Tag:steve williams
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:45 am

Cup pairings not exactly Presidential in timbre

ORLANDO, Fla. – Wake up, America.

Boy, are we missing the overnight news cycle.

While many in the States were sleeping, the pairings for the first day of play at the Presidents Cup were issued, and event organizers are hardly taking the high road when it comes to controversial matchmaking, or gleaning every ounce of juice they might generate.

Not quite two weeks after caddie Steve Williams used a racial term to describe part of former boss Tiger Woods’ anatomy, Woods and Williams’ new boss, Adam Scott, were placed in the final opening-day foursome off the tee as matches begin Thursday in Australia.

That’s hardly all that happened overnight, either, but foisted things first.

After organizers at last week’s Aussie Open declined to pair Scott and Woods, the two captains at the PrezCup wasted no time in putting the pair together, sending them out last on the first day of matches. Reaction was swift.

*The PGA Tour, which runs the event, took no disciplinary action against Williams for uttering the perceived racial slur, but isn’t above using any tension with Woods to hype the event? Nice. Hypocrisy take a 1-up lead.

*Secondly, Woods was a highly controversial selection to the U.S. team to begin with – two-time winner Keegan Bradley, the only Yank to win a major this year, was passed over -- and the tour is clearly milking Woods for all he’s worth.

*If you had forgotten that this is an exhibition, consider yourself reminded. The Aussie Open didn’t pair Woods and Scott because it would have been disruptive to the tournament proper.

*But the Presidents Cup is a soap opera, not a real tournament, and not above pandering to draw eyeballs in a time zone 16 hours away from the U.S. eastern time zone. In fact, this thing looks more like pro wrestling that professional golf. Maybe the Rock ought to be tapped as a future assistant captain, not Michael Jordan.

*Despite some misdirection from U.S. captain Fred Couples --or maybe he was just a mite confused, as usual -- Woods was indeed paired with Steve Stricker in the opening matches. The duo has been hugely successful in 2009 and 2010 as dance partners and Woods was 5-0 at the Presidents Cup two years ago in San Francisco. Yeah, we're sure you're as shocked as we are.

At 2 a.m. ET, the tour announced that the 2015 Presidents Cup would be staged at an undetermined in golf-crazed South Korea, which represents a savvy move. The Ryder Cup, the granddaddy of all international matches, isn’t held outside the U.K. or the United States, and the decision to stage the PrezCup in Asia for the first time is shrewd for a variety of reasons.

The European Tour has a better grip on Asian markets already, co-sanctioning several events with other tours, and this will insinuate the PGA Tour into more homes and markets. Not to mention that this year’s International team at Royal Melbourne has three Koreans on the roster.

In an unrelated note, yet one that will generate plenty of chatter going forward, it was announced Wednesday that Woods will skip playing the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in January in order to play for pay at the European Tour event the same week in Abu Dhabi.

Woods has won seven tournaments at Torrey and only once has finished outside the top 10 – last year. The blowback will be at least two-fold: Woods will get ripped for blowing off his most successful venue for a payday, and speculation will heighten about where he will play on the West Coast instead, be it at Pebble Beach, Riviera or wherever.

Woods frequently played the Dubai event in the EuroTour's Desert Swing, but his contract expired this year, and he was fined for spitting on a green in the final round. Interestingly, the Abu Dhabi event is run by IMG, Woods' former managament agency.

Though he hasn't won anywhere in over two years, Woods reportedly commands a $2 million appearance fee, the top figure in the game.

Based on what just happened at the Presidents Cup, what are the odds that Woods will be "drawn" with Rory McIlroy over the first two days?

Warm up those eyebrows, people, because there's plenty of wattage in the sarcasm meter these days.

Here are the opening pairings for tonight's foursomes (alternate shot) matches:





Posted on: November 7, 2011 4:33 pm

Slippery slope? Valvoline sticks with Williams

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In addition to being given a free pass by his new boss and the professional game’s disciplinary corps, it appears that Steve Williams’ headline-grabbing statement about Tiger Woods won’t cost him financially, either.

A spokesman for Ashland Inc., the Kentucky-based firm that owns Valvoline and has an endorsement deal with the controversial caddie, said Monday that the company has communicated with Williams and is effectively satisfied with his apology.

Williams, who races cars in his native New Zealand during the offseason, has had an endorsement deal with Valvoline for several years and prominently wears the company logo on his shirt while serving as a caddie on the PGA Tour.

Williams uttered a crude racial remark about former boss Tiger Woods on Friday night at an informal caddie awards banquet in China, prompting inquiries as to whether Valvoline might sever ties, given the blowback.

“This is Steve Williams, his conduct,” Ashland spokesman Jim Vitak said. “We’re not speaking for Steve Williams … He has a contract with us, a legal contract.”

Well, for now, anyway.

“We do periodically review contracts at appropriate points in time,” Vitak added.

The length and terms of the deal are unclear. Vitak gave no indication that the logo on Williams’ shirt will be disappearing anytime soon, either. Williams and his current boss, Adam Scott, will be side by side this week at the Australian Open, where they will be under some heavy scrutiny.

“I don’t get involved with what apparel is worn,” Vitak said. “But yes, he does still have a contract.”

Williams also wears a Titleist hat when on the golf course, the manufacturer of Scott’s clubs, and multiple inquiries to the company’s publicist in Connecticut have gone unanswered.

Williams caddied 13 years for Woods before he was fired by the former world No. 1 in July.

Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 11:47 am

Williams explains slur to Kiwis, makes it worse

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Steve Williams was in his comfort zone.

Speaking before members of his fraternity, clearly comfortable that he was among friends, self-assured that he had nothing but allies lending a sympathetic ear.

Sound familiar?

No, we’re not talking about the now-infamous caddie awards banquet on Friday night in China, where Williams offered a racial slur about former boss Tiger Woods that has since become the biggest topic in global golf.

Nope, we’re referencing a radio interview that Williams did with New Zealand talk-shot host Murray Deaker shortly before Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships mega-money HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

Deaker freely professed to being Williams’ “mate” during the broadcast on influential Newstalk ZB in Auckland, and went out of his way to give his countryman every chance to explain away his comments at the raucous caddie dinner, where Williams received an award and used the term “black arse----” in reference to part of Woods’ anatomy.

Despite offering an apology on his website the day after his Woods quote came to light in several international publications, Williams seemed anything but contrite in the radio interview. At ease and clearly comfortable while speaking to a familiar audience in New Zealand’s most populated city, Williams was downright dismissive of the reaction his comments have caused.

Deaker began the interview by offering an olive branch, if not a get-out-of-jail-free card, to Williams by excusing the comments since they were uttered at a caddie function where hilarity was the order of the day.

Said Deaker: “I wonder if we understand the environment where the Steve Williams comments were passed. It was a caddies’ function …. I think a caddies' function would be somewhat different, than suddenly what you have to say there appearing, stark, in newspapers around the world, and front pages at that.”

Williams, speaking from Shanghai, attempted to set the context of the scene in a posh Shanghai hotel, where his verbal bomb went off.

“It’s an annual thing they have at the HSBC championship here in Shanghai, an annual caddie awards ceremony,” Williams said by phone. “It’s strictly for caddies only. Of course, some of the media invite themselves along. It’s kind of like a locker-room environment, everyone was having a good time. My comments were by no means the worst comments that were passed – there was a lot of profanity and other kinds of remarks.

“Just because I make a remark regarding my former employee (sic), it gets blown way out of proportion. You know, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Deaker cited a report in a prominent U.K. paper, the Daily Mail, which stated that several jaws dropped in the banquet room when Williams offered the slur. Williams said quite the opposite was true.

“No,” Williams said. “It’s incredible when you are actually there and at something, and you can even perceive that when you watch a game of rugby and are there and watch it and you read in the paper the difference of opinion between you watching and a reporter viewing it.

“It’s the same thing. It was a fun sort of thing and everyone laughed their heads off. So what you read is absolutely ridiculous.”

Everyone laughed their heads off? Interestingly, a couple of caddies wasted no time in communicating their thoughts about Williams to scribes staying in Shanghai, though few spoke for attribution.

Deaker, clearly intent on helping Williams clean up his mess, suggested that stories quoting anonymous caddies had been completely fabricated by the print media. One caddie who was not identified was quoted in a story as saying of Williams, “We knew he was an idiot, but we didn’t know he was a racist idiot.”

“Murray, you make one comment like that in a room having a bit of fun, how does that make you a racist?” Williams said. “We live in a country that is multi-cultural society and we owe a hell of a lot of our ancestry and tradition and culture in New Zealand to a lot of the Polynesian communities and that. I don’t think you can say anyone in New Zealand is a racist.

“We live in the Maori culture, which is a great culture, along with a lot of island people. New Zealanders in no way, I don’t think any New Zealander, is racist. That’s so far off beat it’s a joke.”

Speaking of jokes, that’s what Williams says his crack about Woods was intended to be. He said defensively that other humor of the night and said he had no idea that he had stepped on his tongue publicly yet again.

“I wasn’t the first person up on stage and having listened to some of the profanity that was used and coming from some of the players that were in attendance as well, and then listening to the HSCB spokesperson who got up and made a speech, and listened to some of his comments that were very funny but way worse than mine -- no one mentioned anything about what he had to say.

“I didn’t give it one thought, to be honest with you.”

Well, certainly not beforehand, anyway. Sort of makes his apology ring hollow, no?

Given the banquet’s rowdy nature, Deaker asked why this had happened to Williams.

“I think, obviously, having worked for my former employee (sic), anything that’s linked to him – and of course I worked for him for a substantial amount of time – any sort of controversy that somebody can make up, I think that’s the sort they love to do.

“Like I said, it is absolutely making a mountain hill out of a mole hole. I am not worried about it one bit.”

Sounds like he’s really learned a lesson, huh?

The PGA and European tours on Sunday jointly declined to sanction Williams over his comments, though it's within their purview to do so. Williams' new boss, Adam Scott, reiterated Sunday that he will not bench Williams and the pair are set to team up at three big events in Scott's native Australia over the next month, including the Australian Open and Presidents Cup matches over the next two weeks.

Category: Golf
Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:16 pm

Finchem downright preachy in 2008 race mess

Something about throwing rocks and glass houses comes to mind.

After the HSBC Champions event concluded in Shanghai on Sunday night, the commissioners of the PGA and European tours offered a joint statement about the perceived racial slur that had been directed at Tiger Woods by his former caddie, Steve Williams.

Considering the game's often shameful racial history, Williams' comment became a global issue within hours, though it took two days for the tours to muster up any comment.

It was not worth the wait.

“The International Federation of PGA Tours feels strongly there is no place for any form of racism in ours or any other sport,” the statement said. “We consider the remarks of Steve Williams, as reported, entirely unacceptable in whatever context.

"We are aware that he has apologized fully and we trust we will not hear such remarks ever again. Based on this, we consider the matter closed, and we will have no further comment.”

How hollow are those words, which weren't even attributed to a particular individual? Decide for yourself.

The PGA Tour is empowered to sanction caddies, but in this case the Ponte Vedra brass elected to stand back and take no action beyond issuing a weak tongue-lashing delivered to media via email and fax machine.

Yet in 2008, when the Golf Channel and Golfweek magazine became jointly embroiled in a similar racially tinged issue after a network employee bungled an attempt at humor on the air about Woods that included the phrase, "lynch him in a back alley," the tour ultimately seized on the moment.

After Golfweek published a cover shot of a hangman's noose in an attempt to underscore the jarring imagery of the network's words, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem accused the magazine of tabloid journalism.

"We consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible," Finchem said. "It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."

Appropriate in his mind, anyway. Yet when presented three years later with the opportunity to sanction a de facto employee for a similar verbal offense -- again, the tour has the power to discipline caddies even though they are not payroll employees -- Finchem did what he has always done.

Absolutely nada.

When it comes to patrolling his own backyard, or the neighbords in which the tour has business interests, is it possible there is a pattern emerging here?

Whereas in 2008, Finchem defend the on-air personality who uttered the "lynching" statement -- like the Williams comment, it was intended to be light-hearted but missed by an acre or four. Then he pulled no punches regarding the magazine cover published the following week.

The tour already had a multi-year contract in place with the Golf Channel and also had a deal with Golf Digest, which publishes GolfWorld, a competing weekly to Golfweek. Surely, it was just a coincidence.

"We have partnerships with a lot of media companies," tour communications chief Ty Votaw said at the time. "This was an editorial decision that Tim was expressing an opinion about. I don't think anyone should read anything else into it. It was simply a reaction to the image on the cover."

When it comes to reacting to disturbing images created by the words of those inside his own gallery ropes, different standards apply.

Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 10:40 am

World tours pay lip service to Williams slur

What, you were expecting swift justice, some semblance of accountability, or at least a measure of transparency?

Slow learners, we are.

Sunday night in Shanghai, after the big-money HSBC Champions event concluded, the commissioners of the PGA and European tours offered a joint statement about the weekend’s other hot-button matter, the perceived racial slur uttered at an off-site banquet Friday night by controversial caddie Steve Williams.

In at apparent attempt at humor at the off-color awards banquet, the longtime bagman of Tiger Woods described his over-the-top celebration after new boss Adam Scott won in August as an attempt to “shove it up his black arse----.”

Williams was denigrating about Woods, his boss for parts of 13 years until he was sacked at midsummer, leaving the caddie feeling bitter and betrayed.

Given the game’s history as it relates to racial issues -- Woods is the lone player of African-American blood with exempt status in 2012 -- the condemnation was swift from all corners of the globe. However, it took two days for the tours to offer any formal comment, and when the wrist-slap was issued, it implied that zero punitive measures were taken.

The PGA Tour is empowered to sanction caddies, but implied that no action had been taken, other than to toss out a few late, hollow words.

“The International Federation of PGA Tours feels strongly there is no place for any form of racism in ours or any other sport,” the statement began.

Just not strongly enough to offer any sanction, apparently.

“We consider the remarks of Steve Williams, as reported, entirely unacceptable in whatever context,” the statement said. “We are aware that he has apologized fully and we trust we will not hear such remarks ever again. Based on this, we consider the matter closed, and we will have no further comment.”

This clears a path for Williams to caddie for Aussie-born Scott at the Australian Open later this week and next week at the Presidents Cup matches, where Williams, a New Zealander, will be a sideshow to the story – Woods is playing in both events.

Just another reminder that when it comes to discipline, the sport is long on talk and short on corrective action, especially the U.S. tour. John Daly had an inches-thick disciplinary file that was released in 2010 as part of a lawsuit, and it was learned that despite more suspensions and sanctions than any player in tour history, he had been fined approximately $100,000.

Faced with yet another chance to do the right thing, the professional game’s top officials did what they have done best for years – talked the talk, but skipped the walk.

Williams will get off Scott-free with the new boss, pardon the pun gymnastics. The world's No. 8 player said after his final round at HSBC that he would not suspend Williams for the Aussie Open or Presidents Cup matches and refused to be dragged further into the afffair.

That decision was ar least as disappointing as the non-action taken by the professional tours, given Scott's sterling reputation as a classy player who has rarely, it ever, made such a perceived public misstep. Bluntly asked if the tours were condoning racism by failing to take action -- a charge that could rightly be leveled at Scott himself -- the player blanched.

"Look, I don't [think] digging for a story out of me on this is a good idea," he told reporters.

Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: November 5, 2011 2:00 pm

Grate Scott: Williams drags Aussie into new mess

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.

"Steve issued a statement and apologized and did the right thing," Scott told reporters. "That's all there is to say about that from my side of things. I disagree that he should be sacked. I think everything in that room last night was all in good spirits and bit of fun and I think it probably got taken out of that room in the wrong context."

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.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 4:52 pm

Like it's not hot enough in Atlanta already?

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Under a tree today at Atlanta Athletic Club, Mark Steinberg and Steve Williams had a lengthy discussion about, gee, we can't possibly imagine.

Here's a photo from Atlanta television station WSB-TV.

Steinberg, the agent for Tiger Woods, is the one on the left with his hands on his hips. Williams, Woods' longtime and embittered former caddie, has his arms crossed on the right.

Write your own photo caption. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for this meeting, which a WSB reporter said lasted between 15-20 minutes.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 4:14 pm

Azinger: Feud shows Tiger still 'lightning rod'

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- This is why Paul Azinger has become such a popular TV broadcaster.

The former Ryder Cup captain and major-championship winner, appearing on a Tampa sports radio outlet, summarized the Steve Williams and Tiger Woods feud better than anybody when he cut to the heart about what seemed so distasteful about the caddie's inflammatory, post-round comments Sunday night.

Williams had just finished caddying for Bridgestone Invitational winner Adam Scott, who had won in dominant fashion against one of the deepest fields of the year, but he turned it into a platform to vent his feelings about Woods.

"The old joke is when the player plays good the caddie says, 'we,'" Azinger told Tampa's WDAE radio. "But when the player plays bad, the caddie says 'he.' In this case the player played great and the caddie said 'I.'"

Azinger said the brushfire that broke out after Williams aired his laundry affirms and underscores where Woods is held in the public pantheon. To him, interviewing Williams was absolutely the proper thing to do.

"What it shows you is that Tiger Woods is a real lightning rod," Azinger said. "There’s a lot of emotion still wrapped up in whether you really like Tiger or can’t stand him. A lot of people have not liked Steve Williams through the years. He has not been a popular person amongst the players and the caddies, necessarily, and that’s OK -- he’s got a work ethic and people don’t like winners a lot of times.

"This situation was unique. I believe Stevie should’ve been interviewed. I wanted Adam Scott to win so I could hear what Stevie said in regard. It was as much what he said that did the damage. It became a 'me, me, me' or 'I, I, I' fest and he didn’t say how great Adam Scott played.

"When he said it was the greatest week of my life, I don’t know how anybody could believe that, and it just shows you there is a lot of bitterness and animosity towards Tiger still and the way he was let go [fired]. Probably some of it is justified, but he should’ve given Adam Scott his props and then lit Tiger up and I think everybody would’ve thought differently."

Azinger was asked whether Woods has many friends or allies left.

“I know that he has to be angry at the media that tore him down," Azinger said. "He’s got to be angry at himself first. He’s dealing with the worst of all possible emotions and that is shame, and he’s not healthy.

"Who are his friends? I mean [his agent], Mark Steinberg? Come on."

The show host, Steve Dueming, interjected, "He doesn’t have anybody."

"Well, he brought it on himself,” Azinger said.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com