SHANGHAI >> Tiger Woods’ former caddie caused another sensation, this time by using a racial slur to disparage his old boss during a caddies award roast in Shanghai.
Steve Williams received a mock award Friday night for "Celebration of the Year" for his TV interview after Adam Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational.
That was the day Williams said it was "the best win of his life," despite being on the bag with Woods for 13 majors.
At an awards party filled with banter, Williams said of his interview, "It was my aim to shove it right up that black a——."
That line drew the biggest reaction at a party attended by several players, caddies, officials and some media. There was a mixture of laughter and shock, with some players turning to each other with eyes widened and jaws agape.
The provision of the party is that all comments are off the record, yet several caddies couldn’t stop talking about it long after it was over.
Approached early the next morning at breakfast, Williams was stunned to learn that British tabloids had gone with the story.
"Why would they do that?" he said. "The whole thing was meant to be fun."
Hours later, Williams posted a comment on his website.
"I apologize for comments I made last night at the Annual Caddy Awards dinner in Shanghai," it said. "Players and caddies look forward to this evening all year, and the spirit is always joking and fun. I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist. However, I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I’ve offended."
Woods was in Australia, though it didn’t take long for the comments to get back to him.
"I was with Tiger last night when he heard the news," Mark Steinberg, his agent at Excel Sports Management, told The Associated Press. "We got multiple calls from people who sounded like they were leaving the caddie party. Tiger obviously wasn’t there. He doesn’t know exactly what was said. But if multiple reports — which all seem to be accurate — are true, then it’s sad it’s come down to this."
"It’s a regrettable comment, and there’s really nothing that Tiger can do or say. He’s just going to move on."
Scott said he was satisfied with Williams’ apology and that his comments were not reported in the right spirit of the evening. When asked if Williams should be fired, Scott said, "I disagree with that."
"Everything in that room last night was all in good spirits and a bit of fun, probably taken out of that room in the wrong context," Scott said after a 69 kept him within three shots of the lead at the HSBC Champions.
"Look, anything with Tiger involved is a story. I value Steve’s contributions to my game and having him on the bag."
Scott also said it was foolish to suggest Williams was racist.
"We all know that’s not the case," he said.
It’s not the first time Williams has gotten into trouble for his words.
Three years ago at a dinner banquet in New Zealand, he made a disparaging remark about Phil Mickelson. Williams said that was meant in fun, though Woods had him apologize to Mickelson.
The comments in Shanghai took on an even more sensitive nature among the British press because of soccer player John Terry’s alleged racial comments toward Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Queens Park Rangers in a Premier League loss last month.
Even though Williams said his comments were meant in fun to match the spirit of the evening, there was no disguising the animosity Williams feels over getting fired this summer.
What made Williams’ reaction at Firestone so pointed is that it was the first time Woods and Scott were in the same tournament since Williams had been fired — and it was Scott’s first win of the year.
Williams has disputed Woods’ version of how their partnership ended, and he said at Firestone that he was short-shrifted by Woods despite his loyalty to the former No. 1 player during the sex scandal that derailed his career.
These comments also put Scott in the middle of another mess, and it doesn’t figure to go away soon.
Woods and Scott are to be in the same group next week at the Australian Open, and there’s a chance they also could face off at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne the week after.
Scott said he was simply in the middle of two people who apparently don’t like each other.
"Shall I gave Steve a rough over the knuckles? He issued a statement. I think that’s the right thing to do," Scott said. "What more should he say? What more can I say? He’s apologized, and he’s done the right thing."