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Tiger's former caddie defends choice of words

USA TODAY SPORTS USA TODAY SPORTS 11/11/2015 by Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports

Caddie Steve Williams said he had no idea using the word “slave” in his new autobiography to describe his relationship at times with Tiger Woods would trigger a storm of controversy that has spanned the globe.

In “Out of the Rough,” which for the most part is an insightful, entertaining and educational read that gives the reader a rare look into the workings of a caddie’s relationship with his player, Williams was critical of Woods’ on-course behavior.

He wrote, “He was well known for his bad temper and, while that wasn’t pleasant to witness, you could live with it because it ended as quickly as it started. But he had other bad habits that upset me.

One thing that really pissed me off was how he would flippantly toss a club in the general direction of the bag, expecting me to go over and pick it up. I felt uneasy about bending down to pick up his discarded club, it was like I was his slave.”

In an email to USA TODAY Sports, Williams, who is currently on a week-long book tour in his native New Zealand, explained his use of the word.

“In this part of the world where slavery has never existed people use slave as a description of their service or work every day,” Williams wrote. “We use the word loosely down under. After reviewing the book several times before it was published it never crossed my mind to change the word. It merely was a description of how I felt about something and in no way in the context it was used does it suggest I was treated like a slave.”

Williams, however, has spent enough time in the U.S. to know the historical weight of the word. And he told the Australian Associated Press last week that he was disappointed his publishers chose to excerpt the chapter to a New Zealand newspaper in which the slave reference was used, saying it was “one word, one sentence, out of the whole book.” He said the word “could have been changed” when writing the book.

Andrew Brownbill, AP © Andrew Brownbill, AP Andrew Brownbill, AP

Williams, who worked with Woods for 13 years and was on the bag when the former No. 1 won 13 of his 14 majors, does not think he should be fired from his part-time job with is current boss, Adam Scott. Williams has worked with Scott since splitting with Woods in 2011. Scott won the 2013 Masters.

Williams was lured out of retirement last year by Scott and said he will work about 10 tournaments in 2016.

“As mentioned above we use the word loosely here and to suggest someone be fired for using the word would be unusual,” Williams wrote in an email. “It was an honor to be asked to write a book and I'm pleased the way it turned out. The reviews from those who read the book are very positive.

“ … The book provides a rare insight into the life of a caddy and what it involves. As a youngster growing up in New Zealand I wanted to get on those amazing courses I'd see on the news from America and my story is proof that anything is possible if you put all the pieces of the puzzle together and that's the story I've told.”

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