Clayton reflects on what has made Williams a successful caddieJanuary 02, 2014
Michael Clayton is a former European Tour player turned course designer. He’s also an Australian and intimately familiar with Steve Williams, who he once employed as his own caddie 30 years ago. Below are his recollections as told to PGATOUR.COM’s Brian Wacker.
The first time Steve worked for me was at the 1984 Timex Open in Europe. I warmed up on Thursday and on the way to the first tee he said, “I've watched you play a bit. Your concentration is hopeless. I want you to do one thing this week -- pay attention to every single shot.”
He was maybe 22 at the time but confident and amazingly good at the job. I won that week and he worked for me the rest of the year.
We all know the Ray Floyd line about him: “He is the best caddie I've ever had because he is the only one who never chokes.”
Terry Gale was a terrific player down here in Australia and was the defending champion in the Malaysian Open in 1984. He was playing poorly, Steve had lost interest and Galey was grinding to make the cut. He birdied something like two of the last three to make it.
Afterward, he took Steve into the locker room and lectured him on the importance of never giving up and told him he was very disappointed in his attitude that day. Steve said it was a great lesson to him so early on.
Tiger Woods, 17th green, Medinah at the 1999 PGA Championship … He loses all but one of his lead over Sergio Garcia. He has 12 feet for par. Tiger asks Steve for a line, something he rarely did.
“Left edge,” Steve told him.
Tiger: “I think it's straight.”
Steve: “Trust me, it's left lip.” Which is exactly what it was. He never chokes -- that's what Floyd meant.
Greg Norman had just fired Steve and it’s the 1989 Open at Troon.
Greg hits it just over 17, the par 3, in the playoff with Mark Calcavecchia and Wayne Grady and has just birdied the first two holes.
Greg is in wispy rough and Steve is watching in the clubhouse. He says, “Watch this, he should putt this but he will take an 8-iron and chip it 10 feet past, you watch.”
Greg ponders the putter and takes out the 8-iron … and chips it 10 feet past, makes bogey and Calc wins.
On the last hole of the 1989 Masters Greg needs 4 to make the Nick Faldo/Scott Hoch playoff.“What do you think?” Greg says.“It's a 4-iron shot,” Steve replies.
“Give me the 5,” Greg says.
Sure enough, Greg rips it (Steve's words) and comes up about 6 feet short of the front and rolls back down the hill. He made 5.
I think it was a mistake for Greg to fire Steve -- he would have really helped him and maybe he could have averted the disaster at Augusta in ‘96.
He has been brilliant for Adam Scott, given him a great belief in his obvious ability.
They have made some mistakes at the end of big events -- Lytham and a few weeks ago at the Australian Open when he hit it over the last green (when over was dead and there were miles of room short and left) with a one-shot lead. Rory McIlroy makes birdie and wins after being behind all day -- but Adam's game has gone to another level with Steve on his bag.
Steve is decisive and very confident, an assured decision-maker on both club and strategy with what to do at what time.
In the end, if you were to rank (caddies) he has to be the best -- 14 majors and way over 100 events won by men he has worked for.