Tiger Woods main advantage over Greg Norman is temperament, not talent, said caddie Steve Williams. He should know. He’s caddied for both of them.
Currently on an unscheduled and lengthy vacation since Woods underwent knee surgery in June, Williams is spending time with his family in New Zealand and driving race cars.
Williams spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald while on a charity visit to a children’s hospital in Auckland and he made some insightful comments about Norman, Tiger and what it takes to win in golf. Norman, despite an at-the-time record tenure of 331 weeks at No. 1, managed just two majors. By contrast, Woods is the ultimate closer, so much so that when he has the lead on Sundays at a major, everyone is playing for the second-place check. (At least that’s how it’s worked out so far.)
The difference between Woods and Tigers, said Williams, wasn’t their good shots—and we all know they could hit those—but rather how they handled the bad ones. "I certainly wouldn't have got to where I am today without caddying for Greg, because I learned an awful lot. Greg had a great understanding of the mechanics of the golf swing. He didn't require a lot of coaching, and it was great working with him. But Greg had his faults. His greatest weakness was his inability to shake off a bad shot, or something he didn't like. He just couldn't get over it."Woods's fury after a bad shot is there for all to see. He erupts. In fact, it is said he is the most fined player on the US PGA Tour for swearing and club abuse. That every shot he plays is televised makes it easier for the golfing officials with their penalty infringement books.Williams sees it all - and he understands. "The thing a lot of people don't like about Tiger is his temperament is obviously not ideal, but he has that knack of being able to get over it very quickly," Williams says."He likes to take the frustration out and get on with the job. Call it controlled aggression. Tiger lets it all hang out, and plays a miraculous shot straight afterwards."That was something Greg could never do. He'd dwell on it. That was his downfall. Greg didn't have the personality type of Tiger. If he did, I think he would have been equal to the best of what Tiger has done. In my eyes, Greg was certainly as good a player as Tiger." Williams gets regularly roasted by media members and fans for his tenacity at keeping people and cameras away from Woods, but keep in mind who’s asking him to do that. In interviews, Williams proves to be one of the more thoughtful, candid and intriguing people in the game, not Tiger’s Yes Man, but very much his own.
*If you're playing the pointless but unavoidable game of parsing opaque statements regarding Tiger’s return to competitive golf, here’s what Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald, "What [Tiger] said was that he wouldn't be 100 per cent physically fit for another 18 months. He played [and won] the US Open operating at five per cent."
My guess: If you don’t expect to see Tiger in Augusta next April you haven’t been paying attention these past 10 years.