Steve Williams, who caddied for Tiger Woods for 13 years, was as transfixed as any observer when his former employer made a run to his fifth Masters title earlier this month.
Williams, who retired to his native New Zealand in 2017, told ESPN in a story published Monday that he hadn’t watched any golf on television since retirement — until Woods was making a run on Sunday at Augusta. Williams said he tuned in from New Zealand — where it was around 5 a.m. on Monday — as the final grouping was reaching the 15th hole.
Woods went on to birdie that hole and take the outright lead for good, while Italy’s Francesco Molinari double-bogeyed and fell out of contention.
“Given the fact that two years ago, he stated that he was unlikely to play competitive golf again, or was seriously doubting it ... he wouldn’t just say that in jest,” Williams told ESPN of Woods, who made his return to the tour last year after a fourth back surgery. “There would have been a lot of truth to it. For him to actually come back full cycle to win a major championship ... it’s just an incredible story.
“It’s an amazing achievement of pure guts and hard work for him and just a true indication of what he is made of. It proves again what an amazing athlete he is. It’s just an amazing achievement.”
Williams, 55, became Woods’ caddie in 1999 and remained on the bag until Woods fired him in July of 2011, covering a span of 13 of Woods’ 14 major victories to that point. Joe LaCava has caddied for Woods since.
Williams, who had caddied for Adam Scott while Woods was away from the tour, joined Scott regularly from 2011 until September of 2017. Scott won the 2013 Masters with Williams.
After seeing Woods claim the 15th major of his career and his first since 2008, Williams touted how strongly the achievement will impact the sport.
“You look at it from a broader perspective,” Williams said. “Here in New Zealand, golf is somewhat struggling. The number of rounds is down, junior numbers are slipping. Now that Tiger has come right back there again, winning a major championship, possibly putting Jack’s (Nicklaus) record (of 18 career major wins) in play again ... it just re-energizes the game.
“It’s absolutely awesome. He’s the only guy who can energize the game like that. All those kids who were watching had to think it was fantastic. And so what he’s done is a remarkable achievement. It’s so positive.”
—Field Level Media