Tiger's ex-caddie exacts measure of revenge

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Tiger's ex-caddie exacts measure of revenge

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 8, 2011

AKRON, Ohio (AP)Adam Scott won his first World Golf Championship.

No one celebrated more than his caddie.

Steve Williams attributed Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational to destiny. This was the first tournament for Tiger Woods in three months because of his injured left leg, and Woods first tournament since he fired Williams as his caddie after 12 years.

Williams was irritated at getting cut loose, and he made that clear in an interview with a New Zealand television station two weeks ago when he said he had wasted the last two years of his life sticking by Woods through all his trouble.

If that wasnt enough of an indication, one only had to see the smile on his face as the fans chanted Williams name walking to the 18th green. Or the way he pumped his fist when Scott holed a 5-foot birdie on the final hole for a four-shot victory.

And the interviewsyes, interviewsthat Williams gave after Scott signed for a 5-under 65.

Williams has only spoken to a few reporters he knows over the years, but he had so many media around him after the tournament ended that all anyone could see was the Titleist capnot the familiar Nike TW brandon his head.

Woods shot a 70 to tie for 37th, 18 shots behind, and his interview transcript was only 1 12 pages. Williams didnt hit a shot all day and a transcript of his interview was nearly twice as long.

Even more shocking was how Williams described the feeling.

Ive caddied for 33 years145 wins nowand thats the best win Ive ever had, Williams told CBS Sports on the 18th green. This from a guy whose 12 years working for Woods featured 13 majors and 16 world titles among 72 wins worldwide. That includes the 2001 Masters, when Woods won an unprecedented fourth straight major.

Scott didnt seem to mind that Williams comment became a bigger story than the 31-year-old Australian going the final 26 holes without a bogey for a win that moved him up to No. 9 in the world.

Told about Williams comment that this was his best week as a caddie, Scott smiled and winced.

Hes obviously really happy to get a win, he said.

As for the distraction? Scott is used to it by now. Williams first worked for him at the U.S. Open, the first step toward Woods deciding to end the partnership, and he has been hounded by questions all week about using Woods former caddie and how much a difference it would make for him.

I can talk about Steve now and not Tiger, Scott said to laughter, alluding to the countless times he and other players have been asked about Woods. Im sure there are a lot of other golfers who wouldnt mind that, either.

It added another chapter to a saga that never seems to end with Woods. His left leg looked good all week. His scores were pedestrian, but there were signs that his game is not terribly far off. And yet the week ends with him being mocked.

Woods pushed back his news conference at the PGA Championship one day to Wednesday, although no reason was given. It at least means he wont have to cope with the media for his first two full days of practice at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Lost in this soap opera was a strong golf tournament, and a command performance not only by Scott, but players chasing him, including 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa.

Scott and Ishikawa were tied for a big part of the front nine, and Scott took a one-shot leadthe same one he started out with on Sundayinto the back nine.

Ishikawa stuffed his approach to 7 feet on the 10th hole. Scott hit his to 6 feet, and both made birdie.

Scott seized control on the 12th, when he chipped in for birdie to take a two-shot lead, then used his long putter to roll in a birdie putt just inside 30 feet on the 14th. On the next hole, Scott saved par with a 10-foot putt, while Ishikawa three-putted for bogey, and suddenly the Australian had a three-shot lead.

Ahead of him, Rickie Fowler played the kind of golf that usually wins at Firestone on Sunday. He had a bogey-free round of 66, but it simply wasnt enough to catch Scott. Luke Donald, the world No. 1 for the last 10 weeks, also had a 66 and wound up tied for second with Fowler.

Ishikawa made a bogey on the final hole for a 69 and tied for fourthhis best finish in Americawith Jason Day.

Today, I was on, Scott said. To win here at this place, a World Golf Championship, its huge.

It didnt hurt having Williams at his side. Along with his experience working for Woods, along with major champions Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd, Williams was on the bag for all seven of Woods victories at Firestone.

He has such a great knowledge of this golf course and the greens, Scott said. Hes seen a guy play incredible golf, the best golf anyone has ever played around here, so many times. He really guided me around the course nicely. So he was, no doubt, a help.

Scott finished at 17-under 263, the lowest score to win at Firestone since Woods had 259 in 2000 in an 11-shot win. He became the third Australian to win a world title, joining Geoff Ogilvy and Craig Parry.

With a three-shot lead, Scott thought about playing it safe on the 18th. Williams told him to take 6-iron at the flag, and Scott obliged with a shot that rolled past the cup and settled 5 feet away. When they got to the green, one fan shouted out, How do you like him now, Tiger?

By then, Woods was long gone.

After missing three months with a leg injury, he finished a tournament for the first time since the Masters on April 10 and closed with a 70 to tie for 37th, 18 shots behind.

I had it in spurts this week, Woods said.

While his old boss was on the mend, Williams agreed to caddie for Scott at the U.S. Open. Williams said he was led to believe that Woods was going to play practice rounds at Congressional, but only after the New Zealand caddie arrived in America was he told that Woods was not healthy enough for the U.S. Open.

Thats when Williams decided to work for Scott, and he worked for Scott again at the AT&T National, the tournament that benefits Woods foundation. Woods said he fired him after the final round that week, and they kept it quiet until Williams was done working for Scott at the British Open.

Woods said he told him face-to-face. Williams said Sunday that Woods fired him over the phone.

I was told on the phone that we need to take a break, and in caddie lingo, that means youre fired, simple as that, Williams said.

I was absolutely shocked that I got the boot, to be honest with you, he said. Ive been incredibly loyal to the guy, and I got short-shrifted. Very disappointed.

But he wasnt disappointed on Sunday. Its been awhile since Williams has smiled so much on the golf course.

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

NEW ORLEANS – All-star weekend is winding down and the Boston Celtics once again are seemingly at the epicenter of most trade discussions.

That’s in part because they have the pieces to help pull off a blockbuster deal for themselves, or become the third team to help facilitate a trade coming to fruition. 

But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. 

“Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically 'all in' this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”

That’s because the Celtics (37-20) have the second-best record in the East despite their preferred starting five (Isaiah Thomas; Avery Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson) having played a very limited number of games (21) together thus far this season.

Even when everyone’s healthy, Boston understands that they still may not be enough to get past the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So the addition of a likely role player at the cost of one or more of their major assets (this year’s right to swap picks with Brooklyn or next year’s Brooklyn pick outright), is reason enough for Boston to pause and assess whether the benefit outweighs the cost of what they will have to give up. 

Boston can make a push for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari or his teammate Kenneth Faried who are both available and would help Boston’s overall talent base. They could also revisit Jahlil Okafor discussions or Nerlens Noel with Philadelphia, too.

But for what they need to significantly improve upon where they are now, they have to add a game-changing difference-maker to the mix. 

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins are three players who on paper at least, would meet that criteria. 

Multiple league sources this weekend confirmed that each of their respective teams isn’t making a push to trade them. But like every team in the league, they will certainly listen to any and all offers. Only Indiana and Sacramento have come out publicly to say they are not planning to trade their players, with the Pacers indicating they’re willing to give up their first-round pick in order to add a stable, proven talent to the mix in order to help George going forward. 

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. 

That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.

Boston has exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they decide they are going to move on from Butler and rebuild, but how much are the Celtics willing to give up?

That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them. 

Even if the Celtics decide to stand pat with its team as they are now and let the Feb. 23 trade deadline pass without making a move, the Celtics are still working from a vantage point that few teams in the NBA can work from – a team near the top of their conference with relatively young players all with good team-friendly contracts, and draft picks in the next two years that are each likely to be high lottery (top-14) picks.

"They’re well positioned for the future,” said Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the West all-star team. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach (Brad Stevens) and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft which is remarkable.”

Kerr added, “That doesn’t happen often when you’re talking about a team that’s one of the best in the league already. Boston’s in a great place.”

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while enjoying Hockey Day in America. 

*Brian Boyle is the subject of trade rumors with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he wants to stay a member of the Bolts. 

*Watch out for the Florida Panthers, who swept the road trip through California and are now back in playoff position for the first time in a long time. 

*It’s great to see play-by-play man Dave Strader back in the broadcast booth doing what he does best after his cancer diagnosis. 

*Hats off to the Bruins ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, for the sweet-looking Boba Fett sweaters worn during this weekend’s Star Wars night. 

*It’s pretty amazing when you’re an NHL player and a former first round pick, and you’re the one most known for being somebody else’s brother. That’s life for Dallas Stars D-man Jamie Oleksiak. 

*Interesting piece about sportswriting, politics and a couple of worlds that were destined to collide at some point. 

*For something completely different: For the 40h anniversary of Star Wars, the toys are being used to recreate classic movie scenes.