Golf's governing bodies are considering banning anchored putters. How would you fare if you had to revert back to a traditional putter tomorrow?
I'd putt better than I did before, absolutely. The long putter has taught me how to putt again. I don't see [putter length] as a crucial thing for me at all. I think I've won 18 tournaments with a short putter and one with a long putter, so maybe I'm the idiot. [Laughs] So I don't believe it would be a hard thing for me to go back to the short putter. I could do it this week, and I think I would putt better than I did in 2010 and 2009.
What's your gut feeling? Will they ban anchored putters?
My gut feeling is the rule will get changed, but I don't see a valid reason for it.
Purists argue that...
I know what purists say. They want to protect the traditions of the game. But that's not even an argument. Otherwise, we'd be playing with hickory shafts.
Do you feel any animosity in the locker room from players who use standard-length putters?
Absolutely. Some guys don't like it. That's because they haven't putted well with it, or they haven't tried it. That's my argument -- it's still a learned skill. It's not like you just pick it up and make putts. You have to learn how to use it.
What does Steve Williams bring to your game?
He brings a level of intensity. He's focused on one thing: winning. That might be out of habit from working with Tiger. He has very strong beliefs about how to play the game and how he's seen the game played over 30 years. We've married some of that with my strengths to get more out of me. Also him being from New Zealand and me being from Australia, our cultural backgrounds are not dissimilar. So at the root of it all, I think there's a good level of understanding of one another. The one hard thing for Steve to get his head around is that's it's a process for me. Steve's a black-and-white guy. The stuff in the middle doesn't compute.
What do you mean?
He sees that my game is good, but he doesn't understand why I don't win every week. [Laughs]
He got spoiled working with Tiger.
Right. So he's got to be patient, and I've got to step up. That's where it's at.
Does he get frustrated with you?
At times he does. When Tiger played good, he won. But when I play good, I don't always win. It's a very fine line, as we all know. It's a game of inches. You're a shot here or a chip there from the momentum. He just expects things to happen. Things are very simple for him. But it's not always the case for me. [Laughs] But every player-caddie relationship has to find that happy medium somewhere, and I think we do a pretty good job of it.
Williams put you on the hot seat last year when a racially charged comment he made about Woods at a dinner in Shanghai went public. Did you consider letting him go after that?
No, I never thought about that. The incident was extremely unfortunate and I'm not going to do myself any favors by talking about it a lot, but I think most people believe it was a closed room that night. Other things were said in the room that some would find offensive, but the only thing that was taken out of the room was Steve's comments -- not smart comments, I might point out.
How extreme was the pressure on you? Fred Couples, among others, said you should have fired Williams.
Yeah, and I had to speak to Fred about that, because Fred wasn't there. Fred's just getting told a story by someone, and stories become more inaccurate the longer they go on. I was disappointed to hear Fred say that, and I wish that he would have spoken to me. So I spoke to him in Sydney about it to clear the air, because I didn't want to have any animosity with Fred, with the Presidents Cup and all that going on. Steve did the right thing and sorted it out with who he needed to sort it out with, and we've moved on.
You used to date tennis star Ana Ivanovic, and now Rory McIlroy dates tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Has he come to you for relationship advice?
No, and I don't know that he should. I think that I should get advice off him. [Laughs] Golf advice. Relationship advice. He seems super-happy, and it's having a good effect on him.
Can McIlroy be the next Tiger?
Yes and no. Yes, Rory's got that much talent; I think he can win a lot of majors. But overall tournaments, no, he won't win as many as Tiger. I think there are more guys who can win in a given week and that was not the case in Tiger's prime.
You were a Butch Harmon guy. Do you believe Tiger's swing was at its best under Harmon's watch?
Tiger's swing in 2000 was phenomenal; you can't replicate it. It was his natural talent, flexibility and strength mixed together, plus power that no one else was generating. But obviously Tiger didn't want to stay with it; he's made some really radical changes. I don't know what's natural about [his swing] today.
Could you ever see yourself blowing up your swing and starting again?
Only if I couldn't stop hitting a hook or slice or whatever. Then I'd have to try something that's so foreign to me to prevent my natural tendency. But I think in Tiger's case, it seemed to get to a point where he needed a new challenge -- that's how good he was, or is.
He got bored.
Yeah, we were all saying that. You think back to 2002 -- what else is this guy going to do? And then he does this radical [overhaul]. It's hard to understand because I'm not on that high a level. But he's not alone. Padraig Harrington changed his swing at the height of his powers. I was there at the Players [in 2010] after Harrington had won three majors. I watched him hit balls, and I said, "Oh, you hit draws now?" He said, "No, I've just started working on drawing the ball." I was like, "Why? You just won three majors in 18 months." We're all a bit crazy. It's amazing what the game will do to us.
You pros are as nuts as the rest of us.
Yeah, I'm the same way. If I'm hitting draws, I just want to hit fades. If I'm hitting fades and I can't hit a draw, I just want to hit draws again. It'll drive you crazy. You're better off just trying to hit it straight. [Laughs]