The words he used at the caddies’ function in Shanghai were nothing short of disgraceful but an apology posted on the New Zealander’s website has been regarded by the people who run the professional game and by his current boss Adam Scott as sufficient.
Williams agreed his comments “could be regarded as racist” before adding, “it was not my intent and I sincerely apologise to Tiger and anyone else I may have offended”.
Tim Finchem and George O’Grady, the respective chiefs of the US and European Tours, issued a statement that while the words were “totally unacceptable, he has apologised and based on this, we consider the matter closed”.
Newspaper reports indicate Scott has also accepted Williams’s apology.
Graeme McDowell, one of the most thoughtful and articulate golfers in the world, is quoted as saying the comments “were not racist”. It all sounds like a closing of the golfing ranks and Williams, a man with a long history of arrogant behaviour on the golf course (he once snatched a camera from a spectator and threw it into a lake) will get away with it once again.
At a time when several codes are having to deal with racist outbursts by some of their best known and best paid players, it is a great pity that golf, a sport that has always prided itself, and with every justification, on its honesty and sportsmanship, isn’t prepared to impose a sanction on Williams.
Instead, Scott and Williams move on this week to the Australian Open in Sydney claiming it is business as usual. However, Woods is playing in the same event and a week later he and Scott will be on opposing teams in the President’s Cup, a bi-annual event contested by the United States and the rest of the world (except for Europe).
It is played on the same lines as the Ryder Cup but without the intensity. As the Americans say, it is a fun event and everyone wants it to remain that way. Should Woods and Williams come face to face this week in Sydney or a few days later at Royal Melbourne, the potential for acrimony is all too apparent.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy just cannot be kept out of the news. A couple of weeks ago, he captured the headlines with his dramatic move from the ISM Management company to Dublin-based Horizon Sports. Now, five successive top five finishes have seen him jump to second in the world rankings, the highest ever rating for an Irish golfer. Only the remarkable consistency of Luke Donald is preventing him from claiming the top spot at the tender age of 22.
All the time, his romance with Caroline Wozniacki, the number one female tennis player in the world, is dominating the tabloid headlines. And it’s a frenzy set to become even greater as they take off on a two-week break from their respective sports to holiday together in the Maldives.
Such a young and glamorous couple can hardly expect to avoid the attention of the paparazzi although it seems to be the kind of attention that neither is particularly bothered by.
What it does mean, however, is that McIlroy will miss both this week’s €4.3m Barclays Singapore Masters and the Iskandar Johor Open beginning in Malaysia on Thursday week.
In spite of his succession of outstanding performances over the past couple of months, McIlroy has still been displaced as number two in the Race to Dubai order of merit on the European Tour by Martin Kaymer after the German’s magnificent victory in Shanghai at the weekend. He is now just over a million points behind Luke Donald with McIlroy another 100,000 adrift in third spot.
To have any chance of catching Donald, Rory needed further substantial cheques in Singapore and Johor to maintain the pressure so he could be conceding the race to Donald and Kaymer.
McDowell, who recovered superbly to finish third in Shanghai after his nightmare weekend at Valderrama the week previously, heads the Irish challenge in Singapore. He is currently 13th in the Race to Dubai and 14th in the world rankings and set to play every week through to mid-December.
Pádraig Harrington, now 75th in Europe and 79th in the world, returns to action in Singapore and also doing battle for the €4.3m on offer are Michael Hoey, Shane Lowry, Peter Lawrie, Gareth Maybin, Damien McGrane, Paul McGinley and Paul Cutler.