Doral Notebook: Woods' caddie has become frequent pan-Pacific flyer

tiger woods, steve williams
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Caddie Steve Williams, because of his famly obligations back in New Zealand, is having to fly more than ever to bump fists with his boss, Tiger Woods, this year.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 | 6:42 p.m.

No other caddie has traveled so far to work so little than Steve Williams.

Part of that is because Williams lives in New Zealand, and his 5-year-old son Jett is now going to school. And part of that is Woods playing in different parts of the world this early in the season.

Asked how his frequent flyer profile was looking, Williams just shook his head Wednesday.

“Put it this way,” he said. “Qantas has me on speed dial.”

When he leaves Miami after this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship, Williams already will have flown some 60,000 miles to work four tournaments. In one case, Williams spent more time in the air than his hotel room.

He started in January by flying from Auckland to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open. Then came the Auckland-Dubai round trip two weeks later. But the worst of it was the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“I stayed in my hotel one night and went home,” he said.

Williams arrived in Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday. Woods lost in the first round the next day to Thomas Bjorn, and by evening, Williams was on a flight to Los Angeles to catch a connection back home.

After this week, he will stay two days in Orlando for the Tavistock Cup, leaving Tuesday and getting home on Thursday. He’ll be home three days before flying back to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, then return home after the tournament.

His wife used to come to America for Bay Hill, and they would go somewhere on vacation before the Masters. But with his son in school, Williams goes back to New Zealand for three days before flying to Augusta.

When he gets home after the Masters, he already will have logged nearly 94,000 miles in the air.

SPANISH HERO: Alvaro Quiros knows plenty about Seve Ballesteros and the greatness of his game. But when it comes to Spanish golfing heroes, he starts with Jose Maria Olazabal.

Quiros didn’t start playing golf until he was 9, and Ballesteros was on the tail end of his career. He remembers Olazabal winning his first Masters in 1994, and especially the second green jacket in 1999 after returning from an injury that nearly ended his career.

“I think Olazabal is a gentleman inside and outside the golf course, and this is the most important thing, to be a gentleman or to be a nice person, more than a great golfer,” Quiros said.

The first time he met Olazabal, the big-hitting Spaniard could barely speak.

It was in 1999 for the WGC-American Express Championship at Valderrama, and Olazabal was invited to see the public course when Quiros and other juniors got their start.

“I played with a friend, and on the second tee, suddenly arrives the main guy of the pro shop and he said, ‘Hey, get out of the way because Olazabal is coming behind you,”’ Quiros said. “It was Olazabal! So he arrives to the tee, hits his driver in the third hole and he says, ‘Come on, hit the ball.’

“We were watching each other and I said (to his friend), ‘He’s speaking with us.’ I cannot even put the ball on the tee. I was shaking.”

TIGER AND TYSON: NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller didn’t pull any punches two weeks ago when he said Tiger Woods’ downfall reminded him of the Mike Tyson story.

“Sort of invincible, scared everybody, performed quickly under pressure -- until Buster Douglas came along,” Miller said. “Tiger sort of hit that and it’s life. And his life crumbled.”

Woods was asked about the comparison with Tyson on Wednesday.

“I don’t think I’m as big as he is,” Woods said. “No, that’s Johnny being Johnny, and making statements like that, I think he’s done that before in the past, hasn’t he?”

Woods then was asked if Miller had crossed the line.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he said. “And he has his, which is a lot.”

DIVOTS: Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who grew up together in South Africa, will be in the same pairing the first two days. Schwartzel said it will be the first time they’ve been in the same group for the early rounds since they turned pro. … Tim Clark will be playing for the first time since his runner-up finish at the Sony Open two months ago because of an elbow injury. … Of the 48 PGA Tour members in the 69-man field, five have never won a PGA Tour event: Charl Schwartzel, Kevin Na, Jeff Overton, Rickie Fowler and Kevin Streelman, who got into the field based on his third-place finish in the FedExCup playoff opener last year at The Barclays.