It is heavier than you would ever imagine, this thing that Steve Williams has carried all these years. Forget the 14 clubs, towels, rain suit, gloves, balls, umbrella, drinks and pre-prepared bags of snacks.
Remember how he shouldered the world’s most enigmatic athlete.
As he takes his leave, by dismissal or agreement, we wonder just what kind of relief he must feel.
How can you ask such a silly question, you thunder. Relief? From the millions he earned by being Tiger Woods’ personal bagman and bodyguard? From the glitter of the finest stage in all of sports?
But over these last months, he has been tarnished by association. He should have known. He did know. How much of that pay was hush money? How could the man known simply as “Stevie” been so totally unaware of the supposedly outrageous meanderings of his boss?
All the while, Williams has simply claimed abject shock and denied everything.
I have known Steve Williams off and on for years. In the beginning, as he protected his man, he was an angry sort, full of bluster and empty menace. But once he discovered I was not a threat, once we began to develop a trust, he showed me a warm, thoughtful, intelligent side. I met his father and his sister, in fact, and found the whole Williams clan a most likable bunch.
I never found the man to be the brute others claimed to see. If he threw a camera or elbowed a fan or two over the years, somehow I understood. It was a gathering of entitled worshipers, always, there to try and get as close as possible to the god in Sunday red. If you have never stood amongst that throng, just once, you will never know the often ridiculous and overwhelming atmosphere. I fear if it had been me, I would have thrown far worse.
I have no idea when he began to see his boss slip into an ugly abyss; perhaps it was Tiger’s playground from the very beginning of their relationship.
But here he stands today, finally rid of the familiar black bag, ready to lead another brilliant young talent in Adam Scott to the kind of magic he realizes is possible.
One hundred and forty-four tour wins is a staggering achievement for a caddie. Floyd, Norman, Tiger, a flamboyant and intriguing trio, for sure. And now Scott.
I’m thinking the man might have even noticed himself just how much lighter the bag has become.