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‘Putting Guru’ Stricker Raising Profile in Semi-Retirement

March 13, 2013
By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Steve Stricker is in semi-retirement from the PGA Tour, though it sure doesn't feel that way to him.

Consider the 48 hours since his runner-up finish at Doral.

Stricker had to film an Avis commercial in Los Angeles the next day. When he booked his travel plans, he wasn't aware the final round would end an hour later because of Daylight Savings Time, so he missed his flight. Phil Mickelson offered him a ride on his plane to San Diego, and Stricker took a charter up the coast. He finally got home to Wisconsin at 2 a.m. Tuesday, and then woke up to take his daughters to school before heading off to a meeting with his foundation until the girls got out of school.

He chuckled when talking about a text from caddie Jimmy Johnson that said, "What are you up to?"

"I feel like I'm busier now than when I played a regular schedule," Stricker said. "But it's all good. I'm doing a lot of things around home with the family, and with what (wife) Nicki and I are doing with the foundation. I'll go to the grocery store with Nicki. And there's still time to do some fun things."

As for his golf? Not bad for a part-time player.

In three starts this year, he has made $1.82 million and is No. 4 on the money list. He has gone up 10 spots to No. 8 in the world ranking. Stricker was the runner-up at Kapalua and Doral, and he reached the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship.

And along the way, his profile is as high as it has ever been.

Now, he is jokingly referred to as the part-time putting guru of Tiger Woods.

Their meeting Wednesday afternoon at Doral was a planned accident. Woods had wanted to play a practice round with Stricker on the eve of the tournament, but Woods didn't arrive until early afternoon and couldn't find him. It was only after Woods played nine holes and finished his media duties that he saw Stricker on the putting green.

Stricker is humble enough not to help unless asked. He has given Woods a few tips over the years, such as the Presidents Cup in 2011, and they often exchange text messages or chat about the art of putting. This was the longest session, and the most meaningful.

Stricker said he told Woods after they finished that session, "If you put me on your payroll, I could play a little bit less."

Woods is in a good spot with two wins before the Masters. Stricker is in a good spot because he's playing less and looks as good as ever.

"I'm really excited what I'm doing this year," Stricker said Tuesday. "I can tell by my demeanor on the golf course."

 
 

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