Steve Williams wants to write a book. I have news for him: The line forms to the right.
If I had a dollar for every athlete, coach, father, mother, fan or media member who has called me in the last 25 years to either ask for advice on how to write a book or to offer me the chance to co-author their book, I wouldn’t be as wealthy as Tiger Woods but I’d probably be as wealthy as Williams.
Everyone who has ever spent 15 minutes in sports thinks his or her life is worthy of a book. One of my favorites was an email I received from someone with the subject line, “Opportunity For You.” The opportunity was to write his book on the building of a sprint football team (that’s 150 pounds and under) at a Division III school. It wasn’t that there was any particular story line to it he just thought the school having a team was worthy of a book.
That wasn’t even close to the worst idea I’ve ever heard. It was just the most arrogant approach I can remember.
Almost every college basketball coach who has ever won more than 10 games in a season is convinced his life is book. Years ago a coach who had been fired from a major school in the midst of a scandal called me. He’d had a decent career pre-scandal, nothing you’d write a book about, but a reasonably good career. There was reason to believe if he bided his time for a couple of years he might get another job. Most cheaters who have won in the past get another chance.
“I’m ready to do my book,” he said. “I want you to write it.”
I wasn’t going to write the book but there were enough big names involved in the scandal and he probably knew enough stories that if he wanted to turn whistleblower someone might publish the book.
“Hang on a second,” I said. “You might get someone to publish the book but you need to think before you leap here. If you write about what happened in detail and what you’ve seen other coaches do, chances are good you’ll never coach again.”
He was stunned that I had missed his point and said, “You don’t understand. I’m not going to write about any of THAT. I’m only going to write the positive things: my big wins and my relationships with the student-athletes.”
The guy had won two NCAA Tournament games in his life. I politely suggested he lay low for a while and try to find another coaching job.
Which brings me back to Steve Williams. He says his autobiography would contain, “an interesting chapter on Tiger Woods.”
Really? What will all the other chapters be about? Your racing career in New Zealand? Your days not winning major titles with Greg Norman? Tales of Life with Finchie? (Ian Baker-Finch, a nice guy who won his major without Williams on his bag).
There’s only one reason anyone knows Steve Williams: he spent almost 13 years of his life working closely with Woods. People aren’t going to be all that interested in what Stevie whispered to Tiger before he made the putt at Torrey Pines back in ’08. (“You can do it mate,” sounds about right).
No. The only reason any publisher is going to pay Williams more than the price of lunch for his book is if he dishes on Tiger’s private life. I know that sounds cynical and, honestly, I still wouldn’t read the book but a lot of people probably would.
A year ago, after his split with Woods, Hank Haney began talking to writers about doing a book. Everyone asked him what he'd be able to tell the reader about what was going on in Woods’ personal life prior to Nov. 27, 2009. Haney had nothing, but was willing to dish on a lot of stories about what a bad guy Tiger can be.
You mean stories about him cursing? Not signing autographs? Blowing off the media? Making mean cracks behind people’s backs?
Gee Hank, thanks.
Williams has already categorically denied knowing anything about Woods’ personal life. It may take a leap of faith to believe him but he’d already start out with Strike 1 against him if he started telling people he had details. As in, “Oh, when you were still working for the guy you didn’t know anything; he fires you and you’ve got names, dates, places and times.” People already aren’t terribly sympathetic about Williams’ firing because he was such a lout during his years working for Woods. Turning on a man who made him millions isn’t going to make him more popular in most places.
That doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t pay for the book. Someone would. And the same people who make TMZ successful and buy books on The Life and Times of Paris Hilton would probably turn it into a best seller of some kind. The more Williams can prove what was going on the more he will get paid.
My bet is Stevie will try to sell a book about his role in the 13 majors Tiger won with him on the bag. Look, no one respects caddies more than I do, a good one can make a big difference for a player. But the Woods who won those 13 majors was so good he probably would have won with Gary Williams the basketball coach, or Gary Williams the Golf Channel broadcaster, on the bag.
When I think of Stevie in those days I think back to Jack Nicklaus at the 1981 U.S. Open when his son Jack Jr. caddied for him for the first time in a major. After his first round, someone asked Nicklaus if having Jack Jr. caddie for him had helped him in any way.
“He was a huge help,” Nicklaus said.
“Really?” the excited questioner said. “How exactly did he help?”
Nicklaus smiled. “Well,” he said. “Someone had to carry the bag.”
Maybe that could be the title for Stevie’s book: “Someone Had To Carry The Bag.”