Lout and clear: Williams sticks foot in mouth

By Jason SobelNovember 5, 2011, 2:29 am

The following comment should shock you. It should sadden you. And at the risk of imploring you on how to feel, it should anger the hell out of you.

At a season-ending banquet to honor and roast the world’s most elite caddies on Friday night, Steve Williams addressed his celebratory remarks in the wake of Adam Scott’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August, just weeks after being fired by longtime boss Tiger Woods, thusly: “My aim was to shove it right up that black --------.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

While it would already create major international headlines with Williams referring to Woods as part of the biological posterior, the fact that he referred to his mixed heritage makes it so far out of bounds that the white stakes aren’t even visible – no pun intended.

The ironic thing about racism is that it often isn’t black and white. What is considered racist by one person may simply be construed as vulgar or childish by another. What is considered vulgar or childish by someone else may be cast aside as benign elsewhere.

Chiming in: Who's saying what in Williams flap

We can all agree, however, that anytime a derogatory comment about a fellow human being is equipped with a racial adjective, that comment becomes more than just slightly tinged with racism. It becomes completely inflammatory.

Not that he meant it that way, of course. From what we’ve heard, Williams’ comment was supposed to be off the record and at least one witness maintains that the malicious intent of such a statement in print doesn’t equal the aloofness when it was spoken.

Williams has already produced the usual cacophony of excuses, admissions and apologies for the comment. Via his personal website, he said, 'I apologize for comments I made last night at the Annual Caddy Awards dinner in Shanghai. Players and caddies look forward to this evening all year and the spirit is always joking and fun. I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist. However I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I have offended.'

It shouldn’t matter, though. As a public figure, it can be reasoned that Williams should know better than to stoke the flames of such a subject, even in confidence. This was beyond crude and boorish locker room jocularity. If a person makes such a reference in front of 1,000 others, 100 others or just one other, it’s too many.

Though Woods has yet to react to the story, his agent Mark Steinberg called the comment “regrettable.”

I don’t think Steve Williams is racist. My guess is that he couldn’t have worked so interpersonally with a boss of mixed heritage for so many years if he was. This was a relationship that subsisted not only on the course, but in other dynamics, as well. Woods served as best man in his caddie’s wedding. They went on vacations together. They were great friends.

Racist, no. First-class lout, yes.

This is a man who for years was known as the muscle for his ever-emerging superstar boss. He chided children for moving in backswings and heaved shuttering cameras into water hazards. He would stop at no boundary to ensure Woods’ protection.

Through the dozen years they worked together, Williams was often criticized for failing to talk to the press, but perhaps we’re now finding out why. Three years ago, he said of Woods’ rival Phil Mickelson, 'I wouldn't call Mickelson a great player, 'cause I hate the [expletive],' according to The Guardian newspaper of Britain. When pressed for explanation the following day, he hardly retreated, contending, 'I don't particularly like the guy. 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.'

Just three months ago, Williams punctuated a victory with Adam Scott by telling the world, “This is the best win of my career.” It was a boneheaded move by a man with the public relations savvy of an Enron executive.

In coming days, I expect this news to spark a healthy debate within not only golf’s inner circles but societies around the world as to whether Williams’ comment was unfailingly racist or simply racially insensitive. I also presume there will be much contention about whether a comment that was reportedly off the record should have been leaked to the public. And I suspect Williams will continue to beg for the public’s mercy.

Already some media outlets are calling for Scott to immediately discontinue his looper’s employment. That’s a personal issue between them, but this news hits home as a personal issue between Williams and every single person who takes offense to this overture.

Intended or not, Williams’ comment contained inauspicious implications. If he wants to refer to a former boss and friend with a derogatory term, that’s well within his right. When he uses a racial adjective, it becomes a hurtful comment on multiple levels.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''