By Nathan Rush
Adam Scott is a 31-year-old playboy prodigy from Australia. Steve Williams is a 48-year-old brutish buffoon from New Zealand. Together, the down under duo are poised to climb to the top of the golf world.
This week could mark the first major step toward Scott and Williams taking over the Tour. They are riding a wave of momentum into the 93rd PGA Championship, following their first win together at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a 1-under 69 in the opening round at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Last week, in only their fourth event — the U.S. Open, AT&T National and British Open being the others — as a player-caddy team, Scott and Williams dominated an event whose top story seemed destined to be the return of Tiger Woods, who had his own caddy issues to deal with after a three-month layoff that included a bitter split with Williams.
But a strange thing happened on the way to the winner’s circle in Akron. Williams transcended caddy status, hearing chants of “Ste-vie! Ste-vie!” from the crowd and being interviewed greenside by CBS following the victory.
“I’ve been a caddy for 33 years and that’s the best week of my life. And I’m not joking. I’m never, ever, ever gonna forget that week. The people here this week have been absolutely unbelievable and all the support from the people back in New Zealand, including my family, that’s the greatest week of my life,” Williams told David Feherty immediately after the win.
“It’s the greatest week of my life caddying and I sincerely mean that.”
It should come as no surprise that Williams put his foot in his mouth as easy as a club in the bag following his first win since being fired “over the phone” by Tiger — a supposed close friend who had been his boss since 1999 and served as the best man at Williams’ wedding in 2005.
By Williams’ count, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational victory — his eighth triumph at the event — was his 145th career win and his “greatest.”
But what about those 13 majors with Tiger? The teary-eyed hug at the 2006 British Open? The awkward, excited half-high-five when the ball rolled one more dimple and dropped for a ready-made Nike commercial at the 2005 Masters? The 91-hole, one-legged marathon at the 2008 U.S. Open? After all that… et tu Stevie?
Oh, and what about Scott, who went unmentioned by Williams? Didn’t he have anything to do with the win? Wasn’t he the one who shot a final-round 65 to finish with a 17-under 263 and a comfortable four-shot margin over Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald?
Scott’s reaction to the ensuing media circus, however, only reaffirms what a strong pairing the player and caddy form. Laid back bordering on lackadaisical, Scott’s talent needs the type of over-the-top energy, unsurpassed expertise and unrivaled experience Williams brings to the bag. Scott doesn’t need his ego stroked by Williams — that’s a role better played by a bikini-clad Kate Hudson or Ana Ivanovic — and he doesn’t seem offended by the perceived err in caddy etiquette.
“I certainly don’t think that was his intention to steal my moment at all,” explained Scott. “We’ve had our chat about the whole thing, and he feels the way he feels. …
“He was really excited to win. Obviously he had not won for a little while, and for him, he’s really passionate about it and that’s what I see. And when you’re passionate and in that situation, I think it all got a little out of hand. But we’ll just go on from here.”
Scott’s eighth career PGA Tour victory was clearly his most impressive — and just as prestigious as his wins at the Players Championship in 2004 and Tour Championship in 2006. But did Williams have anything to do with the results, or was he just “carrying the bag,” as so many have suggested?
“Was he a help? Are you kidding?” scoffed Scott. “Nobody knows this place like Steve.”
Having caddied almost exclusively for major champions — Tiger (14), Raymond Floyd (4) and Greg Norman (2) have won a combined 20 majors — Williams knows what it takes to win; Scott knows that. And pretty soon, everyone else in golf will know that, too.