Tiger Woods and Steve Williams were together for 12 years and some 250 tournaments, a player-caddie relationship that produced 72 wins, 13 majors and a friendship so strong that each served in the other's wedding.
It ended on Wednesday with a stock line from Woods that players use when firing a caddie "It's time for a change."
The announcement on his website only deepened the mystery around Woods, who has fallen to No. 20 in the world rankings and hasn't played since May because of "minor"injuries.
In the 20 months since Woods was caught having multiple extramarital affairs, he has lost four major sponsors, changed swing coaches, was divorced from his wife and now has cut loose his long-serving caddie.
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change," Woods said. Woods did not say who would replace Williams, one of only two caddies he has employed on a regular basis. "Needless to say, this came as a shock," Williams said on his website.
More than a caddie, Woods and Williams had been close friends. Both got engaged while on safari after The Presidents Cup in South Africa.
The relationship began showing signs of strain after Woods crashed his car on Thanksgiving night, followed by stunning revelations of serial adultery.
Despite their friendship, Williams went months without hearing anything from Woods. And it became awkward at times because Woods' ex-wife and Williams' wife were close friends. On the golf course, their body language looked different, and Williams wondered if the player-caddie relationship was getting stale.