When you’re talking about the PGA Tour, you talk about the players, right? Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia; they are the stars of the game, the ones who go out week after week and do the things that the rest of us can only dream of.
The caddies, the mostly nameless bunch carrying bags for a living, are an afterthought to most of us. They are meant to be neither seen nor heard, save for a few. Those men, like Jim Mackay with Mickelson or Mike “Fluff” Cowan with Jim Furyk (previously with Woods), are indispensible to their players. They are confidants, psychologists, and instant encyclopedias of course knowledge.
That is what makes it something of a surprise that Steve Williams will be winding down his career beginning in 2014. Williams has been a high-level Tour caddie for nearly 30 years, having spent time on the bags of Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, and this year’s Masters champion, Adam Scott.
While Williams certainly would have been considered wildly successful just on those accomplishments, it’s his time with Woods that he will be most remembered for. Between 1999 and 2011, Williams was alongside Woods for nearly all of his major championships, and while many have looked negatively on Williams’s comments regarding “his” wins, it’s certainly more than a coincidence that Williams worked for Woods longer than basically anybody ever has.
Norman and Floyd already have their places in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and Woods should be pretty much the second he turns 40 – December 30, 2015 if you’d like to save the date. Several celebrities, executives, and even a few media types have their place in the Hall, but could Williams be the first caddie to break the barrier?
If you ask me, he absolutely deserves the honor. Certainly he’s had his share of luck to have a legend’s bag pretty much from day one, but if you believe the players who say that their caddies are vital to their success, then there’s no reason to believe that he didn’t have his own impact on the game. If nothing else, he provided a level of stability in Woods’s life that, as we know now, he demands to be successful on the course.
While Williams isn’t walking away from golf entirely – he says he intends to caddie for Scott during the meat of the PGA Tour schedule for a few more years at least – he’s earned his place at the top of his profession. Even if you don’t like his opinionated views, that much is worthy of respect.