August 18 — Steve William’ tenure as Tiger Woods’ caddie will continue for the foreseeable future, according to the guy who’s lugged Woods’ bag for 11 years.
Stevie and Tiger remain good buddies, despite the golfer’s well-documented off-course woes and struggles to find his game inside the ropes.
“I’m sure if there was going to be some sort of parting of the ways, I’d be the first to know,” Williams told a New Zealand radio station Wednesday, dismissing continuing rumors to the contrary. “From my point of view, I don’t see any chance of that happening.”
Yakkety-Yak. Hmmm. Sounds vaguely familiar to Woods’ comments just before he dumped swing coach Hank Haney (or vice versa). Remember this Tiger tune?
“I talked to Hank about some of the stuff. We’re still working on it,” Woods told reporters a day after withdrawing from The Players Championship because of a neck injury. “We have a lot of work to do. I can’t make the movements that I made before because of the neck. I need to get healthy to play the proper way.”
One pain in the neck too many. Guess Hank didn’t get the memo, because he fired Woods later that night — in a text message.
That won’t be the case with Tiger and Stevie, as the latter insisted he was going nowhere.
“People speculate. He’s not playing well and his results aren’t what we’re used to,” Williams, a New Zealand native, reportedly said on LiveSport’s Breakfast of Champions show. “Tiger and I are very good friends and we’ve been through a tough time, there’s no question about that. I’m fully supportive of the guy and he’s been great through this whole situation with me.”
Where’s Tiger? The “whole situation” includes an abbreviated, un-Tiger-like season since the No. 1 golfer returned to the PGA Tour after a tumultuous four-month hiatus. While Woods was erratic upon his return, he did record a tie for fourth at the Masters in his first competition in April and finished in the top five at the U.S. Open in June.
So-so, bad, ugly, and god-awful. Woods has shown hints of returning to his old masterful self, but his game has also sunk to unimaginable depths that included a missed cut, that injury-related withdrawal, and a second-from-last finish at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Williams, who has spoken out before about life with Tiger and whose noticeable absence from Woods’ public apology in February sparked rumors of a breakup, has been by his boss’ side through the so-so, bad, and downright ugly golf. He has even seemed to double as Tiger’s swing coach.
Keep your still. During practice rounds for the PGA Championship, cameras captured Williams holding golf clubs to Woods’ ear to help his employer’s head still through his swing. Williams apparently learned the technique from Sean Foley, who worked with Tiger last week and may or may not be his new instructor.
Playoffs?! Playoffs?! Despite the swirling speculation, It would appear that Williams’ job is secure, but it’s also clear that anything goes these days with Tiger Woods. Whoever even considered the possibility that Woods might not qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship, the Labor Day weekend tourney in Boston that benefits his own charitable foundation?
Certainly not his caddie. “We’re actually in an unusual predicament which you would never thought Tiger Woods would be in,” Williams said. “Any week in the next few weeks if he has a poor week, like he did at the Bridgestone, then his year is finished.”
Love that dirty water. Woods’ chances of making it to the first playoff at The Barclays later this month, let alone the Labor Day event, are not etched in stone. While his share of 28th place at the PGA Championship put him at 108th on the FedEx Cup points list — well within the top 125 who will qualify for the playoffs — it remained possible that golfers in this week’s Wyndham Championship could usurp Wood’s position.
In or out? The PGA Tour figured that two-time FedEx Cup champ Woods could possibly drop to 132nd and that the top 96 were the only ones definitely playoff-bound. But, the tour’s FedEx Cup expert also reckoned the top 120 players were likely to make the playoffs.
That, of course, would not guarantee Woods a place at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Even if he tees it up at The Barclays, Woods would have to make the cut and finish around 50th or better to punch his ticket to TPC Boston, according to a PGA Tour spokesperson.
He’ll be back. Even with all that, the ever-loyal Williams had this warning for Woods’ opponents.
“He’ll get back to his best,” he said. “It may not be this year but it will come.”
Tiger Woods was a non-factor at last week’s major championship, especially after the dramatic ending to the event. Read how a bizarre penalty ousted Dustin Johnson from the playoff in which Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson.