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Not so jolly bagman ready to walk off into sunset after shouldering responsibilty for 36 years

G OLFERS across the globe are still reeling after the world No.1 threw away a seven-shot lead at halfway to lose the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Steve Williams alongside Adam Scott
Steve Williams alongside Adam Scott

Is Steve Williams fallible after all?

Sure, Adam Scott was playing the shots, but it's Williams who calls them. Just as he did when Tiger Woods was winning countless majors. There has never, in the opinion of the modest New Zealander, been a caddieto match Steve Williams.

Sadly, the golfing world will see less of him from 2015. As caddies do, he announced his impending retreat from the game on television. As the planet held its breath, putting on hold its fascination with missing airliners and Russian interventions, Williams told Fox Sports the time had arrived to hang up his bag.

It was symbolic. "I think it's my 36th year of continuous caddying, so 36 is a number that's sort of synomynous with golf," he pointed out.

Indeed it is, and if the PGA Tour had been decent enough to curtail the Palmer Invitational to that number, Team Williams, and not Matt Every, would have won on Sunday night.

"I've just turned 50 and I just thought it was the right time," Steve continued. "I've not had enough of the job, but I've certainly had enough of the travelling. So at the end of this year I might carry on on a part-time basis, or I might quit altogether. Adam knows my intentions."

Hang on a minute. Williams is in his 36th year of continuous caddying, but he's just turned 50. Is the school leaving age in New Zealand still 14?

Like most caddies, Steve has his own website so it isn't difficult to shed some light on the claim. A child prodigy, he started caddying at the age of 10 at his home club in Paraparauma Beach. Often continuing until darkness fell, the young Stevie was well on the way to racking up the 10,000 hours now accepted as the benchmark for caddying excellence.

But there was a decision to make. Williams was fitting in some golf as well and had his handicap down to 2 when he was 13. To be a golfer or a caddie? Fortunately for planet golf, caddying won.

"In 1976," Williams tells visitors to his site, my father arranged for me to caddie for Australian Peter Thomson in the New Zealand Open. Peter finished third and was amazed at my skill level as a caddie despite being only 13 years old.

"From that week on I knew I wanted to be a professional golf caddie. I continued to work for Peter when he played in New Zealand and I would travel to Australia in the school holidays."

Such a talent could not be contained in Australasia for long. From 1979 onwards Steve took his skills to the European, Asian and Japanese tours. He started caddying for Greg Norman and moved on to the big time in America.

"Sadly this arrangement, despite great success, would only last midway through 1989," he pined. Ten years with Raymond Floyd followed until the momentous day in 1999 when a kid called Tiger Woods came a callin'.

Williams' website biography ends with the immortal words: "As they say, the rest is history." Except it's not quite.

Having taken Tiger in hand and led him to 13 of his 14 majors, the relationship ended in acrimony. Steve also told Fox Sports that the hatchet hasn't been buried. "I need to sort that out with him," he said.

Perhaps, but don't hold your breath on this one; Williams might want to repent, once and for all, for the racist remark he made about Woods months after the golfer binned him in 2011. Just as, before he bows out, he might want to make his peace with Phil Mickelson, of whom he was once quoted in a British newspaper as saying: "I hate the prick".

Mind you, if Williams had merely directed his unpleasantness towards millionaire golfers he might have not have become quite so widely loathed. But spectators, photographers and anybody who happened to rub him up the wrong way, particularly during his association with Woods, were on the end of his crude invective.

Williams was understandably delighted when Scott (who, by comparison, is one of the most polite and self-effacing characters in golf) won the Masters last year. It was further confirmation that the Kiwi is, indeed, a top caddie, even if his client's capitulation on Sunday, like others before it, suggest that the man on the bag isn't quite as good as he thinks he is.

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