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July 8, 2015

Steve Stricker


AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome Steve Stricker here to the interview room at the John Deere Classic. Looking through the record book here at this tournament you'll find your name lots of places. Just like to welcome you back. The only player to win three times in a row. What's it like being back.

STEVE STRICKER: It's always fun to come back. I get excited for this event and excited for the drive down. I always look forward to playing here. It brings back a lot of great memories. It's a special week for me, and it feels like home. It's not too far from home, so I get a lot of support and see a lot of family and friends here, and it's a really nice week.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: The announcement was made that John Deere will extend its sponsorship through 2023. What does that say to you?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that shows a huge commitment on John Deere's part and for the community, too. John Deere has been a great partner here for the PGA TOUR and the community. They've raised a tremendous amount of money here. I think it's per capita at the top of the list for charitable dollars given at the end of each tournament year, so it's just a feather in this community's cap and John Deere. It's cool to see the commitment on their part. You know, I look forward to eight more years of John Deeres. Great people there, hard work ethic, and it's nice to see that they continue to support here, the event in the community.

Q. How is your back?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's okay. It's not ideal yet. I get a lot of stiffness at times. Really I'm not in any pain or anything like that, but really some of the stiffness issues have been troubling. So I continue -- I'm kind of taking this year as kind of a take-it-easy, try to not do any more harm and try to work out and get a little bit stronger, you know, see where my game is at, practice -- I'm not practicing probably quite as much because I'm trying to just be careful with it, I guess, more than anything. But overall, you know, I think it's been a good -- it's been six months is all, so I think it's been a good six months. I've seen progress. I see some speed coming back in my swing. It's just -- I think it's taking some time, a little bit longer time than I had thought. But it's progressing nicely, so I'm excited about that.

Q. Your game hasn't really taken off this year. Is it partly that, and do you feel you're getting close?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, it's been the putter more than anything this year. I've hit the ball actually okay the times that I have played and just have had a hard time making some putts and getting any momentum going at all. That's been the culprit of some of my mediocrity. I've been spending a lot of time on that the last few weeks, hoping to get that part of my game going. It's been a bit of a challenge. I've been feeling things in my putting that I haven't felt before, so I'm trying to get back to some of my basics and things that I've done over the years. It's coming around. I'm hitting better putts. I didn't see anything go in last week. I putted poorly, hit the ball nicely at Greenbrier, just made nothing. So hopefully get on some greens that I've had some success at and have made some putts on and hopefully get some to go in this week.

Q. Is it technical or something that (inaudible)?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think that I always take it for granted sometimes. I work on it a lot but I take it for granted, and I think this year I've been so focused on my swing and my back and trying to get that on a positive note, on a good note, and more concerned about that and kind of overlooked the putting part of it. Putted great, or decent, at the Masters, the first tournament of the year, and then from there it hasn't been very good. I don't know if I've just been focusing so much on my overall swing and how it relates to my back that I've kind of bypassed the putting part of it, but it's starting to come around. I'm hitting a lot better putts, I think, more better putts. But I need some to go in.

Q. Do you think that that might be a byproduct of the cut-back schedule?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it probably is. I'm not playing as much, especially this year. I didn't start until April, and then I played one on and one off. I really haven't been able to get into momentum. That's why I'm kind of giving myself a break. It's been six months since I had this surgery. So I'm kind of taking this year as let's get back healthy and not worry about my game too much, and then just make sure that I'm healthy and get back after it a little bit more next year probably. I'll probably play a little bit more, maybe closer to 15 events next year. So that's my plan now anyways, and see how it goes.

Q. How are you looking at the last couple chapters? Are you starting to look forward to Champions Tour and --

Q. Will you play more?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I don't know if I'll play more. We've got this event going now, the Champions Tour event going now up in Madison, so I've been involved with that a little bit with my insurance sponsorship with American Family. That's taken a little bit of time. But you know, I just cut back. It's been fun to be home. But the next step is to play some on the Champions Tour, and I'm exempt out here for a period, maybe 51 or 52 years old, so I'll continue to play some out here. As long as it stays fun and I enjoy the competition, I'll continue to play. And that's gotten to be a little bit more of a challenge, especially this year to tell you the truth. When you're not feeling quite as good, it's a little bit harder to get excited and motivated to do things, I guess. That's been a little bit of a struggle at home to continue to practice. I'm having so much fun doing other things, like this Champions Tour event, and then doing things with the family. Kids are on summer break now, so it's -- I've got different motivations now, I think, than I have over the years.

Q. Does this tournament motivate you, though?

Q. Given your track record here, it's got to give you a boost of confidence.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, yeah, and I came here last night and I played nine holes real late. I teed off maybe 5:30, 6:00. It was great to get out there, just my caddie and myself, and we got a lot of good work done. I hit the ball great. So yeah, it definitely puts a spring in my step when I come here, and I look forward to seeing if I can't get something going. I haven't -- like Gary said, I haven't done much this year, and I think I've played six times is all, so that's been a little bit of an issue, too. But it's always fun, and I get jacked up to come and play, and I look forward to teeing it up tomorrow.

Q. All that said, what are your expectations for this week?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I have no idea. I really don't. I could get in there and contend or I could miss the cut, the way I feel. It could be -- that's the gamut that I'm facing, I think. It's really a wait-and-see. I have no idea. I don't come in here with any sort of form. I have no expectations. I still care on how I play and I want to play well, but I just don't have anything to base that off of. I haven't played enough to get any sort of feeling on what should happen here. Usually I come in here with some decent results, and I haven't had any this year. That's a little bit of a challenge mentally on what to expect because I really don't know. So it'll be fun.

Q. You said you saw the course, nine holes last night. What did you see out there?
STEVE STRICKER: It's in great shape, yeah. They got three inches of rain here, I guess, yesterday. I saw a picture of it while I was at home yesterday practicing. I think it was the first fairway was under water, so I knew you guys had gotten a lot of rain, but it was in great shape. We weren't getting a lot of roll out in the fairways. It played longer than normal. The greens were perfect. They were faster than normal, although I think I was following the rolling machine around is why they were really fast. But I had heard that they were a little bit faster than normal. It should be good. The rough is up a little bit, so it should be another fun week for everybody.

Q. Does the winner get to 20-under?
STEVE STRICKER: Depends on the weather, I guess. If we get some wind -- I'm sure it'll be pushing that. I mean, there's just a lot of good birdie opportunities out there, par-5s, some of them are reachable. For everybody, two of them are reachable, two out of the three. I think there's only three, isn't there? And there's a lot of short irons in your hand where you can make some birdies. And then the holes you've got to pay attention on, you make your pars and move on. But yeah, it'll be pushing that 20 number, I'm sure. The greens are pure.

Q. You played with Tiger last week. What did you see in his swing, and maybe you're the guy that can fix him, given your success as partners in Ryder Cups and stuff.
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know if I can do that, but what did I see? I thought he looked improved. I thought he swung the club with some more confidence. He drove the ball pretty well. There was a couple drives that he struggled with there, specifically on No. 17. But I thought he hit his irons great. He putted nicely, which it was very hard to putt last week. The greens are tough to putt there, and I thought he putted nicely. So I thought he looked better. I haven't played with him, though, for a couple years. It's only been what I've seen on TV and stuff like that. But I thought he did better.

Q. You coached him up at Doral on his putting stroke. Does he talk to you or seek your counsel?
STEVE STRICKER: No, he didn't this -- no. You know, we talk about things here and there. We really didn't this last time. We talked about more general things, his family and his kids, how his back is doing. He feels kind of a lot of the same things that I feel still, the stiffness. So we talked about those kind of things, and past Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups that we've played on together. We talked a little bit about that, too. It was fun. It was fun to play with him. It's always fun to be out there with him. We're comfortable out there with each other. I think he's comfortable with me out there. My wife was on the bag, so that was a good dynamics between the three of us. So we had a good time.

Q. Is she here today?
STEVE STRICKER: She's coming down tomorrow. Yeah, they're coming down tomorrow and catch me on the back side probably and for the rest of the week.

Q. How old are your kids?

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Thank you so much for your time. Good luck this week.
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