A different year for Woods and his caddie

By Doug FergusonDecember 15, 2010, 2:50 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Steve Williams never imagined that losing his wallet could fuel so much speculation that he was on his way out as Tiger Woods’ caddie.

Hours after the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Woods closed with a 75 and offered some veiled criticism of his caddie’s advice in the final round, Williams was sitting alone in the Monterey airport while staring intently at his cell phone.

A golf blogger recognized him, took his picture and posted it with the headline, “Steve Williams at the airport, without Tiger Woods.” Never mind that Williams lives in New Zealand and Woods lives in Florida. Along with Woods’ post-round comments, it was enough to wonder if Williams would be employed much longer.

Told about the photo months later, Williams started laughing.

“I left my wallet in the rental car,” he said, explaining the text he was reading on his phone. “The speculation is incredible, how many people thought I would be fired or that I would retire. People just make up these stories. Look, I work as a golf caddie. It’s all I’ve ever done. I’m working for arguably one of the greatest players who ever played, who is fully committed to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record.

“Why would I quit in midstream?”

Williams has been on the bag for more than a dozen years with Woods, and they have shared some happy times – 72 victories around the world, including 13 major championships.

He also was guilty by association through some unpleasant times.

Williams never heard from his boss a year ago in December when Woods’ personal life was collapsing with each report of infidelity. Most people assumed Williams was part of the deceit, and even his repeated denials didn’t change some opinions. Getting through the gossip on and off the course wasn’t easy on Williams or his family.

Getting back to the golf hasn’t been as fun, either. Woods not only failed to win for the first time in his career, there were a couple of times when they finished a weekend round before lunch.

The caddie sure wasn’t expecting a year like this.

“When you compete at this level, a large percentage of your success is due to your mental preparation,” he said. “And evidently, Tiger’s mind wasn’t as sharp due to his own personal problems. He’s come back from an injury before. I’ve caddied for him for 12 years, and the two times he had long layoffs, he came back like nothing had happened. I didn’t think a lot would change.”

It didn’t take long to realize he was wrong.

Sure, Woods returned at the Masters and got right back in the mix. He opened with a 68, closed with a 69 and tied for fourth. Williams knows his game better than anyone, and none of the indicators were appealing.

“It was evident after Augusta that it was going to be a bit of a struggle,” Williams said. “Then, of course, he was questioning his own swing and whether it might be time to change his swing. As soon as he made that decision, I knew right there and then it was going to be more of a rebuilding year. Which is fine.”

No one felt sorry for Williams.

His worst year working for Woods was in 2004 – two victories, fourth on the PGA Tour money list with over $5 million, top 10s in all but five of his 21 tournaments. Which caddie wouldn’t take that?

The feeling among some of his peers was, “Welcome to our world.”

For most of the year, Woods looked no different – certainly no better – than some of the players in his group, whether it was Jason Bohn at the Memorial, D.A. Points at Aronomink or even 22-year-old Kieran Pratt, who made his pro debut at the Australian Masters and beat Woods by one shot when they were paired together.

“I race cars to win, and I caddie to win,” Williams said. “I certainly couldn’t be out here working for a player that can’t win tournaments. That would have no appeal to me at all. Winning is what you want to do.”

So what was the appeal this year?

“I quite enjoyed the challenge sometimes,” Williams said. “The battle this year was making it to the FedEx Cup, then trying to make it through. It’s not a position we’re used to being in. But it was not frustrating at all.”

What he found frustrating was wondering which guy was going to show up for work.

Three days after his divorce, Woods missed only one fairway and two greens and opened with a 65 at The Barclays. Two days later, he opened his round by hitting a 5-wood off the property.

He was in last place at one point late in his first round in Boston. The next day he shot a 65.

“When he got it right, it was great to see. But he couldn’t keep doing it,” Williams said. “You go to the golf course and wonder if he’s got what he had yesterday, or can he improve from what he had yesterday. But that’s what happens when you change your swing.”

Early in the second round of the Chevron World Challenge, Williams had seen enough.

“The tide is turning,” he said as he walked off the third green.

He was impressed with the progress Woods had made on his new swing in just four months. The last swing change took close to a year.

Williams left California believing the worst was behind them.

“I’m pretty confident when the new year starts that Tiger will be fully ingrained with this new swing,” he said.

The old year could not end soon enough.

Woods was signing autographs at Sherwood when he was asked about his longtime caddie.

“He’s been a heck of a caddie, there’s no doubt about that,” Woods said. After a few seconds of silence as he continued to sign, Woods looked up and added for emphasis, “And he’s a great friend.”

Woods needed a little of both this year.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.