BETHESDA, Md. – Adam Scott was getting more attention than usual Monday at the U.S. Open, and not only because he is coming off a runner-up finish in his most recent major at The Masters.
It was because of the guy carrying his clubs.
Steve Williams, the caddie for Tiger Woods since March 1999 who has been on the bag for a record 13 majors, agreed to work for the 30-year-old Australian. Despite speculation, Williams is temporarily filling in. Woods is out of the U.S. Open with injuries to his left leg, and Scott is in the process of finding a new caddie.
Asked if this could be a long-term relationship, Scott replied, “No. He is Tiger’s guy and that’s how it is.”
Williams also will be at the AT&T National in two weeks outside Philadelphia, working either for Scott or Woods if his regular boss can return to golf by then. But if it was strange to see Williams tending to Scott, it was slightly odd for the Kiwi caddie, too.
“I haven’t caddied for another player since I started with Tiger,” Williams said.
Before that, the last player he caddied for was Raymond Floyd.
Scott said he lucked into having Williams on the bag. He wasn’t sure he would be available until last week, when Woods announced he was not fit enough to play at Congressional.
Scott and Williams have known each other for years, dating to when Scott first turned pro and worked with, when Woods also was working with Harmon. Ten years ago, when Scott was between caddies, it was Steve Williams who suggested he take his younger brother, Phil Williams, to work a few tournaments in Australia.
“He’s been a good friend to me, a bit of a confidant in my career,” Scott said. “I thought it would be worth a call seeing as I’m between guys at the moment. I’m glad he hopped on a plane and came over – got to make the most of him.”
Scott said Williams has seen enough of him in practice rounds and competition over the years to know his game. He doesn’t expect any difficulties making adjustments.
The Australian tried to keep this all in perspective, especially when asked how much he relies on a caddie, such as reading putts.
“Look, I generally try to go play my game,” Scott said. “But if they pay attention the whole day and if I do have a question, they know what to do. That’s what a good caddie is all about. There’s a reason why I’m here. It’s because I know how to play. If I don’t trust myself or my instincts, a good caddie knows when to step in and say the right thing.”
KAYMER AND DIRK: In the last 10 months, Martin Kaymer won his first major at the PGA Championship and spent eight weeks at No. 1 in the world ranking. So who’s the biggest star in his native Germany?
At the moment, that would be Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
“People would know his name better than my name,” Kaymer said Monday. “If you asked 100 people in the street who is Dirk Nowitzki and who is Martin Kaymer, they would know him better than me. But I’m working on it.”
Kaymer said the interest in basketball picked up in recent weeks in Germany because of Nowitzki leading the Mavericks toward a title.
“Unfortunately, I never met him,” he said. “But that would be one of my goals next year, or maybe even this year, to go to a game of the Dallas Mavericks to see that. Obviously, basketball is not very big in Germany, but in America he is a superstar and a big role model, one of the best NBA players they have.
“For me, he’s a big role model.”
VENTURI RETURNS: In the most famous moment at Congressional, Ken Venturi stumbled through stifling heat for a 36-hole Sunday and ignored a doctor’s suggestion he withdraw to keep from dying of heat exhaustion. Venturi shot 66-70 to turn a six-shot deficit into a four-shot victory in the 1964 U.S. Open.
So how do you follow up a moment like that? If you’re Venturi, you don’t.
He revealed Monday he has not played Congressional since he walked off he course that day in June, so delirious from the heat that he could barely read the numbers on the scorecard he had to sign.
Venturi said he would give playing tips on the course when the Kemper Open was played at Congressional, but never played a full round.
“But I’ve walked it and I can reminisce with it,” Venturi said. “We did something last May and we went every hole and how it changed and what it does and everything.”
Why did he never play another round there?
“I guess after you make a hole-in-one, you shouldn’t take a mulligan,” he said. “That’s all I can say on that one.”
To commemorate his only major, Venturi donated the clubs he used to be displayed in a trophy case inside the locker room at Congressional. Included in the showcase are two letters he received, from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bobby Jones.
“I’ve been offered a lot of money for certain things,” Venturi said. “What would it be if I sold those? And I thought that someday they’ve got to go somewhere. And I’m glad I have the choice where it goes, and what better place than at Congressional? I will accept all the awards that you’d like to give me. And after I die, you can keep your awards, I don’t want them anymore.”
BIG THREE: For the second time in three years, the U.S. Open has put the top three players in the world ranking in the same group.
In golf, that’s nothing new.
Martin Kaymer was No. 2 in the world when he played with No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the Dubai Desert Classic. And the top three players were grouped together for the opening two rounds at Doral this year, which at the time was Kaymer, Westwood and Luke Donald.
Those are the top three still, only a slightly different order: Donald, Westwood and Kaymer.
“At the end of the day, you’re still thinking about tournaments,” Kaymer said. “It’s not about world rankings.”
When the U.S. Open first used the ranking, it was Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott at Nos. 1-2-3 in the world for Torrey Pines. So much has changed since then.
Mickelson now is No. 5, followed by Woods at No. 15 and Scott at No. 21. And three years ago at Torrey Pines, Donald was No. 17, Westwood was No. 20 and Kaymer was No. 40.