Akron, Ohio: Australian Adam Scott has played golf with renewed vigor this year and says he has gained further inspiration since inheriting New Zealand caddie Steve Williams from Tiger Woods last month.
Scott has had Williams on his bag for three PGA Tour events, starting with a missed cut at the U.S. Open in June but swiftly improving with a tie for third at the AT&T National and joint 25th at the British Open.
"The obvious stuff is the years of experience and everything," Scott said of Williams after carding a level-par 70 for a four-way share of the lead in Friday`s second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"Whenever you make a change in a caddie or coach or anything, there`s certainly a bit of enthusiasm and a bit of motivation. He`s a very positive guy and he`s very confident in the way he caddies.
"That`s good for me, and keeps me confident out there and on the front foot being aggressive because that`s the way I play my best golf. We seem to be a pretty good match."
Williams, who has previously caddied for topline players including Australian Greg Norman and American Raymond Floyd, was stunned when Woods abruptly decided to end a highly successful relationship dating back to 1999. The duo had combined to win 13 majors.
The New Zealander was fired on July 3 after the AT&T National at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, although the split was not made public until after the July 14-17 British Open to limit any distraction for Scott.
Williams later broke his own silence in an interview with New Zealand television, saying he was "very disappointed" and felt he had wasted two years of his life with Woods having been sidelined for long stretches by leg injuries.
Scott has not spoken to Woods since Williams was fired by his long-time employer but did not anticipate an "awkward" encounter when he next conversed with the 14-times major winner.
"I don`t think it should be awkward," the 31-year-old Australian said after joining Americans Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore and Keegan Bradley in a tie for the lead at Firestone Country Club.
"This kind of thing happens on the Tour. It happens a lot every year with everyone. Just because it`s Tiger and Steve, I`m not going to treat it like it`s anything different than anyone else going through this."
A seven-times winner on the PGA Tour who set the first-round pace at Firestone with a blistering eight-under-par 62, Scott has not yet produced his best golf consistently at the majors.
He did, however, share second place at this year`s Masters and he hopes that the positive influence of the experienced Williams can lift him even more in golf`s biggest events.
"I have really enjoyed playing this year ... and to have that fresh face and him (Williams) come on with his confidence and belief in my ability, it`s another little jolt that inspires you to work a little harder," Scott said.