They have never been particularly close, and they appeared to be even more distant when they lost both their matches as partners in the 2004 Ryder Cup, where they rarely spoke to each other.
But they exchange friendly barbs in the locker room, and both have paid each other compliments over the years. Mickelson credits Woods with a spike in prize money, and when Mickelson had his worst season on tour in 2003, Woods said Lefty had too much talent to end his career without a major and that his wedge game was the best in golf. Mickelson went on to win a major each of the next three years.
Williams told the Sunday Star Times that he was simply being honest.
“I don’t particularly like the guy myself,” he told the newspaper. “He pays me no respect at all and hence, I don’t pay him any respect. It’s no secret we don’t get along, either.”
Mickelson’s management also took issue with a story Williams told the Taranaki Daily News about a fan heckling Mickelson’s physique, saying the caddie plugged in Mickelson’s name to an incident that happened years ago.
That famous story involved Colin Montgomerie at Bethpage Black in the 2002 U.S. Open. Woods is to speak Wednesday at the Chevron World Challenge, where he is the tournament host. He has not played since winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he and Mickelson played together the first two rounds.
Woods credits his caddie for reading a crucial putt for par at Medinah in 1999 that helped Woods win the PGA Championship, and for talking him into a 60-degree wedge out of the rough on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines this summer, where Woods made a 12-foot birdie putt to force a playoff against Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open.
Williams is only the second full-time caddie Woods has employed since he turned pro in 1996. The other was Mike “Fluff” Cowan, who was replaced in February 1999. Some believe Cowan was fired for giving interviews and seeking publicity, but Woods simply was looking for a caddie who better fit his high-energy levels.
Williams has had several run-ins with fans, media and tour officials, never caring what anyone thought.
He threw a $7,000 camera into a pond at the Skins Game when a photographer working for a corporate sponsor took a picture in the middle of Woods’ swing out of a bunker on the final hole. He also wrested a camera from a fan — an off-duty police officer — at the U.S. Open in 2004. Williams routinely was fined by the tour for wearing shorts that were not approved.
Playing together is nothing new to Tiger and Phil
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