AUGUSTA, Ga. —
Stricker began the second chapter in his career in 2006 and since then has won nine times on the PGA Tour, reached as high as No. 2 in the world and has been part of every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team. But no major. And no Masters.
Stricker spent last week in the thawing snow of Wisconsin, hitting out of his heated, three-sided trailer at the club, and even taking a few shots from the grass when enough of the snow began to melt. He arrived on Sunday and got in 14 holes of practice with Woods.
“We were talking about pitching and chip shots and little wedge play,” Stricker said. “We were talking about that a lot. I was asking him what he does and what he tries to do, and his action on the way back and on the way through. It’s mutual. We try to help out one another every once in a while.
“He’s ranked No. 1 now again, and it’s fun to bounce some ideas off him here and there.”
The Masters means so much to Stricker that he still remembers how he qualified for his first trip to Augusta National in 1996. But if there’s a mental block about this place, perhaps because he wants so badly to do well, some of that might be alleviated by this stage of his career.
Stricker decided to go into semi-retirement, with a schedule of no more than about 11 tournaments. He has played only four times this year — two runner-up finishes, a quarterfinals loss in the Match Play Championship and middle of the pack in Houston.
He feels fresh. He’s hitting the ball well.
“And I don’t feel like there’s any pressure on me at all, which is a good thing,” he said.