Tiger avoids more caddie drama at PGA
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Tiger Woods acknowledged that he sent a congratulatory text to his former caddie Steve Williams after Adam Scott's victory Sunday, then he did not say much else about the controversy that has had all of golf talking for days.
"Well, I was happy to see Stevie and Adam win. Adam has been a friend of mine, and same with Stevie," Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference Wednesday at the PGA Championship, a session that turned into an epilogue to Williams' interviews following the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods neither fired back at his fired caddie, who now carries for Scott, nor did he say "let bygones be bygones." He mostly had short, unspecific answers about the episode, clearly wanting to defuse and not escalate it.
That it was such a hot topic at all was proof that, even though he has not won a major championship since 2008, Woods still is golf's most galvanizing figure.
The day began with Williams issuing an apology on his website. He did not apologize specifically to Woods, but to his "fellow caddies and professionals." He wrote, "I felt like my emotions poured out and got the better of me."
Emotions were determinedly left out of Woods' replies Wednesday in the media center at Atlanta Athletic Club.
When he was asked if he had any contact with Williams other than the text, he said, "I think that's between Stevie and myself."
On a conversation between his agent, Mark Steinberg, and Williams here, Woods said, "They talked, yeah, absolutely."
On whether it surprised him that Williams, who had been guarded to the point of being hostile to the media during his 12-plus years with Woods, was so expansive Sunday, Woods said, "Yeah."
On Williams' loyalty, Woods said, "I'm not going to speculate on Steve. Those are obviously his feelings and his emotions and his decision to say what he wants to say."
He did not address Williams' contention that the firing was done on the phone and not "face-to-face, man-to-man," as Woods had described it. The golfer did say, "Sometimes we all need changes, and this was a change, and as I told you guys earlier, I was at peace with it, and it was a decision and a direction I wanted to go, and that's it."
"That's it" seemed to be his message about the Williams dispute. Woods played the back nine with Arjun Atwal and Hunter Mahan and followed with another session on the range, all of which left him encouraged about his swing and his knee and Achilles. He said it had been "interesting" climbing the hills of Augusta at the Masters. He did not play a full tournament between April and last week, when Williams ended up being the biggest story.
"I sent Stevie a nice text after completion of play, congratulating him on his win. It was good to see them go out and play as well as they did," Woods said.
But golfers and observers realize that Williams matters to the public only because of his connection with Woods.
"He's still the biggest attraction in the game of golf," U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy said of Woods. As for the wave of young golfers who have won a bunch of recent majors, McIlroy added, "I don't think it's quite a new era yet, until other guys start to win majors regularly, like he did."