By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Tiger Woods's sharp putting helped him to a share of the five-way lead at the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Thursday after he got lessons on the practice green from one of his opponents.
Woods worked with Steve Stricker, one of the game's best putters, for over an hour on Wednesday and it clearly worked as he shot a six-under 66 at Doral, with just 23 putts in his round, including a 38-footer for birdie on the fourth hole.
"Whatever he says, I'm going to do. He's one of the best putters that's ever lived," Woods said after his round.
The world number two was not satisfied with his performance on the greens at last week's Honda Classic where he squandered several birdie chances and was looking for a way to recapture the form he showed at Torrey Pines in late January when he won the Farmers Insurance Open.
"He got me into the same posture that I was at Torrey. I had gotten off a little bit. So I felt comfortable, basically just like I did at Torrey, and I started rolling it just like I did then," said Woods.
"He can see the things that are off a little bit, because he knows my stroke so well. Just gave me a couple little things to think about, and, lo and behold, I started feeling just like I did at Torrey and the ball started rolling."
Stricker's generous help looked even more selfless after the round, given he himself finished just a stroke off the leaders.
In the final count, after Sunday's fourth round, Woods's improve putting could conceivably cost Striker some serious cash but he said he was just doing what golfing friends do.
"I think it's just the nature of our game that we're friends out here, although we are competitors, we are friends," said Stricker.
"You like to see your friend do well, and you sometimes need another pair of eyes. Tiger, I'm sure, didn't feel any of those things that I saw, but I've watched him so much over the years that I saw right away, and anyways, he helps me out, too."
Stricker said he was once helped out post-round on the range at Doral by Jack Nicklaus and made the cut while the golfing great missed out.
Woods agreed: "Whether it's one generation to the next or it's your current competitors, it's just the nature of our sport. We just do that," he said.
Stricker is playing a restricted schedule this season and Woods joked he might take advantage of that.
"I think I'm going to have a contract with him, because he's only going to play, what, five tournaments this year? So I'll bring him out in his off‑weeks," he said with a grin.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)