Tiger's fresh start

Bill Elliott gives his verdict on Woods' decision to part company with caddie Steve Williams

Woods with Williams

Was Tiger Woods correct to end his working relationship with long-time caddie Steve Williams? Absolutely. Or as Woods would say, no doubt.

And here's why. Woods' return to the jousting fields this week is his latest attempt to make a proper comeback. But he not only needs to prove his own physical ability to play the game as he wants - full-on, nothing held back, tremendous pressure points everywhere on those ailing, ageing joints - it is surely his most important tipping point after all that has occurred in the last couple of years.

What we want, what HE wants, is not a new Tiger Woods but something closer to the old one. The irony is that to do this he needs to make a fresh start, needs to present himself as something different as well as someone basically much the same as before. This, of course, is a conundrum.

By getting rid of Williams he serves notice that he is at last totally serious about his determination to return to the top. In one stroke his image is not changed but it is radically altered. There is no doubt that Williams was/is an excellent caddie just as there is little doubt either that he was/is a difficult man for others to deal with but caddies, while important, are never irreplaceable. Never have been, never will.

Latest pictures: Tiger Woods pictures gallery

The player-caddie relationship is almost as complicated and subtle as that between husband and wife with the same long list of ups and downs. The vast majority, no matter how successful, end in tears. By sacking Williams, Tiger has blown his own loud trumpet call that this comeback is different, that his mind is re-settled, that he is, yes, dedicated to regaining at least some of the lost ground.

And he needs to because if he does not start winning again then he faces an exile from the top 50 players in the world by October. Such a turn of events for Woods would be close to catastrophic.

Williams, meanwhile, is understandably upset although he could have taken the news with a shade more style but then style never has been this caddie's strong suit. The fact is that Steve Williams became ludicrously wealthy on the back of Tiger's achievements. The other fact is that Woods would have achieved much, if not all, of this success with me carrying his bag.

And the final fact is that the old caddie catchphrase - shut up and keep up - remains as largely true now as it ever did. Steve Williams complains that he has 'wasted' the last two years of his professional life waiting for Woods to re-emerge. This is true enough but he ought to consider also how much he did not waste the previous several and how lucky he was to be there when his ex-employer was in his magnificent pomp.

Tiger's latest comeback pictures:

Tiger Woods pictures gallery

Editor At Large

Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill  was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.