Tiger Woods will have Steve Williams carrying his golf bag at this week’s AT&T National, two weeks after making critical comments about his caddie at the U.S. Open.
After finishing fourth with a final-round 4-over-par 75 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Woods blamed the loss on three mental mistakes he said were influenced by Williams, his caddie for 11 years.
The admission of mental mistakes and singling out Williams was a rarity for Woods, the winner of 14 major titles, and led to questions about whether the duo would remain together.
“There’s no tension there, not at all,” Woods said during a news conference today at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. “You guys are reading way too much into it.”
Woods seems to have changed his views of the U.S. Open mistakes in the 10 days that have passed. Moments after the final round, Woods said “we made three mental mistakes” and “the only thing it cost us was a chance to win the U.S. Open.”
Today, Woods took sole responsibility, saying, “I was asked what happened out there, and I made three mental mistakes out there, three mistakes I don’t normally make.”
At the 2005 Masters, when Williams convinced Woods to hit his driver on Augusta National Golf Club’s 350-yard third hole during the final round, he finished with a double bogey and fell out of contention after his tee shot landed in the trees. Woods and Williams didn’t speak for most of the final round after the gaffe.
“Do Stevie and I make mistakes on the golf course? Of course we do,” Woods said today. “We’re not perfect. We made mistakes at the wrong time. It happens. We’re great competitors and we both want to win. I just made a couple mistakes, and hopefully that won’t happen this week and we can win an event.”
Woods, 34, is seeking his first victory of the season at the AT&T National, which has moved from Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to Aronimink, located about 15 miles west of Philadelphia. Woods is the defending champion of the tournament, which benefits his charitable foundation.
At the U.S. Open, Woods finished three shots behind winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland. The three-shot deficit was the result of bogeys on the sixth, 10th and 12th holes, Woods said.
He hit a 3-wood over a cliff on the sixth, came up short of the green with a sand wedge on the 10th -- where he said he took Williams’s advice to “take dead aim” instead of trusting his own “instincts” -- and flew a 4-iron over the 12th green after a discussion with Williams. Woods said he wanted to hit a 4-iron on that hole.