Steve Stricker was happy to help his old friend, Tiger Woods, get his putting back on track in time to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this month.
While seemingly bemused by the attention the 45-minute session has garnered, Stricker has found himself in a quandary about how to balance his time between advising others seeking his services and focusing on his own game. Because, despite playing a reduced schedule, the 46-year-old Stricker, renowned as one of the PGA Tour’s best with a flat stick in his hand, is not quite ready to replace Dave Stockton Sr. as putting coach to the stars.
“I've had three, four, five guys come by today and ask if they could get a putting lesson,” Stricker, laughing, told reporters Wednesday ahead of this week’s Shell Houston Open. “I'm hearing it all over the place. Some are joking. I think some are serious.”
Stricker even turned to Stockton, who assisted others while he was still an active player and now coaches many of them, for some tips on how to say no.
“[Stockton] said he experienced that same thing when he was out on tour -- that he would give some putting lessons and guys would have some success,” Stricker said. “He said, ‘What you have to do is, if you're going to help a guy is just tell the guy you never got help from me, so the word doesn't get out.’
“That's not the way I am, I guess,” conceded Stricker, who, nevertheless, recognized the need to “pay attention to what you’re doing.
“Otherwise,” he said, “you get caught up in everybody else and what they need to fix their game and your game goes by the wayside all of a sudden. There's a fine line there watching out and taking care of yourself and making sure if somebody asks for help that you still can give it to them.”
As for that lesson with Woods, Stricker said it was nothing out of the ordinary. The two Ryder Cup teammates discuss putting all the time and the only difference between their usual talks and what the two worked on the Wednesday before the tournament was that the latter went viral.
“It's a little blown out of proportion, I think,’’ said Stricker, who’s known as one of the best putters on tour. “Not that his -- not his putting stats and that he's putting good. But we've talked putting a lot before and whether something really clicked this time for him, I don't know.”
After defeating Stricker by two strokes at Doral, Woods (who is ranked first in the tour’s strokes gained-putting statistic) thanked his putter-whisperer, which tickled the tutor.
“He seemed happy when I left him on that Wednesday, and to throw me a bone like did at the end of the tournament, it was very nice. He doesn't do that very often, so that was nice,” Stricker said. “But, yeah, no, I didn't see that coming.
“You know, it's something, like I said, something really hit home with him there when I spent that time with him, and it's good to see.’’
Stricker would not divulge how, specifically, he helped Woods get the ball rolling.
“Can’t tell you,” he said, smiling.