JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Call him Adam Scott’s alter ego.
Steve Williams’ brusque and bold persona as a caddie is serving Scott well so far, even as those traits kick up controversy the soft-spoken Scott would prefer to avoid.
Though Scott has made it clear to Williams he wants his clubs to do the talking at the PGA Championship this week, he’s finding fuel in Williams’ bulldog persona
The dust-up Williams created taking a dig at his former boss, Tiger Woods, in the wake of Scott’s WGC-Bridgestone victory Sunday drifted with Scott to Atlanta Athletic Club on Tuesday.
“Look, we’ve had our chat about the whole thing, and he feels the way he feels,” Scott said. “I just took what he said, again, as confidence for me. If he really feels that was one of his great wins, then I’m kind of flattered, and it fills me with confidence. I think that’s what his intention is, to be honest.”
Scott, 31, is finding strength in the tough-guy temperaments of two supporters as he tries to win his first major championship.
Scott said his boyhood idol, Greg Norman, is another large factor in rebounding from his swoon in 2009, when he missed 10 of 19 PGA Tour cuts.
“Greg Norman in the last couple years has probably shown he has more belief in me than I’ve had in myself,” Scott said after his news conference Tuesday. “I like to think I’m a bulldog when I get in the hunt, but it’s about getting in the hunt more.
“Greg is a feisty guy, and it’s good for me to have guys like that around me.”
Scott says he’s by nature a shy fellow away from the golf course, but the Williams-Norman combo fills his world with lots of bravado.
Before Williams was fired by Woods, before Williams teamed with Scott to win at Bridgestone, the caddie confronted Scott in no-nonsense fashion. Williams bluntly told Scott that he believed he had underachieved in his career.
“Yeah, he did say that,” Scott said. “I guess I take that as a compliment, that he thinks I’ve got the ability to do better.
“He was very honest with me in his opinion of my game and everything, and he thinks I've got the game to win majors.”
Scott, an Aussie phenom predicted to a become star before he even hit the PGA Tour, has won eight PGA Tour titles and eight European Tour titles, but he was never a factor coming down the final stretch of a major championship until he tied for second at the Masters in April.
“Look, I mean, yeah, if I was being a harsh critic of myself, I could say I've underachieved,” Scott said. “I feel like, sometimes, I play as good as anyone, and it's never been at the biggest tournaments, and that's really what I tried to change this year, not just from what Steve had to say. I felt like my game had really taken some big steps last year. And now putting better, I feel like, OK, I need to be performing in majors, World Golf Championships, The Players, all the big events. I feel that's where my game's at.”
With Scott struggling two years ago, Norman gave him a boost choosing him as a captain’s pick to play for the International Presidents Cup team. Scott said he was so frustrated that year he probably would have packed his clubs away and took the late fall and winter off if Norman hadn’t come calling. Scott played well for Norman and the Internationals and built on that success.
With the long putter in his bag this year, Scott took a giant step forward. The addition of Williams feels like another important piece.
“I think he's a great motivator for me so far,” Scott said. “Obviously, when you start fresh with a new caddie, any time, it's a good vibe and a good rapport. We are getting on really well, and you've got to ride that. But then the longer you stay with someone, it's important to keep that going. He's a very motivated guy. He's out here to win. He loves winning. I think that's good for me, to keep my motivation going. He can certainly push me. And so far, he's just brought a lot of confidence toward me in everything he says, and the way he acts.
“Filling me with confidence is a good thing. That's a good thing for a caddie to do to a player. So far, it's been fantastic.”