Adam Scott made some questionable decisions and he’s the one who mishit the shots that led to his final-round collapse at the British Open. But his four-bogey finish at Royal Lytham had many in the golf world wondering what advice, if any, the Aussie’s notorious caddie Steve Williams offered as his employer’s golden opportunity to grab his first major went as sideways as so many shots from pot bunkers did 10 days ago in England.
Scott suggested on Wednesday that the two needed a cooling-off period after the disastrous climax to a championship that the 32-year-old Aussie seemed to have in the bag until the four closing holes.
“Yeah, we left it a few days for each to think about, and then we had a chat in the middle of the week. Obviously we're both disappointed with the outcome,” Scott told reporters on the eve of his title defense at this week’s Bridgestone Invitational, the scene of “the best win” of Williams’ career. “We're both disappointed, I think, in both of our performances because we didn't get the job done. And hindsight is always a great thing, but it's 50/50 because you never really know what would have happened if you did something different.”
While claiming he was never so calm under such a pressure-packed situation, Scott conceded that his mind down the stretch on Sunday was going “a million miles an hour,” which led to quick decisions his veteran bagman seemed to do little to counteract. Scott pointed to several shots he would love to take mulligans on -- including his approaches into 15, 16, and 17 -- but it was the tee shot on 18 that had the punditry shaking its collective head.
Coming off his third bogey in a row on 17 and needing a par to take eventual winner Ernie Els to a playoff, Scott faced a critical decision that seemed to involve one of two options -- smack a driver over the fairway bunkers or lay up with an iron.
Instead, Scott said, “we decided to hit 3‑wood off 18, but it's so difficult to know whether it's right or wrong because neither of us were confident that 2‑iron was going to fly the right bunker, which was right of my target.”
Seemingly still trying to decide which club to pull almost two weeks later, Scott continued to second-guess himself, and, by extension, Williams.
“I could have hit driver off of 18, too. In fact, if I hit 3‑wood, I could have hit driver. It's all these things,” said Scott, who immediately took the blame for the result, which, of course, had him hitting his second shot from one of those bunkers, knocking a lovely third shot to the green, and missing the par putt. “The fact is you've just got to make a good swing, and I didn't make my best off the 18th tee. But I made good swings on the other holes off the tee and just not such good ones into the green.”
Noting that “any error” under such circumstances was greatly magnified, Scott brought Williams back under the microscope.
“We just didn't quite match it up on the last few holes,” Scott said about his four-bogey finish. “That's what the pressure of those situations can do.”
Of course, the ultimate blame -- and credit -- belongs with the player. But where was the caddie, who fancies himself the difference between his bosses winning and losing, as his golfer was melting down? It sounded as if that part of the work-in-progress partnership needed some tending.
“I think it's part of our relationship out there, growing and getting better. First time for us, really, in that position,” Scott said. “Steve has been in that position a bunch with other players but never with me, and I think we're going to hopefully put ourselves in that position a lot more, and we'll know how to handle each other that little bit better maybe.
“He'll understand me that little bit better because I've told him how I was feeling, and we'll just get it done,” Scott added. “I mean, we've got a great relationship out there, and everything went really well for that week." The misfortune of the final few holes offered “a great chance for us to rectify that next time.”
As for the aftermath of last year’s Bridgestone triumph, when Williams hogged the spotlight to gloat about beating his former overseer, Tiger Woods, Scott, as he has done in the past, gave his looper the benefit of the doubt.
“We sorted that out the next week, and obviously that wasn't his intention at all, but it seemed like he got a bit mobbed there, and what happened happened,” Scott said about the unusual amount of press attention Williams did nothing to discourage. “But that was not his intention at all.”