Tiger Woods faces another divorce
Tiger Woods is going through another high-profile divorce.
This one, however, may have more career consequences than his breakup with his ex-wife, Elin Nordegren. The former #1 golfer in the world made the surprising announcement on his website Wednesday that he had fired his caddie, Steve Williams, who had been on Tiger’s bag for twelve years. Woods won 63 tournaments worldwide, including 13 of his 14 major championships, during their dozen years together.
Tiger explained the move by saying in his statement that it was “time for a change.”
Many are speculating that Woods saw Williams’ decision to work for Adam Scott as a sign of betrayal and lack of commitment. (Imagine that.) Williams made his request only after Woods had decided not to participate in the Open Championship, which he missed while recovering from the same leg injuries that prevented him from playing in this year’s U.S. Open.
Like Tiger’s ex-wife, his ex-caddie was blindsided by how their relationship unraveled.
Williams responded with a statement of his own.
“After 13 years of loyal service, needless to say this came as a shock.”
Williams added, “Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries, I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time.”
Had Tiger made the decision to part company with Williams in the weeks and months immediately following his November 2009 car crash, many public relations and damage control experts likely would have applauded this move to clean house and emerge from his nightmare with a new support group.
But now, this decision raises more questions.
Few others stood as solidly in Tiger’s corner during one of the most humiliating periods of his life.
Another reason why Tiger may have made a mistake was described by Bob Harig, senior golf writer for ESPN.com. Harig shared the story of a critical moment during the U.S. Open in 2008, when Williams convinced Woods to play with a sand wedge – not a pitching wedge – coming out of a bunker on the 18th hole. Williams expected that an adrenaline-pumping Woods would need a lesser club, so as not to sail the green. The subsequent shot allowed Tiger to force a playoff, which he would eventually win over Rocco Mediate for his most recent major championship. A caddie with less influence, confidence and respect from Tiger would not have been able to challenge his boss on this important choice of a proper club.
One other reason why Tiger may have erred in his ways by cutting his longtime friend is that by the time Tiger’s new caddie has built a rapport with his boss, the window of opportunity that Tiger has in order to win enough major titles to surpass Nicklaus and rank #1 all-time, may be closing. His advancing age and significant injuries serve only to accelerate the clock. And only time will enable us to adequately judge if Woods has made the correct call to separate from Williams.
At least he won’t have to pay alimony on this divorce.
Michael Kim is the host of SportsCenter, ESPN America’s flagship US sports news programme, now airing in the UK on ESPN America – Sky channel 430, Virgin channel 531 and TalkTalk TV channel 566 – every weekday morning live from 6:00am with an updated show at 10:30pm. For more details visit: www.espnamerica.com. ESPN and ESPN America are the exclusive home of live NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL Monday Night Football, and NCAA US college sports in the UK.Tagged in: caddie, Elin Nordegren, golf, Steve Williams, the open, tiger woods
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