AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Adam Scott hit all the right shots Sunday in a round that was close to flawless and earned him his first World Golf Championship title.
He celebrated with a caddie who has won quite a few more.
Steve Williams, fired last month by Tiger Woods after a 12-year partnership, felt like a bigger winner when Scott rolled in one last birdie for a 5-under 65 and a four-shot victory in the Bridgestone Invitational.
Williams, who had been on Woods’ bag for 72 wins – including 13 majors and 16 world titles – called it “the best win of my life.”
It was Scott who hit the shots, such as a chip-in for birdie on the 12th and a birdie putt just inside 30 feet on the 14th that enabled him to pull away from 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa over the final hour at Firestone.
Even so, Williams became part of the show this week, especially since Woods was playing for the first time in nearly three months. Williams took a jab at Woods in an interview off the 18th green by saying that of his 145 wins in his 33 years as a caddie, this WGC title with the affable Australian made it the “the greatest week of my caddying in my life.”
That would include 13 majors, including an unprecedented four in a row through the 2001 Masters.
Fans chanted Williams’ name as he walked toward the 18th green, and Williams smiled back. One fan shouted out, “How do you like him now, Tiger?”
By then, Woods was long gone.
After missing three months with a leg injury, Woods completed his first tournament in four months and tied for 37th, 18 shots behind.
Williams referred to himself as a “great front-runner” in a CBS Sports interview on the 18th green, even though he didn’t hit a shot.
The sideshow took away from a high level of golf.
Scott played the final 26 holes without a bogey, and he couldn’t afford to drop any shots.
He finished at 17-under 263 for the lowest winning score at Firestone since Woods won at 259 in 2000. Rickie Fowler and world No. 1 Luke Donald each had a 66 and tied for second.
Ishikawa, who stayed with Scott for most of the round until the Australian pulled away, made a bogey on the last hole for a 69 that dropped him into a tie for fourth with Jason Day (69). It was the highest finish in America for the Japanese star.
Scott became the third Australian to win a world title, joining Geoff Ogilvy and Craig Parry. He won for the 18th time in his career and moved back into the top 10.
While his old boss was on the mend, Williams agreed to caddie for Scott at the U.S. Open, miffed that he had flown from New Zealand to America before Woods told him he would not be at Congressional. Williams worked for Scott again at the AT&T National, the tournament that benefits Woods’ foundation, and Woods said he fired him after the final round.
Woods said he told him face-to-face. Williams said Sunday that Woods fired him over the phone.
The theatrics took away from Scott’s big win.
He played so well he could have gone even lower except for missing two birdie putts inside 12 feet on the 16th and 17th holes.
“Today, I was on,” Scott said. “To win here at this place, a World Golf Championship, it’s huge.”
It didn’t hurt having Williams at his side. Along with his experience working for Woods, along with major champions Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd, Williams was on the bag for all seven of Woods’ victories at Firestone.
“He knows this place better than anyone,” Scott said.
The biggest threat to Scott came from Ishikawa, although Fowler and Day remained in the mix, and Donald emerged late. Ishikawa, trying to become the youngest winner in America in 100 years, couldn’t keep up when Scott made two birdies on the back nine to build a three-shot lead.
Ishikawa three-putted the 15th when he was running out of time.
“I was able to play well to be at least on top for a moment in the first half of the game today,” Ishikawa said through a translator. “I think the 14th and 15th hole separated everything.”
Fowler, dressed in his bright Sunday orange, is still looking for his first win. He didn’t do much wrong Sunday, playing bogey-free, but it wasn’t enough to catch Scott.
“It’s definitely the best I’ve played going into a major,” Fowler said.
Woods opened strongly with two birdies on the opening five holes before he “absolutely lost it” with his game, dropping five shots and not hitting a fairway on seven straight tee shots. He made three straight birdies late for a 70.
He at least got close to the No. 125 cutoff to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs at the end of the month, leaving him only next week at the PGA Championship to qualify.
Woods will play the first two rounds with Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III. The way Williams reacted to Scott’s win, a pairing of Woods-Scott in the near future would be the closest thing golf has had to a heavyweight clash.
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