Steve Williams, former caddie to golf superstar Tiger Woods, eviscerates his old boss in a new book released Monday called “Out Of The Rough,” claiming Woods made him feel like a “slave,” had a cantankerous personality, and even let him face public scrutiny for months while Woods dealt with his sex scandal in 2011.
Williams, 51, spent 13 years carrying Woods’ bag up and down some of golf’s most prestigious courses and the pair claimed 13 major titles together. Their wives, Kristy and Woods’ ex Elin Nordegren, also became close as they participated in each other’s weddings.
But Woods and Williams unceremoniously parted ways after Woods’ extramarital affairs were made public and forced him to step away from golf to get his personal life in order.
In excerpts of the new tome published by Stuff.co.nz on Sunday, the New Zealander Williams, along with journalist Michael Donaldson, discusses for the first time his dealings with Woods and how he first learned of the scandal that would send the 14-time major champion’s life and career into a tailspin.
After winning a tournament at Australia’s Kingston Heath, Williams would later abruptly learn the truth and his writing suggests it was just as much of a shock to him as the rest of the golf and sports world.
"In many ways, I got as much of a buzz from this tournament as from winning a major – I'd caddied a lot in Melbourne, knew my way around the place, and had spent a lot of time there when I was getting set up as a young caddie. Next to having Tiger come to Paraparaumu, it was the closest thing to being at home. I was delighted Tiger was able to win the tournament and pick up the gaudy gold coat that is the Aussie answer to Augusta's green jacket.
"But the joy of winning dissipated in the strangest fashion. No sooner had Tiger fulfilled his media obligations than he fled to the airport in a chopper, leaving me to head back to the hotel on my own. As I was driving, I got a text from Mark Steinberg which read, 'There is a story coming out tomorrow. Absolutely no truth to it. Don't speak to anybody.'
"In the back of my mind, one thought often replayed, over and over, without an answer: What did Tiger do with himself to get rid of the stress that built up in his life? He loved the gym work and, before he got injured, the Navy Seals training. I figured that addiction to the gym was where he got rid of many of his frustrations. And when I say addiction, I mean just that: year by year he got more and more hooked on working out.
"When you live so intensely in the public eye, you surely have to have something else away from the spotlight that gives you pleasure – and it turns out I was wrong about the gym. The one question I'm now regularly landed with is: How could you not know about Tiger's multitude of mistresses? It's a valid question – it's one I would ask myself if a scandal of Tiger-like proportions happened to another caddy's boss. How could I spend so much time with him and not have an inkling this was going on? The answer, in a roundabout way, is that Elin didn't know either. Only a handful of his oldest buddies actually had any idea this was going on. I didn't know because Tiger didn't dare tell me. We had such a strong bond and working relationship that there was no way he could let me in on what was happening – he knew my values and that I would have zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour. I would have told him straight away that I condemned that kind of activity and, unless he stopped, there would be no conversation – that would be the end of us."
Soon after reports trickled out of Woods’ and his ex-wife’s involvement in a car accident near their Orlando home, and the mistresses and total number of affairs came to light, Williams writes he repeatedly tried to have Woods’ management team release a statement clearing his name of any involvement in the matter.
“They simply wouldn't do it because there were others in his group who knew exactly what was going on, and management felt they couldn't single out one person as innocent. Angry, frustrated and hung out to dry, I was also in limbo about when I would next work. Tiger had taken an indefinite break from golf and I had no idea when he'd be back – or if I'd be working for him again. Quitting wasn't an option as I felt incredibly loyal to Tiger – this was the toughest time of his life and I wasn't going to ditch him. The uncertainty came from the total lack of communication from Tiger's team. It didn't bother me that he hadn't said anything because he had told me he'd be in touch when he was ready – though admittedly that was an email and I'd rather have had a phone call. But I think Mark Steinberg or one of his lackeys could have been more forthcoming and more understanding of my situation. All I got was silence. ”
But one of the more damning passages calls into question Woods' unsportsmanlike conduct, and some childish antics that made Williams feel inferior.
"One thing that really pissed me off was how he would flippantly toss a club in the general direction of the bag, expecting me to go over and pick it up. I felt uneasy about bending down to pick up his discarded club – it was like I was his slave. The other thing that disgusted me was his habit of spitting at the hole if he missed a putt. Tiger listened to what I had to say, the air was cleared and we got on with it – his goal was to be the best player in history and my goal was to keep working as best I could to help make that happen."
As of yet, Woods has not publicly addressed the book or made a statement. He’s currently recovering from a third surgery on his back, which Woods underwent last week, and will keep off the course until early next year, according to Golf Week.