Woods' ex-caddie aids Scott in win

Tiger Woods carded an even-par 70 Sunday in his first tournament in four months and tied for 37th in the Bridgestone Invitational, 18 shots behind. Still, Woods said he was encouraged by his play. (August 7)

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AKRON, Ohio -- Steve Williams really loves cameras after all. The caddie who was fired last month by Tiger Woods, after 12 years of having been a shield and enforcer, Sunday happily met the media and proclaimed, "Honestly, this is the greatest week of my life."

That came from a man who had won 13 major championships on the bag of his former employer and who has 145 wins with various golfers. None of those had what this one did. None of those had fans around the 18th green singing, "Ste-vie Will-iams!" None of those felt like destiny to him the way this one did.

None of those turned out the way the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational did Sunday, with his new boss Australian Adam Scott winning by four. This week started out as Tiger Woods' Return (from injury), but became Steve Williams' Comeback.

Williams came back from the hurt of being canned -- in a way different from the way Woods had portrayed it, according to the caddie. ("That is incorrect," he said in response to the golfer's description of the firing.)

Woods had been gone for hours from Firestone Country Club, having finished tied for 37th, by the time Williams acknowledged the crowd's cheers with a big smile and punctuated Scott's winning putt with an emphatic fist pump. "It's the most satisfying win I've ever had, there's no two ways about it. I'm not denying that," Williams said.

It was one of the most unusual scenes pro golf has witnessed: The caddie received more attention than the golfer who played flawlessly and won the high-prestige tournament.

"I had no idea how popular a New Zealander could be," Scott said of Williams, smiling, as he sat next to the trophy. "He's a popular guy around here, having won now eight times. They appreciate him a lot, I guess, and he's a bit of a character. It was fun to get support, whether it's for me or for him, I don't care. It's the right team."

The caddie gave an important tip on the way a chip would break on No. 12, and Scott sank that 17-footer from the fringe. That was the turning point of the final round as it extended a one-shot lead to two over Ryo Ishikawa. As one final flourish, Williams advised his boss to go for the flag with a 6-iron on No. 18, and Scott nearly sank it for eagle.

Williams then opened up to reporters in a way his former employer never does. In fact, Williams had a well-earned reputation as a tough guy for gruffly clearing space for Woods. Sometimes, that meant shoving photographers and at least once grabbing a camera. "I guess caddying for Tiger, I've probably been a bit unfair to the media sometimes. I owe you guys something," he said.

"I was absolutely shocked when I got the boot, to be honest with you. I'd caddied for the guy [12] years, I was incredibly loyal to the guy and I got short-shrifted. Very disappointing," he said.

Williams' account of the firing indicated it was not "face to face . . . man to man," as Woods had said in his news conference Tuesday. They did have a meeting, but that was after the fact. "He just called me up. I was going to ask him to go and caddie for Adam, he didn't agree with it and said it was time to take a break," Williams said. "In caddie lingo, that means, 'You're fired.' "

Judging by the usual caddies' 10 percent winning fee, he earned $140,000 this week, as opposed to the $58,500 that Woods won. "The last two years have been very difficult for myself and my family, and you know I'm sort of a believer in destiny sometimes," the winning caddie said. "Adam hit it so good on the range, I knew it was our day. He hit a great opening tee shot and away we went. I was adamant that destiny was playing a part in today."

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