Shocked Steve Williams faces huge pay cut

IT'S OVER: The dream team of Steve Williams and Tiger Woods spent 13 years together.
IT'S OVER: The dream team of Steve Williams and Tiger Woods spent 13 years together.

One of New Zealand's highest-paid sportsmen, caddie Steve Williams, is facing a pay cut of about 75 percent after being dumped by golfing great Tiger Woods.

Woods and Williams formed one of sport's most lucrative partnerships during the past 13 years.

Woods won about US$103 million ($120 million) in prizemoney alone with Williams on his bag.

Based on a pay rate of 10 percent, Williams' share of the pot would have been $12 million (or about $1 million a year), not to mention the caddie's own sponsorship deals that resulted from their alliance.

When Woods enjoyed a productive 2007, Williams would have pocketed more than $1.2 million. When the golfer won the lucrative Players Championship in 2001, Williams would have earned more than $100,000 for a week's work.

Those numbers are big but they will be much smaller under his new boss, Adam Scott, despite the Australian's rise to No 17 in the world rankings.

Scott earned about $2.5 million on the PGA Tour last year, which would have seen Williams, who has supported numerous charities and in 2008 donated $1 million to Auckland's Starship children's hospital through his foundation, earn $250,000 based on a 10 per cent pay rate.

Good money, but nowhere near what he's used to.

Williams says he can accept a drop in pay. He can accept that Woods feels as though he needs a change. He had accepted their run would one day come to an end.

But he can't accept the timing of the split, news made public yesterday but delivered to Williams on July 4.

The move came as a shock given his loyal service, especially after he was dragged into the Woods' sex scandal which broke in late 2009, with accusations he must have known what was going on despite Williams' firm denial.

Williams said he felt let down by Woods, whom he had partnered for 13 of the latter's 14 major titles.

"I was completely loyal, as loyal as somebody could be. I took a lot of heat during Tiger's scandal, not just myself but my family as well, and never really got pardoned from that scandal," Williams said yesterday.

"I would have to say given what transpired 12-18 months ago, I think anybody in my situation would say they didn't have total respect [for Woods]. 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."

Woods' future remains uncertain.

Since returning to golf after the 2009 revelations about his sexual indiscretions with numerous women, Woods has been dogged by injury, the latest of which is a leg injury and nobody knows when he will return.

He has parted with wife Elin Nordegren, coach Hank Haney, and now his caddie.

Yet he was full of praise for Williams despite the decision to sack him.

"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."

That came in a statement, his only words on the matter to date.

Williams said the reasons Woods gave him would remain private, and they would remain friends.

"I've been fortunate to witness one of the greatest runs in golf, ever. I would be surprised if anyone plays at that level again because the competition is so tough now."

Williams' future is much more certain, if not destined to be far less lucrative.

The 47-year-old is looking forward to working with Scott, who has 20 wins worldwide.

Scott's career peaked in 2004 when he won the Players Championship and again in 2007 when he reached No3 in the world, but he fell outside the world's top 50 in 2009. But he has rediscovered some consistency during the past two years on the back of a refined if not awkward-looking putting technique.

Williams said he liked what he saw of Scott, 31, during the past few weeks – he was on his bag at the US and British Opens – and is keen to continue caddying for several more years, despite previously stating that when he finished with Woods, he would end his career.

The Dominion Post