EXCLUSIVE: TIGER Woods' Kiwi caddie Steve Williams has broken his silence on his two weeks from hell.
As Woods yesterday announced his "indefinite break" from golf to try to save his marriage after allegations of rampant affairs, Williams told Sunday News how:
The ever-growing scandal had placed pressure on his own wife and family.
He was furious with a leading American sports writer who said he should be axed as Woods' caddie because it was hard to believe the affairs could have gone on without his "help or knowledge".
Woods had admitted to him he had "a problem".
He will quit golf if sacked by Woods.
"My head is in a spin right now, mate," Williams told Sunday News.
"The media has made it very difficult for my family. There is no question about it.
"Obviously, I understand Tiger has got a problem. And we [Woods and Williams] discussed that."
Williams issued a statement on Tuesday distancing himself from Woods' off-course behaviour.
He said he released it after discussions with his family, including wife Kirsty, because journalists chasing the Woods scandal had started asking if he had been involved.
Talking to Sunday News from Tauranga's Bay Park Speedway track, Williams last night repeated he had no knowledge of Woods' long list of lovers.
He said anyone who doubted his sincerity didn't understand Woods' "indiscretions" happened while Williams was back with family in New Zealand.
"What people fail to realise is I [just] work for Tiger Woods," he said.
"I live in New Zealand, I travel to and from New Zealand to caddie for Tiger Woods. I am not with him 24/7. Whilst I am a very good friend of his... I don't know what he does off the course. Some nights we go to dinner. His indiscretions have probably been [when he wasn't playing].
"When he is not competing, I am back in New Zealand. I have no knowledge of what he is doing.
"Yes, I talk to him on the phone, ask him how his practice is going, how he is hitting the ball, how his family is, [but] I don't know what he is doing, just like he doesn't know what I am doing."
Williams came under fire from world-respected American sports columnist Rick Reilly, who wrote in his column in ESPN, The Magazine, that the Kiwi was among those who would have to go if Woods was to save his badly-damaged marriage to former Swedish model Elin Nordegren.
"[Woods] needs to clean house," Reilly wrote. "If he wants to keep his wife, he has to get a new agent, a new caddie and some new friends.
"It's hard to believe all this went on without their help or knowledge.
"How can she see them as anything but enablers?"
Williams strongly refuted Reilly's suggestions.
Instead he offered his "heartfelt wishes" to Nordegren, and reiterated his ignorance of the affairs.
"I am a straight-up sort of person. I tell it like it is," Williams said.
"Last year, at the same particular point of time, is when I had the confrontation with Phil Mickleson [the world's No 2 ranked golfer]. I didn't lie about it – I called the guy a prick.
"I never said I didn't call him a prick. I never denied one word of what I said.
"I had no knowledge of what Tiger's indiscretion was. And for Rick Reilly to turn around and say that I am a liar and there is no way I couldn't know – and that I should be fired – that is sensational journalism at its height right there.
"I am an honest person. I had no knowledge of what was going on [with Tiger]. If I did, I would say I did." Williams said Woods had kept in contact with him as a string of women, including two porn stars, have gone public saying they were past or present lovers of the golfer.
The Kiwi caddie said Woods' announcement yesterday that he was taking a break to "focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person" had come as no surprise to him.
"Tiger just said he needs a break and I don't want to put any pressure on the guy," he said.
"He will know in his mind, and his family will know in their mind, when it is the right time for him to return to playing golf.
"He will have the right people counselling him and between the people that counsel him, his wife and his immediate friends, when he is ready to come back he will be ready to come back."
But Williams said if he is ever axed by Woods, that would be the end of the caddying career which has seen him become a member of the New Zealand sporting rich list.
"I have always stated that my last caddie job will be caddying for Tiger," Williams said.
"I am committed to him. I understand he needs a break to sort his personal stuff out. And I will be there for him when he wishes to return to play."
Woods and Nordegren have been married five years and have a two-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son.
They are reportedly set to flee to a remote island off Stockholm, Sweden, where Nordegren recently purchased a $3.4 million mansion in a bid to save their marriage.
Various media outlets have reported Nordegren has given Woods the following ultimatum: "It's golf or me".
While heart-broken over his string of affairs, she has reportedly confided in close friends that she doesn't want to leave Woods for the sake of their two young children.
But she has insisted he quit the PGA Tour – at least temporarily.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which do you think is the quote of the year?Related story: Best quotes? Cats, sweat and Aaron Gilmore