Tiger Thanks 'Stricks' for Putting Tip


Throughout the WGC-Cadillac Championship - which he led from start to finish - thanked his good buddy, Steve Stricker, who gave a putting tip prior to the start of the tournament that set sail Woods' wire-to-wire victory at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral near Miami.

After Stricker corrected his alignment, Woods soared to the 76th win and 17th WGC title in his storied career. Woods finished at 19-under 269, two strokes ahead of - ironically - Stricker and five over Australia's Adam Scott, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell.

After Stricker corrected his alignment, Woods soared to the 76th win and 17th WGC title in his storied career. Woods finished at 19-under 269, two strokes ahead of - ironically - Stricker and five over Australia's Adam Scott, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell in the elite 64-man event.

Despite finishing as the runner-up, the ever-classy Stricker was happy for Woods' success and feels that helping out fellow players is simply part of the PGA Tour's culture. "It's just like I've said all week, it's kind of the nature of our game," Stricker told reporters. "Older players have done it with me, and I'm now one of those older players I guess, and when somebody asks me for their help, I tend to give it to them.

"You know, Tiger and I have always talked about putting, and you know, he had me look at him again this week and you know, some things clicked with him it looked like, and he was really excited about what he was doing there. But he's got a lot of talent. Like I said, he might have done this without my help. But it's good to see him. It's good for us. It's good for the Tour, and I'm happy with the way I played."

Woods was very thankful of his friend's contribution. "I've been putting at home and just still hadn't felt right," Woods said Sunday night. "I still was a little bit off. But to have 'Stricks' help me out like that, just like he always does. He's been a great friend. We tend to help each other out with our putting. I know what he looks like when he putts his best and vice versa.

"He basically got me in the same position that I was at Torrey (Pines - site of his late-January win in the Farmers Insurance Open), the body position. 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. I just basically carried it through the entire week."

Here's what else Woods told the media following the trophy presentation.

MODERATOR: We want to welcome our 2013 World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship winner, 17th win in a World Golf Championships event. Tiger, seventh win at this tournament, I know you mentioned outside that you particularly enjoy winning these tournaments because they are World Golf Championships and they have the best players in the field, just talk about how satisfying today's victory was.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it feels good, especially to play that well this entire week, on a difficult setup. The greens got really quick out there today. And if you left the ball in the correct spot though, you could be pretty aggressive and you could shoot a good number. We saw some pretty good numbers out there, we saw a 64 and 65, so, it certainly could be done if you left the ball in the correct spot. If you didn't, boy, you had to putt so defensively, and the wind was moving the balls on the greens, if you had to hit downhill putts. So it was important to leave the ball in the correct spot to that you could take the wind out of play.

Q. Given that you have now won five of your last 18 stroke play events on Tour, which is a percentage similar to before your overhaul, how equipped do you feel to dominate as you did before the overhaul?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm just trying to get better. It's very simple. I feel like my game's becoming more efficient, and it's more consistent day in and day out, and I'm very pleased with the progress I've made with Sean.

Q. Last year, you couldn't finish a final round and today you finish off the field; is the difference purely being healthy or is there something else that's in play?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's nice to be healthy. I was struggling there for a while, and it was nice to recover, and last year I won the very next event at Bay Hill. I pushed myself through some interesting little injuries and knickknack things over the years, and sometimes it's been good and sometimes it's been bad. Last year was a case where it was the right thing to do and it was a smart decision and consequently I was able to play the rest of the year.

Q. We have all talked a little bit about the putting lesson with Steve and so forth, but wondering if the end result was more of I guess the result of the lesson being that you could hit more solid, you could hit it online better or you had better feel for your distance control; which of those?

TIGER WOODS: I guess it was the fact that I was able to flush the ball again. That helps, especially when you're putting on grainy greens, you have to hit the ball, really flush and get the ball rolling early and I felt like I was able to do that. I made my share of putts this week, and it felt good, especially when I had some into the grain putts that last week, I just didn't quite hit right. I thought they looked good, but they didn't go in. I just couldn't figure out what was going on, because I hit them right on my line. It just didn't have enough initial speed, and hence, it was dying at the end. This week was different. I was hitting the ball and it was rolling early. But I think that's why I made so many putts, especially the ones that were uphill in the grain.

Q. Congratulations.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

Q. Sean said at some point that you were going to get to the point where you were not going to think so much about mechanics but you were going to actually play the shot that was required; flight it, shape it, and you wouldn't think about how to do it, you would just do it. Where are you in that evolution now? Do you feel like this week, obviously you hit a lot of those types of shots with the wind; do you feel like you're getting to that point with not thinking so much?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly, yes, absolutely. But it's more not playing by position, it's more by certain feels and what I need to do to create that type of trajectory. That's a big change, because obviously I was where I was a few years ago to where I'm at now, it's a big change. And especially on the fly out there, to make the adjustments that I need to make, where if I don't quite hit one just right, I know exactly what to go to to fix it, and that's always the biggest thing is that I didn't really understand sometimes. But understanding now, certainly helps.

Q. Two questions, I know you don't win tournaments on the second hole but that seemed like a pretty significant birdie you made in terms of kind of setting the tone for the day.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, especially after you hit 9 iron from 230 on the first hole, that was a mistake there.

Q. That was a 9 iron on 1?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I had, I think it was either 89 or 98 front. I was trying to put the ball in the front right bunker and I turned it too much, hence I hit it up the gap. So that was a mistake I shouldn't have made. Should have been in the front right bunker, easy up and down. Go to the second hole, Graeme hits it in there stiff; I need to answer. And he got off to a great start yesterday, he was 3 under through three. It was important to make that, and basically continue it. I played well on the front nine. I figured, either Graeme, Stricks or Phil were going to make some type of run at some time. I just couldn't make a bunch of pars, especially through the first 12 holes. I needed to be under par at that stage and to make a birdie or two, and then sprinkle a couple more throughout the round and especially through the first 12 of holes, which was nice.

Q. Especially with the Masters coming up and so much attention on it, a year ago you won for the first time against a full filed in quite a while which I'm sure was good confidence going into it, and having won twice now in very stress free wins, where does that put you, do you think?

TIGER WOODS: Stress free? (Laughter).

Q. It was for me.

TIGER WOODS: Did you not see 18? (Smiling).

Q. Good control is what I'm saying. You had good control all the way throughout. Two wins like that, where does that putt you state of game going into it?

TIGER WOODS: That's how I know I can play. That's the thing. To be able to bring it out a couple times so far this year, and then able to close and get the Ws on top of that, that's nice. Any time I can win prior to Augusta, it always feels good. I've been able to do it a few times throughout my career, which is nice.

Q. You said yesterday that you were trying to base your game plan on the conditions and what the rest of the field was doing. When you teed off, I don't know if you saw what happened, some of the low scores; did you come out aggressive? Was that the mindset?

TIGER WOODS: No, I did not. I did not see what Rory or Adam did until I saw the board at 11 green. The times I looked at the board throughout the front nine, it was only just us, and didn't show hot rounds or anything like that. I know when I went to the practice tee, there were a couple guys at 2 or 3 under under, and that was it, so I figured it might be a little bit tough. But obviously seeing what those guys did you can see it happening, though. Granted, the golf course is tough, but if you leave the ball in the right spot, you can be aggressive. I figured I just need to play under par through 12, and that was mind set, just get myself under par through 12, and I was able to do that. And I had a nice cush from then.

Q. Can you put in perspective how important that practice session was with Stricker on Wednesday? In other words, if you had not run into him, do you think you might not have figured out a couple of the flaws that you had in your putting?

TIGER WOODS: I would like to say I probably would have, but - there's a but there. I've been putting at home and just still hadn't felt right. I still was a little bit off. But to have Stricks help me out like that, just like he always does. He's been a great friend. We tend to help each other out with our putting. I know what he looks like when he putts his best and vice versa. He basically got me in the same position that I was at Torrey, the body position. 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. I just basically carried it through the entire week.

Q. Just to clarify, it was by chance that you saw him?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q. You didn't like call him or -

TIGER WOODS: No. Didn't call him. I was driving down and Steiny said "that Stricks might play a practice round with you later once you're done with media stuff." I said, "All right, that would be great." And he was never around, so I went out and played and came back and there he was.

Q. You won an astounding number of tournaments, 76 now; you still had your dad waiting in the wings and of course your dad gone and now you have your young kids. Over the years, has the meaning of a win changed for you?

TIGER WOODS: They still feel good. (Smiles). It's different, they are certainly different. When I won tournaments when my dad was sick and obviously when my dad passed and was dead, there was a different type of feeling. And then obviously when I won The Open with Sam there for the first time, that was - they are different, different ways, I guess. I guess it's the evolution of life. We have our parents and then next thing you know, we become parents and I think it's more of the evolutionary process of that and that's how the wins have evolved.

Q. Speaking of evolution, you're the only guy in the game's history to have won in bunches with four different swings. How significant and satisfying is that to you, and might that be your grandest achievement?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I think that probably the best achievement is winning four in a row. No one's ever done that, not in this modern configuration. That's something I'm very proud of. But obviously to be able to have changed my game over the years, what I felt at the time, to try to become better and become more efficient; and to be able to have won throughout those changes, it feels good.

Q. Steve was in here earlier and he said it looks to him like you're having more fun and you're in a better mental state than he's seen you in a while; is that true and if so, how so?

TIGER WOODS: I'm playing better, so it's not like I'm going out there and struggling to break 80. So maybe that's what it is - well, or I am probably in a better spirit because I'm making more putts and now I know how he feels every day. Yeah, it's kind of nice to make putts. No wonder he's always in a good mood. (Laughter).

Q. Why do you think you're so good at closing out events when you have a 54 hole lead?

TIGER WOODS: I enjoy being there. That's why I work my tail off and to lift all those weights, his all those balls and spend those countless hours out there is to be in that position; that's why I prepare so hard, is to be there. I enjoy being there. My record's been I think pretty good over the years.

Q. You've played really well here over the years; are you the least bit disappointed that they are basically tearing it up and starting new?

TIGER WOODS: No, I mean, because I played it - I liked playing it before when Reagan did the redo. I played it well after that. You know, from what I've seen, what they are going to do, they are going to make a few changes and add some length to it and obviously want to make it more monstrous, not just blue. We'll see.

Q. I think six of the seven times you've won multiple times before Augusta, you've gone onto win majors that year. Do you feel like this is shaping up to one of those seasons that you're building towards that kind of year again?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt that towards the end of last year that I was heading that direction where things were becoming better. I look at the three venues that I won last year, were all three very good golf courses, and you know, I think winning at Torrey and then winning here, my five wins, I've been on some pretty tough tracks. Bay Hill can play easy, but we didn't have it easy on Sunday. It was more, as I said, like a U.S. Open in Orlando. That gave me so much confidence heading into the off season that I was heading in the right direction; just keep going, keep plugging along, keep working with the things that Sean wants me to do, and lo and behold, I've had two really good weeks this year.

MODERATOR: Congratulations on your victory Tiger.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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