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.

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Lyle going through 'scary' period in cancer recovery

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:58 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Jarrod Lyle's wife says the Australian golfer is struggling through a ''really scary'' period in his third battle with cancer.

Lyle, 36, underwent a bone marrow transplant last December following a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia.

''It's been 190 days since Jarrod's stem-cell transplant and we are going through a really rough patch at the moment,'' Briony Lyle wrote on jarrodlylegolf.com. ''I'm typing this blog on his behalf because he's not able to do it. Jarrod's not able to drive, struggles to prepare any food for himself, can't read stories to the girls and is not able to offer much help at all around the house.

''He is also starting to look like a very frail, sick person.''

Briony Lyle added: ''We are both very aware of the amount of drugs and medication that has gone into Jarrod's body over the years but things are starting to get really scary at the moment. It looks as if this recovery is going to be the longest and hardest one so far.''

Lyle has twice beaten acute myeloid leukemia, in 1998 and 2012, and was able to return to play professional golf.

He made an emotional comeback to the golf course during the 2013 Australian Masters in Melbourne before using a medical exemption to play on the PGA Tour in 2015. He played four seasons on Tour, where he earned $1.875 million in 121 tournaments.

Lyle has since returned to Australia permanently to be with Briony and daughters Lusi and Jemma.

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Vermeer wins PGA Professional; 20 make PGA Championship

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

SEASIDE, Calif. – Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday, overcoming front-nine problems to top the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship.

The 40-year-old Vermeer, the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, closed with a 1-over 73 on the Bayonet Course for a two-stroke victory over Sean McCarty and Bob Sowards.

The PGA Championship is in August at Bellerive in St. Louis.

Three strokes ahead entering the day, Vermeer played the front in 4 over with a double bogey on the par-4 second and bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-4 eighth. He rebounded with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th and also birdied the par-5 18th.

Full-field scores from the PGA Professional Championship

Vermeer finished at 5-under 283. The former University of Kansas player earned $55,000. He won the 2017 Mizuno Pro/Assistant Championship and finished ninth last year in the PGA Professional to qualify for PGA at Quail Hollow.

McCarty had a 68, and Sowards shot 69. Sowards won the 2004 title.

David Muttitt and Jason Schmuhl tied for fourth at 1 under, and 2012 and 2015 champion Matt Dobyns, Jaysen Hansen, and Johan Kok followed at even par.

Marty Jertson, Brian Smock and Ben Kern were 1 over, and Zach Johnson, Craig Hocknull, Matt Borchert and 2016 winner Rich Berberian Jr. were 2 over. Nine players tied at 3 over, with Shawn Warren, 2017 champion Omar Uresti, 2014 winner Michael Block, Craig Bowden and Danny Balin getting the last five spots at Bellerive in a playoff. Balin got the final spot, beating Brian Norman with a par on the seventh extra hole after Norman lost a ball in a tree.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”