First Person with Tiger Woods's Caddie, Steve Williams

First Person with Tiger Woods’s Caddie, Steve Williams

I’m not just a caddie. I have to be the enforcer–to provide an equal playing field for Tiger. We deal with more cameras than anyone else. Sometimes photographers don’t get it, and I have to take matters into my own hands. I have no problem doing it. I’m protecting my guy. No regrets. Maybe I shouldn’t have kicked the guy’s camera [at the 2004 U.S. Open], but I got hot under the collar. I’m an aggressive person. I can’t promise something like that will never happen again.

To people who call me a bully, I have a simple answer: Walk in my shoes. Shadow me for a week and give me your opinion.

Tiger’s best shot was that one from the fairway bunker at the [2002] PGA, 202 yards from the green with a crazy stance and under a pine tree. He slammed a 3-iron to 15 feet. He was playing with David Toms and Ernie Els. They just smiled and gave him the “we’re not worthy” motion.

I’m competitive. Once, at the Plantation Course in 2002, I bet Tiger that I could run the front nine, which is really hilly, in 30 minutes. I did it in 23. Then there was the first time I did Tiger’s workout routine with him, in 2000. I couldn’t pick up my toothbrush the next day. I didn’t want him to know, but I think he caught on when I held the flagstick with one hand but couldn’t put my other arm behind my back without help.

Tiger would probably say my best read came at the PGA Championship at Medinah in ’99. It was our first major together. He saw it outside of the cup, and I said, “No, that’s inside all the way.” He took my advice and made it. That was huge.

I don’t know what club selection I’d like to do over. There was The Masters in 2003, when Tiger hit driver [instead of iron; Woods pushed his drive into trees and made double-bogey]. Afterward, he said he should have hit an iron, but in my mind, it was the right, aggressive play. It was just poor execution. I stand by that call.

Caddie Knack
Three tips from golf’s top bagman
He’s no pro, but as Steve Williams says in his new book Golf at the Top with Steve Williams ($14.95, Ulysses Press), you don’t loop for Tiger, Greg Norman and ray Floyd without learning a thing or two. His three golden rules for us mortals:
Take more club
Most amateurs underclub, so try this: Bring an extra scorecard on the course with you and write down the club for you used on each approach shot. Mark an S for short, L for long and P for pin-high. The next day, play the same course and use an extra club, and I guarantee you’ll have more P’s and fewer S’s.
Improve your feel
Try the drill Tiger uses. On the range, choose a flag that’s 125-150 yards away and then hit every club in the bag to that distance.
Be your own caddie
Jot down where you can and can’t hit certain shots on your course. If there’s a fairway bunker you keep hitting into, then find out the exact yardage you need to land short and hit that club.

When things aren’t going well, my job is to help turn things around. At last year’s Masters we were going into the playoff against Chris DiMarco. Tiger wasn’t happy because we’d just made bogeys on the last two holes. So I said, “Remember, this guy hasn’t won a major. We’ve won a bunch. You know how to do it, but this guy’s never done it–you have the edge.” And he birdied the first playoff hole.

I love racing stock cars. My crash last year was bad. It was on the last lap. The track was bumpy. I was doing about 100 mph coming out of a turn. I got bumped and flipped violently over up into the fences by the grandstand. It was the wildest ride. My life passed before my eyes and I was knocked unconscious. I was lucky not to lose my hand–I needed surgery and 55 stitches. But everyone crashes. It’s just a matter of when.

Racing gives me the biggest rush. When the track is tacky and you floor it around the corner and the front wheel lifts up off the track–that keeps me coming back!

At Christmas last year, Tiger got me a set of National Geographic DVDs, which was awesome. I gave him a fruit bowl. It’s made out of kauri timber, which is indigenous to New Zealand. I thought it would look good on his table at home.

When we play Tiger gives me six strokes a side. He likes a little gamesmanship. He’ll say, “Wow, a big, strong guy like you and you come up short?” He’s funnier than people know. But the really funny stuff he says you can’t put in your magazine [laughs].

My hidden talent? I can shout “No cameras!” in several different languages.