PGA Championship Preview: Tiger’s back, minus one
by Daniel Kelly | University of Missouri
Stevie Williams was back on top with a victory in last weekend’s Bridgestone Invitational. Pardon me; it was not Stevie Williams that finished with a four-stroke lead over the rest of the field on Sunday, but his golfer, Adam Scott, who won the Invitational after shooting 17 under par for the weekend. It seems that Adam Scott can’t get any attention (even if he does resemble Matthew McConaughey).
Unfortunately the spotlight on his caddy Stevie Williams and his comments about his former employer overshadowed Scott’s first World Golf Championships victory. Stevie Williams, who has been on Scott’s bag since the U.S. Open, became well-know for being Tiger Woods’s caddy throughout the last 10 years and Tiger’s 13 most recent major victories. Due to Tiger’s successes, Stevie Williams became the most recognizable caddy in the game of golf. Before Tiger announced his return last month he decided to part ways with Williams, which came as a shock to both Williams and most of the golf community.
The Bridgestone Invitational was Tiger’s first event since withdrawing from THE PLAYERS Championships in May. It was also Tiger’s first tournament with a new caddy and Williams’ first shot at redemption against his old boss. While Tiger played well on Thursday, his performance began to slip as the weekend progressed and he finished one over par for the tournament. With Williams on his bag, Scott played spectacularly all four days and took home the trophy on a course Tiger has dominated in the past.
Williams was approached by outspoken golfer-turned-analyst David Feherty about his thoughts on the weekend and responded definitively saying, “I’ve caddied for 33 years—145 wins now—and that’s the best win I’ve ever had.” These comments have angered many as Williams has seemingly brought the attention on himself instead of Scott and his victory, a major milestone for the young Aussie. Later, Williams said his comments were over the top and that he “had a lot of anger and that it all came out.” In his defense, Feherty did approach Williams before the actual winner, Scott.
All of this controversy is creating significant buzz for the upcoming PGA Championship that begins Thursday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in John’s Creek, Georgia. Ironically, last year’s tournament was fraught with controversy of its own, when the round ended with leader Dustin Johnson mistaking a sand trap for an area out of bounds and grounding his club which resulted in a two-stroke penalty and kept him out of the playoff. Also, it was this tournament in 2009 that marked the last time Tiger Woods was leading in a major only to lose to Y.E. Yang. That was the last of the old Tiger before everything hit the fan just three months later in his driveway.
Even though MGM Grand has Tiger Woods at 10-1 odds to win the tournament, there remains the possibility that he may have to wait until 2012 to win his first major since his return. Tiger played well last weekend and made great putts to save par and edge out a few birdies on Thursday, but on Sunday he often missed the fairways on his tee shots, and the course will be that much harder this weekend in the final major of the year. Most of the attention will be placed on Adam Scott who finished second at the Masters as well as winning last weekend. The other Aussie who has flown under the radar may end up going lower than everybody else: Jason Day has finished second in two of the first three majors this year and is close to the favorites according to Las Vegas. With rivalries, new faces, and oh yeah, the return of Tiger Woods, the 2011 PGA Championships has the makings to be the most exciting golf tournament in recent memory.Daniel Kelly is a NextGen Journal Sports Correspondent and a student at the University of Missouri.