Tiger Woods met with Steve Williams and the two shook hands
"It was a wrong thing to say," Woods said about Williams' comment
Williams issued an apology shortly after the Friday night remarks
Golfer Tiger Woods Tuesday addressed a racially-tinged remark made by his former caddy, telling reporters Steve Williams apologized and is not a racist.
“It was a wrong thing to say, something that we both acknowledge,” Woods said, speaking at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, site of this week’s Australian Open, according to his website.
Woods and Williams met earlier in the day, and shook hands after Williams apologized, the website reported.
Williams – who was fired by Woods in July – was being presented with a satirical award Friday night at an awards dinner in Shanghai, China, for comments he made after his new boss, golfer Adam Scott, defeated Woods at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in August.
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 a–.”
Shortly afterward, the New Zealander issued a contrite statement on his website.
“I apologize for comments I made last night at the Annual Caddy Awards dinner in Shanghai,” the statement said. “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,” Williams’ statement said. “However I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I have offended.”
Woods said Tuesday that Williams “did apologize. It was hurtful, certainly, but life goes forward.”
But he said he does not believe Williams is a racist. “There’s no doubt about that,” Woods said, according to his website. “It was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and certainly one that he wished he didn’t make.”
Both the PGA Tour and the European Tour condemned Williams’ comment, but he will not face sanctions.
Scott said earlier he had discussed the matter with Williams and accepted his apology. “There is absolutely no room for racial discrimination in any walk of life, including the game of golf,” Scott said, according to the article on Woods’ website.
Williams said in July he was shocked and disappointed that Woods had severed their 12-year relationship, especially after he remained loyal to the golfer during the sex scandal in which he was embroiled for several months.
“Given the fact of my loyalty and the way that I stood by this guy through thick and thin …” Williams told CNN affiliate Mediaworks in New Zealand at the time. “And the timing of it is very poor, from my perspective.”
Williams said the sex scandal had caused him to lose respect for Woods.
“Well, I think when you’re great friends with somebody and a situation like this occurs, you obviously lose some kind of respect,” Williams said.
In announcing he would no longer be working with Williams, Woods said it was “time for a change.”
“Stevie is an outstanding caddy and a friend, and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments,” Woods said in July. “I wish him great success in the future.”