Steve Williams embarking on farewell golf tour
This could be the last summer Steve Williams is working Down Under, so it's fitting the crowds will flock to see him throughout Australia for the next four weeks.
Well, they're not technically there to see him; they're there to see and cheer on Williams' boss Adam Scott.
But Williams, a proud servant of both golf and New Zealand, has been a professional caddy for 35 years and is on the start of his farewell tour.
Next year, he reckons, will be his last. Fulltime at least.
"Next year will be 36 years," he said.
"I like 36, it's a nice number, it's a golf number [two rounds is 36 holes and most halves of golf courses are par-36]."
Williams has told Scott he's ready to pull the pin, though continuing part-time still appears to be an option for the Australasian team.
The crowds have already been huge around Scott and Williams as the Aussie teed off yesterday in his first tournament in his home country since winning this year's Masters at Augusta.
Australians, perhaps more than anyone but the Americans, have a fascination with Augusta.
Eight times an Aussie had finished runner-up at the American spiritual home of the sport. Scott himself did it in 2011.
His playoff win earlier this year was a sporting shot in the arm for a country whose cricket team is struggling, whose rugby team is awful and where both rugby league and AFL are currently battling drug scandals.
And now Scott is on his belated celebratory tour, playing this week at the Australian PGA, next week at the Australian Masters, the week after at the World Cup of Golf and finally at the Australian Open.
"He never plays more than two, maybe three weeks in a row, but he's playing four now because this all means too much to him," Williams said.
"He's a proud Australian and that shows his loyalty to Australian golf."
The World No 2 has loyalty to Williams too and the pair still plan to play a New Zealand Open, part of a deal negotiated by Williams when he took on Scott's bag fulltime after being dumped by Tiger Woods.
"One of the things I said to Adam, and I said to Tiger, was 'when we win a major, the favour I'd like to ask is for you to play in the New Zealand Open'.
"Obviously we got to do it with Tiger. [But] right now it's impossible with Adam because of the scheduling. The New Zealand Open is in between two WGC events."
Retired or not, Williams would make sure he could be on Scott's bag for a New Zealand Open, but he wasn't sure about the 2016 Olympics.
He's represented other countries before, carrying Woods' bag in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, but said he felt "a bit more at home" on the Internationals team in the Presidents Cup with Scott.
He'd happily carry an Australian's bag at the Olympics, but he's not sure he'll a) be wanted and b) still be caddying.
"It's a very long way away," he said.
He could, of course, form a super New Zealand combination with Lydia Ko, but he predicted caddies would be falling over themselves to help the talented teen.
For now, he's happy seeing his boss soak up the much deserved hype and attention in Australia and is keen to help him win at home.
"I think his game is more consistent now. He's changed a few things with his preparation, his scheduling and that's helped.
"But there is a lot of expectation on him in Australia and he can't win every tournament he plays in, they're hard to win wherever they are, especially with all this expectation. He'll be fine."
- The Press
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