'Hurt' Woods lets Williams escape

 

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The Independent Online

It will puzzle a lot of people why Tiger Woods decided to give his former caddie Steve Williams such an easy ride yesterday – in public at least. "Stevie is certainly not a racist – there's no doubt about that," said Woods in Australia as if he was leaping to the defence of a close friend wrongly accused of saying something bad about somebody else.

New Zealander Williams ought to be wondering how he has escaped so lightly from his completely out-of-order comment in Shanghai last Friday night. Not just from Woods, the object of his "that black arsehole" remark at a caddie awards dinner attended by players and officials during the HSBC Champions event.

Whatever he thinks about Woods – and he probably has just cause to harbour a lot of negative thoughts even considering the millions he earned helping him win 13 majors – Williams should surely be ashamed of himself for bringing colour into it.

Yet his current employer, Adam Scott, decided it was not a sacking offence and the statement from the heads of the American and European tours, while considering what Williams said "entirely unacceptable", deemed the matter closed after the caddie's apology.

Now Woods wants to have a line drawn under the controversy and move on as well. "It was a comment that shouldn't have been made and certainly one he wishes he didn't make," the former world No 1 said at the Australian Open in Sydney, where he hopes to end two years without a win this weekend. "We met face-to-face and we talked it through. We shook hands. Obviously it was the wrong thing to say. That's something that we both acknowledge. We'll move forward. He did apologise. It was hurtful, but life goes forward. It's one of those things. We'll see what time does. Time does heal wounds and we'll see how that goes."

Wisely, Woods and Scott have not been drawn together in the first two rounds at The Lakes on Thursday and Friday. They could yet go head to head on the weekend but even if it does not happen this week then there is still next week's Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

Woods, though, hopes that a return to Australia – scene of his last victory – might be the start of a comeback. "It's nice to be able to train properly," he said. "I was limited for so long at how many golf balls I could hit because of the injury, but now that's been taken away I can practise all day if I want."

PA

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