by Graham Otway
Tiger Woods is facing a new battle to rebuild his career on and off the golf course.
Just two months short of his 40th birthday, the former World Number One underwent back surgery for the third time at the weekend.
Then, while lying in his hospital bed, he discovered that his long-time caddie, Steve Williams, had published a potentially explosive autobiography.
In Out of the Rough the New Zealander not only discusses the sex scandals that broke in 2009, but also accuses his boss of 12 years of treating him ‘like a slave’ and criticises his on-course spitting.
But, while Woods and his agent Mark Steinberg have for more than five years doggedly tried to step away from the lurid stories about his private life, his legacy as one of the world’s most-admired golfers must now be in serious doubt.
Woods has not won a tournament since the 2013 US Players’ Championship and, plagued by a disc problem in his lower back, he is now ranked a lowly 362nd in the world.
The American had hoped that surgery in March 2014 would revive his career, but he was only able to play in seven tournaments for the rest of the year, and felt the need for another operation in mid-September after saying he was feeling discomfort in his back and hips. But he had to return to hospital at the end of last week to have a small disc fragment removed from his spine because it was pinching a nerve.
On his website, Woods said he hoped to be playing tournaments again early in 2016, saying: “This is certainly disappointing, but I’m a fighter. I’ve been told I can make a full recovery, and I have no doubt that I will.”
However, Woods may also have to fight the contents of the book by Williams, who was on his bag for 13 of his Major titles.
Williams has claimed that both Woods and Steinberg cut off all communication with him for four months after the news broke about Woods’ infidelities in 2009.
Furthermore, he said their failure to make a statement clearing him of any involvement in the scandal had led to both himself and his wife Kirsty being harassed by the media and members of the public.
For many years Williams refused to answer any questions from the media about Woods’ life on or off the course, but the book now gives away secrets and caddie’s reaction to his behaviour.
He reveals how in Melbourne in November 2009 he turned up at Woods’ hotel suite to pick up his golfbag to prepare for a round of the Australian Masters only to be locked out for 15 minutes and when the door did open the room he discovered a group of friends had been with the golfer all night.
But most damning of all in the book is his criticism of Woods’ character. Williams has written: “I was adamant that some of his behaviour on the course had to change.
“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.
“The other thing that disgusted me was his habit of spitting at the hole if he missed a putt.”