Tiger Woods looked like the Tiger of old on Sunday en route to a victory in the Cadillac Championship. The win at Doral was the 76th in Tiger’s career. It was also his fifth tournament win in his last 19 starts, which has many ready to accept the fact that Tiger may officially be back.
What we saw on Sunday was vintage Woods, as Tiger held a comfortable lead for most of the afternoon and hardly even broke a sweat. There was no choking and no double-bogey to breathe life into Phil Mickelson and the other players who finished in the top 5 but never even got close enough to get the blood flowing. Instead, Woods finished the tournament with only 100 putts in 72 holes — the best mark of his career. For that, he thanked Steve Stricker.
“Thank you to Steve for the putting lesson,” Woods said while receiving the WGC trophy on Sunday, via ESPN.com. “It was one of those weeks where I felt pretty good about how I was playing, made a few putts and got it rolling.”
Stricker, who is one of the best putters to ever play on the PGA Tour, gave Tiger a personal 45-minute putting lesson on Wednesday before the Cadillac Championship began. The 46-year-old Stricker finished just two strokes behind Woods when all was said and done, which has people wondering if he cost himself a win by offering free advice.
“At times you kick yourself,” Stricker said with a laugh. “He’s a good friend. We talk a lot about putting. It’s good to see him playing well.”
Tiger and Stricker have played together (and struggled for the most part) at the Ryder Cup. The two seem pretty close, but you would never see Derek Jeter giving hitting advice to Dustin Pedroia in the middle of an MLB season. In fact, Tiger’s not even convinced he would have done the same for Stricker if the roles were reversed.
“I would like to say I probably would have, but …” Woods said jokingly. “I’ve been putting at home and it just still hadn’t felt right. I still was a little bit off. … He basically got me in the same position that I was at Torrey. So once he put me in there where I felt comfortable, I said, ‘Well, this is not too foreign. This is what I was a month or so ago.’ And I started rolling it and it felt really, really good.”
He can laugh all he wants, but Tiger knows he probably isn’t generous enough to offer a 45-minute lesson to an opponent before a tournament. This is the same guy who wears red on Sundays in an attempt to intimidate opponents and hardly ever speaks to anyone. Nevertheless, his performance on Sunday and all weekend was encouraging. If Tiger starts dominating the golf world again this season, the fans and the rest of the field can all thank Stricker for his generosity.
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