JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Steve Williams says he meant no harm.
Adam Scott calls it no big deal.
Now, they agree, it’s time “to let our clubs do the talking.”
Scott is coming off a four-stroke win against an elite field at the World Golf Championship, which makes him one of the favorites in the PGA Championship, the final major of the year.
But the very first question the Aussie was asked Tuesday at Atlanta Athletic Club – and several more that followed – were about his caddie.
Specifically, did Williams steal the attention that should have gone to Scott by lashing out at former boss Tiger Woods as soon as they came off the 18th green at Firestone?
“I think it all got a little out of hand,” Scott said, “but we’ll just go on from there.”
Williams told The Associated Press he was caught off guard when the media came up to interview him after Scott’s win.
“It’s very unusual for TV to put a microphone in front of a caddie’s face,” he said when reached on his cell phone. “There was a lot of emotion and anger that came out. It wasn’t meant to offend anyone.”
On Sunday, Williams gave an interview that was nearly twice as long as Scott’s, calling it “the best win I’ve ever had” – quite a pronouncement, given he was on the bag for 13 of Woods’ major titles before getting fired this summer.
The caddie also made it clear he felt Woods had treated him unfairly, saying he stuck by his former boss even through all his personal turmoil and health issues.
Woods missed the last three months – including two majors – recovering from a leg injury. He returned at Firestone, where he finished 18 shots behind the winner.
That only added to Williams’ glee.
“Look, we’ve had a chat about the whole thing,” said Scott, whose laid-back personality is a striking contrast to Williams’ emotional demeanor. “I just took what he said as confidence in me. If he really feels that was one of his great wins, I’m kind of flattered and it fills me with confidence. I think that’s what his intention is, to be honest.”
Some players have criticized Williams for the way he handled the interview, saying he should have kept the attention on Scott after he pulled away for an impressive four-stroke win.
“I understand where players are coming from, but I’m a little upset by what some of them said because they have no idea what I’ve been through,” Williams told the AP. “But I didn’t mean to cause anyone harm. There was just a lot of emotion.”
Scott believes most of the drama is being driven by the media. He certainly stood by Williams, insisting there was no intentional attempt to upstage the way the Aussie played at Firestone.
“He was asked these questions and he gave his honest answer, I assume,” Scott said. “Anything related to Tiger Woods, it’s all scrutinized and blown out of proportion a lot of times.”
While Woods has 14 major titles, Scott is still seeking his first. He’s definitely got the game for it, especially since addressing his shaky putting stroke by switching to one of those strange-looking long clubs in February.
And, the brouhaha at Firestone notwithstanding, the pairing with Williams seems like a perfect match. Scott has often come across as a little too casual when he stands over the ball. There’s nothing casual about his caddie, one of the game’s most fiery characters.
“I’m a bulldog when I’m in the hunt,” Scott said. “But sometimes, I have a problem getting in the hunt.”
Williams has been blunt with his new boss, telling him that he’s yet to live up to his massive potential despite 20 victories around the world.
“I do have a fire in my belly,” Scott said. “But maybe he’s going to help me keep it burning all the time. Right now, he’s certainly bringing all of these things and keeping me motivated. We’re working well together.”
That odd putter is also working out well for Scott.
His stroke was in shambles early in the year, which was affecting his whole game. Basically, he made the switch as a last resort, ignoring fellow golfers who snickered at him when he first broke it out on the putting green and critics who think the club should be banned.
Since going to the long putter – which extends to just below his chin when he bends over to take a swing – Scott has become a steady contender. He tied for second at the Masters. He was third at the AT&T National. Then came the win at Akron, his biggest triumph since the 2004 Players Championship.
“I think a few people have taken notice of the way I’m rolling the ball,” Scott said. “It’s a noticeable improvement from where I was.”
A steady putter has helped Scott address another of his weaknesses. One of the game’s best ball strikers, he had always struggled a bit with the subtlety of those little pitches and chips around the green.
These days, Scott is confident he can make any putt from 20 feet and in, so he doesn’t feel like he has to be quite so precise with his wedges. That, in turn, has actually made it easier to hit good shots.
Even before Williams took over the bag, Scott already had shown in April he was capable of contending on the final round of a major. He surged into contention at the Masters, only to get turned away by Charl Schwartzel’s astonishing four-birdie finish.
“I didn’t win the Masters,” Scott said. “But I felt like I did everything I had to do. To be honest, I never considering birdieing the last four holes at Augusta National. I never even considered birdieing the last two.”
There’s still plenty of time to capture his first major. He turned 31 last month and should be heading into his prime. With Williams pushing him on, Scott finally seems to realize that his career would be incomplete if he fails to win one of the biggest prizes.
“I’ve got a really good take on what I need to do for my career moving forward,” Scott said. “I believe this has got to be the best 10 years of my career coming up.”
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
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