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JOHN DEERE CLASSIC MEDIA DAY
June 8, 2010
CLAIR PETERSON: We are very excited about the 2010 year. This, as you know, is a bit of an official kickoff that we have been working hard for 11 months already to make sure that we have another great year in 2010. The people here at the facility, Paul Grogan, golf course superintendent; Ian Nicoll, the general manager, their staffs, are all geared up. We have our title sponsor, I see Bill Becker in the back John Deere and company, who has decided to continue, as you know, their title sponsorship to 2016 which is terrific news for all of us here and terrific news for the PGA TOUR quite honestly.
So we are going to get started with, we thank volunteers all the time. Our lead volunteer for 2010, Steve McCann.
STEVE McCANN: Thank you. Thanks everybody for being here today. Steve, thanks for coming down. As Clair said, we are raining today so we can get this out of the way for the tournament. I'm the 2010 volunteer chairman. We are looking forward to this, this is 40th year of having a PGA TOUR event in the Quad Cities and we are very pleased about that.
We are very proud of this event in terms of what it does for charity. Last year we helped raise 4.6 million for local charities, which ranks us fifth overall on the PGA TOUR and first in per capita giving.
There's a lot of people we need to thank for making this event as successful as it is. First of all, our title sponsor, John Deere, who as you know, is signed on for six more years. Our local, other corporate and hospitality to the sponsors, and obviously the TOUR players who all come to see.
Our board directors many of whom are here today in green and yellow shirts and the 1,500 volunteers that make this event happen every year. I think Steve can attest, I hope he does, anyway, that a lot of players come here because of the experience they get from our volunteers.
Our staff, they are all here today, we are probably one of the smaller staffs on the TOUR, but they are a very efficient staff. This is not a two-month job. This is a 12-month job and they do a great job.
Again, this is our 40th anniversary. We think we have a great field so far, and again, thanks for coming and we'll see if we get to play of go today.
CLAIR PETERSON: We do feel really excited about the field we have obviously gentleman on the left, Steve is going to be here to defend, which we are really, really pleased about, but we have 23 players who have won PGA TOUR events in the last two years. We have eight players who have won events this year. Steve, of course, won the Northern Trust event, Zach Johnson won the Crowne Plaza Invitational, Tim Clark won THE PLAYERS Championship, Cameron Beckman, winner of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, Jason Bohn who won in New Orleans, Jason Day who won in Dallas at the Byron Nelson, Derek Lamely at Puerto Rico, and Ryan Palmer at the Sony. So it's the guys who are playing really well.
We also have veteran players who have played on Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups like Davis Love and Chris DiMarco, Brad Faxon, Boo Weekley; major championships winners like David Duval and Todd Hamilton. Some of the young exciting players, if you watched golf this last weekend or all year, you see this young man who likes to wear orange on Sunday, Rickie Fowler, he is going to be here. Jason Day, who as I mentioned, won at the Byron Nelson who was a sponsor exemption of ours when he was an 18-year-old four years ago. It's really exciting.
We have got 20 players who have already qualified for the British Open and are going to take advantage of our shuttle to St. Andrews. And I guess that is a good segue into introducing Steve, because Steve is just one of the class guys on the PGA TOUR. He's one of the guys that I've had a chance to get to know in the eight years I have been tournament director. He has always been terrifically supportive of Midwestern events, of our event, the Milwaukee event.
But when it came time to consider the British Open schedule, it was always tough for him to come back here. And understanding that it's hard to get from here to the British Isles and be rested, flying a commercial plane or being in a commercial plane -- he didn't actually fly the commercial plane; that's stressful, too. (Laughter).
But anyway, I guess it's a long road to get to the point where we get to the charter. Steve always told me that he really wanted to have his family. He has come with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, he wanted his family to watch him play. He's got two daughters. But he never felt he could be rested for the British if he came here. But we convinced him to do it. Not far from this part of the clubhouse, I kidded with him early in the week last year that my dream was to have him, now that he was here, win the John Deere, fulfill his mission of winning in front of his family, and then being forced to come back to defend and we wouldn't have to do the recruiting like we had to do before. And it all worked out wonderfully.
He's an eight-time winner on the PGA TOUR. Like I said, he's already won this year. He's played in Presidents Cups. He was on the 2008 victorious Ryder Cup Team. You probably saw him kind of carry Tiger, to be quite honest, through many of the matches. He played wonderfully and we are just so proud to have Steve Stricker as our defending champion. And with that, I'll let Steve say a few things.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you. Thank you. It's nice to be back. I don't know if force is a good word to use in having me come back, but I'll always be back here again. These types of tournaments have kind of gone by the wayside over the years, the small town feel, well supported by the community, the local sponsor as we have in John Deere, thanks for being here today and as continued sponsors of the TOUR and the John Deere Classic.
But like I was saying, a lot of these tournaments have gone by the wayside with the economy that we have and just the toughness of holding a PGA TOUR event. So it's always refreshing to come back to the Quad Cities and play here. It feels like home for me growing up in the Midwest playing in these types of conditions like we have today. But we are going to play today, too -- it doesn't look so good for us either, but hopefully I'll get out there.
I, too, want to pass along my thanks to Clair and Steve. But a big reason why a lot of us players come here is because of Clair, he's a great guy, first of all, but he runs the tournament so well, takes care of the players unbelievably and goes out of his way to accommodate the player in any shape or form, and one of the reasons is that plane. It's a huge, huge thing for the players I think. They are going on to the British Open; to be able to get on that plane and get over there in a timely manner.
But again, our history goes back quite a ways, and I appreciate the relationship and all you do for the PGA TOUR.
Again, I'm happy to be here. I wanted to pass along my thanks again to John Deere, a great sponsor for us on TOUR, and hope you guys all get to play some golf today.
Q. Can you talk about 2009, after winning, now being back for the first time?
STEVE STRICKER: It's always special driving in the gates here. A lot of the shots that I played here last year go through my mind, what happened coming down the stretch, some of the things that I had to do down the stretch.
You know, when you come back to play place where you've won, it just brings back a lot of great memories. There's really no added pressure or anything like that. I don't feel like I have to come back here, prove anything. You come back with kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling I guess when you come back to an event that you've won.
Q. With so many winners this year near 40 -- does it show how valuable experience is, to keep playing all of these youngsters everywhere you go?
STEVE STRICKER: Experience does come from a lot of things, and also the young guns have proven a lot this year. There's a lot of young players; Rickie Fowler has played great pretty much all year long.
So experience counts for a lot of things but being young is also good thing. They are learning the ropes. They are playing well. But you know, the old guys still have a lot of things that they can go back in their memory bank on, and it's always good for a shot or two here or there.
It comes to mind, like Rickie hit that shot at 12 the last week, and I don't know if you would see an old guy -- he may have missed it over there, but it looked like Rickie was trying to take it in at that pin and stuff it in there. I think if an older guy was playing that shot, he might have been in the bunker long or short, anywhere but the water. And I think sometimes like that, a veteran, an older guy, may have a 1-up on a younger guy like that.
But there's some great young players, and it's good for events like this. We get to see a lot of the young kids come here. You may not recognize their name now. Some of them you will, some of them it you won't, but years down the road you will look back at who played here and say, this kid has gone on to do whatever and he started his career here, and he is that always an exciting thing.
Q. Can you talk about how exciting the next couple of months will be for you, defending here, the majors, historic venues and one in your home state of Wisconsin?
STEVE STRICKER: Sure, it's a busy stretch. I'm actually going to take a couple of weeks off before coming to here, so actually looking forward to this next stretch of golf, and we have a lot of big tournaments involved.
So it's a time where you need to play well, but you need to be fresh and rested and ready to go, because as you know, the FedExCup has kind of pushed everything into the summer and into the very end of summer, early fall portion of our season, so you need to be fresh and ready to go.
There's a ton of big tournaments, and you know, the PGA up in Whistling Straits is just going to be one that I'm really going to be looking forward to. So I want to be fresh and ready to play in all of them.
Q. It's been said now that you are the best player never to win a major; how much do you prepare differently for majors --
STEVE STRICKER: I've always put a little extra emphasis on the majors. I try not to -- you know deep down, you try not to do anything different, but yeah, you do spend more time to try to get ready. Mentally it's always a little bit more stressful.
You know, I guess if that tag was to be put on me, it's a little bit of an honor I guess. Yet it puts a little pressure on you that you need to go out and win one. That's the kind of guy that I am is try to deflect all of that and try to downplay it all and try to go about and do my own business, and that's what I'm going to try to do. I can't do anything different. I've been around long enough to understand what I do want to do and what I don't want to do, so I just go about my business and try to play as well as I can in these majors.
Q. How is your shoulder?
STEVE STRICKER: Everything's good. Yeah, everything's good. It was a joint or pulled muscle in the side of my chest, but I took some time off and got it rested. Played the last couple of weeks, came back fairly strong I thought for not actually putting in a the low of time practicing.
The nice part, it was a blessing in disguise is that I was able to get away from the game I guess and get fresh and rested and spend some time home with the family. Really I'm very excited to be back playing again. There's motivation coming up with these tournaments now that I'm rested, so I feel good about things to come.
Q. The skid you had, does that make you appreciate where you are right now?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much so. I've seen it all, and I don't know what golfer hasn't, to tell you the truth. You know, my skid may have been a little deeper than some others, some bumps but you learn a lot. And you learn a lot, I would say, probably more from the down years than the good years, and I learned a lot about what kind of person I am, what kind of friends I have.
You know, just a ton of different things that I learned during these times, and I appreciate being out here on TOUR. I appreciate the opportunities that I have and don't take anything for granted anymore, especially in the game of golf, because it's a fleeting game, and you just never know what's around the next corner, the next hole or whatever. But yeah, it's just great to be back out here and playing, and playing well. I mean, the game is great when you're playing well. It's a little tougher when you're not, but obviously the last five or so years have gone very well for me.
Q. Talk about winning in the Midwest with your background and stuff?
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt about it. This was a very special win for me last year. My wife and oldest daughter were here, and they walked around with me every day and got to see me win, which you know, is hard to do sometimes when your family is around. And winning here in the Midwest, basically home turf, not far from Wisconsin. I went to the University of Illinois and had a lot of U of I fans and Badger fans and so a very special place to win.
Q. How much fun is it to play --
STEVE STRICKER: It is a lot of fun, and the TOUR has come back to that this year. We are seeing a bit more scoring, or better scoring, that is. I think that's excitement for everybody, not own the players get excited about shooting good scores, but the fans get to see birdies. They don't want to see people hacking out of the rough and struggling to make pars. We are going to do that next week.
But you know, it's fun to get out there and make birdies, and people want to see good shots and low numbers. So you know, you have to be prepared to shoot low, here, too, and that's a testament to the course, as well. It's in great shape and the greens are usually perfect and receptive because we usually get a little bit of rain. (Laughing).
Q. (Have you had a chance to talk to Tiger and what are your thoughts on him foregoing a swing coach)?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, he's going to do it on his own. I talked to him a this last week a little bit. It sounds like he's going to do it on his own. We were talking swing last week, if he listens or not is one thing, but he's got the capabilities, or the abilities, I would say, to handle it better than anybody on his own.
You know, I don't think there's a teacher in this world that could probably teach the guy that he probably already knows. What you need is probably some good set of eyes to watch to see what he's doing, but it looks like he's going to do it on his own. He's got his camera, his iPhone out, he knows the positions he wants to be in. He knows he has some problems that he wants to fix. He's working at it. I haven't seen a happier Tiger Woods than I had this last week.
So that said, you know, he seems like he's in a good place as far as what I saw last week, and his game, he knows he needs to work on, but he's doing that.
Q. (Regarding experience on TOUR).
STEVE STRICKER: Sure, yeah, I look back at it all the time. It's amazing, this is my 17th year on TOUR. It's flown by. I can't believe that I've actually been out here this long and done some of the things that I've done. It's pretty surreal at times. You just appreciate those times that you've had out here and the people that you've met along the way.
But the difference in my first five years to the last five years is night and day. You know, when you're a rookie and not really understanding the ins and outs of pro golf, you make a lot of mistakes. You know, you try to fix those and get through those, but the older you get, the more experienced you get, I think the calmer I've gotten. I think the last five years, especially the last two or three, I've been extremely calm on the golf course. Stuff doesn't seem to bother me as much anymore, and I think that's led to good scores.
I think now looking back, my family life, living at home, my dad, he's a tough guy. As he got older, he mellowed out, too. I think it's just a natural progression with age and that's what's helped me over the years the last few years become a better player is mellowing out, still working hard and trying to get things right, but I think that's led to some good scores.
Q. What are your thoughts about mandatory tournaments for the top players be induced?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I'm a part of that PAC committee and that will happen. They are going to pick a series of three to six events, and I don't know if John Deere, were they -- I don't think they were on that list, not last year. And I don't know what the three or six tournaments are that they are going to pick, but they will come to maybe the Top-50 players from the previous FedExCup year and ask them to add another tournament to their schedule from this list, and that will happen. Whether, you know -- who knows what tournaments are going to be on the list. They are going to pick the tournaments that need the help the most, and we'll go from there. But players will be asked to add another event.
Q. (Are you in favor of the plan)?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm a big advocate of that. I would love to see that happen, and it happens already, to tell you the truth. The TOUR already recruits players to go to certain events. They try to help out other tournaments get a stronger field. This way, though, it's going to be mandatory, so there's going to be consequences if a player doesn't do it.
Yeah, it's going to help. Hopefully you'll see a Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson -- I don't know if this tournament needs help. I'm sure every tournament can use some sort of help and get a stronger field. Every tournament wants the best players in the world there; who wouldn't. But they are going to look at the bottom three or the bottom six to figure out which tournaments those are, and then we'll see if it helps. It's got to help get stronger fields, there's no question.
Q. (Regarding time off due to injury).
STEVE STRICKER: At first I was pretty excited to stay home to tell you the truth. It was a nice part of the season to start planting corn and soybeans, so it was nice to be on the farm and plant some stuff and get ready for deer season. And when it comes to about a week or two prior to me getting ready to leave, some doubts start to creep into my mind how I was going to come back, how I was going to feel, if this thing was going to hold up. If I started off playing poorly, you know, was that just going to filter in through the rest of the year type stuff.
So at first it was a good thing, and then it went on, I felt the urge to get back out there and start working at it, and just to see what this injury thing was going to feel like and do to me mentally.
So, it was good, and like I say, it refreshed me. My game is probably as good as ever. There's still some things I need to work on. My iron play hasn't been the greatest, but driving the ball great and you know, just looking to keep that momentum going into next week and keep improving. I felt like I improved from the first week I came back at Colonial to last week at Memorial.
So a couple of good weeks back out already.
Q. (What did you do to treat the injury)?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I was seeing a guy in Madison and we did some physical therapy on it and there was some sort of cortisone patch that they can put in there that I got into the system from the outside that I did on a regular basis.
And really, the main thing was just rest and letting it heal before I came back. That was my biggest worry was because I wanted to come back to Colonial and defend there, but I didn't want to come back too early and risk a chance of reinjuring it. And they didn't even know what it was, whether it was the joint itself or a pulled muscle by the joint. So there was still questions up in the air at the time.
Q. (What do you think of the course design)?
STEVE STRICKER: I think D.A. Weibring did a great job here. I haven't played too many D.A. Weibring courses, but I think this one here is really, really good. A lot of players feel the same way and Clair can attest to that. They enjoy coming here. The course is in great shape and has a great flow to it. The people are great. The volunteers are great. And like I say, the tournament staff here does a great job of putting the event on.
You know, everything about this reminds me of a lot of the tournaments the way they used to be when I first came on TOUR. Milwaukee was very similar to this. Out in New York there at the B.C. Open, that's gone away, or I think now it's a Champions Tour event. Just the feel of this tournament and this course is all about what the TOUR used to be, and not that the TOUR is in a bad position now, but it's just these smaller markets have taken a little bit of a hit over the years I think. It's nice and it's refreshing to come back here and play.
Thank you very much. Nice to be back. Thank you.
CLAIR PETERSON: Steve is a modest guy and he talked a little bit about finding his game again, and I don't know if everyone realizes how much work Steve put into that to the point where he's got a trailer in his hometown of Madison that all winter long for, I don't know how many years, he practices all through the winter outside into the snow.
I was at a fund-raiser at the University of Illinois last August and he talked about practicing, hitting a cut shot with his hybrid, and how that came into play at the 71st hole of the John Deere Classic when he was on the 17th and he need a cut shot in there and all of that practice paid off and he wound up birdieing that hole and won. So it's taken a lot of hard work, and we all admire him for a lot of different reasons, but he's one of us. He's a hard-working, humble guy, and we couldn't be more proud to have him as our champion.
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