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93d PGA Championship

Caddie drama is still following Scott

Adam Scott hopes to move to the next level — winning majors — with new caddie Steve Williams. Adam Scott hopes to move to the next level — winning majors — with new caddie Steve Williams. (Andrew Redington/ Getty Images)
By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / August 10, 2011

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Enough has been accomplished by Adam Scott this year to justify the attendance at his press conference yesterday for the 93d PGA Championship. His golf, though, wasn’t the hot topic.

From the very first question - “Have you ever won a golf tournament where your caddie got more coverage?’’ - Scott continued to be asked about Steve Williams, who had worked 12 years for Tiger Woods before getting fired last month. Williams was on Scott’s bag last week when Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational, then commented that it was the most satisfying victory of his caddying career.

To some, it was a public dig at Woods, since Williams shared in 13 of Woods’s 14 major championship wins and acknowledged being hurt by the dismissal. To others, Williams’s comments selfishly overshadowed Scott’s victory, stealing the spotlight that was supposed to go to the player.

Scott, though said he had a word with his new bag man about the post-victory comments, and is trying hard not to step into the middle of the soap opera.

“I kind of think it’s been blown out of proportion, unsurprisingly,’’ Scott said. “Steve was obviously delighted to win, as was I. Speaking with a bit of emotion, probably.

“I certainly don’t think that was his intention, to steal my moment. He was asked these questions and he gave his honest answer, I assume. And with a lot of things to do with anything related to Tiger Woods, it’s all scrutinized and blown out of proportion. This is no different.

“Hopefully we’ll just go and let our clubs do the talking for the rest of the week now.’’

Williams, who had plenty to say Sunday, wasn’t talking yesterday at Atlanta Athletic Club, but did acknowledge in an interview with foxsports.com this week that after taking a day to reflect, he felt his comments were “a bit over the top.’’ Woods, who tied for 37th at the Bridgestone and was long gone by the time his former caddie started talking, is scheduled to meet with the media today. His PR team is likely prepping him for all types of caddie questions. They should be, because they will be coming.

Other players have weighed in, giving Williams perhaps the most publicity for a caddie since 10-year-old Eddie Lowery helped Francis Ouimet to victory in the 1913 US Open at The Country Club in Brookline.

“Stevie is an overexuberant sort of guy,’’ said Darren Clarke, who won last month’s British Open. “I’m sure Stevie didn’t mean any harm by it, he was just very excited to win with Adam.’’

Said Lee Westwood, “I thought there was no relevance to the interview other than to have a good dig at Tiger Woods. It’s blatantly obvious that he’s a fantastic caddie, because he’s won with all different kinds of players. Obviously he does a good job. And there’s obviously a bit of friction there.’’

Scott and Woods have a few things in common. Both won at a young age (Scott was 23 when he made the 2003 Deutsche Bank Championship the first of what are now eight PGA Tour victories). Like Woods, Scott chose to work with Butch Harmon early in his career, and many thought they had identical swings.

Now, Scott is employing someone who was with golf’s best player for more than a decade, winning worldwide. With Woods - and thus Williams - having been constantly in contention, Scott is hoping the experience of dealing with that kind of pressure can rub off on him, especially in majors.

“He’s had quite an insight into my game right from the get-go of what he’s seen and what he believes I need to do to be a bit better and win majors and contend in majors on a regular basis, because that’s what I told him I want to do,’’ Scott said. “He loves winning. That’s good for me to keep my motivation going. He can certainly push me. So far, it’s been fantastic.’’

When Williams began working for Scott, at the US Open in June, he said the 31-year-old Australian had underachieved, a notion Scott doesn’t dispute. But in addition to the ’03 Deutsche Bank, he also has won the Players Championship (2004), the Tour Championship (2006), and now a World Golf Championship event. All are a notch below a major. It’s that next step that Scott is focusing on.

After falling as low as 76th in the world rankings in October 2009, Scott has made a steady climb. He won in Texas last year, added a 2010 victory in Singapore, and won by four last week at Firestone against a great field. That has him back in the top 10 (No. 9) for the first time in nearly three years.

Scott has always been a superb ball-striker, but his putting frequently prevented him from taking advantage. So he switched to a long putter this year, and has seen immediate improvement.

Just as important as last week’s win, Scott feels, was his runner-up finish at the Masters, his best showing in 42 majors.

“I know I didn’t win the Masters, but I felt like I did everything I had to do,’’ said Scott, who went 67-67 on the weekend at Augusta National but lost by two to Charl Schwartzel, who closed with four straight birdies. “Then I did it again this Sunday.

“I felt like I played really well on the back nine at the right time in a big tournament. Those are big things for your confidence that really help you believe that you can win a major championship.’’

Scott would like nothing more, no matter who is caddying for him.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.