Tiger Woods

said yesterday he was disappointed by his caddie's disparaging comments in New Zealand newspapers about

Phil Mickelson,

whom Woods referred to as a "player I respect."

Steve Williams was quoted in the Taranki Daily News as saying he wouldn't call Mickelson a great player "because I think he's a [expletive]." Contacted by the Sunday Star Times, Williams confirmed making the comment.

"I was disappointed to read the comments attributed to Steve Williams about Phil Mickelson," Woods said in a statement. "It was inappropriate. The matter has been discussed and dealt with."

Williams began working with Woods in the spring of 1999 and has been on his bag for 13 of his 14 majors.

Mickelson's management company issued a statement Sunday evening to respond to what it called "grossly inaccurate and irresponsible statements" by Williams. It included a comment from Mickelson.

"After seeing Steve Williams' comments, all I could think of was how lucky I am to have a class act like 'Bones' [Jim Mackay] on my bag and representing me," Mickelson said.

In other golf news:

* Double major winner Padraig Harrington was voted player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America, receiving 75 percent of the vote to end Tiger Woods' 3-year run with the award. Lorena Ochoa was the overwhelming choice for female player of the year, and Jay Haas became the first golfer to win senior player of the year three times in a row.


* U.S. women's soccer coach Pia Sundhage received a 4-year contract extension through the 2012 Olympics after leading the Americans to the gold medal at this year's Beijing Games.

* Hugh McCutcheon will coach the U.S. women's volleyball team through the 2012 Olympics after leading the men's squad to a gold medal in Beijing. McCutcheon replaces Jenny Lang Ping, who did not seek a contract renewal. The women won silver in Beijing, their first medal since 1992.

Sport Stops

* Vitaly Klitschko will defend his WBC heavyweight title against David Haye in June in London.

* A study of two Rocky Mountain ski resorts says climate change will mean shorter seasons and less snow on lower slopes. The study by two Colorado researchers says Aspen Mountain in Colorado and Park City in Utah will see dramatic changes even with a reduction in carbon emissions, which fuel climate change. *