Commentary

Adam Scott: Winner and afterthought

He'll be a favorite at the PGA Championship when the Tiger-Stevie noise fades away

Originally Published: August 9, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Adam Scott deserves better this week than what he got Sunday. And what he got Sunday was too much of the TV reality pilot "Tiger and Stevie: The Breakup."

Scott shouldn't be a subplot. But the undertow of Tiger Woods' golf divorce from longtime caddie Steve Williams pulled Scott -- and everything else connected to his signature win Sunday -- under water. Maybe this week, at the PGA Championship, he can come up for air.

[+] EnlargeAdam Scott
AP Photo/Amy SancettaA rare photo: Adam Scott, alone with the Bridgestone Invitational trophy, no caddie in sight.

Since when does a caddie earn more chants and more cheers than the guy he's carrying the bag for? But that's what happened Sunday as Scott and Williams, who joined the Aussie about seven weeks ago, made their victory walk up the 18th fairway in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It didn't have to be that way. It shouldn't have been that way. This was Scott's moment, not Williams'.

But America loves a good catfight; and right now, Williams has his claws extended and is happily digging them into his former boss and former close friend Woods. Said Williams after Scott's victory: "I mean, it's the most satisfying win I've ever had, there's no two ways about it. I'm not denying that."

Williams won 13 majors and 63 tournaments as Tiger's caddie. But he calls a no-cut, non-major event the most fulfilling championship of a 33-year looping career?

There is something primal about the way Williams is going after Woods these days. The very things Tiger appreciated most about Williams in their 12 years together -- Williams' tenacity, ferocity and protectiveness -- are now coming back to haunt Woods.

Williams insists that he was wronged by Woods. He disputes nearly every aspect of Woods' version of his firing. He isn't intimidated by Woods, and now he wants his revenge.

Scott finished 18 strokes ahead of Woods on the WGC leaderboard. If Williams got the industry-standard 10 percent commission for the win, he earned more than double Woods' $58,500. And it was clear Williams was the people's choice.

But this isn't about money or chants to Williams. This is about -- how did Williams put it? -- "I sort of believe in destiny sometimes."

Destiny delivered a win to Scott and a measure of retribution to Williams. But it's time for the melodrama to go away -- for Scott's sake.

He arrives at the Atlanta Athletic Club with that WGC victory and a shag bag full of momentum. What he doesn't need is another seven days of answering Stevie/Tiger-related questions.

[+] EnlargeScott/Williams
AP Photo/Amy SancettaSunday's final round turned into a laugher for Scott and Steve Williams. This week's PGA Championship should be serious business.

Scott is good enough to win this PGA Championship -- and his first major -- with or without Williams. But Williams can help. Scott said last month at the Open Championship that a great caddie could make a 1- or 2-stroke difference.

Williams is a difference-maker. But this isn't the week to continue the crusade against Woods. He'll help Scott more by saying less. Good for Scott (and Woods), but bad for us in the media who still can't believe the usually guarded Williams popped off like he did.

It says something about Scott and the state of his game that he played so well last week. One of the truly nice guys on the tour became one of its most focused at Firestone Country Club.

Scott knew what was going on. How couldn't he? Tiger was making his return to tournament golf after nearly three months of injury rehab. His former caddie was now on Scott's bag. Compelling stuff.

Not only did Scott win but he won convincingly. To think that he could win here, too, requires zero stretch of the imagination. He has to be considered one of the PGA favorites, right?

Woods isn't one of the favorites. But despite what happened in his return -- a T-37 and a 1-over-par finish -- he should consider last week a success. He won't because he still thinks he's Old Tiger. But the latest version of Woods ought to be semi-thrilled for all sorts of reasons.

Reason No. 1: He left Akron without a limp.

[+] EnlargeSteve Williams
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesFor Scott's sake, Williams will need to stop being The Show this week.

Reason No. 2: He finished 17 strokes better than he did a year ago at the same tournament.

Reason No. 3: He's hitting the ball farther.

Reason No. 4: TMZ isn't here.

None of that means he'll win the PGA Championship. He likely won't. His game is still in the reconstruction phase. But the baby steps are coming easier.

Woods basically took the high road when discussing Williams at the WGC. He didn't gush about his former caddie, but he didn't bury him, either. He was pleasantly indifferent.

Of course, that was before Williams threw Tiger under a golf cart after Scott's win. So who knows what will happen at Woods' scheduled news conference on Wednesday. When he is asked about Stevie, it could be sound-bite heaven or lots of one- and two-word answers. I'm betting on the two-word-answer option.

It was bizarre and surreal while it lasted, but Williams needs to let it go now. He made his point, and it left scorch marks on Woods. Anything else, and it starts leaving marks on Scott.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

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