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March 11, 2016

Steve Stricker

Palm Harbor, Florida

Q. Difficult golf course in tough conditions to bring a veteran on top of the leaderboard. Well done out there.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you. It is. It's something that we don't see very, very much out here on Tour. Tight, narrow tree-lined fairways, tough conditions. Yeah, it's fun to play. It's challenging, very challenging.

Q. Things kind of went your way today, big bomb there on the 3rd. Hole-out eagle at 10. Got it up and down there at 15. The birdie there at 16.
That's what happens but how much does your experience factor into how well you played today?

STEVE STRICKER: Just hanging in there. You know you're going to have some things go your way and some things aren't going to go your way. You got to keep plugging along.

There are times I escaped with a few good breaks, holing out at 10, you don't expect to do that, and that putt at No. 4 was going pretty quick and that ended up going in. So, some things evidently definitely went my way. I'm starting to play a little bit better. Definitely putting better and slowly things are coming together.

Q. I know you're playing a limited schedule. You look pretty healthy. How are you feeling?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm getting stronger all the time. I'm starting to feel stronger and be able to practice a little bit more without, you know, having the backaches and the pain and stuff like that, but things are improving everyday and every time I'm out here playing seems to be getting better.

Put a time into it in the off-season at the end of last year. Even last year, I was hitting the ball well last year and making nothing and I was putting poorly and I looked at my stats and that reflects that last year, even in the 9 tournaments that I played in.

But, I knew that was a problem and I knew I wasn't feeling good about it so I went to work in the off-season and the start of this year I really tried to figure out what was going on, what was wrong and --

Q. What was wrong?
STEVE STRICKER: Couple things. I wasn't lined up very good. I was lined up a little bit to the right. Personally I felt like I wasn't starting -- for me it's all is starting the clubhead in this triangle back together and I wasn't doing that. My clubhead was kind of beating my turn back there and it was almost kind of running off, too. My triangle would stop and my head would keep moving. I was trying to play catch up all the time.

I tightened that up a little bit and it seems the work has paid off. I've putted great this year in the times I've played, I've putted really nicely and so, hopefully, that continues and keep working on those same things and my ball-striking is get a little bit better at times, too.

Q. None of it was a lure to try to get you back out here more though, was it, none of your struggles made you say, "Oh, Man maybe I should play more"?
STEVE STRICKER: It's frustrating when you're only going to play those limited amount of times and you're not playing that well, you know. I mean it's like okay, I want to play good when I come out, you know, even if I'm going to play 12, 14 times whatever the number is going to be, I want to play well and I still think I can play well but I was noticing that I wasn't game ready, really.

You know, I could do okay on the range but I wasn't taking it to the golf course. I'm starting to take it to the golf course now more times than not and that's something that you don't really think about when you're -- when I was playing full-time, you know, you just kind of -- you take it for granted, I guess, and now that I don't play as much I come out and it's not as good a feeling. I stand there and, "Oh, wow, these are different shots than I've been practicing" and I'm not able to play up in Wisconsin yet. That's a little bit tougher.

So I think that's why I wanted to play a little bit more early on to see if I could get into some tournament-ready shape. We took the kids out of school for three weeks right after Christmas. They were all with me and Nikki caddied. It was a good stretch early in the year to try to get some reps under my belt.

Q. Did you call Tiger to get some putting tips since you helped him out?
STEVE STRICKER: He wouldn't help me. Even if I did call him, he wouldn't help me.

Q. Before you had the hip and back issue, you actually, though, did really -- well, with the limited golf, you managed that limited schedule, you know, you almost looked like a genius for the way you had that figured out.
Was the injury more an issue you think than the surgery and stuff more of the problem?

STEVE STRICKER: I think getting the strength back has been -- has taken longer than what I expected. You know, last year only playing 9 times based on -- that was what I wanted to do.

I wanted to make sure that I got healthy. I didn't really care about the playing schedule so much last year, is that I wanted to start feeling better.

And then going forward this year, I said I got to get stronger and be able to put -- I never played more than one tournament in a row last year, either.

So, this year was a little bit of a wait and see if I could play two in a row. I ended up playing three in a row early on.

So, it's been good in that regards. I'm feeling stronger, I'm feeling better. I feel like my body is recovering better the next day and I feel like I'm going in the right direction as far as health and my back is concerned.

So, that's good.

Q. Very specific reason why you cut back, is that reason still there and you're just having to kind of adjust it a little bit as far as, you know, you're going to play more and you really want to be home more?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't understand.

Q. Did you adjust your thinking on that, then?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No. The thinking is still the same, that I don't -- I'm still going to do the same thing. My number last year was -- the 9 number last year was based on the surgery in December. That's the only reason that was 9.

My number of tournaments is more up towards the 15 number, 13, 14, you know, if I can get into the Playoffs I maybe play one or two of that if I can, if I end up making that. That's kind what I'm looking at as a number.

Last year was an anomaly because of the surgery and I didn't want to push it. I just wanted to make sure I wanted to get -- you know, not screw up the surgery, kind of not come back too early, make sure I did the right things at home with the rehab and stuff like that.

Q. That's why if you were sacrificing, the reason you did cut back, the reason you're playing more you have it --
STEVE STRICKER: No, not at all.

Q. Did you counsel Tiger at all in not coming back too soon?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No. I mean -- I don't know if he did. I haven't really talked to him. I texted him here and there. We've talked back and forth via text but, you know, I don't know -- I don't know any of the circumstances as it relates to his back.

The guy -- the surgeon didn't -- wasn't able to fix it all the first time. I don't even know. But, that's typically all of us, you know, we want to rush it back because we're excited to get back and play and get back into the competition but sometimes that can hurt us, too, in the long run.

Q. Seems like this time maybe he is paying heed. It does seem he's taking it slower this time.
STEVE STRICKER: Yes. I think that's smart. Hopefully, you know, he gets it rectified and gets stronger and comes back healthier.

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