Williams: Intimidating, polarizing, tremendous caddie

By Jason SobelSeptember 17, 2014, 2:40 pm

Wednesday’s news that Adam Scott and Steve Williams have parted ways shouldn’t come as a surprise, based on the caddie’s insistence over the past year that he would retire, at least part time, to New Zealand. It should also give us reason to remember what Williams called “the best win of my life” – a cringe-worthy moment that is still largely misunderstood.

There might never have been a scene quite like that of the late-afternoon on Aug. 7, 2011, at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Scott, one of the game’s best – and most popular – players, was making his victory march down the 18th fairway at Firestone CC. The unassuming Aussie did so with an amused smile on his face, not because he was on the verge of claiming a trophy, but because he was being virtually ignored by the massive gallery.

“Good job, Stevie!” “You da man, Steve!” “Steee-veeee!”

The surrounding crowd had latched onto the feel-good story of the day. Williams, who had been unceremoniously dumped by Tiger Woods after a dozen years and 13 major championships, was in the midst of helping another player to victory. In as much of an anti-Tiger stance as a pro-Williams one, the fans lavished him with praise.

The awaiting television crew, realizing that Williams was a bigger story that day than the guy hitting the shots, decided to interview him on the final green.

Perhaps swept up in the emotion of the moment, the caddie gladly stepped in front of the camera. You know what happened next.

“I have been caddying for more than 30 years now,” he boasted. “I have won 145 times and that is the best win of my life.”

As Williams was still being celebrated on the course, viewers at home became enraged at the guy known as a camera-chucking bully, who was now – it sounded like – taking credit for the victory.

From that day, Williams’ profile as Public Enemy No. 1 only grew. The cheers in his honor never returned, replaced by jeers for a misunderstood man. The jokes came quick and easy, too. Each time Scott would win, it would inevitably be mentioned that Williams earned another great win.

Lost in the antagonism and amusement was the fact that Williams actually deserved some credit every time his player won a title. He was never the guy swinging the club, but it takes some talent to caddie for 14 major wins – even if the guy standing next to him each time was the game’s best player.

It was after the last of those wins, at last year’s Masters Tournament, that Scott credited Williams for helping him with the read on his birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

“I was struggling to read it, so I gave Steve the call over,” he divulged. “I said, ‘Do you think it's just more than a cup?’ He said, ‘It's at least two cups; it's going to break more than you think.’ I said, ‘I'm good with that.’ He was my eyes on that putt.”

For over three decades, Williams has served as the eyes – not to mention ears, mouth and muscle – for Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. He might not have been the most popular caddie in the game, but he wasn’t afraid to take the heat for his player and wasn’t afraid to make his opinion known. Earlier this month, he was inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame by the Western Golf Association.

That afternoon of Aug. 7, 2011, might have been the best win of his career, but if that career is indeed now over, it was one filled with them – whether the public wants to give him credit or not.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.