Caddie Steve Williams congratulates Adam Scott after he won the WGC Bridgestone… (Matt Sullivan / Reuters )
Reporting from Akron, Ohio — Adam Scott has experienced the victory stroll up the 18th fairway before, including more than half a dozen times on the PGA Tour — but never like this.
Fans breaking into sing-song chant. Shouts of Sunday cheer as spectators called out the name … of his caddie?
"I had no idea how popular a New Zealander can be," Scott said.
Not just any New Zealander. Steve Williams, the Kiwi caddie until recently employed by Tiger Woods before a breakup that doesn't seem ready to die quite yet.
In Woods' return from a 12-week injury layoff, there was Williams removing the 18th-hole flag that is the traditional reward for the winning caddie. This time, though, it'll bear Scott's signature.
Good thing Scott has a laid-back disposition about all this.
"It was fun to get support. Whether it's for me or him, I don't care," the Aussie said. "It's the right team."
It was at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where four birdies along the final nine allowed Scott to pull away for a resounding four-stroke victory. A five-foot birdie at No. 18 completed a five-under-par 65 that had Williams doing a huge fist pump off to the side.
"I've been caddying 33 years, and it's the best win of my life — and I'm not joking," said Williams, whose dismissal by Woods ended a 12-year partnership. "I'm never going to forget this week."
As for Woods, a Sunday 70 left him in a tie for 37th, exactly in the middle of the 76-man field. Three late birdies kept him from finishing in the bottom third of the leaderboard.
"I had it in spurts this week," said the winner of 14 majors, whose first four-round finish since the Masters resulted in a one-over 281.
Woods withdrew midway through his first round at the Players Championship when he aggravated a sprained left knee and Achilles' tendon, staying sidelined until arriving at Firestone Country Club.
Though encouraged by the week, Woods acknowledged he's racing the clock to sharpen — and trust — his swing before the season's final major. The PGA Championship tees off Thursday at Atlanta Athletic Club.
"Obviously, I don't have a whole lot of time, only three days," he said. "I need to do the work on the range, but I need to get on the golf course as well and really trust things."
Woods received $58,500 for his performance. Under the traditional caddie's cut of 10% for a win, Williams' week was worth $140,000.
Scott went wire to wire in victory, starting with an eight-under 62 on Thursday that fell just shy of Woods' course record. He reached the finish at 17-under 263, second-lowest in the WGC-Bridgestone's 13-year history.
Woods won the 2000 edition with an astonishing 259 total, one of seven victories at Firestone Country Club.
Rickie Fowler and world No.1 Luke Donald shared second, each carding Sunday 66s to finish at 13 under. Japan's Ryo Ishikawa (69) and Australia's Jason Day (69) were another stroke back.
Despite running up front all week, Scott couldn't shake his pursuers until the back nine on Sunday. Day and Ishikawa pushed him throughout the front side, though Scott kept coming back with birdies of his own.
Scott finally opened some distance with a chip-in birdie from just off the green at Firestone's par-three 12th hole. He birdied again from 30 feet two holes later, taking firm control as he and Williams made their way down the homestretch.
"I sort of believe in destiny sometimes," Williams said. "Adam had it so good on the range, I knew it was our day."