Friday 15 December 2017

Another twist in Tiger, Williams soap opera

Tiger Woods and former caddie Steve Wiliams. Photo: Getty Images
Tiger Woods and former caddie Steve Wiliams. Photo: Getty Images

Alasdair Reid

Woods and Williams. It reads like a golfing version of 'Private Lives', the Noel Coward play about a divorced couple who end up honeymooning with their new spouses in adjacent rooms at the same hotel.

Except, of course, there will be nothing very private about the reunion of Tiger Woods and his former caddie Steve Wiliams on the first tee at Royal Melbourne on the opening day of the Presidents Cup.

Adam Scott, Williams' new employer, will make up a partnership with Korea's KJ Choi against Woods and Steve Stricker in the final foursomes game of the day. After their very public separation last July, the acrimony that had simmered between Williams and Woods reached boiling point two weeks ago when Williams made his infamous comment about wanting to "shove it right up that black a***hole."

Williams issued an apology soon afterwards, acknowledging that his remark "could be construed as racist."

Many expected that Scott would sack Williams, but the Australian, ranked seventh in the world, said he thought the caddie's apology was sufficient. "It's not an issue for me," said Scott.

Woods has kept his counsel, but few believe he was anything but livid about Williams' words. When Fuzzy Zoeller made a tasteless remark referencing race after Woods had won the 1997 Masters, he was cold-shouldered by Woods at the following year's event.

The match-up between Woods and Williams is not thought to be a coincidence. The protocol at the Presidents Cup is that the two team captains take turns in nominating players and the US leader Fred Couples and his International team counterpart Greg Norman boxed themselves into a corner by putting Woods and Scott in their final groups.

Norman denied that there had been any element of contrivance. "It played out the way it played out, there wasn't any pre-meditation," he said. "I think it's great for the tournament. It needed to be done.

"If we had to defuse anything and just get this thing over and done with, wouldn't you rather have it sooner than later?"

Following his split from Woods, with whom he had won 13 Majors, Williams stoked the feud between them by describing Scott's victory at the Bridgestone world championship in August as "the best win I've ever had" -- a remark that was widely interpreted as a snub to Woods.

After his lengthy lay-off last year, Woods has dropped to 50th in the world.

He and Stricker formed a successful partnership at the 2009 Presidents Cup, winning all four of their games, but they were thrashed 6&5 by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood at last year's Ryder Cup. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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