• WGC-Cadillac Championship, Round One

Woods seeks out Stricker for help

ESPN staff
March 8, 2013
Woods has spoken to McIlroy in Miami following their first round pairing. © Getty Images

World No. 2 Tiger Woods has paid tribute to his good friend Steve Stricker following a rise to the top of the WGC Cadillac Championship leaderboard in Doral.

Woods spent 45 minutes on the putting green with his Ryder Cup counterpart before shooting a six-under-par 66 in his first round card at the Blue Monster.

Fourteen-time major winner Woods was quick to praise Stricker, believing he is beginning to feel like he did before winning for a record eighth time at Torrey Pines earlier this year.

"Whatever he says, I'm going to do," Woods said when asked about his work on the practice green with Stricker. He's one of the best putters that's ever lived.

"He can see the things that are off a little bit, because he knows my stroke so well. He just gave me a couple little things to think about, and, lo and behold, I started feeling just like I did at Torrey (Pines) and the ball started rolling."

Woods went on to card nine birdies in his first round, sharing the lead with Sweden's Fredrik Jacobsen, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and fellow American Bubba Watson.

With Stricker's aid fresh in mind, Woods admitted that helping out fellow professionals is not a rare occurrence on the tour.

"As far as our score, this is what we do. We always try and help out each other, and whether it's one generation to the next or it's your current competitors, whatever it is; it's just the nature of our sport. We just do that.

"Friends help each other out, and Steve and I have been friends for a long time."

Woods then turned teacher to playing partner Rory McIlroy, who finished seven shots behind the leaders, continued to suffer patchy form.

Asked if he had spoken to McIlroy, Woods said: "We've talked a little bit, yeah.

"He certainly struggled today but he got it back at the end, birdied 7 and 8. His putt kind of wiggled left over there on 8, or obviously he could easily have gone birdie, eagle and posted a decent number for the way he was swinging out there today," Woods said.

"He made a few mistakes, but he can get it back. We have three more days. With the conditions being benign, until I think probably Sunday, certainly he can do it," Woods said.

"When you play golf and you play golf for a very long time, you're going to have spells like this. You can't play well every week, even though you try. You're going to have up and downs and just got to battle through it."

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