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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 WGC—Bridgestone Invitational

Winner: Adam Scott

Around the wider world of golf: Shanshan Feng won the Meiji Chocolate Cup (sounds delicious!) on the JLPGA; the Pennsylvania Classic on the LPGA Futures Tour suspended play until early Monday morning, but at the time of this writing Cathryn Bristow is 3 shots ahead after 2 rounds; Suzann Pettersen won the Ladies Irish Open on the LET; Jay Haas won the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour, his first win in a couple of years; J.J. Killeen won the Cox Classic on the Nationwide Tour, his first win since last week; and Scott Piercy became the Tour's 11th first-time winner this year at the Reno-Tahoe Open, the PGA Tour's alternate-field event.

Adam Scott, the actual winner of the WGC-Bridgestone
"Stevie is unavailable to pose with his trophy, as he's doing post-tournament interviews in the media center. He said I could do the honors."

Well, you can be forgiven for believing the real tournament this week was between Steve Williams and Tiger Woods. (BTW, that score is now SW-1, TW-0.) Devil Ball posted a video of Steve's post-round interview, which clearly sounds like the battle was between him and Tiger. (Did anybody notice how much it sounded like one of Tiger's "I only play to win" speeches? I doubt that was an accident. And I love it when Steve calls himself "a good frontrunner." Twice. It's interesting to me that Adam also used that phrase when talking to Steve Sands.) And while I agree there's clearly some bitterness there -- which I think backs up my contention that Tiger and Steve split because of personal issues, not professional ones -- I'm not so sure this is the bad turn of events that most of the media will probably make it out to be.

Intentional or not, Steve Williams may have just made it easier for Adam Scott to slip into next week's major under the radar -- no small feat when you've just won a WGC event. Winning any event, let along a big one, is hard enough... and following it up with another win is even harder. Perhaps the rarest of all birds is following up a big win with a major the very next week! But now all the talk will be about Steve Williams and his not-so-private battle with Tiger, rather than about the chances of Adam Scott pulling off the rarest of doubles.

Will the media firestorm be a distraction to Adam? I seriously doubt it. Look at how he's handled the last 3 months of gossip over how he "acquired" his new caddie; all it seems to have done is make Adam more focused. And if we've learned anything about Steve Williams, it's that he can deal with distractions and pressure. He'll deflect anything he thinks will sidetrack Adam's march toward a major... even if that something is himself.

Oh yes. Let's not forget that all the new team did in the midst of this media attention was march to a decisive 4-shot victory over a really tough field. I'd almost think they're thriving on the controversy. Adam seems to be picking up some of Steve's confidence and swagger -- he certainly sounded that way in the pressers I heard -- and I won't be surprised if Steve starts picking up some of Adam's quiet strength and class. Steve's spent a decade working with golf's most domineering attitude; I'm sure that's made him a bit quick on the trigger when he feels slighted.

(And in fairness to Steve, in later interviews he specifically mentioned how well the fans had treated him, and how satisfying it was to get this win after the hard times in the last two years, that contributed to his comment that this was his best win ever. We also found out that while Tiger may have talked to Steve at the AT&T, he sacked Steve by phone. Perhaps after all these years Tiger has finally gotten a rival... but it's a caddie!)

Did Adam expect this little outburst from Steve? I doubt it... but he's probably not particularly surprised either. Bear in mind that these two have been friends for a long time, and I'd be surprised if Adam doesn't know more about what went on between Steve and Tiger than we do. I expect Adam will talk to Steve about it, although I doubt Adam will be as negative as most of us would be. Adam just had one of the biggest wins of his life, and he's aware that the rift between Steve and Tiger makes their success even more important to Steve right now. But Adam also knows that Steve isn't helping him just as a way to get back at Tiger. Lest we forget, Adam was pretty messed up for a while after he broke up with his girlfriend. It was only the help of friends like Greg Norman that helped him get back on track. Steve needs that help right now, and I suspect Adam will take that into account.

Unlike most people, I believe Steve Williams truly meant it when he said this win with Adam was the most satisfying of his career. This one was personal, people -- and Adam understands that too. But I doubt that Adam will need much of an apology -- to paraphrase an old saying, the Gary Player Cup covers a multitude of sins.

A late addition to this post: In fact, Adam did address Steve's comments in a later press conference... and spent much of the time laughing about them. When asked how it felt to have his caddie receive more cheers than him coming down the 18th, Adam joked that he, an Australian, had no idea New Zealanders could be so popular. (If you don't know about the mostly friendly rivalry that the two countries share, you've missed a lot of humor.) But perhaps most revealing was that Steve made the "most satisfying win" remark to Adam before they ever left the 18th green... and Adam told the media, "That was kind of him to say. It's part of why he's so good for me." So I guess he wasn't so surprised after all... nor all that disappointed.

I know Tiger likes to win but perhaps he should take the advice of the Dread Pirate Roberts (aka the farm boy Wesley) from The Princess Bride: "Learn to live with disappointment."

This week's Limerick Summary salutes the two new frontrunners at the WGC-Bridgestone -- the one who won the cup and the one who skinned the Cat:
So Steve Williams was just a bit catty;
Nonetheless, Adam's win was quite natty.
As Scott plays with more sass
And more victories amass,
I bet Steve will be much less chatty.
The photo came from this post at

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