Tour chiefs condemned outspoken caddy Steve Williams on Sunday after his racial slur about former boss Tiger Woods but said that they would not be taking further action and the matter was now “closed”.
New Zealander Williams, who was Woods’s caddy for 13 of his 14 Major titles before being sacked earlier this year, referred to the former world No. 1 as a “black arsehole” during an awards dinner on Friday night in Shanghai.
His remarks were widely condemned and overshadowed the action at the HSBC Champions in the Chinese city, where Martin Kaymer blitzed the field on Sunday to top the leaderboard and earn a winner’s cheque of $1.2-million.
Anti-racism groups have called on Williams, who is now the caddy for rising Australian star Adam Scott, to be censured as the furore threatens to envelope the sport.
Ironically, Scott will partner Woods at the Australian Open in Sydney that starts on Thursday, meaning Williams and his estranged former boss will come face-to-face on the greens.
Reacting to demands Williams be punished for his now-infamous remarks, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour executive George O’Grady said in a statement that there was “no place for any form of racism in ours or any other sport”.
Attempting to draw a line under the issue, their statement said: “The International Federation of PGA Tours consider the remarks of Steve Williams, as reported, entirely unacceptable in whatever context … We are aware that he has apologised fully and we trust we will not hear such remarks ever again. Based on this, we consider the matter closed and we will have no further comment.”
Scott, whose challenge at the $7-million showpiece in Shanghai faded badly on the final day, said he was “comfortable” with the Tours’ statement and that the issue “should be put to rest”.
He also refused to heed calls — including from his Australian fan base — for him to sack Williams to safeguard his own image and that of his sponsors.
Asked if Williams will still be carrying his bag in Sydney, Scott replied “absolutely” and insisted it had not been a distraction despite finishing a disappointing tied 11th at the HSBC Champions when well-placed.
Scott added that he and his team were “moving on” because “the matter had been put to bed”.
Scott, who on his website cites Nelson Mandela as an inspiration, also told journalists: “I don’t think digging for a story out of me on this is a good idea.”
And he added of the pairing which will see Woods and Williams in the same company on the course: “It could be an interesting dynamic.”
The players and their caddies are also due to appear the following week at the Presidents’ Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Williams (47) posted an online statement Saturday apologising to Woods and admitting his comments “could be construed as racist” after learning of the uproar.
At a press conference during the final Sunday of the Shanghai tournament reporters were banned from raising the issue with PGA Tour Commissioner Finchem.
HSBC bank, the main sponsor of Asia’s flagship tournament, was keen to distance itself from the row.
“Any kind of racially motivated comment in this day and age is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” HSBC group head of sponsorship Giles Morgan said.
The winner Kaymer said he hoped the uproar had not affected Scott’s performance.
“Obviously to be racist is never good. It should not be on the golf course or anywhere else,” the German added.
Williams was employed by Woods for 12 years, the pair winning 72 tournaments together with the caddy earning an estimated $3-million, before their acrimonious split in the summer.
He kept silent during Woods’s sex scandal but is believed to have struggled to come to terms with his axing and issued a series of barbed comments before his racial slur.
He previously courted controversy with his outspokenness and gruff personality, once calling Phil Mickelson a “right prick”, insulting spectators and bullying the media. — AFP