Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The fallout from Steve Williams's comments about Phil Mickelson probably won’t subside until Tiger Woods answers reporters' questions at his Chevron World Challenge on Wednesday. It will likely go something like this: “I’m disappointed, it’s been dealt with, I respect Phil, Stevie is my caddie, next question. I said, next question.”
But if Woods doesn’t want to talk about Stevie-gate, he’s pretty much the only one. Most prominent of the many commentators taking Williams to task is Woods’s former coach Butch Harmon. Now working with Mickelson, Harmon said he was shocked to hear what Williams said about Mickelson. "I can't believe he said what he said. I think it's deplorable he would say something like that," said Harmon, adding that he was "extremely upset.""Golf is a game of honor and integrity and that was a very uncalled for remark. I don't think it's any reflection of what Tiger thinks of Phil Mickelson." Harmon added that Williams would likely get a personal reprimand from Woods. "I would have loved to have heard a recording of the conversation between (Williams) and Tiger. I worked with Tiger for 10 years and I can tell you he wouldn't have been very happy with that." Lawrence Donegan, The Guardian (UK) reporter who got Williams to confirm an initial report of his comments about Mickelson at a New Zealand charity event, asks what would have happened if another player's caddie had badmouthed Woods in the same way. The answer, Donegan writes, is obvious: What we do know, however, is that when the world No. 1 returns after injury sometime in the new year Williams will be at his side, as ever. No doubt some will find this to be a commendable act of loyalty on Woods' part but in truth it will be the ultimate act of contempt for a fellow professional, Mickelson.If that sounds too apocalyptic, then ask yourself this: what would have happened if Mickelson's caddie, or any caddie working for a leading professional, had publicly insulted Woods in the same manner? The answer, of course, is the caddie would have been fired on the spot. The Canadian Press somehow finds a way to relate all this to hockey, pointing out a double standard in sports where Dallas Stars left winger Sean Avery is suspended for politically incorrect remarks while Williams is left free to speak his mind. (The writer, Tim Dahlberg, favors sanctions over free speech.) Hockey, which tolerates muggings on a nightly basis and has never felt the need to be politically correct, was so offended by a few words that Avery was sent packing after playing only 23 games of what was supposed to be a four-year stint with the Dallas Stars. When last heard from, he was at an undisclosed location undergoing treatment for anger management issues.Golf, which regards itself as the ultimate gentleman's sport, has apparently left it up to Tiger Woods to decide the fate of his caddie. That's perhaps appropriate because Woods yields far more power in the sport than PGA commissioner Tim Finchem. But let’s give the last word (for now) to Steve Elling of cbssports.com, who looks at friendly Mickelson and his caddie Bones Mackay and then at the standoffish Woods and Williams and wonders if caddies and players start to resemble each other the way dogs and their owners do. It never dawned on me until this serve-and-volley exchange began how much the respective caddies and players are alike. Mickelson and Mackay are approachable, if not even affable, often handing out autographs and goodies to fans for hours. Meanwhile, Woods and Williams are there to kick ass and take down names, not write the latter on pieces of memorabilia for eBay hawkers.It's sorta like the old saw about dog owners. Fat guys buy jowly bulldogs and high-maintenance rich chicks buy poodles. You know, because dogs often mirror the personality and appearance of the owner. Tiger Tracker | Tiger's Enemies and Rivals | Tiger's 2008 Season | Phil's 2008 Season

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