Life after Tiger looksvbright for Steve Williams
Three days after Tiger Woods announced his New Zealand caddie was no longer needed, Steve Williams talks to Simon Plumb about what's next, new boss Adam Scott and Tiger's pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' major win record.
Q When was a permanent arrangement with Australian Adam Scott first discussed?
A After the AT&T National, where I caddied for Adam while Tiger was injured, that's when I knew I would no longer be caddying for Tiger.
So I headed over to England for the British Open and Adam picked me up from London. We drove to Royal St George's and in the car the conversation centred on what had just happened.
I expressed to Adam that I'd really enjoyed the two events where I'd caddied for him, and we made a decision there.
Q Have you and Adam identified when your first, full-time tournament will be?
A Yes, there's a World Golf Championship event in two weeks time and a major [PGA Championship] the following week so it's commencing as of right now.
Change in anything is good. I was with Tiger for 13 years and never caddied for anyone else during that time, so a change of scene is quite refreshing.
Don't get me wrong, but working for an American for so many years – particularly being involved in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup – if I was a golf fan and not caddying, I'd be backing the other team.
I caddied for Greg Norman in the 80s and a little bit for Ian Baker-Finch and Mike Clayton as well, and Terry Gale, so I've always felt a close associations with the Australian professionals. To be working with another Australian professional is exciting.
Q What goals do you have left in golf?
A While Adam's had a great career so far, I personally feel he's underachieved given the talent he's got. My long-term goal with Adam would be to help him across the line and win a major. He's certainly got enough ability.
Most of all I just want to go out there and have fun again.
It's been difficult to do that of late with Tiger, I'm not going to deny that. First and foremost, let's get out there and start enjoying it again, not that I didn't enjoy it with Tiger, but recently it has been challenging. I'm really looking forward to a new a challenge.
Q Is Adam based in Australia? And will that make life easier for you and your family?
A Yes, Adam lives on the Gold Coast and plays in Australia a little bit. He's based on the American PGA Tour but likes to support the Australian Tour, and that's a place where I've always enjoyed caddying. It's where I started my career in the late 70s.
Q November brings the Presidents Cup, that could lead to some interesting matches, potentially, Adam against Tiger.
A Adam will be on the International Team for the Presidents Cup. Being honest, I've always found that event awkward. I've always wanted Tiger to win his matches obviously, but inside me I'd rather have the other team win the overall thing.
It's always been awkward because I'm the only non-American on their team. That's going to change now obviously.
I've got some good friends on that American team, but there'll be some good needling going on that week in Melbourne.
Q What are the plans for the Steve Williams Foundation – Tiger's a board member – is Adam likely to become part of it?
A There's definitely going to be some changes in that area, no question. A lot of the fund-raising for the foundation came through Tiger's efforts and we're tremendously appreciative of that.
Tiger was instrumental in getting the foundation started and has been a tremendous supporter.
It's a bit early to tell what might happen yet as things have only just shaken out over the last day or two, but it will be decided on in the not too distant future.
Q Will you continue to be part of speedway racing?
A It's no secret I absolutely love my racing. I also love to promote the sport and am a big believer in speedway and that it's one of the best sports in New Zealand.
I'm fortunate to have been a spokesperson of the sport and that's important to me.
I always compete in as many races I can, and caddying for Adam won't change that.
Q Who might replace you as Tiger's caddie?
A I have no idea, but I would think that most people, if given the opportunity, would certainly love to be working with such an iconic figure.
When I was growing up I always had this pipedream of caddying for Jack Nicklaus. I probably could have had that opportunity, I actually arranged for my brother to caddie for Jack a couple of times in Australia. I guess I could have but the next best thing to Jack was Tiger Woods.
Q On the subject of Jack, how do you rate Tiger's chances of beating his record of 18 major championships?
A He's still four short of tying it and five away from taking it. I know Tiger well obviously and there's no question over his desire to achieve it when he comes back to full fitness. That's always fuelled him.
If anyone can do it, it's Tiger, there's no two ways about that.
The difficult side of it is the calibre of players gets better and better every single year.
As we move forward the challenge is getting greater and greater. The last six majors have been won by guys who had never won one before. That's incredible.
Take some of the great players, the Ernie Elses, the Phil Mickelsons, and go back to when they last won majors. They're hard tournaments to win. I'm not saying Tiger's not going to do it, because he's a special player. But the challenge five years ago seemed very do-able. It's a much greater challenge now.
Q You've said you will not caddie beyond the age of 55 [he's 47]. What are your plans for then?
A I've been closely associated with golf all my life, from caddying for my dad as a kid at Paraparaumu, through to playing as a junior and then caddying professionally on tour.
I feel like I've accumulated a good wealth of knowledge of what it takes to play at any level, and when I finish caddying I'd love to share that experience.
Sunday Star Times