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After more than a decade standing shoulder to shoulder inside the ropes with him, Steve Williams knows Tiger Woods more intimately than most. 

So, when the Kiwi caddie says he reckons the former world No.1’s return to major-winning ways was inspired by the passing of Arnold Palmer, you have to think he might be on to something.

Writing for Australian website The Players Voice, Williams, who caddied for Tiger between 1999 and 2011, said: “Back in 2010, when he returned to the public spotlight after his well-documented scandal, we had a deal that he was going to try to be more open and friendly with the fans – to be more respectful of the game and to be less bad-tempered. As much as he tried, it was hard for him to change his stripes so quickly.

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“But there’s now a very obvious change in his attitude and I think that’s got a lot to do with the passing of Arnold Palmer in 2016.

Tiger Woods Steve Williams

“Tiger was a huge fan of Arnold Palmer. He loved playing Arnold’s tournament at Bay Hill and there was always added motivation for him to win there knowing that if you walked off the final green, Arnold would be standing there waiting to congratulate you. It was very special to Tiger.”

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Williams added his belief that carrying on Palmer’s legacy of charisma and time for supporters has become more important to Woods in recent years.

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“I’m thinking that when Arnold passed away there was a realisation in Tiger that golf had lost a guy who was the most popular player ever,” he said. “It was about a year after Arnold died that Tiger started his comeback after his back surgery and I think he may have decided that with his second chance he wanted to be remembered the way Arnold was remembered. 

“I do think the passing of Arnie had a change in that respect.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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