EXCLUSIVE: New Zealand golf caddie Steve Williams has issued an apology to Tiger Woods over a racially charged attack on his old boss.
Williams, who caddied for Tiger Woods for 12 years before being sacked this year, stunned the golfing world when he called Woods a “black a---hole’’ at an annual caddies’ party, held in conjunction with the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.
Williams was accepting a tongue-in-cheek award for the best caddies’ celebration of the year, one that followed a victory by new boss Adam Scott at an event in the United States.
Asked what had prompted his celebration, Williams, wearing an All Blacks jersey, said: “I wanted to shove it right up that black a---hole.’’
Woods and Williams were once such close friends they were best men at each other’s weddings. But their friendship crumbled after Woods ended a professional relationship, which had made Williams an incredibly wealthy man.
Now they are on an immediate collision course in Australia this week – as long as Williams holds his job.
Woods and Scott are due to play in the Australian Open in Sydney and in the President’s Cup in Melbourne next week and will find it almost impossible to ignore each other unless Scott sacks Williams as his caddie as a result of the slur which has developed into an international story.
Approached yesterday morning, a seemingly naive Williams was stunned to learn that British newspapers had reported the story.
“Why would they do that?’’ he said. “The whole thing was meant to be fun.’’
Hours later, Williams posted a comment on his website as he moved into damage control. He was adamant the remark had been reported out of context.
“I apologise for comments I made last night at the Annual Caddy Awards dinner in Shanghai. Players and caddies look forward to this evening all year, and the spirit is always joking and fun.
“I now realise how my comments could be construed as racist. However, I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologise to Tiger and anyone else I’ve offended.’’
Woods, in Australia, had no comment but his agent Mark Steinberg said: “If multiple reports, which all seem to be accurate, are true, then it’s sad it’s come down to this. It’s a regrettable comment – and there’s really nothing that Tiger can do or say. He’s just going to move on.’’
New Zealand golfer Michael Campbell was among those to express unhappiness at the comments. “It’s regrettable,’’ he told Sunday News, “and I’m sure no-one regrets it more than Steve Williams.’’
Labour’s former sports minister Trevor Mallard was among those who castigated Williams on Twitter, labelling him an “idiot’’.
It’s not the first time Williams’ mouth has got him in to trouble. Three years ago at a dinner in New Plymouth he called American golfer Phil Mickelson “a prick’’.
Williams said that was meant in fun but Woods made him apologise to Mickelson.
- © Fairfax NZ News