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JOHN DEERE CLASSIC


July 11, 2014


Steve Stricker


SILVIS, ILLINOIS

DOUG MILNE:¬† Steve Stricker, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a 6‑under 65 in round 2 of the John Deere Classic, 109‑under par in a stretch that has you 21 consecutive rounds under par, and on top of that, just 23 putts today, so obviously in great position heading into the weekend.
STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, it was a round that I needed for sure to try to get back in there to get up closer to the top.  I needed a good, solid round.  It was good to finish up.  Had a good, solid back nine, which was the front side, and made five birdies on that side to kind of give me that round.  At the turn it really wasn't anything special, so to do that on the front, my second nine, was key to the day and to my score.
Excited about what took place coming in, and hit it a little bit better on that side, and hopefully I can continue that into the weekend.

Q.  What was the difference on the front nine?  What got you started?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† You know, I don't know.¬† I birdied 1, and then I actually hit two good shots at 2 pin high to the right fringe and ended up three‑putts that.¬† Lipped out my eagle putt, and it ran by‑‑ hit it too hard, I ran by about seven or eight feet and didn't make that coming back.¬† That was kind of disappointing.
But then I hit some better shots.¬† I just hit it a little bit more consistently.¬† I hit it in the fairways.¬† I gave myself some looks at it, made a great save at No.6.¬† I drove it the in the right rough at No.6, and behind this one little tree, I had really no play, and the only way I could go was try to cut it out of there, and it's hard to cut it out of the rough.¬† The rough is thick, and I had to short‑side myself and I left it over there, and I made a great save there.¬† I didn't hit a particularly well chip shot but made about a 15‑footer from the fringe, and that was huge.¬† That kept the momentum, and then hit two nice shots on the next two holes in there at 7 and 8 and had a nice look at it at 9, too.
I finished up strong, and hopefully carry that into the weekend.

Q.  22 birdies in that group today; just kind of talk about how you guys kind of fed off each other?
STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, it was a good group.  We're all friends.  We all get along.  Stewart and I have been out together quite a few times.  Jordan and I were partners last year in the Presidents Cup and out quite a bit together when I've been out playing.  It was just a good, comfortable group, I think, for everybody.  You could tell we were truly rooting for one another amongst us, and it was a pleasure to play with them both, and it really was one guy bringing along the others.  That one person bringing along changed it seemed like through the course of the day.
It was a lot of fun to be a part of, and we all played some pretty good golf.

Q.  Other than the Sundays that you've won, is Illini Day the most fun day of the tournament week for you?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† Yeah, it's nice.¬† I put on orange.¬† I usually don't wear orange, so it brings me back to my college days.¬† I saw my college golf coach today, Ed Beard, and his wife, so it brings back a lot of memories.¬† You hear a lot of I‑l‑les out in the crowd, and go Illini, all that kind of stuff.
It's a good day, it's a special day.¬† It remembers‑‑ it makes me remember where I came from for sure at school there and all the great memories I had there.

Q.  Do you pay attention to the galleries, and can you compare yesterday afternoon's to this morning's?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† We had a tremendous amount of people out there today it seemed like.¬† The crowds here were great.¬† A lot of people on that second nine, and it looks like they'll be sticking around I'm sure with Zach's group out this afternoon.¬† There will be a lot of people around, and this tournament they do an unbelievable job of having the event.¬† They raise so much money for charity, and they do everything first‑class here.¬† It's well‑run, and the people show their support here in the community, too, which is pretty good.

Q.  Do you just expect to be in contention here?  You've done it so many times in a row.  Do you just kind of figure you're going to be there?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† I don't figure.¬† I like to hope that I'm going to get up there.¬† I don't plan on it.¬† I mean, I'm not that type of guy that's‑‑ I expect to be there.¬† I don't feel that way for sure.¬† But I have a lot of great feelings here, memories here.¬† The course suits me well.
You know, I know how to play it, I guess.  There's a lot of short iron shots, which plays into my game, and I seem to putt the ball really well here, too.
Put all that together, and it leads to some good things.
You know, I didn't really know what to expect this year.  I haven't played all that great.  I've shown some signs here and there, and that's kind of the way my round was today.  Also I showed some really good things today but then I showed myself a guy that's only played seven or eight times.
That's the challenges I face now with this schedule is that I'm just not quite as sharp probably, but I still‑‑ I'm enjoying it so much more when I am playing.¬† Yeah, I know it was a long‑winded answer.

Q.  How many more years would you like to play here?  The Champions Tour is already promoting your arrival.
STEVE STRICKER:  Are they really?  Holy smokes.  Wow.  I expect to be there.

Q.  Zach and Steve, Steve and Zach, 1 and 1A, is there a little something between you that wants to be the 1 as opposed to the 1A?
STEVE STRICKER:  LeBron is going to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Is that your question?  (Laughter.)

Q.  Is there just a little something within you that wants to be that man here as opposed to letting Zach pass you by?
STEVE STRICKER:  I thought I was the man here.  (Laughter.)  I'm just kidding.
I don't know.¬† You know, I mean, I've had a great run here, and it‑‑ I don't know.¬† I enjoy coming here.¬† We don't have a tournament in Milwaukee anymore, and this is the closest thing to home, I guess.¬† And I get a lot of support from Illini fans to Wisconsin fans to friends and family.¬† So it's a special week for me just to hop in the car and come on down here and play.
It just so happens I've been playing here, so it's fun to come here, and I look forward to coming here.

Q.  When you talk about golf in this part of the country?  Earlier in the week Zach talked about golf, the people in the Midwest with the harsh winters have a thirst for golf, and I wondered your thoughts compared to the south, all the great golfers that play here.
STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, I think he's definitely right.  I think because we're forced to way from it during a period of time during the wintertime, we get this desire to get out there and play as much as we can when the weather is good.
That being said, you would think the golf courses would be prosperous here, but that's not the case.  Golf courses struggle in the Midwest.
Yeah, and that's something that I feel like I've had to do every year since I've been on TOUR.  You grow up getting used to that time away from the game, and then you concentrate on it for the eight or nine months, seven or eight months probably, that you can play, and then you're shut away from it for a while.  You can't play, and then you do it all over again.  You get that excitement level back again.
Yeah, and I think we don't have a lot of tournament golf in the Midwest, and this area just thrives for it looks like.  They love coming out here.  They love showing their support, and they raise the most money per capita of any TOUR event, so it's hats off to this area and to the tournament for doing what they're doing.

Q.  What do you say about the agronomists here, the fact that they've gotten this course in such good shape given the winters they have in the Midwest?
STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, it's a tough job at times, and I think we're late enough into the year where he's had a good amount of time to grow, but yet he's not into August months where it can be super hot and humid, although we've had some of those over the years.  But the course is in great shape.  It is every year when it come here it seems like, and that's why I think the scores are so good.  The fairways are perfect.  We're getting roll in the fairways and the greens are holding and they're smooth.  We couldn't putt on a better surface than when we went out there this morning.  It was pure.

Q.  JT won here, you won here three times, Jerry is on the leaderboard, I don't know if Andy ever contended here 30 years ago.  Is this one of those weird coincidences?
STEVE STRICKER:  I think it feels like home.  I think that's the bottom line.  It's the same grass.  It's the same trees.  It looks like we could be playing this up in Madison somewhere or edger ton or anywhere up north.  It's just a comfortable feel.
I mean, when we go down south and we're playing on different surfaces down there, it's odd for us, and that's home for those guys who grew up in Florida.¬† There's a trade‑off every tournament, but I think it's just the comfort that we have when we come here, that it is what we grew up playing and what we've gotten used to.

Q.  On Illini Day, could you talk about your involvement with the brand new Illini practice facility?
STEVE STRICKER:  My involvement?

Q.  Yeah.
STEVE STRICKER:  Well, yeah.  I'm trying to help out and support the team as much as I can.  Me and another team member have kind of donated some money to the new practice facility down there, and we're excited.  It's something that we can give back to the program that helped develop us as people and players and businessmen and all that other stuff.  And Mike is a friend.  We played college together, we continue to be close friends, and he's doing an unbelievable job there.
You know, just to be a part of it and to show my support I think means a lot to me, I know.

Q.  Is it true that you went with Mike to the Augusta National facility to maybe get some ideas and some influence there on what you're building?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† We talked about it.¬† When we were going through the process of developing a plan, I talked to him about the Augusta National practice facility and how they've created fairways there to hit down, so we tried to get that into his facility, as well, because you go to Augusta, it's like you're sitting on a tee box and you can hit one down the left side or one down the right side and they kind of offer two different shots.¬† That is one of the best facilities I've ever seen, and so kind of put that into Mike's facility down there, and I'm excited to see it.¬† They're just getting going with it, and it should be really good, first‑class.

Q.  At some stage in your career maybe you'll dabble a little bit in golf course design?  Have you talked about trying to get hooked up at sand valley or somewhere and have some influence that way?
STEVE STRICKER:  Not really.  You know, I'm busy doing what I'm doing, being at home and then playing the little bit of golf that I'm playing, but then I've got my own foundation that we're trying to get going, and that's been a challenge in its own right.
There's just not a lot of time, and I don't know if it's a great thing to be in at this time anyways.¬† Like I said earlier, the golf course business is struggling.¬† It's not in great shape.¬† Yeah, it's interesting‑‑ it has interested me, but I'm not anywhere near doing anything like that yet.

Q.  What is it going to take the next two days in order for you to finish the job here?
STEVE STRICKER:  Well, a lot more birdies.  I mean, there's a lot of birdies out there, and if the conditions remain the same, although are we supposed to get some rain maybe tomorrow?
DOUG MILNE:  Tomorrow, yeah.
STEVE STRICKER:  We'll have to see how that all plays out.  But there's a lot of opportunities out there, and you've got to stay away from those bogeys because you can make a lot of birdies here, you've just got to limit your mistakes and make your birdies and make the pars on the holes that are par holes, like 9 and 18, and there's a couple others out there, 15, another one.  So it's important to play smart but yet you've got to be aggressive at times and make some birdies.

Q.  You are in a very familiar position going into the weekend.  Does that add a level of comfort to you going into a weekend of play since you've been through it so many times here?
STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, yeah, I'm excited about the position, and I don't even know what position I'm going to be in by the end of the day.  Somebody could go out that shot 7 or 8 yesterday and get to 15 or 16, and I could be six back.  So I plan on being a good bit behind yet, so we'll just have to wait and see.
But I've just got to go out and do my thing, play my game and try to get a little bit better, and I got a little bit better today than I did yesterday, so if I can kind of keep progressing on that level, I'll be all right.

Q.  You mentioned your golf coach being out here today.  Is there a story you can share about how he influenced your career during your time at Illinois?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† Yeah, he was a‑‑ we were friends right from the start.¬† We got along very well together.¬† He wasn't a teacher so much as a guy that took care of us, showed us where to go, what to do, just a great man, and I continue to stay in touch with him today.
You know, he worked hard at what he did for us, and we all enjoyed being around him.  You know, like I say, he didn't really teach us the game so much as just kind of life lessons I would say, more so than anything, and took care of us basically.  I mean, we're in college and not knowing where we're going, but he was a good player in his own right, so he'd have his little tidbits here and there on ball flight and putting maybe, how to drive the ball down.  We played in Champaign where it's windy all the time, so there was a lot of things like that.  I learned to hit the ball down there.
But I would say more than anything, just a lot of life lessons and just being a friend to us all.

Q.  What was his pitch that got you to go across the state line?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† He thought he could get in there and play right away.¬† They finished ninth, too, I think, the year‑‑ nine out of ten, so I thought, well, maybe I have an opportunity to get in there and play on the team my freshman year, so that's kind of what led me down there, and they had a really nice travel program.¬† They went to a lot of cool places.¬† They had a great spring break schedule they went to, and that's kind of what lured me down there, and I liked him, too, so that's the reasons I went there.

Q.  What do you think about LeBron going to Cleveland?
STEVE STRICKER:¬† Actually we were talking about that this morning, and I said I get he goes back to Cleveland at some point.¬† I didn't know he would go back there now, but I actually thought at some point during his career he was going to make it back there.¬† I mean, it's home, and he came from there, and I had a feeling that he would want to go back there.¬† I think it's pretty cool, and it'll be cool to see the fans and the organization that just ripped him for leaving.¬† Now they're going to open their arms to him and be excited as all get‑out to have him back.¬† I think he's making a lot of friends again back in Cleveland.
DOUG MILNE:  Steve, thanks for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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