COMMENTARY | Two years ago this week, Steve Williams, Adam Scott's caddie -- and Tiger Woods' former bag man -- labeled Scott's four-stroke victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational over Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald the "best win of my career."
While the words were spoken with conviction, they were laced with scorn. A month earlier, Woods famously dismissed his caddie of 12 years with no real reason given. The move came in the tumultuous aftermath of Woods' very public 2009 scandal in which Williams admonished his boss for his indiscretions.
Still, even 20 months on from Woods relocating a fire hydrant with his Escalade, the New Zealand native was still on the former No. 1's bag in the sporadic instances that he was teeing it up.
A laundry list of injuries left Woods' playing schedule in flux for much of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. And with Woods out indefinitely following a withdrawal from the Players Championship in May of '11, Williams lent his services to his friend Adam Scott, who had recently parted ways with his regular caddie.
According to those close to Woods, Tiger wasn't made aware of Williams' taking up Scott's bag while Woods rehabbed. While no official reason was given, the prevailing thought behind Woods' firing of Williams was, ironically enough, a lack of loyalty.
Now, more than two years since Williams first walked 18 holes carrying Scott's Titleist golf bag, Woods and Williams seemed to make a little peace with one another following the conclusion of the final round of the 2013 Open Championship. The pair's mid-five handshake and ensuing bro hug seemed to squash, or at least bury deeper, any animosity outwardly brooding between the two.
Coming up on the last major championship of the 2013 season next week at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, both Woods and Williams are seeking their 15th career major championship.
Woods and Williams won 13 majors together; Woods won his first at the 1997 Masters with Mike "Fluff" Cowan on the bag, and Williams equaled Woods' 14-major tally by helping his man Scotty claim his first major at this year's Masters.
Given Woods' resurgence back to the top of the world rankings and Scott's similar ascent with the winning of a major, who has fared better since the split: Woods without Williams, or Scott with him?
The numbers themselves are pretty impressive at face value. Between Woods and Scott, the pair has earned nearly $23.5 million in on-course earnings alone since Williams first started looping for the Aussie at the US Open in 2011.
Breaking down the numbers by season, both are on an upward trend in terms of earnings over the past few seasons and are on pace to surpass their totals again in 2013.
In just 11 events in 2011 with Williams on the bag, the Aussie-Kiwi team brought in $2.84 million to the $1.39 million that Woods made in his five events. It should be stated that $1.2 million of Woods' $1.39 million were made by winning his Chevron World Challenge, an unofficial money event.
The following year, 2012, both Woods and Scott found their way into the winner's circle with Tiger hoisting three trophies on the PGA Tour as Scott claimed his lone victory of the year at the Talisker (Australian) Masters. In total, Woods outgained Scott $6.7 million to $3.5 million.
Finally, through the first seven months and three major championships of 2013, Woods has won four times, each worth more than a million dollars. Scott, who again claimed the green jacket in April, has only that lone win on his resume this year.
As it stands, Woods has cashed an insane $6.1 million already to Scott's $2.8 million.
Either way, it's good work if you can get it.
The win totals show that it clearly pays to win in today's professional golf, whether it is a major or not. In fact, Woods made more money for winning the Cadillac Championship ($1.5m) and the Players Championship ($1.7m) than Scott did for winning the Masters ($1.4).
For these two -- and even Williams, at this point -- the money is arbitrary. Both are at the top of their sport in terms of form and economics, but Scott has proved to be the one more adept in challenging for and winning major championships in recent years.
The importance Williams has in Scott's major performances is debatable, but one thing is for sure: Woods would rather have a major to his name than the edge he holds over Scott in dollars and cents.
Chris Chaney is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based sportswriter. He has written for multiple outlets including WrongFairway.com, Hoopville.com, The Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer and The Clermont (OH) Sun.
Follow him on Twitter @Wrong_Fairway.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Adam Scott