The incredible paradox of their personalities would be funny if it weren’t so outrageous, not to mention increasingly uncomfortable.
Australian star Adam Scott, universally regarded as one of the classiest acts in the game, employs a caddie who has come to be defined by his arrogance, ego, venom and vitriol.
At least, he employs him for now.
Again dragged into the mud by caddie Steve Williams’ crass remarks about former boss Tiger Woods, Scott is faced with a decision as the most important fortnight of his year approaches.
Over the next two weeks, with the eyes of his countrymen focused on him, Scott will play in the Australian Open and Presidents Cup. In both instances, there’s a decent chance he will be paired with Woods, who used Williams as his caddie from 1999 to 2011, which included wins in 13 major championships.
To muster some Stevie-style lingo here, Scott will be accompanied by a caddie who has turned from an asset into an ass, not to mention a growing liability.
In the midst of rebuilding his career, Scott, 31, once again has been rendered as collateral damage as the caddie continues to lash out at his former boss, whom he first savaged in mid-August after Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational with Woods in the field.
On Friday night in Shanghai, at a tongue-in-cheek awards ceremony for caddies that was supposed to be an off-the-record affair, Williams was presented with a mock “best caddie celebration” award for his post-Bridgestone diatribe regarding Woods.
Williams told the audience in Shanghai, “My aim was to shove it right up that black arse----.”
Time to shove off, Stevie. Frankly, Scott’s next exchange with Williams at the HSBC on Saturday should be: “What’s the yardage to the clubhouse from here? Good. Start walking, mate.”
In fact, the PGA and European tours ought to bench Williams for the rest of the year, at minimum. The tours have the authority, and pejorative comments offered before a room packed with dozens of guests, including a handful of players, have no place in a sport with such an abysmal record on race.
Williams’ comments first saw light when a caddie in attendance recounted to writers from a couple of U.K. publications who were not present. The rollicking awards event was held at the upscale Le Meridien Sheshan hotel.
Hours later, Williams began to understand the impact of his comments and posted an apology on his website, including this passage: "I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist."
How could they not be? According to reports, several in the hotel ballroom collectively gasped at Williams' failed attempt at humor. However you feel about Woods, that comment is so far out of line, it’s not close to funny.
For years, Williams has displayed as much finesse as one of those thunderous Australian road trains. This is hardly a first offense, is it? Three years ago, again speaking publicly and too clueless to understand that the world population is armed with camera phones, Williams ripped longtime Woods rival Phil Mickelson and said, “I hate the p----.”
As ever, PGA Tour communications chief Ty Votaw on Saturday offered no illumination relating to possible pending disciplinary action: “We will have no comment publicly on this matter. The tour does have the ability to discipline caddies of its members.”
Later Saturday, Votaw followed up thusly, implying some action might be forthcoming: "By the way, the fact that we don't have a comment on this at this time, that does not mean we will not have one in the future. Just wanted to make that clarification."
Scott shouldn't wait for the tour to do his dirty work for him.
So far, the world No. 8 said he is satisfied with Williams’ apology and had no plans to fire him, but he might want to reconsider when the issue comes up, again and again, over the next couple of weeks in Australia.
That's hugely disappointing. You can bet he'll hear about it soon enough from along the gallery ropes, too. It would already have been uncomfortable enough playing alongside Woods, given the back story. Aussie Open officials are expected to formally release pairings Tuesday, but many believed even before Williams’s off-color comment in China that a Woods-Scott dance card is a no-brainer that will boost ticket sales and interest.
Well, with Williams in tow for the walk, no-brainer is the perfect term. If the caddie mantra is “show up, keep up, shut up,” he’s only got a rudimentary grasp of the last part. This is one pit bull who needs a muzzle.
Williams obviously remains bitter about the way he was sacked four months ago after spending months waiting for the fading former world No. 1 to clean up his personal life. He’s got a point. After all those wins, most believe that Williams deserved better from Woods.
But the way the caddie has handled himself has turned him from a sympathetic figure into a megalomaniacal, classless jerk.
In the immediate aftermath, he told a Kiwi news outlet: “You could say I’ve wasted the last two years of my life. I’ve stuck with Tiger and been incredibly loyal. I’m not disappointed I’ve been fired – that’s part of the job – but the timing is extraordinary.
“I, along with a lot of people, lost a lot of respect for Tiger and I pointed out before his return at the Masters in 2010 that he had to earn back my respect. Through time I hope he can gain my respect back.”
Fair enough. Then he offered an opera-singer solo – warbling an a cappella string of me, me, me -- on CBS after Scott won at Bridgestone, and continued for another 10 minutes off camera, affectively calling Woods a liar and disputing the player’s characterization of how the firing was handled.
A week after Scott won at Bridgestone, revitalizing his career, Williams was half-jokingly asked after the first round of the PGA Championship if he had anything more to say.
Bag slung over his shoulder as Scott signed his scorecard inside the recorder’s office, he never stopped walking, but couldn’t resist taking another shot as he ambled away.
“At least somebody around here would be telling the truth,” Williams said, a remark clearly aimed at the Woods camp.
The truth here?
Unless he does something quickly, the utterly blameless Scott seems sure to suffer the consequences of Williams’ racially tinged comments, too.