So much for keeping it about golf.
Tiger Woods is known more for his off-course actions than what he does with a golf club these days.
But this time it isn’t Tiger’s fault.
Woods is Down Under for the Australian Open, the venue of his last victory -- two years ago.
Back then, Woods was still employing Steve Williams as his caddie.
Then everything went from 0 to 100 on the Woods scandal scale, yet Williams stood by Woods’ side.
Until earlier this season when Woods axed the relationship Williams caddied for 13 of his 14 major championships and several other victories worldwide.
Even with the Thanksgiving Day crash in the rearview, Williams was loyal.
His dismissal as Woods’ caddie did more damage to El Tigre’s reputation with the general public perception noting Williams as the victim.
That’s all different now, because once again, something happening away from the links is taking up headlines across the globe.
Williams was in China for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last weekend when he “left players, caddies and sponsors aghast” with a racist comment, according to the Daily Telegraph.
It was in reference to his perceived over-celebration following the triumph at the Bridgestone Invitational in August under new boss Adam Scott.
Scott’s victory allowed Williams a platform to vent, which he did by calling it the “best win of my life,” on the live telecast right after the round was over.
The racist remark, though, is a new low for Williams.
And it didn’t take long for media members to pepper Woods with questions about the incident earlier this week on the eve of the Australian Open.
Say or think what you will about Woods, but the former world No. 1’s stance should be commended.
Woods took the high road, and didn’t get into a war of words with his former caddie.
Rather, he simply maneuvered around the issue and said he’s moving forward.
“Stevie’s certainly not a racist,” said Woods on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “There’s no doubt about that. It was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and was certainly one that he wished he didn’t make.”
Racism is a deep-rooted issue that needs addressing, and Bradenton’s Paul Azinger, known for his outspoken nature, has already delved into the Woods-Williams feud with an argument on Twitter with Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck.
Shipnuck wrote a piece for SI on the Williams comments as more of the same for golf.
Shipnuck wrote, “It says a lot about golf that in the wake of Williams’s comment the sport’s firmament has offered almost no critique. The HSBC is part of the PGA Tour’s attempt to colonize Asia, and in the 24 hours after the Williams story broke there was not a peep about it on pgatour.com, nor did any Tour official weigh in. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European tour chief executive George O’Grady have since issued a statement. The takeaway is that Williams will go unpunished, spared even a symbolic slap on the wrist. (If he worked for a large corporation, Williams would have already been fired.) The messiness of real life doesn’t fit with the Stepford image the PGA Tour tries to peddle to sponsors. Players like Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter refused to comment, while Adam Scott mouthed a version of the company line in saying, “I think everything in that room was all in good spirits and for a bit of fun. And I think [what Williams said] probably got taken out of that room in the wrong context.”
Shipnuck posted on Twitter about the infamous Shoal Creek controversy more than 20 years ago, which got a response from the former Ryder Cup captain, who tweeted “Shoal Crk?Really?Your president is black!1st Tee?Shoot a score, get on tour!What’s race got to do with that?#proppingurselfup?” in response.
Shipnuck used that response in the article he wrote for SI, with the follow up line:
“Like it or not, he’s our president, and Barack Obama is also an enthusiastic golfer. Pretend for a minute that Obama was not a famous politician, but merely an anonymous graduate of Harvard Law. If he showed up at an exclusive country club, would he be directed to the pro shop or to Steve Williams’s caddie shack.”
The bottom line is this: Williams didn’t speak for all of golf. He spoke for himself, and his career is salvaged because Tiger didn’t denounce him publicly.
Should make for an entertaining President’s Cup, the first one in Australia since 1998.
I’d venture a guess: over/under on Williams/Woods controversial vulgar comments at 5 minutes into each telecast.
Woods inclusion onto the team as a captain’s pick despite his injury-riddled and poor form over the past year, though, is a conversation for another time.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org