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May 7, 2015

Steve Stricker


STEVE STRICKER: Five birdies, two bogeys. I managed my game well. I didn't hit it great or anything, but I had some opportunities that I took advantage of. I missed a couple on the back side. I had two or three putts on the back side that I didn't make. But just played pretty smart all the way around and kept it out of trouble.

Q. Do you feel rusty at all?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I feel a little rusty. I haven't played a lot. I don't know if I'm really at full strength yet with my back. It seems like if I put in two or three days of hard work, it takes a lot out of me, so I'm constantly trying to manage that. I'm trying to get stronger while I'm home, so it's been a little bit of a process, but I feel like things are starting to -- I'm starting to see some more positive signs the way I'm hitting it. But it's still interesting at times. I'm not driving it particularly well, and that's been really the strength of my game over the last seven or eight years, and I'm struggling with that a little bit. But just plugging away.

Q. Many say experience is such a huge key here; was that a big factor for you today?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think you got to step up and hit some shots when it calls for it, and then there's times where you just have to back off, too, and say, you know what, that's not a very smart play. I did that on 16 today. I could have gotten there with a utility club and I just laid it up with a 9-iron and hit a sand wedge in there to about eight or ten feet and made the putt. So, I think that 90 percent of the guys probably would have gone for that and I was tempted to go for it, too, but it was one of those shots; it's a back left pin and your tendency there is to miss it left and then have you nothing. So I just gave myself -- I said if I can get a 10- or 15-footer look at it, I would be happy, and I hit it in there eight or ten feet and made it. So, there's times like that where you have to kind of play cautiously smart and I did that a few times.

Q. You've got some extenuating circumstances; were you annoyed when your cut streak ended in New Orleans?
STEVE STRICKER: I was. That irritated me a lot. I don't like to miss cuts. Nobody does out here. I had a nice streak of them going and I knew it was going to be tough. I thought if I was going to miss a cut it was going to be at Augusta right away, but I ended up making it there. But it's kind of nice to get that over with, too, and past you and then just keep not having to worry about something as little as that and try to play your game.

Q. Did you ever try and figure out how old you would have been if you would have ever beaten Tiger's record?
STEVE STRICKER: I think you texted me that one time. Especially if I'm playing 12 events a year, it would take me a long time.

Q. What's a reasonable expectation when you come out here and you throttled back before the injury; you're in your designated hitter era?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I still have a lot of expectations that I put on myself and I feel like I should play well, but yet I'm trying to be smart about it and it's hard because deep down I want to compete and get right in there and have a chance to win. Realistically, I don't know if that's the case, but I'm just trying to play better and I'm working hard at it still. I'm home working at it and I really haven't stopped working at it. From two weeks before Augusta I've been putting in a lot of time and trying to get stronger and play better. So, yeah, I still have a lot of expectations, but I don't know what to expect at times, too. That's what I said about my tee ball. I'm getting up there and I'm not knowing really what to expect, and at times it was pretty good today and then I hit a couple of foul balls, too. But just keep working at it and keep trying to get better.

Q. The scenario you described at 16, those places around the course, is that why we're seeing a lot of pretty high scores given the rather benign weather conditions? How do you explain that?
STEVE STRICKER: There's just a lot of trouble here and you have to be smart. There's times where you just have to pitch it out and take your lumps. Hit it over in the rough sometimes or don't short-side yourself and there's a lot of sucker shots where, hey, yeah, I can pull this off, but if you don't you're hitting it in the water type stuff. So you just have to be patient and know what a good shot for you is and when to try to pull it off and when to back off, I think.

Q. Is that when the ignorance of youth can work against people, because there's no shot they don't think they can pull off?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, maybe. I never thought that way to start with, so it's -- these young guys play with no fear sometimes, and a course like this can jump up and get you, especially if you're not hitting it all that great.
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