Steve Williams Reveals Tiger Woods’ Greatest Rival... And It’s Not Mickelson

Tiger’s longest-serving caddie reveals a surprising name as the 15-time Major winner’s closest rival

Steve Williams congratulates Tiger Woods after he wins the 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tiger Woods’ long-serving former caddie Steve Williams has suggested a surprising name as the 46-year-old’s biggest on-course rival.

The New Zealander caddied for Woods between 1999 and 2011 – the most successful period of the American's career, where he won 13 of his 15 Majors to date. However, even though another American, Phil Mickelson, was collecting most of his Majors during the same period, Williams revealed Woods didn’t see Lefty as his closest rival.

Speaking on the Chasing Majors podcast, Williams explained that Fijian Vijay Singh takes that honour. He said: “You know, Vijay and of course, you know, as strong as the relationship - oh sorry! - the rivalry between Tiger and Phil. Tiger and Vijay was even greater probably, I mean, the two guys just hated to lose to each other.”

That motivation of Woods to defeat Singh was particularly evident at the 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship, where Woods hit an eight-under-par final round of 63. Singh could only manage a 68 in his final round, leaving Woods to claim a two-stroke victory. Williams was particularly in awe of the start Woods made in that round. He said: “Tiger was desperate on Sunday. You know, just somehow get in the mix. And then he goes out in 29 I mean, it’s just it’s another story that’s just mind-boggling.”

Singh won his three Majors between 1998 and 2004, with the latter year his most impressive. In 2004 he had eight wins, including the PGA Championship. He was also World No.1 for 32 weeks in 2004 and 2005.

Singh has struggled to recapture that form in recent years, and he missed the cut in his most recent tournament, The Masters. Meanwhile, Woods made his long-awaited comeback from injury at Augusta National and finished 47th – a performance that saw him make a huge jump up the world rankings.

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Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.