Tiger's Kiwi caddie calls Phil Mickelson a 'prick'

Tiger Woods' Kiwi caddie doubts his superstar boss will mind him calling his fierce rival Phil Mickelson a "prick".

That's because Steve Williams says it's "no secret" the two leading golfers in the world "don't get along".

If it was a secret, then it certainly isn't now.

Not after Williams' sensational interview with the Star-Times yesterday in the wake of an article that ran in the Guardian. In it he lifted the scab off Woods' festering relationship with Big Phil, offering a withering assessment of Woods' compatriot and one-time Ryder Cup partner while his employer recovers from knee surgery.

Williams was quoted as saying: "I wouldn't call Mickelson a great player 'cause I hate the prick."

When approached by the Star-Times yesterday, Williams confirmed the quote was accurate, although he had not intended that it find its way into the public domain.

"I certainly didn't make it to a media person," he said. "I visit a lot of golf clubs and do a lot of speaking for charity and that is one of the questions I get asked the most: what is Tiger's relationship like with Phil Mickelson.

"I was simply honest and said they don't get a long. You know what it's like. You're at a charity event and you have a bit of fun."

Asked if he used the word "prick", he said "yes" and added a few more choice words to the mix.

"I don't particularly like the guy myself," he said of Mickelson. "He pays me no respect at all and hence I don't pay him any respect. It's no secret we don't get along either."

Williams is an infamously brusque individual who once threw a spectator's camera into a pond. But, even by his standards, this was an astonishing thing to say.

Since scoring a job as Woods' bagman, he has been careful not to create any controversy, partly because Woods sacked his predecessor for his outspokeness.

Williams doubted Woods would react to his comments.

"He knows the media," he said. "You make a comment and they blow it all out of proportion and it's no big deal."

But to make matters worse, the Guardian has reported a story Williams told about this year's US Open at Torrey Pines, where Woods and Mickelson were paired together.

The two players were walking down the 17th fairway when, according to Williams, someone shouted "Phil" in Mickelson's direction. The world No 2 did not respond until the fan shouted, "Hey, Mr Mickelson." When Mickelson turned and waved, the fan yelled out "Nice tits". The crowd erupted in laughter; Mickelson went double bogey, bogey and his chances of winning the tournament disappeared.

Williams confirmed the story was almost accurate, adding it was his recollection the incident happened at Beth Page.

It's not known how Woods and Mickelson will react. But it's safe to assume Mickelson will not appreciate having it aired in public by Woods' bag carrier.

Williams' comments confirm that these are troubled times for those who peddle the image of golf as the most gentlemanly of sports, coming just days after Padraig Harrington revealed the extent of his enmity with Sergio Garcia. "We have nothing in common except golf."

Woods and his caddie not only work together, the golfer acted as Williams' best man at his wedding.

It is safe to assume that Woods would have found the joke at Mickelson's expense as amusing as Williams clearly did.

Whatever the truth, Williams' comments will only add to the anticipation of Woods' return next year, not least for that moment when the two players are next paired together at an event.

Sunday Star Times