MELBOURNE, Australia – The Presidents Cup wasted no time delivering the match everyone was talking about – Tiger Woods against ex-caddie Steve Williams in the opening session at Royal Melbourne.
Oh, yes, and three other players will join them.
U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Greg Norman, hopeful of putting an end to a three-month soap opera involving Woods and Williams, put them together in the last of six foursomes matches Thursday.
“I think it’s great for the tournament,” Norman said. “It needed to be done.”
Lest anyone forget, Williams will be carrying the bag of Adam Scott, not hitting any golf shots.
On paper it will be Woods and Steve Stricker, undefeated as a tandem two years ago at Harding Park, against K.J. Choi and Scott, the popular Australian who hired Williams after Woods fired his caddie of 12 years this summer.
For sheer drama, it’s more about Woods and Williams.
It will be the first time they have been in the same group of any tournament since Woods officially fired him in late July. Norman expects nothing but a good match between four players, with four other guys carrying their bags.
“I’m sure Freddie and I – everybody – we want to put this behind us,” Norman said. “It’s a dead issue as far as we’re concerned. There’s no animosity between any of the players. I know it’s good fodder. People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it’s dead and gone. And we would like to keep that way going forward.”
The acrimonious split became evident when Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational, and Williams allowed himself to be interviewed on the 18th green at Firestone and called it “the best win of my life.” This from a caddie who was with Woods for 13 of his majors.
While getting roasted in Shanghai two weeks ago at a caddies party, Williams was asked about the interview while accepting his mock “Celebration of the Year” award and said, “It was my aim to shove it up his black a———.”
Williams later apologized, Scott said it was enough for him, and even Woods tried to close the ordeal by saying they shook hands in a gym in Sydney and saying that Williams was not a racist.
Norman and Couples said the match wasn’t planned, although both could have chosen to avoid it. In the Presidents Cup, each captain takes turn putting his team in one of the six matches. With each announced match, anticipation kept building until it came down to Couples.
Norman had put K.T. Kim and Y.E. Yang in the fifth match. Couples could have inserted Woods and Stricker, but went with Hunter Mahan and David Toms. That sealed it.
“Who’s left?” U.S. assistant captain Jay Haas asked as the room filled with laughter.