August 6 2013
Steve Stricker helped Tiger Woods with his putting on Monday. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The last time Steve Stricker gave Tiger Woods a putting lesson, Woods went on to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
Fast forward to earlier this week at Oak Hill, where the two played a practice round together -- and where Stricker gave his longtime friend another tip.
“He trusts me enough where he wants me to look at his setup a lot,” Stricker said. “It’s very basic stuff all the time; his shoulder alignment has been a little left.”
Woods is coming off a runaway victory at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, where he was 11th in the field in strokes gained-putting and fifth in total putts. But majors have been a different story this year, especially on the weekend.
At The Open Championship, he was 29th in total putts. A month earlier at the U.S. Open, he was 53rd. Twice at Muirfield he had 33 putts in a round. At Merion, he took at least 32 putts three times. At Augusta, he ranked 43rd in putts per green in regulation.
“The frustrating part is I've been there and didn't win two of the tournaments that I was right there in,” Woods said. “One, I hit a flagstick (at Augusta) and I was leading the tournament and ended up getting obviously a penalty there, and that was a tough round on Saturday, but got it around and shot under par, and put myself there with a chance on Sunday and didn't get it done. Same thing at The Open.”
At one point during Monday’s practice round, the two stayed on the sixth green for roughly 15 minutes with Woods hitting more than 20 putts as Stricker looked on and the two chatted.
“I've actually got to flip it around because he feels everything in his left hand and I feel everything in my right hand, but we believe in how the blade swings and how it moves,” Woods said. “I wanted him to take a look at my angles of my shoulders and my arms, facial rotation, things of that nature.”
Because he has played with Woods so often, Stricker said it’s easy for him to spot when something is wrong in Woods’ stroke or setup.
“When I do, I can tell when something’s a little different,” Stricker said. “He takes that information and applies it right away starts believing in it and makes putt after putt after putt.”
Case in point: At Doral, Woods finished the week with just 100 putts, the fewest of any in his career.
So what else did they talk about?
“We talked chipping, putting, a little deer hunting,” Stricker said. “I’m trying to get him up there in the deer stand. He’s getting closer to doing it.”
This week Woods would gladly settle for the podium Sunday night.