Tiger Woods fires caddie Steve Williams; their close relationship soured after Elin Nordegren split


(FILE PHOTO) It has been announced on July 20, 2011 that Tiger Woods has parted company with his caddie of 12 years, Steve Williams. (Sam Greenwood/GETTY IMAGES)
July 22, 2011

Tiger Woods announced that after twelve years and thirteen majors with caddie Steve Williams, he would no longer use him. This marks the third professional change Woods has made since splitting with Elin Nordegren. As Cindy Boren reported:

Tiger Woods has announced another breakup: He will no longer use Steve Williams as his caddie.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change,” Woods said on his website. Unlike last week, this was no faux announcement. “Stevie is an outstanding caddie and a friend and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments. I wish him great success in the future.”

Woods and Williams, 47, have been together since 1999, through 13 major championships. The relationship certainly has been a lucrative one for Williams: Woods has career earnings of $94,728,667 and at, say, a five percent, Williams would have earned $4,736,433 — good enough for 220th on the all-time money list (via Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel).

Man, if those two crazy kids can’t make it ...

For those keeping score, this is the third professional change for Woods since he and Elin Nordegren divorced. He had ended his relationship with swing coach Hank Haney and IMG.

With Woods not playing golf as he recovers from knee and Achilles’ injuries, Williams was free to caddie for someone else and was on the bag for Adam Scottat the U.S. and British Opens.

Tiger has struggled since his divorce from Elin, with a lower left leg injury and poor performances leaving many to wonder if the golfer’s career is winding down to its conclusion. As Tracee Hamilton wrote:

It’s a poor workman who blames his tools, and caddie Steve Williams was certainly one of Tiger Woods’s most important tools.

Woods won 13 of 14 majors and 72 tournaments with Williams toting his clubs the past dozen years. That’s a nice living for a golfer and by extension, for his caddie. But as Williams himself pointed out Wednesday, the last 18 months in Tigerland haven’t produced a lot of fun (or funds). Woods has gotten divorced and injured, he’s been treated for a sex addiction, he’s fired and hired a swing coach, he’s tried and failed to return to form ... he’s a mess.

Williams, who more often protected Woods from fans and the media than advised him on club selection, waited patiently through all this. He hinted in an interview with New Zealand television that he’s not been paid during this period, either, saying it’s been hard on his family. Caddies are paid based on their golfers’ success, so fiscally this makes sense.

So when Adam Scott called asking for Williams’s help, Williams asked Woods for permission, Woods said go ahead ... and then fired him a few weeks later. Woods told Williams his services were no longer required earlier this month at the AT&T National but Williams kept quiet until Woods issued a statement on his website. Then Williams said, “You could say I’ve wasted the last two years of my life.”

In an interview with Television New Zealand, Williams expressed his dissapointment after learning Woods would no longer require his services. As Cindy Boren explained:

If there was a glimmer of a chance that Steve Williams and Tiger Woods would reunite after Woods fired his caddie on Wednesday, well, it just grew a whole lot more improbable after Williams spoke on the matter.

“Basically, you could say I've wasted two years of my life, the last two years,” Williams said in a Television New Zealand interview. Williams, 47, was Woods’ caddie for 12 years, 72 tournament victories and 13 of his 14 major championships. With Woods playing only nine holes of golf as he recovers from knee and Achilles’ injuries, Williams became the caddie for Australian Adam Scott in the U.S. and British Opens and, during the AT&T National — Woods’ tournament — he fired Williams.

“I am extremely disappointed, given the fact that the last 18 months has been a particularly difficult timeframe for Tiger,” Williams said, speaking of Woods’ personal problems and divorce. In addition to Williams, Woods has also replaced his swing coach, Hank Haney, and IMG as he continues to re-invent his life since the events of Thanksgiving 2009.

“Obviously, working through a scandal, he’s had a new coach, a swing change, the last 18 months has been very difficult and I've stuck by him through thick and thin. I’ve been incredibly loyal — and then to have this happen, basically you could say I’ve wasted two years of my life, the last two years.”

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