Steve Williams served as Tiger Woods’ bodyguard, enforcer and close friend as well as caddie for 12 years through 13 major titles, until yesterday. Williams was fired and became the latest to go in Woods’ personal and professional upheaval.
Woods did not announce a replacement in conjunction with the announcement on his website. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it’s time for a change. Stevie is an outstanding caddie and a friend and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments. I wish him great success in the future.”
Williams, a New Zealand resident, was known for confronting photographers and occasionally confiscating cameras in defense of Woods. Boosted by Woods’ wins, Williams was reported to have made $1.25 million a year. The relationship became close, with each included in the other’s wedding party.
The move caught the caddie by surprise, judging from the statement issued on Williams’ website. He said the move actually was done after the AT & T National early this month, but Woods never announced it and Williams never mentioned it, while he was caddying for Adam Scott.
“After 13 years of loyal service, needless to say this came as a shock,” Williams said on his site. “Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time.”
Those were allusions to Williams’ loyalty during the tumult that has followed the scandal that erupted after the Thanksgiving night crash outside Woods’ Florida home.
Hardly anyone remains from the people who composed Woods’ inner circle during his peak years. Woods split with his wife Elin over the scandal. He earlier parted with swing coach Hank Haney and no longer travels and plays practice rounds with former constant companion Mark O’Meara, who is on the Champions Tour. Only agent Mark Steinberg remains, and he recently left the agency IMG in favor of Excel Sports.