Caddie Steve Williams plans to cut down on his schedule after next year, slowly putting to an end a 35-year career carrying the golf bags of Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman and, most successfully, Tiger Woods.
Williams, who turns 50 late next month, said yesterday at Royal Melbourne, where his current player, Adam Scott, was contesting the third round of the World Cup, that 2014 will be his last full-time year. After that, he'll work only six or seven months of the year, from the Florida swing in March on the US PGA Tour through to the Tour Championship in September. That will enable him to concentrate on his other love, car racing, in New Zealand.
Williams caddied for Woods for 12 years, winning 13 majors with the man who fired him in 2011.
"It's one of the greatest jobs if you like golf, but it's not something I feel I want to do my whole life," Williams said. "I certainly enjoy working with Adam, and I hope we can have more success together. If I enjoy doing the half-season, I will do it for five more years. If I don't enjoy it, I will have to think about it."
Instead, he'll devote more time to car racing in New Zealand: "I've always been passionate about my racing and I've probably only got four or five years left at the top level. I had one season when Tiger was out for whatever reason he wasn't playing, and that was one of my most successful seasons."
Williams may be golf's best-known caddie, mostly for his successful partnership with Woods from 1999 to 2011. But it ended badly and at an awards night for caddies in Shanghai in November 2011, Williams received an award for best TV interview for when he said after new employer Scott won at the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone that it was "the best win of my life".
When he received the mock award, Williams made a racial comment directed at Woods, for which he apologised when he saw Woods the following week at the Australian Open. Woods and Williams remain distant, something that Williams would like to try to change.
"I think Tiger and I need to sit down and have a conversation," Williams said. "That opportunity hasn't arisen yet, but that's something I'd like to do."
Meanwhile, one of the biggest hard luck stories in golf occurred when Wales' Stuart Manley went from a hole-in-one to an 11 at Royal Melbourne yesterday. The good news came on the par-3 third when Manley moved into a share of second place with the ace. A delighted Manly patted the bonnet of the Mercedes believing the car to be his - before he discovered that it only came with a hole-in-one on the Sunday.
At the next hole, the par-4 fourth, Manley hit a bad tee shot and an approach that rolled off the upturned-saucer-shaped green. A series of comical pitches saw the ball going from side to side on the difficult green and Manley ended up with a seven-over-par bogey after three-putting.
Australia's Jason Day shot a 66 to take a one-shot lead on the A$7 million ($7.85m) individual leaderboard while Scott shot a 68 to move the Australian team into the outright lead in the Cup. Day was a shot clear of Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who could manage only a 71 and ended the round on eight-under.
The Australians' combined 11-under total put them on top in the teams' competition, one clear of the United States, after starting the day seven shots adrift. New Zealand's Michael Hendry and Tim Wilkinson are well out of the running at four-over par and eight-over respectively.
- AP, AAP