U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Greg Norman, hopeful of putting an end to a three-month saga of Woods and Steve Williams, put them together in the last of six foursomes matches in the opening session Thursday.
“I think it’s great for the tournament,” Norman said. “It needed to be done.”
Lest anyone forget, Williams will be carrying the bag of Adam Scott, not hitting any golf shots.
On paper it will be Woods and Steve Stricker, undefeated as a tandem two years ago at Harding Park, against K.J. Choi and Scott, the popular Australian who hired Williams after Woods fired his caddie of 12 years.
For drama, it’s more about Woods and Williams.
It began when Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational, and an emotional Williams allowed himself to be interviewed on the 18th green at Firestone and called it “the best win of my life.” This from a caddie who was with Woods for 13 of his majors.
While getting roasted in Shanghai two weeks ago at a caddies party, Williams was asked about the interview while accepting his mock “Celebration of the Year” award he ripped Woods, using what was considered a disparaging racial insult.
Williams later apologized, Scott said it was enough for him, and even Woods tried to close the ordeal by saying they shook hands in a gym in Sydney and saying that Williams was not a racist.
Norman and Couples said the match wasn’t planned, although both could have chosen to avoid it.
In the Presidents Cup, each captain takes turn putting his team in one of the six matches. Norman said he did discuss it with Scott, and with his two assistant captains.
“If we had to diffuse anything and just get this thing over and done with, wouldn’t you rather have it sooner than later?” Norman said.
“Because I personally wouldn’t have wanted to be sitting down at the singles and everybody is playing a really tight match and it comes down to the last group or the second to last group, and all of this pressure is coming on because it’s the first time the two met.”
“Adam and Tiger are good friends,” Norman said. “It’s got nothing to do with Adam and Tiger, and at the end of the day, the atmosphere that will exist walking to the first tee will be exactly the same if none of this took place in the past week.”
This is the first time the Presidents Cup has been played at Royal Melbourne since the lone International win in 1998.