Semi-retired Steve Stricker, who has earned $1.8 million in three events this year, has a future as a putting/short-game coach if he wants to keep busy. Stricker gave Tiger a putting tip on Wednesday at Doral, and now the 14-time major champ has been unstoppable, notching PGA Tour wins no. 76 and 77 in the last three weeks.
“I’ve had three, four, five guys come by today and ask if they could get a putting lesson,” said Stricker, laughing, on Wednesday in his pre-tourney presser at the Shell Houston Open. “I’m hearing it all over the place.”
Everyone can thank Stricker for Tiger’s return to the top of the rankings — even Tiger gave Stricker credit after his win at Doral. The problem is now Stricker might not be able to focus on his own game because other players are seeking his help. Dave Stockton Sr. half-jokingly told Stricker that he shouldn’t have made it public.
“He 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,” said Stricker, referring to Stockton. “So he did a lot of that when he was out on Tour. And 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.
“Makes sense that you still have to pay attention to what you’re doing, otherwise you get up in everybody else and what they need to fix in 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.”
Stricker said the attention he’s gotten has been “a little blown out of proportion.” Which it kind of has — pros help pros all the time, but when it has to do with Tiger, who is now dominating like he did in his heyday, it’s going to be a big deal.
Stricker and Tiger have played tons of golf together, not to mention partnered up in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, so it makes sense that Stricker knows Tiger’s stroke really well.
“We’ve talked putting a lot before and whether something really clicked this time for him, I don’t know,” said Stricker, downplaying his role. “I mean, he seemed happy when I left him on that Wednesday, and to throw me a bone like did he at the end of the tournament, it was very nice. He doesn’t do that very often, so that was nice.
“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.
You know, like I’ve always said, it’s great for our sport, it’s great for our game, brings a lot of attention to our sport every time he’s playing. So he’s playing well, you know, the PGA TOUR does well. It’s all good things.”
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)