The chants and cheers began as Adam Scott walked toward the 18th green to complete a command performance yesterday in the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio, and win his first World Golf Championship.
But in a surreal scene at Firestone, they weren’t for him.
They were for his caddie.
“Stev-ie Will-iams,’’ they shouted as Scott’s new partner broke into a big smile.
The celebration made it clear that Steve Williams felt vindicated after being fired last month by Tiger Woods. The interview after it was over - yes, he gave interviews - made it sound as if it was Williams who shot the 5-under-par 65. At one point, Williams described himself as a “good front-runner when I’m caddying.’’
“I’ve caddied for 33 years - 145 wins now - and that’s the best win I’ve ever had,’’ Williams said on the 18th green. This from a guy whose 12 years working for Woods featured 13 majors and 16 world titles among 72 wins worldwide. That includes the 2001 Masters, when Woods won an unprecedented fourth straight major.
Clearly, Williams is still angry over how - and when - Woods cut him loose. He disputed Woods’s version of how it happened, saying Woods told him over the phone, not in person.
Scott didn’t seem to mind that his caddie was getting most of the attention.
“I can talk about Steve now and not Tiger,’’ Scott said to laughter, alluding to the countless times he and other players have been asked about Woods. “I’m sure there are a lot of other golfers who wouldn’t mind that, either.’’
The latest chapter in the endless saga involving Woods took away from a premier performance by Scott, who didn’t make a bogey over his last 26 holes and couldn’t afford to with 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa giving him all he could handle.
They were never separated by more than a shot until Scott chipped in from the side of the 12th green, then rolled in a birdie putt from just inside 30 feet on the 14th to build a three-shot lead. Ishikawa three-putted the 15th, and Scott had no trouble closing this one out.
He wound up winning by four shots over world No. 1 Luke Donald (66) and Rickie Fowler, who played a final round worthy of a winner with a bogey-free 66.
Ishikawa made a bogey on the last hole to tie for fourth with Jason Day. They both shot 69. For the Japanese star, it was his highest finish in America.
Scott finished at 17-under 263, the lowest score to win at Firestone since Woods had 259 in 2000 in an 11-shot win.
Former Hopkinton High School star Keegan Bradley, who entered the round tied for third just two strokes back, shot a 74 and finished T15.
With a three-shot lead, Scott thought about playing it safe on the 18th. Williams told him to take 6-iron at the flag, and Scott obliged with a shot that rolled past the cup and settled 5 feet away. When they got to the green, one fan shouted out, “How do you like him now, Tiger?’’
By then, Woods was long gone.
After missing three months with a leg injury, he finished a tournament for the first time since the Masters on April 10 and closed with a 70 to tie for 37th, 18 shots behind.
“I had it in spurts this week,’’ Woods said.
PGA - Scott Piercy squandered a three-stroke lead, dodged more trouble down the stretch, then made a 7-foot par putt on the final hole to win the Reno-Tahoe Open by one stroke in Reno.
Piercy shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 15-under 273, beating Pat Perez (68) by one stroke.
A day after setting the course record with a 61, Piercy had to scramble his way around Montreux Golf & Country Club to claim the $540,000 winner’s check.
Champions - Jay Haas birdied the final hole for a 2-under 68 to capture the
Haas, who earned his first tour victory in two years, finished at 15-under 201, the highest winning score at the tournament since 2006.
Nationwide - J.J. Killeen shot a 3-under 69 to win for the second straight week, two-putting from 90 feet on the final hole to avoid a five-way playoff at the Cox Classic in Omaha.