Steve Williams was retired.
He was walking away from the game of golf. Officially. Someone else could carry the clubs from now on.
But when Adam Scott came calling in June, asking, even begging, for Williams to return as his caddie for the remainder of the 2015 season, he couldn’t turn away. So maybe Williams was just looking to help out a friend or maybe he wasn’t all that interested in retirement in the first place. Either way, the game’s most famous caddie is back on the greens, joining Scott for the heart of the championship schedule, including this year’s British Open.
Here’s what you need to know about Williams and his relationship with golf on and off the bag:
1. Williams Announced He Was Retiring in September 2014
It was all over. Williams was retiring from the game of golf after nearly 30 years on the bag for some of the best names the sport has ever seen. Williams returned to his home in New Zealand after boasting more than a dozen majors titles over the course of his career and, according to Golf Digest, stopped watching the sport entirely.
While he’s best known for his skills as a caddie, and sometimes fiery on-course attitude, Williams also has other passions that don’t include golf swings and picking out the best iron. He also competes as a Saloon car racer and regularly competes at the Super Saloon during speedway season. In fact, he was the Super Saloon Car champion in 2005 and 2006 and won the Saloon Car title for the 2009-10 season.
2. Williams Started Working as Tiger Woods’ Caddie in 1999
After his first major stints caddying for Greg Norman and Raymond Flloyd, Williams joined Tiger Woods in 1999 who had hired him on the spot after their first meeting in Orlando.
The pair were a match made in golf heaven. They were each other’s most ardent fans on and off the course and Williams even developed a reputation as Wood’s de facto defender. Williams infamously threw a spectator’s camera into an on-course pond after he spotted them taking pictures of Tiger during his backswing. There was also the time Williams referred to Phil Mickelson as a prick while speaking at a charity event in New Zealand.
3. He & Woods Parted Ways in 2011
Williams and Woods broke off their long-standing partnership in July 2011, effectively stunning the golf world and the long-time caddie. The two had developed a good relationship over their 12 years together and, in addition to 13 major victories, Woods had even attended Williams’ 2005 wedding as well as several of his dirt track races.
When news broke that Woods had opted to go in a different direction, Williams released a statement on his official website:
Following the completion of the AT&T National I am no longer caddying for Tiger after he informed me that he needed to make a change. After 13 years of loyal service needless to say this came as a shock. Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time.
The announcement came during the midst of Wood’s cheating scandal, a particularly awkward time for Williams whose wife was close friends with Wood’s ex-wife.
4. Williams Caddied For Adam Scott in 2011
Following his on-course separation from Tiger Woods, Williams officially announced his intention to caddie for Adam Scott. The pair had first joined forces during the 2011 U.S. Open and 2011 Open Championship.
Scott’s game immediately took a very literal and metaphorical upswing with Williams on the bag. After his win at the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Williams told CBS News, “I’ve caddied for 33 years – 145 wins now – and that’s the best win I’ve ever had.” The Australian native then finished second in the 2012 Open Championship and followed up by winning his very first Masters in 2013.
5. Scott Persuaded Williams to Come Out of Retirement in 2015
Although Williams had officially announced his retirement in 2014, Scott was able to coax his former caddie to make a return to the fairways this summer. The pair finished four at this year’s U.S. Open and are now in contention for a top-tier finish at the British Open. Williams replaced Scott’s former caddie Mike Kerr.
Scott explained his decision to reunite with Williams, saying he did not shy away from a little bit of well-placed begging:
I was begging and pleading for him to come out here. Unfortunately I have to admit that. It was the right call for me to make at this point in the year to get him back out and instill a bit of confidence in my game and get back in that flow. He’s a huge factor in the way I’ve played the last few years. I have to absolutely give him credit for that.