his caddie Steve Williams during a practice round prior to the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

For months now, I've stayed in Tiger Woods' corner, believing he'll right the ship and return to major championship-winning form, but firing caddy Steve Williams I'm not on board with—at least partially.

When I first heard that Woods had fired Williams I was surprised, but not as surprised as Williams, who said on his Web site:

"Needless to say, this came as a shock."

"And for a player when he's not playing at his best for extended period of time, it's not uncommon to change caddies, coaches, psychologists or bring on a psychologist," he added in an interview with the Associated Press. "We all know the business. I have no problem being fired. But I'm disappointed in the timing of it."

For Tiger to do this, I really thought it was going to be a joint decision, an agreed-upon break-up. Clearly, it wasn't.

And Williams is right: Tiger has the right to change his caddy and not answer to anyone. But it does seem—and perhaps this was intended, perhaps unintended—like Williams is scapegoat for Woods' on-the-course problems.

I don't believe that—Tiger still hit all the shots, and I find it hard to believe Williams ever shouted Tiger down about club selection or hitting a fade or a cut or a stinger—but that's how it looks.

The last thing Tiger's fragile image needs is to look like he's blaming others and not taking responsibility for the woeful state of his game. The public can handle an athlete struggling, but rarely when they are seen as whining about it or letting others take the fall for it—especially in an individual sport.

Still, I think Tiger made the right move in letting Williams go—I just think the timing is unfortunate.

Twenty years from now, if Tiger failed to get his game on track and win those five majors to surpass Nicklaus, he's going to wish he left no stone unturned.

And since he has put his faith in Sean Foley's hands now, Foley should be the unchallenged architect of Tiger's game. And with Williams there—who had been with Tiger for more than a decade, while Foley is just beginning his second year with Tiger—that wasn't going to happen.