For years people questioned why Tiger Woods couldn't turn his game on at the Ryder Cup. They pointed to the team format not fitting his killer instinct. They focused on the lack of motivation for a guy that seems to always swarm around the big purses and appearance fees.
What did they never talk about? The fact that Tiger could never find a partner he trusted. That changed at the Presidents Cup a year ago, when Woods was paired with Steve Stricker. The duo went out in San Francisco on fire, and never let up.
This week, at Celtic Manor, Tiger and Stricker are back together, and it seems like nothing has changed. Their 4 & 3 win over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson in the foursome matches on Saturday make the team 2-0-0 at the Ryder Cup, and 6-0-0 as a duo in team events.
Asked after their second win in a row in Wales why they gelled so well together, both just laughed and shrugged. It seems that the thing they have going for them is when one doesn't play well, the other is there to pick them up.
It's true that Tiger is still not at his best, but he is playing well enough to get Stricker in a position to do what he does best; roll in lengthy putts like they're tap-ins. The two played the alternate shot format 6-under through just 14 holes after Johnny Miller commented earlier in the day that 18 pars might be good enough to win in this format on this golf course.
It's easy to bring up Tiger's name here, but Stricker deserves most of the credit. He has been solid since the third hole on Friday, when his tee shot found the water, and is sticking iron shots and making the big putts when the team needs it.
Woods and Stricker look like more of a team than anything we've ever seen with Tiger. They're reading putts for each other and chatting about golf shots. They're laughing at positive results and pumping each other up when things don't go the right way.
They'll be together again for the afternoon matches, when Stricker and Woods will once again be picked for the foursome format. They'll be going up against a tough team of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. If the team can steal another point, Tiger will be in a great position to have the type of Ryder Cup we've expected for years from the best match play player to ever play the game.