Woods looking for fresh start
For the first time in 13 years, Tiger Woods is on the look out for a new caddie.
Golf's most successful player/bagman relationship is at an end following the former world number one's sacking of Steve Williams.
Woods won 13 of his 14 majors with the brusque New Zealander at his side. Williams was a classic right-hand man, ready to assist his boss in any way possible.
That might simply have meant efficiently transporting his player's clubs around the course with the minimum of fuss, doing the basics of keeping up and shutting up.
Equally, it might mean suggesting the right club or line, or accurately interpreting the strength and direction of the wind.
It could also mean, as it did on at least one occasion, depositing an annoying camera in the nearest lake. If that's what it took to help Tiger, that's what he would do.
In his decade of domination, Woods was always quick to praise Williams for his contribution, while the caddie was unstintingly loyal in standing by his man throughout the scandal that precipitated a very high-profile marriage break-up.
Theirs was the ultimate player/caddie relationship and Woods will have to search far and wide for a personality better equipped at dealing with the unique pressures that go with the job of carrying his bag.
Players always want absolute trust in their on-course confidant. Caddies, meanwhile, have to be strong in conveying their views, especially if they believe their boss is making the wrong decision. That is not always an easy thing to do.
More important than the ability to call a club or read the line of a putt is the ability to say the right thing at the right time. This was highlighted by new Open champion Darren Clarke, who nearly parted with his bagman just before his greatest triumph, at Royal St George's.
After struggling in the final round of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, both Clarke and caddie John Mulrooney lost their tempers with each other.
"We had a tough week in Scotland," Clarke admitted. "He didn't quite know what to do whenever I was having a little bit of a wobbly.
"But he's finally learned and he knows a little better now, obviously a lot better now, as to what to say to me and how to deal with me."
The pair landed Clarke's first major after only seven weeks working together, having claimed a title in Majorca in their first outing as a team.
Unlike Woods, Clarke has gone through his fair share of bagmen, an inevitable scenario when results are disappointing.
But it is not just players making the decision to move on - they can be dropped by their caddies too.
"I was sacked by my caddie - and quite right, too," said Colin Montgomerie at this year's BMW PGA Championship after Jason Hempleman left him to take Francesco Molinari's bag.
That move was at the height of a caddie merry-go-round.
Craig Connolly was sacked by Martin Kaymer and, despite being offered and initially accepting Molinari's bag, decided to head back to Paul Casey, who had given Christian Donald the boot. Donald is now working for Kaymer.
"He's known as the [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovic of golf," one caddie told me. "You only get one season with Kaymer, regardless of results."
Other players remain steadfastly loyal. Padraig Harrington and Ronan Flood, Lee Westwood and Billy Foster, Rory McIlroy and JP Fitzgerald, and Graeme McDowell and Ken Comboy, who was once sacked by Casey on the eve of the Ryder Cup, are all long established pairings.
Phil Mickelson wouldn't seem the same without Jim "Bones" McKay at his side. The same goes for Jim Furyk and Mike "Fluff" Cowan, who was on the Woods bag when he won his first major, the 1997 Masters.
Caddies earn their money with their early morning course reconnaissance, their knowledge of their player's strengths and weaknesses, and their experience and judgement.
It is easy to think that a successful golfer/caddie pairing has to be like a happy marriage but that would be wrong. The bagman is the counsellor and he has to make sure it is the relationship between the player, his clubs, the course and the weather that is happy and prosperous.
It is not an easy trick to pull off. So, as Williams prepares to take Adam Scott's bag on a permanent basis, good luck to Woods as he searches for a new caddie. More to the point, good luck to whoever it is that gets the job.