Steve Williams: "I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I have offended"
The New Zealander was sacked by Tiger Woods in July after 13 years together
He now caddies for Australian golfer Adam Scott, who says he will not sack him
Woods' agent says Williams' comments at awards dinner were "regrettable"
Tiger Woods’ former caddy Steve Williams has issued an apology after apparently making racially tinged remarks at an awards dinner in Shanghai, China.
Williams – who was fired by Woods in July – was being presented with a satirical award for “celebration of the year” for comments he made after his new boss, golfer Adam Scott, beat Woods at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio a month later.
According to media reports, when asked about those comments during his acceptance speech Friday night, Williams said: “I wanted to shove it up that black —.”
Shortly afterward, the New Zealander issued an contrite statement on his website.
“I apologize for comments I made last night at the Annual Caddy Awards dinner in Shanghai. Players and caddies look forward to this evening all year and the spirit is always joking and fun.
“I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist. However I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I have offended.”
Woods is in Australia preparing for the President Cups teams event in Melbourne starting November 17.
His agent Mark Steinberg said in a statement: “I was with Tiger when the story broke. We were obviously not there, but if all the reports are accurate, it is regrettable. Really nothing more to say.”
In several interviews after his dismissal, which brought to an end a 13-year working relationship, Williams let it be known that he was disappointed and shocked and also brought up Woods’ sex scandal.
Interviewed after Scott’s Bridgestone victory, Williams called it the “greatest week I’ve had in my career.”
Scott and Williams are at Sheshan, near Shanghai, to take part in the HSBC Champions golf tournament and the Australian was reportedly among the audience at the awards dinner.
The row over Williams’ remarks has led to media speculation that the partnership may not last much longer.
However, Scott told reporters that he would not be taking any action.
“Steve issued a statement and apologized, and he did the right thing. That’s all there is to say about that from my side of things,” said the 31-year-old, who was in third place at the Chinese tournament ahead of Sunday’s final round, three shots behind Swedish leader Fredrik Jacobson.
“It’s not an issue for me. I think everything in that room last night was all in good spirits and a bit of fun, and I think it probably got taken out of that room in the wrong context.
“Anything with Tiger involved is a story. I value Steve’s contribution to my game and while he’s caddying I hope he can caddy for me.
“There was a lot of language used last night and it’s just this was reported. I don’t really think that stuff has ever left the room before and it’s probably good reasons why. I think it’s probably all very unnecessary.”
It is not the first time Williams has had to apologize for inappropriate remarks.
Three years ago he made derogatory comments about Woods’ great rival Phil Mickelson at a charity event in New Zealand and was later forced to back down by his employer.
Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell told the UK Press Association that he did not believe Williams had intended to make a racial remark.
“The comments were surprising, yes. These are racially sensitive times, especially in sport. It’s unfortunate because it was a very sticky situation,” the Northern Irishman said.
“I don’t think Stevie Williams was trying to be racial. I don’t think it was a racial comment. I think he was trying to be funny and make a joke of it.
“It was an embarrassing situation that he was put in. He was up in front of his peers and colleagues and it came out wrong.”
Scott shot three-under-par 69 in Saturday’s third round to be on 13-under 203 at the tournament, which offers more than $1.1 million to the winner and will have a big influence on who wins the European Tour money list.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy is seeking to overhaul top-ranked Luke Donald and prevent the Englishman from making history by topping both the U.S. and European money lists in the same year.
The Northern Irishman shot 65 on Saturday to climb up to a tie for fourth with Lee Westwood – four shots behind Jacobson, who carded 67.
Former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, who is fourth in the Race To Dubai standings behind McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel, was tied for sixth with McDowell on 205.