2009 certainly wasn't one of Tiger Woods' proudest years, with the shocking reveal of his extramarital affairs, his split from wife Elin Nordegren and the loss of several endorsements. It was a dark time that the golfer's former caddie, Steve Williams, knows all too well as it affected his personal life and career.
Williams is now speaking out about his experience of working with Woods in a new tell-all titled "Out of the Rough." On Sunday, New Zealand newspaper Stuff published a chapter of the book, in which Williams recounted the day he learned of Woods' behavior off the golf course. He wrote:
"No sooner had Tiger fulfilled his media obligations than he fled to the airport in a chopper, leaving me to head back to the hotel on my own. As I was driving, I got a text from [Woods' manager Mark Steinberg] which read, 'There is a story coming out tomorrow. Absolutely no truth to it. Don't speak to anybody.'
In the back of my mind, one thought often replayed, over and over, without an answer: What did Tiger do with himself to get rid of the stress that built up in his life? He loved the gym work and, before he got injured, the Navy Seals training. I figured that addiction to the gym was where he got rid of many of his frustrations. And when I say addiction, I mean just that: year by year he got more and more hooked on working out.
When you live so intensely in the public eye, you surely have to have something else away from the spotlight that gives you pleasure – and it turns out I was wrong about the gym. The one question I'm now regularly landed with is: How could you not know about Tiger's multitude of mistresses? It's a valid question – it's one I would ask myself if a scandal of Tiger-like proportions happened to another caddy's boss. How could I spend so much time with him and not have an inkling this was going on? The answer, in a roundabout way, is that Elin didn't know either. Only a handful of his oldest buddies actually had any idea this was going on. I didn't know because Tiger didn't dare tell me. We had such a strong bond and working relationship that there was no way he could let me in on what was happening – he knew my values and that I would have zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour. I would have told him straight away that I condemned that kind of activity and, unless he stopped, there would be no conversation – that would be the end of us."
Despite heavy backlash from the media and fans, Williams said he stuck by Woods and endured being called an enabler. Still, he claims Woods and his manager cut off all communication with him for four months after the scandal broke and he was left in the dark about the future of his career.
Williams maintains that he had no idea about Woods' infidelity and asked Woods' management team to clear his name (to which they declined as to not single out one person as innocent).
Williams resumed his duties as Woods' caddie just one year later, but issues didn't stop there. He says Woods' anger got the best of him on the golf course, especially when he "would flippantly toss a club in the general direction of the bag, expecting me to go over and pick it up."
"I felt uneasy about bending down to pick up his discarded club - it was like I was his slave," Williams wrote. "The other thing that disgusted me was his habit of spitting at the hole if he missed a putt. Tiger listened to what I had to say, the air was cleared and we got on with it - his goal was to be the best player in history and my goal was to keep working as best I could to help make that happen."
After 13 years and 13 major championships together, Woods and Williams parted ways in 2011.