JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Tiger Woods’ former caddie drew a mixed reaction to the way he gloated over his new boss’ first victory with him on the bag.
Some understood Steve Williams’ frustration after being dumped by Woods. Others thought the caddie went overboard in his comments to the media, taking attention away from the guy who actually won the World Golf Championship at Firestone, Adam Scott.
The crowd chanted Williams’ name as he walked up to the 18th green with Scott, who pulled away for a four-stroke victory. Afterward, Williams gave an interview that was nearly twice as long as the Aussie’s, calling it “the best win I’ve ever had” - remember, he caddied for 13 of Woods’ major titles - and making it clear he felt his ex-boss had treated him unfairly.
Steve Stricker said Monday that Williams was clearly upset and eager to let his feelings out after the acrimonious split.
“I’m not going to say if he went overboard or not,” Stricker said after a practice round for the final major of the year, the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. “It’s just too bad their relationship had to end like that.”
A pair of English golfers, who weren’t at Firestone but watched the tournament on television, both went on Twitter to take shots at Williams.
“Cannot believe they have interviewed Steve Williams. Nice of him to take away from Scotty’s win. Says it all,” Chris Wood wrote.
Oliver Wilson chimed in, “Steve Williams taken all the attention off Adam scotts fantastic win! Played great and nobody is talking about him this morning!!!” He added a hash tag to his tweet with the word “shameful.”
Stricker was more diplomatic.
“This is all media driven. The media is looking for a story here,” he said. “I don’t know the whole situation. I’ve heard two different stories, and I don’t know which one is the real story. But, obviously, he was upset to the point that he said what he did in front of everybody. That’s his right.”
Woods also played at Firestone, his first tournament in three months, and finished 18 shots behind Scott. That only added to Williams’ glee.
“Stevie was obviously hurt. He gave his all to Tiger for 13 years,” said Nick Faldo, who will be an analyst on CBS’ broadcast of the PGA Championship. “I’m sure there was an element to that where he was saying, `Hey, look what I’ve just done, mate.’ I know Stevie is getting praise and criticism, both ways. That’s kind of normal for him. That’s Stevie.”
PLAYING UP: Some players were griping about the length of the Highlands Course - listed at 7,467 yards for a par-70 layout - but the PGA of America could make things interesting at a couple of holes.
Start with the 13th, the shortest par 4 at 372 yards but also the tightest, with tall pines lining both sides of the fairway and a sharp dogleg to the right.
There were markers at both the front and back tee boxes during Monday’s practice round, setting up two totally different tee shots. From the closer position, the players have a shot at going for the green, if they can frame a shot around the trees and avoid a bunker on the right.
The 425-yard sixth also sets up plenty of intrigue. The PGA could move the tee forward to play 295 yards, which brings a pond into play for anyone that tries to go for the green with his tee shots. There’s also bunkers in front and behind the putting surface.
“It’s always nice to have a bit of a change, especially on a course like this. It’s so long,” Scotland’s Martin Laird said. “Giving the guys a little bit of a surprise never hurts.”
DIVOTS: Foreign-born players have won the past three PGA Championships: Padraig Harrington of Ireland in 2008, Y.E. Yang of South Korea in 2009, and Martin Kaymer of Germany last year. … Atlanta Athletic Club is among 15 clubs that have hosted the year’s final major more than once. This is the third PGA Championship in Atlanta, which also hosted in 1981 and 2001. … If the PGA Championship produces a fourth first-time major winner this year, it will be the first time that’s happened since 2003. … The Highlands Course is 254 yards longer than it was when it hosted the PGA a decade ago.