MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Even though he was angry Tiger Woods fired him, Steve Williams had a feeling the 12-year relationship between caddie and the world's No. 1 player was going to end.
Williams sat down in New Zealand for an interview with Yahoo! Sports in which he looks back with some regret at not having left after Woods won the Australian Masters, and how he doesn't think Woods will break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.
Most interesting about the interview is that it was taped 10 days before Williams got himself in trouble in Shanghai, where Williams was getting roasted at a caddie awards party and made a racial comment that disparaged Woods.
Yet the answers in the interview were not biting. It didn't appear that Williams saw this as a chance to stick it to his former boss, such as when he gave the TV interview at Firestone after Adam Scott won and Williams called it "the best win of my life." Twice he refused to take the bait on his split with Woods, dodging one question on whether Woods lied by saying Williams was fired face to face.
"We didn't click when we both got back together, back in April at Augusta," he said. "We didn't click like we used to. You always know that things are going to come to an end sometimes."
Williams said he was disappointed because "in anything you do in life, you like to go out on a high."
"When I look back, perhaps after Tiger competed down here in Australia at the Australian Masters, it was a very memorable win. I really enjoyed that tournament," Williams said. "That was the last tournament he played before all the events transpired. Perhaps I should have left him then."
Asked if he thought that day about leaving, Williams said no.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," he said. "When I look back, maybe my gut feeling ... one part of me said that would be a good way to finish. It would be a good memory."
Woods has won 14 majors. As for the Nicklaus record, Williams pointed to Phil Mickelson's career record in the majors.
"Phil's a fantastic player. He has four majors, the next best number of major championships won besides Tiger in the time frame Tiger has been on tour," Williams said. "He has to replicate that kind of career. If Tiger didn't get injured in 2008 and had to have that long period away from the game, he very well could be there now.
"Regular competition and regular practice enables you to keep all your tools sharp," Williams said. "When you're not competing at a regular level, you're never ever going to be sharp. He's been unfortunate that he's had injury problems and personal problems that have kept him out of the game for periods of time."
Even so, it didn't sound as though he had entirely written off Woods' pursuit of Nicklaus' record.
"A guy that's that good, when he gets back in the rhythm and gets back in full fitness and full health, all those tools and all those assets, they get back to where they were very quickly," he said.