The role of the caddie in a golfer’s success isn’t always obvious, but caddie Steve Williams made his place in history unmistakable. He intervened twice in order to help great golfers, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, win. There’s a reason one golfer referred to Williams as a “f**king legend.”
Tiger Woods’ first major came down to the wire
The 1999 PGA Championships were an epic battle featuring two of the best young players in golf. The narrative of the entire tournament revolved around a 23-year old Tiger Woods and 19-year old Sergio Garcia. Woods was already established as a prodigy. As a 20-year old rookie, he won three PGA Tour events, one major, and become the top player in world rankings. Garcia, on the other hand, had only become a pro a few months prior to the PGA championships.
They came from very different backgrounds, but ended up on the same plane of excellence during this tournament. By the end of the final round, Garcia and Woods had separated themselves from the rest of the competition. Only the slightest detail would determine the winner.
On the 71st hole of the championship, Woods was a seven-foot putt away from taking a lead going into the 18th. He had struggled throughout the day. At one point, he had a five-shot lead, but a number of mistakes allowed a resurgent Garcia to make up ground. Woods called on Williams, his caddy at the time, for advice.
Their experience from the practice round convinced both men that the putt didn’t break as much as it looked like it should. But they disagreed on how to deal with this fact. Woods thought it best to play to the outside edge of the putt, while Williams believed playing inside the hole was best.
Tiger overcame his ego and went with Williams’ idea. The decision paid off splendidly. He made the putt, parred on the 18th hole, and won the championship by one stroke. How different would the last two decades of golf have been if Tiger didn’t listen to his caddy? In all likelihood, Woods would still be a legend. But Garcia had to wait 18 years for his first major in part because of his inability to maintain his composure in big moments.
This tournament was a great example of how a good caddy can help a player in pressure-packed circumstances. It wasn’t the last time Williams proved this point, either.
Caddie Steve Williams does it again in 2013
Williams’ partnership with Woods came to an end in 2011. The caddie was fired as Tiger looked for new ways to return to his best. Williams went on to caddie for Adam Scott on a part-time basis. The two worked together until 2017 when Scott decided that he wanted to work with a full-time caddie.
The highlight of William and Scott’s partnership was the 2013 Masters. To this date, this tournament remains Scott’s only major championship. Williams’ input played a small but crucial role in his victory.
The Masters were full of drama as the competition whittled itself down to a duel between Scott and Angel Cabrera. The two golfers stayed steady as other players fell off, forcing a sudden-death playoff. After they both barely made par on the first hole, Cabrera came just short on a birdie attempt on the next, the 10th, giving Scott the chance to win as the sunlight began to fade.
As Scott approached the hole, he read the green a good foot outside the hole, but Williams insisted it didn’t break that much. Just as Tiger did all those years before, Scott listened to his caddie’s advice. He made the 12-foot birdie putt to win the championship. After he sealed the win, Scott told Williams he was a “f**king legend.”
After taking some time away from the game, Williams is back in as Jason Day‘s caddie. Day believes he’s underachieved up to this point and thinks a legendary caddie is enough to put him over the top. You wouldn’t bet against Williams making the difference again sometime in the future.