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Ask Athlon Sports: Tiger Woods

Q: What was the reason Tiger Woods fired his longtime caddie, Steve Williams? Was it over money when Tiger was in his slump?

— Bill Dombo, Yuba City, Calif.

A: During his tenure as Tiger Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams was no ordinary looper. Part enforcer, part bodyguard, part motivator, Williams ran interference for Tiger for a decade-plus of stunning success, becoming that rarest of sport rarities: the superstar caddie. Williams was on Tiger’s bag for 13 major championship wins and was always there with an awkward high-five or fist bump after every hero shot or clutch putt; he was also more than happy to protect his man from over-eager fans, once confiscating a camera from an amateur photographer and depositing it in a nearby pond. Their relationship extended off the course; they were in each other’s weddings, and their wives became friends. Williams also stood by his man in the wake of Tiger’s personal scandal, but as Woods sought to rebuild his life, Williams was a constant reminder of his fall from grace. The firing really shouldn’t have come as a surprise given Tiger’s inclination to reboot his inner circle from time to time, especially when members of that inner circle start grabbing too big a share of the spotlight. After all, Woods fired instructor Butch Harmon, who guided him on his ascent to superstardom, and he also fired Hank Haney, who helped Tiger maintain his status as the greatest player in the world. Williams’ behavior since the sacking — he essentially has had an ongoing public tantrum — would seem to validate Woods’ decision. Tiger made him rich and famous. It may sound cold, but he doesn’t owe him anything else.

— Rob Doster, Senior Editor

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