Golf

Woods, Williams bury the hatchet

Image: Tiger Woods (Debby Wong, USA Today Sports)
Tiger Woods and Steve Williams made peace at last month’s British Open.
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Robert Lusetich

After more than 20 years of covering everything from election campaigns to the Olympic Games, Robert Lusetich turned his focus to writing about his first love: golf. He is author of Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season. Follow him on Twitter.

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Don’t expect awkward moments on Friday when the all-star threesome – Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson – walk onto the tee at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

After more than two years of acrimony, Steve Williams and Tiger Woods have buried the hatchet.

The world’s No. 1-ranked player and his estranged caddie – who went through an ugly divorce in 2011 – made their peace at last month’s British Open at Muirfield.

“There’s an old saying that time heals all wounds,” Williams told FOX Sports.

“I was very hurt by what happened with Tiger. Hurt and very disappointed.
“I think it could’ve been handled differently.

“But it’s been a couple of years and, as I said, time has a way of healing.”

Williams had not spoken to Woods since he was fired – ostensibly for working for Scott while Woods was injured – at the 2011 AT&T National in Philadelphia.

They have exchanged a few perfunctory handshakes since, at the 2011 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and more recently, at the US Open at Merion when Scott and Woods were paired for the first two rounds.

But their relationship was as frosty as ever.

“I definitely got the sense at Merion that I was making Tiger uncomfortable and I thought about it after and decided the next time he and Adam were paired together, I’d say something to him,” the New Zealander said.

It took seven holes of their final round at Muirfield before Williams – who was on Woods’ bag for 13 of his 14 majors wins - approached his ex-boss, walking down the eighth fairway.

What he chose to break the ice with was typical of Williams, who’s a motorsport buff.

“I asked him if he’d been watching any of the Speedway (World Cup)?” he said, of the track motorcycle event.

“When I used to caddie for him I’d watch it at (their rented home) and after a while he started watching with me and getting into it.”

They engaged in small talk; as often is the case in such situations, the subject wasn’t important.

“He asked me how the family was and I did the same. We just talked, you know,” Williams said.

“At some point in time, I just felt we had to break the ice.

“Even with everything that happened (between them), I still have the greatest respect for him,” he said.

“He gave me the opportunity to caddie for the greatest player who’s ever played the game and I’ll always appreciate that.

They shook hands after the round, which Woods later acknowledged.

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“He was saying it was a good fight out there today. And look forward to (their next pairing),” Woods said.

Interestingly, Williams has also made his peace with Mickelson, whom he once infamously called “a prick.”

“Yeah, we’re all good, mate,” he said.

“I think both of us have changed a lot.”

Woods, meanwhile, said on Thursday that the back injury that threatened to keep him out of this week’s second of four FedEx Cup playoff events had improved, so he expected to tee off with Scott and Mickelson as planned.

The World No. 1 dramatically fell to his knees after hitting a wayward shot on Sunday at The Barclays, a tournament he lost by one stroke to Scott.

His camp refused to comment on his condition for three days.

Woods said he’d been receiving treatment and didn’t try to hit a shot until Thursday, when he played all 18 holes of his pro-am at TPC Boston.

“It’s a lot better than obviously on Sunday,” he said.

“Today was nice.

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“I was able to go out there, I hadn't swung a club since Sunday at The Barclays, and it was nice to go out today and feel comfortable and be able to hit shots.

“I was only going to play nine holes and chip and putt on the back nine like I did at Barclays, but it felt good so I continued playing.”

Woods, Scott and Mickelson are not just the top three ranked players in the FedEx Cup race but also the top three in the world rankings. The “three hottest players in the world,” as Woods referred to the pairing on Thursday.

“Adam, Phil and I -- I don't think we played in the same group since Torrey in '08,” Woods said of his last majors victory, the US Open.

“It's fun to have that type of pairing.”

Certainly, it is now.

Tagged: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott

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