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July 9, 2015

Steve Stricker


Q. There's something about this place, isn't there?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it was a good start. I haven't been playing particularly well this year and got off to a good start. Hit some really good quality shots at the start of my round, and made a couple putts. That's been the key -- or the poor play on my part this year has been the putter, and finally I got some balls to disappear into the hole, which I haven't been seeing a lot of this year. That helped things out, and I got a little bit of confidence on the greens as I kept going, and it was a good, solid start.

Q. I thought you struck the ball well through the early part of the round, too, and then the hiccup through 17 and 18, but then it all turned with that approach shot into 1, hit the top of the flagstick nearly?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I needed to get off to that good start again on that side after throwing a shot away at 17 for sure, and I did. I birdied 1, and 2, you need to birdie, otherwise you're losing a shot to the field. So that got me going again in the right direction. You know, I finished strong, made a nice birdie at 8 and another one at 6, so it was good all the way around today.

Q. And you know this place intimately. Speak some to the conditions out there today.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's good. The course is probably playing as long as I've ever seen it play. They had rain here on I guess Monday or Tuesday, about three inches so rain, so it's pretty soft out in the fairways. It's in great shape, though, and the greens are pure. So if you can get it on the greens, you know you've got a good -- they're a good speed to make them. They're not overly quick, and you can be aggressive with them, but overall the course is in great shape, and you've got to keep it out of the rough. The rough is probably as thick as I've seen it over the years, too.

Q. A really good way for you to start the week. Talk about it.
STEVE STRICKER: It was a good start. I got off to a good start today. We played the back first, and I hit some good quality shots to start the round, made a good birdie at 11, which is a good hole, and 12, where those are kind of par holes as you get into your round. But I got off to a good start and got a little momentum on the greens finally. Haven't been making a lot of putts this year, and it was nice to see a few of them go in.

Q. You told us yesterday you weren't sure if you were going to make the cut or be in contention. After this round how are you feeling now?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's a good start. I'm taking baby steps yet I feel like. Like I say, it's just the start, so I'll go to the range, hit some more balls this afternoon, work on that putting again, and hopefully continue it tomorrow. The scores are always low here. You need to kind of back one good round up with another one every day, so it's something I'll have to try to do it again tomorrow.

Q. For you to take baby steps, though, this is a pretty good place because you've had good success here.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, this is a nice place for me, and if I can get in contention here, it'll be a good momentum boost for me for the rest of the year. Yeah, so it's always -- I go around here with such good feelings and remember some of the great shots and hole-outs that I've had here over the years. It was a good place for me to come.

Q. Are you focusing on anything else going into the next few rounds?
STEVE STRICKER: Nothing different. I'll just do the same things, try to hit it in the fairway and then be aggressive when I feel like it's a good pin for me, and if not, play to the smart side of the green, try to limit the mistakes. You know, you're going to make some birdies around here, and it's those bogeys that you really end up kicking yourself over sometimes. I bogeyed 17 and 18, and I made the turn 2-under, and I'm feeling like the world is coming to an end. You can't do that. You can't give shots away. That's what I'll try to do is clean up those couple mistakes.

Q. Did you spin one off the green on 17?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, and I hit a good shot. I had a perfect yardage, 63 yards to the hole, and normally if I wouldn't have seen Kisner do what he did, I probably would have just tried to play it to the hole. But he threw it up on the back of the backstop and it came back to a couple of feet, and I'm like, oh, that looks pretty nifty, so I tried to do the same thing, but I had to hit it a little bit harder to get it up on that ridge, and I created a lot of spin, and it came ripping off the front and all the way off, maybe 10, 15 yards off the front of the green, and I didn't have that great a lie down there. Yeah, it was just a poor decision. I should have just played a soft little shot in there. It was only 63 yards, like I said, and I could have just played it in there with no spin at all hardly, and I ended up putting way too much spin on it.

Q. Good bunker save on the par-3 on the front.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's not a good spot to be. I tried to hit just a soft little 4-iron and keep it down and chase it back there and just hit it on the bottom of the club. But that was a great save to keep that momentum going, too. Yeah, so you need stuff like that in a round, especially around here when you're trying to shoot some good scores.

Q. With your involvement in the Champions Tour and I know you're going to play both Tours into 50, 51, 52, as long as you're exempt here, but is that reassuring to know you've got a lot of competitive golf ahead of you, even if it's not on this TOUR, a place to play?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm excited for that next little chapter of golf in my career, and I've talked to Jerry, and he feels the same way, although he continues to play full-time out here. You know, it's been a great way of life, you know, playing golf and chasing the TOUR around and that little white ball around, but it's also -- it's time to step back a little bit here and there, but I look forward to that Champions Tour. Those guys that I talk to out there say it's great fun, a little more relaxing. You don't have guys hitting it 70 by you like when I played with Dustin Johnson at Memorial. It's 60 and 70 yards ahead of you, stuff like that. It'll be fun and something I'll be looking forward to.

Q. And you can't miss a cut on that Tour.
STEVE STRICKER: That's true.

Q. Well, most of them --

Q. How did you reset after making the turn?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I saw my kids and Nicki at the turn, and they had just gotten here, and I just said, well, I just made two birdies, and she's like, well, make two birdies. (Laughter.) I guess I listened.

Q. She'll be happy to know that.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. But I knew that walking up 18. I'm like, I've got a birdie hole at 1, and an eagle or birdie hole at 2, so it's get after it again, and I hit a really good shot at 1, made a nice putt there, and a nice bunker shot at 2 after hitting two good shots, so it was a good way to get that momentum back after stepping on myself on No. 17, really.

Q. Is it hard to have a short memory in situations like that?
STEVE STRICKER: It kind of is, yeah. You know, as golfers, we -- at least I am. You don't want to make any mistakes, and we're kind of perfectionists, a lot of us. There's always something better, let's put it that way. You can always do better, and look back, and you go, gosh, that was dumb, why did I do that kind of thing, so it's hard to wipe it out of your memory bank, but that's what you need to do. You need to forget about it, move on, and try to play the next hole as well as possible.

Q. In contention on the weekend, how do you lean back and use what you've done here as a positive, as an advantage over the rest of the field?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I've got a lot of confidence here. I've gone around here and won three times. I've had other opportunities. I was right in contention last year, too. I know I can win here, and I can win here even if I'm 48. I think I can win here. I just have good feelings around here. I've got to do some special things to win here just like anybody else, but I've got a lot of confidence here, and I feel comfortable going around here. But tomorrow is another day. I've got to do the same thing, and that's the pressure of this place, really, is because you can't back off. You need to shoot that 4-, 5-, 6-under round every day, because it's going to be 20-under or a little bit more maybe even because it's so soft and the course is in good shape. So you've got to just keep plugging, keep going.
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