Game Time: Tiger Woods' Bag Ape Speaks Publicly
I'm not sure what it says about the sad state of the Rockets, Astros, and the lackluster field of teams ready to head into March Madness in college hoops that I've been blogging as much about hockey and golf lately as I have about those other topics. As the quite mortal Bob Davie once said (ok, he said it like a million times), it is what it is.
So as I brush aside another valley in what is sure to be a roller coaster ride on the Kevin Martin Experience (3 for 13 against the team that traded you? Uh, way to sack up, dude), as I search for the appropriate 700 words to describe my feelings about Carlos Lee leaving Kissimmee to return to Houston to tend to his eleven entries in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and as I turn a blind eye to Brittney Griner nearly decapitating that girl from Texas Tech...
...for fear she might do it to me, thankfully I have the next chapter in Tiger Woods carefully orchestrated "redemption" to keep us occupied.
Meet Steve Williams. He is the New Zealand-born caddy for one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, and has been since 1999, just after Tiger fired his previous caddy, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, who made the crucial error of having his profile raised beyond that of "anonymous bystander" in the World According to Tiger.
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These things we know about Steve Williams:
-- Despite working his way to being a two handicapper as a kid, he claims to have enjoyed caddying more than actually golfing, which is why he chose "being on the bag" as a vocation. Now, I'm not really a golfer, but that just seems weird to me, sort of like someone saying "Yeah, I hit .450 in high school with 25 home runs, but something about being a bullpen catcher just screamed out to me...I can't explain it."
-- If you so much as breathe silently during Tiger's backswing or get within fifty feet of him, Steve Williams will magically morph into an MMA fighter. Ask the dude whose $7,000 camera Williams wrecked when the guy clicked it during a Tiger swing at a PGA event.
-- I don't know how much Steve Williams earns each year as Tiger's bag jockey, but I do know that he has earned enough to create his own charitable foundation in New Zealand, enough to be named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and he earns enough to keep Speedway racing as a hobby on the side.
Of the things we know about Williams, the third one is probably the most important -- in short, Williams gets paid a shitload of money to get a disproportional amount of credit for the greatest golfer in the world being great. And while he's probably built up enough equity overall as a caddy to always have a gig (he's had stints with Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, and Ray Floyd, among others), nothing will be even remotely close to the lucrative opportunity that brushing up against the tour de force that is Tiger Woods represents.
So as Eldrick looks to dig out from underneath the rubble of skanks that his weiner has left behind, he has clearly sat down with Team Tiger and orchestrated "The Plan." Chapter One was clandestine therapy in the backwoods of Mississippi. Check. Chapter Two was the public apology, complete with the C-3PO-esque, robotic non-charm. Check.
So that brings us to Chapter 3, Calculated Interviews with Those Close to Tiger, and Steve Williams' performance for New Zealand's version of 60 Minutes on TV3, where he flat out denied knowledge of any of Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs. Now, keep in mind that Williams is not just the equivalent of some nameless, faceless cubicle slug in Tiger, Inc. He is basically Tiger's on-course/around-the-course consigliere; he is Silvio Dante to Tiger's Tony Soprano. Tiger flew around the world to attend Williams' wedding a few years ago. In retrospect, he probably spent as much time with Williams the last few years as he did Elin.
So save the denials, Williams. You've learned from Fluff's missteps (and probably your own missteps from when Greg Norman fired you several years ago) -- as Jimmy Conway said in Goodfellas, "Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut." Unless Tiger says it's okay to go on TV3 and play out some feigned anger with some unconditional support for The Chosen One sprinkled in. Then it's okay.
Some of the quotes from Williams are priceless....
"It's been the most difficult time of my life, no two ways about it, because every single person believed I should know, or did know, or had something to do with it."
So the "most difficult time" in your life comes from having to steadfastly deny that you were complicit in the dick-capades of your billionaire boss so you could hold onto your seven-figure job lugging golf clubs and bitchslapping photographers? You poor thing.
"I'm a straight-up sort of person. If I had known something was going on, the whistle would have been blown."
So now either (a) Tiger's caddy has revealed himself to be a rat, or (b) he is lying. So to be fair, let's wait and see if we find Williams with a bullet hole in his head and a rat shoved down his throat, a la Jimmy Altieri....
...if we find him dead behind a building, then maybe Tiger's whole "redemption" thing is legit and uncontrived.
"Of course I'm mad at him, why would you not be? I'm close with his wife and he's got two lovely children and he's let them down."
Translation: "Hell yes, I'm mad. If Tiger keeps losing endorsements, this means I may have to start selling off my funny cars to pay my bills."
"[But] when a guy's having a tough time, it's not up to me to beat him with a stick right now. He's getting enough grilling from everybody else. When you're a true friend of somebody, that's when somebody needs your support and need you the most. That's when you don't walk away. Tiger's one of my closest friends and he needs my support right now and I'd never think of walking away."
Translation: "I'm doing as I'm told; sure, shlepping the bag of the 245th-rated golfer in the world might have less drama, but the pay is for shit. Tiger needs me to do this interview, I do this interview. Now, follow the script, please..."
The Tiger Woods Redemption book has been somewhat enthralling so far, even if it's just been essentially confirmation that the pool of myopia in which Tiger was swimming before still exists. Overall, I've enjoyed it.
I'm excited for Chapter 4, Tiger Returns to Augusta; Rick Reilly Weeps Again. Soon enough.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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