<
>

Tiger Woods diplomatic on caddie split

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Tiger Woods was diplomatic when asked Wednesday about former caddie Steve Williams' strong words after new boss Adam Scott's win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.

"I was happy to see Stevie and Adam win," Woods said at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he will play in the PGA Championship beginning Thursday. "Adam has been a friend of mine, and same with Stevie. I sent Stevie a nice text after completion ... congratulating him on his win. It was good to see them go out there and play as well as they did."

At Wednesday's news conference, Woods was asked eight questions about Williams, who had caddied for Woods since 1999 and was on the the bag for 13 of his 14 major championships and 63 PGA Tour wins.

One questioner asked about Williams' lack of interaction with the media over the years, and noted that last week Williams "said a lot of intemperate things. Were you surprised by that?"

"Yeah," Woods replied.

Woods said his agent, Mark Steinberg, spoke with Williams Tuesday, although he offered no details.

When asked if there has been any communication between himself and Williams, Woods said, "I think that's between Stevie and myself."

The relationship between Woods and Williams appeared strained in the past year, after Woods returned in 2010 following personal issues. They apparently came to a head when Williams asked to caddie for Scott at the U.S. Open while Woods was out with injuries.

Although Williams rarely spoke to the media during his time with Woods, he unloaded Sunday after helping Scott to his eighth PGA Tour win -- first on the CBS broadcast, then later with print and television reporters. He called the win the greatest of his 33-year caddie career and disputed the timeline of how he was dismissed.

Williams has been criticized for overshadowing Scott's victory and has since apologized, including with a statement on his website.

"My emotions following Adam's victory were running very high and at the time I felt like my emotions poured out and got the better of me," he wrote. "I apologize to my fellow caddies and professionals for failing to mention Adam's outstanding performance. I would like to thank all those fans at Firestone who made this victory the most special of my career."

Woods did not go into detail about Williams' firing.

"Sometimes we all need changes, and this was a change, and as I told you guys earlier, I was at peace with it, and it was a decision and a direction I wanted to go, and that's it," Woods said.

Asked if he regrets the way the situation unfolded, Woods said: "All I can control is my life and how I feel and that's it. That's all I can do."

Coming off a tie for 37th at the Bridgestone Invitational after not having completed a tournament for four months, Woods again will use friend Bryon Bell as his caddie this week. Bell, who works for Woods' design firm and has caddied for him a handful of times over the years, was on the bag last week.

Woods said he has made no decision about a permanent caddie, but did acknowledge that friend Mark O'Meara's caddie, Australian Shane Joel, has been under consideration. Joel met with Woods on the driving range last week at Firestone.

"There's nobody I've committed to," Woods said. "Mark was nice enough to talk to me about it and said that Shane is available if I so choose.

"But going to the major championship, I'm focused on this. After this event, I'll sit down and really look at it hopefully going to the playoffs."

Woods made it clear his goal is to win his fifth PGA Championship, but without some level of success here, his official PGA Tour season will end. Woods is 129th in the FedEx Cup standings, and he has said he will not play next week's final event of the regular season in Greensboro.

Based on point totals from last year, various projections suggest that Woods needs a finish of 14th or better to assure himself of a place among the top 125 heading into the Barclays in two weeks.

But Woods wasn't going there, either.

Asked about his realistic expectations for this week, Woods said: "A 'W.' Do you want me to elaborate? A nice 'W.' "

Bob Harig is a golf writer for ESPN.com.