Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods' 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger's 40th birthday. That's 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.
Tiger's 40 Biggest Moments: No. 30 -- Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams
Tiger Woods officially fired caddie Steve Williams on July 20, 2011. That day Woods released a statement on his website expressing "my deepest gratitude" to Williams -- with whom he amassed 72 worldwide victories, including 13 majors -- and wishing the caddie "great success in the future."
If only it were that simple.
"Needless to say," Williams said on his own website, "this came as a shock."
Initial reports had Woods firing Williams in person -- in a boardroom at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia after the last round of the AT&T National. (Williams had caddied for Adam Scott while tournament host Woods recuperated from a leg injury.) But Williams later said Woods had sacked him by phone, which he called "disappointing."
Williams and Woods had been in business for 12 years. They’d gone to each other’s weddings. Their wives were friends. Williams had stuck with Woods through the latter’s sex scandal and endured, with the injury-plagued Woods, a winless drought of nearly two years. Now they were done.
The Kiwi caddie continued working for Scott at the U.S. Open and the British. Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone, and an ebullient Williams delivered a veiled criticism of his time with Woods when he called it "the best week of my life." Three months later, at a caddie awards dinner at the HSBC Champions in China, Williams said of his behavior at the Bridgestone, “My aim was to shove it right up that black ---hole."
Williams later apologized, but there were no further questions. So marked the gruesome, slow-motion obliteration of one of the greatest partnerships in golf history, a friendship, loyalty and the high road.
Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger's birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our TIGER@40 countdown.
No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn
No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone
No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2