THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The caddie for Tiger Woods received a reprimand, but not a pink slip.
Steve Williams generated plenty of headlines this week when he was quoted at a charity dinner in New Zealand calling Phil Mickelson an obscenity and confirming in another newspaper that he doesn’t like the three-time major champion.
That led to Mickelson putting out a statement extolling the class of his own caddie, and Woods issuing a statement that said he was disappointed by his caddie’s “inappropriate” comments.
“What ended up happening is I communicated with Phil, and we have discussed it,” Woods said Wednesday. “I talked to Stevie about it, and he feels bad what happened. At this point, that it happened at all is something that none of us really wanted to have happen. But it’s over and done with, and we put it to bed.”
Woods was asked if Williams will be on his bag when he returns next year.
“Yes, he will,” Woods replied.
Then he paused.
“I don’t know what he’ll be carrying yet, but ... “ he added with a smile.
It was unclear if Woods was referring to the end of his corporate sponsorship with Buick — its logo has been on his bag for the last nine years — or if he was going to make sure the bag was extra heavy.
Williams said Monday night he regrets his disparaging comment about Mickelson, saying he was making light of the Ryder Cup and his dislike for him.
“I don’t deny that him and I don’t get along,” Williams told The Associated Press from his home in New Zealand. “I shouldn’t have said it, but no harm was meant. I was just having some fun.”
Williams was quoted in the Taranaki Daily News as saying he wouldn’t call Mickelson a great player “because I think he’s a (expletive).” In an interview the next day with another New Zealand newspaper, the Sunday Star Times, Williams confirmed making the comment and said it was no secret they don’t get along.
Mickelson’s management company issued a statement Sunday evening to respond to what it called “grossly inaccurate and irresponsible statements” by Williams. It included a comment from Mickelson.
“After seeing Steve Williams’ comments, all I could think of was how lucky I am to have a class act like Bones (Jim Mackay) on my bag and representing me,” Mickelson said.
Williams, who is coming up on the 10-year anniversary of working for the world’s No. 1 player, said he was speaking at a charity dinner for his foundation when he made the comment.
“I was on stage doing a Q & A with the crowd when the question came up about playing with Mickelson in the Ryder Cup,” Williams said, referring to the infamous Woods-Mickelson pairing at Oakland Hills in 2004. “It was a lighthearted conversation. One guy asked me about the tee shot Phil hit on the final hole when I said it.”
Woods and Mickelson lost both their matches, with Mickelson hitting a 3-wood off the 18th tee into an unplayable lie that cost them the foursomes match against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.
“There was never any conversation about Tiger and Phil — it was me and Phil,” Williams said. “The whole thing has been taken way out of context. I shouldn’t have said it; I agree with that. People say funny things all the time at these things. It was not meant to be any harm. It was one of those lighthearted, funny things.”
Williams said he has spoken to Woods, but declined to discuss their conversation. He said he has not spoken to Mickelson, but would if he had his phone number.
And what would he say?
“I’d just tell him the situation — that it was a charity event, a fun event, and it’s no secret me and you don’t get along,” Williams said.
The comments figure to bring even more intrigue to the Woods-Mickelson rivalry, and to a relationship that is hard to pin down.
Playing together is nothing new to Tiger and Phil
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