Steve Williams Puts Tiger Woods In An Unfamiliar Position

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2008

As Tiger Woods makes his way to Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA, to host the Chevron World Challenge, he will find himself in an unfamiliar position that he works tirelessly to avoid.


At a recent charity event in New Zealand, somebody asked Woods’ long-time caddie, Steve Williams whether Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson got along.

Williams responded by saying “Not so well……I wouldn't call Mickelson a great player, 'cause I hate the (expletive).” Williams later went on to say, "I visit a lot of golf clubs and do a lot of speaking for charity, and that is one of the questions I get asked the most—what is Tiger's relationship like with Phil Mickelson? I was simply honest and said they don't get along. You know what it's like. You're at a charity event and you have a bit of fun. 

“I don't particularly like the guy myself," Williams said. "He pays me no respect at all and hence, I don't pay him any respect. It's no secret we don't get along, either."

Mickelson responded to the comments by saying "After seeing Steve Williams' comments, all I could think of was how lucky I am to have a class act like Bones (Jim Mackay) on my bag and representing me,".

Tiger Woods issued a statement saying, "I was disappointed to read the comments ... about Phil Mickelson, a player that I respect. It was inappropriate. The matter has been discussed and dealt with."

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When Woods shows up to a PGA Tour event, he has to deal with nothing short of a three-ring circus. 

At a typical event, Woods has to deal with rowdy galleries, people screaming out his name while he is on the driving range and practice green, inexperienced photographers taking pictures during his swing, and the strong demands on his time from press who are starving for even the smallest comment from Woods.

It is no wonder the guy plays in so few events each year.  

Throughout his 12-year career, Woods has worked extremely hard to avoid any and all off-the-course controversies.

Week-in and week-out Woods is under enough scrutiny as it is. Any off-the-course issues would be magnified that much more for Woods and create the possibility of affecting his play on the course.

Woods is an extremely private man. He keeps a small circle of friends, coaches, and business associates and is very careful never to take a definitive stance on any issue of real importance as to avoid any controversies.

In the past, Woods has actually fired caddies and coaches for drawing too much attention to themselves and using him to build their profiles.

After several years on his bag, Woods fired his first Tour caddie, Mike ‘Fluff’ Cowen, in a decision many believe to be largely attributed to ‘Fluff’ using Woods to increase his fame, popularity, and pockets through television commercials and lucrative sponsorships deals.

More or less, ‘Fluff’ was getting to big and was drawing unneeded attention to the Tiger Woods camp.

Back in 2004, Woods fired swing coach, Butch Harmon claiming disagreements on aspects of his golf swing. However, again, many believe this decision to be largely due to Harmon using his stature as Tiger Woods’ swing coach for his own gains. 

Harmon began doing some television commentating, opened up a large golf school and began using his position as Tiger Woods’ coach to work with other players for exuberant fees.

Again, Harmon was drawing unneeded attention to himself and was not giving Woods’, a self-admitted control freak, enough of his time.

Tiger Woods’ current caddie, Steve Williams has been on his bag for many years now.

Williams and Woods appear to be very close both on and of the course; so much so that Woods’ was even Williams best man at his wedding a few years ago.

Woods and Williams clearly have an incredibly successful working relationship.

Steve Williams has himself a pretty good gig on Tiger’s bag. Not only does he make more money than any other caddie year after year, but he also has a front row seat to golf history being made each and every time Woods tees it up.

For many years, it was believed that Steve Williams had learned from those who had come before him to keep his head down and his mouth shut of the course.

However, it is now looking as if that lesson did not fully sink in for Williams.

The golf world will be keeping a close eye on how Woods will ultimately decide to deal with William’s recent lapse in judgment.

It is clear that Woods despises any off-the-course distractions. However, it is also clear that Woods is concerned with winning above all else. For that reason, Steve Williams might just get a pass on this one.


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