Williams: 'Best win of my career'

 

Firestone

The jilted had the last laugh here yesterday. Steve Williams caddied for Adam Scott as he won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and then delivered a withering dig at Tiger Woods, who sacked him last month. "This is the best win of my career," declared the Kiwi.

Williams actually earned more from the week than Woods. His 10 percent of the $1.4m [£855,500] purse was more than double the $58,000 received for finishing in a tie for 38th. Not that Williams needs the money, having spent 12 years lugging around the most lucrative piece of leather in the game's history.

But he undoubtedly could do with the satisfaction. Williams had already expressed bitterness towards Woods – who ditched him because Williams dared to caddy for Scott when Woods was injured – and here was the classic two fingers. Williams has now won once more around Firestone than Woods – eight.

Afterwards, Williams couldn't resist his jibe at Woods. "That was more than a dig," said Nick Faldo. Williams won 13 majors and more than 70 other events with Tiger, most memorably the 2008 US Open at Pebble Beach. But Williams claimed this victory in little ol' Akron meant more. The crowd chanted his name; the scene became utterly surreal. Never has the winner been outshone before by the man carrying his bag.

"A lot has been said this week, so too back it up is an incredible feeling," said a clearly emotional Williams. "I've caddied for 33 years, won 145 times and this is the most satisfying win of my career." Later, the 48-year-old denied Woods sacked him "face to face" as Woods claimed in a press conference on Tuesday, but instead did it over the phone. Questions will be asked.

Scott thanked Williams for his advice. "Was he a help? Are you kidding Nobody knows this place like Steve," said Scott. For the Australian this was such a welcome return to the big time. Once world No 3, Scott dropped out of the world's top 50 in 2009 but is now back in the top 10. Scott led in all four rounds and with a final-day 65 pulled away on a tight leaderboard. His big weakness was always the putter, but as yesterday showed the broomhandle putter has rectified that. The purists may not approve, but his many admirers won't mind.

There came three shots back to Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler in second. Donald strengthened his hold on world No 1 with a 66 to add to Saturday's 64 to finish on 13-under. "I played fantastically on the weekend and if I'd have holed a few putts on Thursday and Friday I would have given Adam a run for his money," said Donald. "My performances at the US Open and Open have been the only disappointments of the season, so obviously I want to redress that at the USPGA. I'm obviously playing well."

In a tie for sixth place was Rory McIlroy, recording his best performance since the US Open in June. "It would have been nice to hole more putts, but four rounds in the sixties at Firestone show I'm playing well," said McIlroy, after his 67 took him to 10-under. The Ulsterman was in a confident mood as he headed to Atlanta Athletic Club, although not as confident as Lee Westwood.

The Englishman's comments will ring ominously for his rivals, particularly as he is not usually one for the grand statement. "This weekend is the best I have ever played tee to green," he said, after a 65 followed Saturday's 68. "It was that good. I could have been standing here with two 62s."

The anticipation was written all over his face. At nine-under he slipped into the top 10 and that is just what is required before a major. "I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I feel much more optimistic then I did going into the Open," he said. "I knew I wasn't putting well then."

In truth, Westwood's putter did not light up Ohio, but armed with a new philosophy acquired in a session with Dr Bob Rotella, the celebrated mind guru, last Sunday he doesn't have to step on to each green with fear. The major breakthrough may be just six days away.

Woods will likely have to wait to add to his haul. A 72 left him on one over, although he should be more concerned by his place in the driving accuracy charts – dead last. But then, as he pointed out, he has barely played in four months and the fact he proved his fitness is great news for the game. "Absolutely I'm encouraged," said Woods. But then came Williams's retort. Ouch.

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