The topic of the week, according to my crowd-sourced epic below, is Steve Williams’ new book about his life as a caddie and his relationship with Tiger Woods.
Williams, who helped Woods to 13 of his 14 major titles, is believed to be the winningest caddie in pro golf history. Now he’s making a run at being the most controversial, too.
Enough with the chit-chat. Pull the club already and enter this week’s Van Cynical Mailbag:
Hey Van CadSickle, I’d rather eat glass than read Stevie Williams’ new tell-all book. Always thought he was a [bleep]. Thoughts? — Michael O’Connor
Your expert analysis is in line with the opinions of many others, Mannix. That said, one of Stevie’s main duties as Tiger’s caddie, besides the golf homework (and he was unquestionably one of the best ever at that), was to serve as a bouncer to keep people away from his man. You can’t make friends doing that well. Also, you can’t yak with the media about the rounds, otherwise you end up fired, especially with Tiger’s circle-the-wagons, us-against-the-world mentality.
Hey Van Cynical, When do Tour caddies have to complain about? Carry the damn bag, pull the clubs and do a job that pays waaayyy more than the average person. — John Harvey via Twitter
I am with you, Lee Harvey, along with the tradition that the caddie has to do the three ups — show up, keep up and shut up. Caddies are employees. If the boss asks you to do something, you do it. Some bosses are better than others. One of the ups of the caddie job is not “write up.” But if you must write a book, because it might have historical significance, write a good one. As my SI colleague Michael Bamberger opined, Mr. Williams failed in that area.
Hey Van Dirt, what’s with Stevie Williams? Why can’t he let bygones be bygones? “Slave?” I’d happily do Jordan Spieth’s grunt work for that kind of money. — Klaugh56 via Twitter
You are not alone there, K-laugh. Writers used to joke about how Williams ranked in the top 10 on the money list. Now, after Michael Greller’s $22 million season, we can now insert his name when we revive those old wisecracks. No one has sympathy for a rich guy who thinks he has been wronged. Well, except Donald Trump. He has sympathy for all people.
Hey G-Unit, Would you pick up Tiger’s tossed clubs for the money Stevie was making? Sign me up! Dude seems like a big sour grape. — Bustinpar via Twitter
You’ve gotta take those big sour grapes and make grape-ade, Busty. Stevie took some criticism during the Tiger Scandal, and since he rarely talks with the media, his side of the story never came out. I think he wanted to put in writing what he knew and didn’t know and when he didn’t know it for the record. That was a big part of his motivation. And like Hank Haney, he had a front-row seat to the most important decade in modern golf history. He wanted to make sure his role was accurately documented. Also, sign me up, too.
Van Cynical, Any chance that the fragile psyche of golf’s only true gent, Stevie Williams, can recover from years of abuse from Tiger Woods? — Fake Poulter via Twitter
As Celine Dion said when Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett sank an oceanliner by standing on the prow for too long, his “heart will go on.” Stevie will be OK because he’s got titanic self-belief. Don’t cry for him or Argentina, Fake P.
Hey, Van Sinister, Got a copy of Stevie’s book yet? — Kevin Frink via Twitter
Not yet, Frinkenstein. My caddie is supposed to bring me one. Where the hell is he, anyway? Actually, I’ve been busy reading another book, “The Wrong Side of the Ball,”by Mike Zimmerman. It’s about an average hacker in Milwaukee who decides to start over lefthanded and see how good he can get at golf in one year. You can find my Q&A with The Z-Man on Golf.com.
Hey Deep Sicks, Golf does not kick off in my house until the Sony Open. Does this make me a Communist? — Chad Rucker via Twitter
Of course not, Chadley. Also, you’re sending a mixed message here. Golf does not kick off, it tees off. Clearly your mind and your heart are in football. Your subtle use of the wrong verb here undermines the very fabric of the democratic game of golf, which is the world’s last true meritocracy and that, Chadley, is exactly what a commie would try to do in my golf column. Well, it won’t work, isn’t that right, my fellow Americans? E pluribus unum over the ramparts we watch, and all that.
Hey, Vee-dub, an idea for non-major playoffs: play the 18th over and over but switch up tee boxes until winner is crowned? More variety. — Greg King via Twitter
While I hate extended same-hole playoffs, King Greg, if we’re forced to watch them, your idea is excellent. Mix it up, make ’em play from the ladies tee the second time around, change the strategy. It’s a great way to make the best of a bad situation. I like it. Long live the King!
Hey Van Hacksalot, Why no respect for the musketeer Victor Dubuisson in the latest Tour Confidential on Golf.com? — Lionel Mandrake
I don’t write the questions for Tour Confidential, Manduck, but I’m going to guess it has something to do with how many American fans were breathlessly watching the finish of the Turkish Airlines Open.
Hey Sicklelator, In honor of Gary Player’s 80th birthday, what were his biggest strengths? Which current player reminds you of him? — David Troyan via Twitter
Gary Player was likely the greatest bunker player in history. I can’t name anybody who was better at that. When he was growing up, legend has it that he had to hole three bunker shots in a row before he could quit and go in the house to get dinner. He also had the clutch gene. He knew how to make a big putt or pull off a great shot — like that approach shot over the towering willow tree (which was later cut down in a Rees Jones redesign) at the 16th at Oakland Hills, his signature shot when he won the 1972 PGA Championship. Nobody today reminds me of the Black Knight and his energy, his strutting walk or his all-out swing and frequent walk-on follow-through. But based on bunker play and short-game shots, Jordan Spieth could give Player a game around the greens.
Hey Van Slick, What percentage of your readers procrastinate when sending you Mailbag questions? And what is your go-to shot under pressure? — Brian Bailey via Twitter
Do I really have to do the math, Bail Mary? OK, let’s keep the math simple and assume the VCM has as many as nine readers. Six of them are definitely total slackers. So I’ll set the procrastination rate at — well, I’ll get to that next week. My go-to shot under pressure? It’s a Dr. Pepper, straight up, no chaser. Yeah, I know — damned strong!