By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The buzz in the media center could be felt as soon as the respective captains announced the pairings for Match 5.
With 20 players on the pairings board, just four players were left -- including Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.
As you might imagine, the post-pairings conversation Wednesday at Royal Melbourne was dominated by the Match 6 pairing of Woods-Steve Stricker vs. Scott-K.J. Choi. This will be the first time Woods and Scott will be in the same group since Scott's caddie Steve Williams made his controversial remarks about his former employee.
Although Williams has apologized for his remarks and has shaken hands with Woods in hopes of putting the issue to rest, interest about the final match will certainly be high on Thursday when The Presidents Cup begins with six foursomes matches.
"I think it's great for the tournament," International captain Greg Norman said. "It needed to be done. It played out the way it played out. There wasn't any premeditation by it.
"I think at the end of the day, the guys in that last group will be the consummate professionals and go out and play the game of golf representing their International Team and the U.S. Team the way they should do."
Couples made similar sentiments, saying there was no planning by both sides to make the match happen.
"I think it worked out awesome for everybody involved to have Adam and Tiger play," Couples said. "As we said all along, they are still very good friends, and I think it's an exciting match."
Australia’s Jason Day was in the team room with the rest of the Internationals when the pairings were announced. He said the players were all clapping when the pairings for the final match took shape.
“I think everyone is kind of pumped for it,” Day said.
American veteran Jim Furyk, when asked about Match 6, used the word “interesting.” Twice.
“I think it's probably a pairing that y'all have been talking about for two weeks now since we were in China,” Furyk said, “and it was probably a matter of time before it happened. So just want to get it out of the way right off the first.”
Couples did have the opportunity to avoid the pairing when he made his Match 5 announcement. Norman had already selected K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang, and Couples could have countered with putting Woods-Stricker against the Korean duo.
Instead, he opted for Hunter Mahan-David Toms in Match 5, setting the stage for the final match of the day.
"There's more to this thing than where you slot the players," Couples explained. "Like Greg said, and we were right here, we were writing down cards and it's just the way it fell, and I think it would be worse if we hid this deal."
Most of the questions posed to the two captains centered around Match 6. Norman was even asked if he had a sense whether Williams wanted the pairing.
"I have not even had a conversation with Steve Williams," Norman said. "His job is to carry Adam Scott's bag and doesn't matter whether they are playing Tiger Woods or not."
Both Norman and Couples said they are hopeful that by getting the Woods-Scott pairing done early, the conversation will turn elsewhere.
"It's a dead issue as far as we are concerned," Norman said. "There's no animosity between any of the players or any of the issues have taken place.
"I know it's good fodder. People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it's dead and gone, and we would like to keep it that way going forward."
ATLANTA -- When they aren't talking golf strategy, 36-hole leader Adam Scott and his caddie Steve Williams might very well be discussing the Rugby World Cup, which is currently talking place in Williams' native New Zealand.
Both players have a keen interest on their national teams -- Williams with New Zealand, of course, and Scott with Australia.
Thus far, New Zealand is 3-0 in Pool A play while Australia has two wins and one loss in Pool C, that one coming in a 15-6 decision to Ireland a few days ago.
Williams had a big smile on his face when he saw Scott after Australia's loss. So, did Williams chide Scott for the loss or did he take a diplomatic approach?
"Diplomatic is not in his vocabulary," Scott joked.
Then he added: "Look, Australia hasn't played New Zealand yet, which is quite good for us at the moment. But when that happens, it's going to be on for sure, although Australia won the last time they played New Zealand.
"So he's keeping quiet for now."
Australia's last match in pool play is against Russia on Oct. 1, while New Zealand faces Canada on Oct. 2.
Oh, and Scott tees off at 2:01 p.m. ET today with K.J. Choi in the final twosome of the day at East Lake.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
It’s not as if Steve Williams fell into Adam Scott’s lap and it instantly added up to the Aussie’s best round of the year. Scott, after all, has played well most of the season with a tie for sixth at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, a runner-up at the Masters and a tie for third at the AT&T National, which was the second event Scott played in with Williams on his bag.
Of course it also doesn’t hurt having a caddie of Williams’ experience on his bag. Williams caddied for Tiger Woods in all seven of his victories at Firestone and all that course knowledge goes a long way.
“He just seems to have a lot of good rounds in him around this place, that's for sure,” Scott joked after shooting an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead after Thursday’s opening round at Firestone. “He didn't think it was a big deal to shoot 62. It was normal.”
What wasn’t exactly normal was how Williams ended up on Scott’s bag. With Woods injured, Williams asked to caddie for Scott, who earlier this year parted ways with Tony Navarro, at the U.S. Open. Woods obliged, but Williams caddied for Scott again at the AT&T National and was then fired by Woods following the final round.
With Scott still without a permanent caddie, Williams was suddenly available and was hired by Scott full time.
Williams has known Scott since before the Aussie turned pro, so the transition for Williams was an easy one. And Scott liked what Williams brought to his bag in terms of experience and attitude.
“I think he really understands how to manage a game well around the golf course,” Scott said. “That was one of the first things that was really obvious to me.
“But also, he's got a few little notes in his yardage book about breaks on greens and stuff like that, so he has a really great knowledge of this golf course for sure.”
Scott said he hasn’t spoken to Woods since Woods fired Williams, but he doesn’t think the situation will be awkward whenever he does see Woods.
”This kind of thing happens on the TOUR,” Scott said. “Just because it's Tiger and Steve, I'm not going to treat it like it's anything different than anyone else going through this. I don't have a problem, but if [Woods] has a problem, then he can definitely tell me.”
As for Williams, Scott likes the fact that the New Zealander “pushes him” and conversely Williams has said that he thinks Scott has a lot of good golf in him. That was certainly evident in Thursday’s bogey-free opening round.
“I think he believes in my game, that I can be one of the best players in the world,” Scott said of Williams. “I think he thinks he can help me achieve that, and I believe that, too.
“Everything is very positive and confident with Steve so far, and that's hopefully rubbing off on me.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- This is just the second tournament Steve Williams has worked for Adam Scott since Tiger Woods has been recovering from injury.
In their first tournament together, Scott missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Thursday at Aronimink, Scott shot a 4-under 66 to share the lead.
“I've learned some things off Steve, and he obviously knows how to manage his way around the golf course with all the people that he's caddied for over the years,” Scott said. “He's got a wealth of knowledge, and I'm trying to tap as much of that as I can while he's on the bag certainly.”
Most of those years, at least the recent ones, Williams has been on Woods’ bag. He’s caddied for him in 13 of the 14 major championships Woods has won. With Woods still recovering from knee and Achilles injuries, however, Scott asked Williams if he wouldn’t mind carrying his bag until Woods was healthy again.
“You know, he's getting there,” Scott joked. “He's kind of getting the hang of it, yeah, now three rounds in, he might have a future one day, this guy (smiling).”
If Woods misses the British Open, it’s likely Williams would remain on the bag for Scott.
”He's very confident in himself, but I felt like at the U.S. Open he certainly guided me around that first round very nicely and put me in all the right places and kept it very simple,” Scott continued. “It seems like he manages himself around the course like a really good golfer would, and that's obviously nice because he understands how to get it around.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
With Tiger Woods still sidelined due to injury, Steve Williams will be on the bag for Adam Scott in next week’s AT&T National, the caddie confirmed via text message on Friday.
Williams caddied for Scott in last week’s U.S. Open, where Scott missed the cut after rounds of 74-73.
There is, however, nothing to indicate Williams would leave Woods for Scott, who has been searching for a caddie since parting ways with Tony Navarro earlier this year. Williams and Scott are friends and Scott had asked Williams if he could work for him while Woods was out.
“He is Tiger’s guy and that’s how it is,” Scott told the Washington Post last week. “He’s been a good friend to me, a bit of a confidant in my career. I thought it would be worth a call seeing as I’m between guys at the moment. I’m glad he hopped on a plane and came over -- got to make the most of him.”
Williams has caddied for Woods since March 1999 and been on the bag for 13 of his 14 career major championships.