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August 10, 2016

Steve Stricker

Silvis, Illinois

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome three-time John Deere Classic winner Steve Stricker back to the interview room this week. It's been an interesting summer for you, hasn't it?

STEVE STRICKER: It has, yeah. I played well a couple times, got me into a tournament or two that I wasn't expecting to get into, and it's been fun again kind of getting back into the swing of things. Playing some better golf of late, and it's been fun.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: If you can just recap a little bit, getting a runner-up in Memphis, into the Open and then finishing strong over at Troon.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I finished second there at Memphis, and it got me thinking a little bit about, you know, getting in majors. I had tried qualifying for the U.S. Open, missed out on a playoff there by a shot. So I was trying to get into some of these major tournaments and trying to gain some Ryder Cup points, some FedExCup points, and ended up finishing second there at Memphis, which got me into the British Open. So was very excited about doing that, and I thought the best preparation was to go over and play in the Scottish Open the week before. Had actually a great time playing at the Scottish Open, got accustomed to the time, the weather, the course conditions, all that kind of stuff, and helped the transition into the British Open much easier than in years past. Sorry, Clair.

But it was fun. Had a good tournament there at the Open. Never had a chance really to win I didn't think. Those two guys were so far ahead of everybody else, but it was good getting into the mix and getting some nerves going and trying to deal with all that, so it was a good couple of weeks over there.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: This will be your 15th start here, a place that you have lots of special memories. Just some opening comments on returning to the Quad Cities.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's always special coming back here. It's a special place for me and my family, and I relive that shot on 18 every time I come back here it seems like. It's really cool. It's neat, and it's like home. I get so much support here, and the fans really get behind me and Zach. All the other guys here, too, but it's just really a special place for us to come back here and play.

The course is in unbelievable shape. I got out there and played five holes last night before dark, and it's the best I've ever seen it. It's going to be a great week for everybody here, and hopefully the weather holds off on Friday it looks like, but other than that, it's shaping up to be a great week.

Q. You said the best condition; what in particular impressed you?
STEVE STRICKER: Everything. I mean, there really isn't a blade of grass out of place. The fairways are as good as I've ever seen them, and I was right behind the mowers and the mowing crew on the greens, and I think they were even rolling them. I got some pure conditions last night, and they were really nice.

A little speedier than normal I thought, even last night. I don't know if it was just because I got behind the grounds crew there, but it was in great shape, everything.

And the rough looked uniform. I didn't go in there, but it looked healthy and uniform, so it looks like putting the ball in the fairway is going to be key this week, too.

Q. Is that going to change your approach to this course or what we expect this week as far as a winning score goes?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think so. I think -- you mean lower?

Q. Lower.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's always typically pretty low here. You know, I think you have to be thinking of that right out of the get-go, right out of the first tee box. You've got to think about being fairly aggressive at times and making birdies and trying not to make any bogeys. I think that's been the key for me here in the past is not making too many mistakes. You get plenty of birdie opportunities here, so if you can limit the bogeys and make five or six birdies a round, you're going to be in good shape.

But I think it's going to be similar scoring conditions. It's always been -- the course has always been in good shape, but this year it just seems to be another notch better.

Q. Clair talked about the Mount Rushmore of golfers here at the John Deere Classic, and he mentions your name as one of those golfers. What does it mean to be named one of those golfers, and who would you put up there as those four golfers?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, boy, putting me on the spot. Well, D.A. Weibring for sure you'd put up there, Zach, myself. Who else, Clair? Help me out.

Q. Spieth.
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah, Jordan. What am I thinking? The guy who just won last year, who's a big crowd favorite here, too.

You know, it's just a -- it's a great hometown feel here. This is the way that the PGA TOUR used to be week in and week out, and we don't get this feel very often anymore. I've always said Milwaukee used to have it. They don't have an event anymore. But this tournament here in the Quad Cities here at the TPC has that feel of PGA TOUR in the past. When I first came out on TOUR, a lot of the events were like this.

This has maintained it, and that's what makes it a special place. And the players feel that, and everybody who comes here has a great appreciation for what the community does and what Clair and his team do and what kind of event they put on here. That's why it gets rave reviews amongst all the players and people who come here.

Q. You had a 60 here at Deere Run. Do you have a 58 in you?
STEVE STRICKER: Geez, I don't know if I have that in me or not, but it was a special round last week, wasn't it? I had to watch -- I didn't get to see it when it was really happening, so I went back and found the highlights of it. The scary part is it could have been a couple shots lower, so it's pretty remarkable what he did. It's great for the game, brings attention to our sport. Jim is a true professional, and it was cool to see him do that. But a pretty amazing round.

Q. You mentioned fun again; how much does that make a difference?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, whenever you play well and you get some confidence going, the game becomes fun. Not that I wasn't having any fun, but it's just become a little more important again in our house. Even my wife and kids get fired up when I play well. They're like, when are you going to go, and they were trying to -- Nicki was telling me, you should go over the week before, give yourself a good preparation for the Open. So everybody gets involved. Even the kids, they're coming down here this week. They look forward -- they came to the PGA Championship a couple weeks ago.

You know, it gets the whole house fired up, and that's fun to see, too.

And it is, it is fun. It always has been fun, but it's more fun when everybody gets excited about it and they want me to play well, and I am playing well, so it's been good in that respect.

Q. Five Illinois guys in this field; what's impressed you about what Small has done with that program and why do you think it is so many guys are able to transition so well onto the PGA TOUR?
STEVE STRICKER: Everything. It hasn't surprised me really at all, but everything that he's done there has just been top-notch, first-class, stamping out players, and great players left and right. I played with Thomas Pieters in a practice round over at the Open Championship, and tremendous talent there. He's won a couple times on the European Tour already. Thomas Detry, another Belgian player, the list goes -- Charlie Danielson, I played with him this year in LA after he qualified to get in the LA Open (Northern Trust Open). He's stamping out great players, I mean, great college players, and they're making that transition to the pro level look easy it seems like so far. It's really cool to see. They're all outstanding kids, too, on top of it. Whatever he's doing down there is the right things, and it's fun to see. I get to go down there in a couple weeks and we do a fundraiser every year, and we're doing it in Olympia Fields this year, so get to see some of the kids -- Langley I think will be there, Guthrie, I think, so just a lot of good-quality people and good golfers, which those two things, when you have those in hand, are pretty good.

Q. Do you take pride in that considering your contributions to the program and that facility down there now?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, a little bit, I guess. But this is Smally's deal. This is what he's built and put together. He's such a great guy. His personality is such, you have two coaches come out -- I always say this. You have two coaches come into your house to recruit your kid, you're going to pick Smally I would think 90 percent of the time. He's just that good a guy, and he comes across very good, and he is a good guy. There's no BS. It's just straightforward with him. That's what people like about him. That's what I love about him, and he's a close friend, and it's just really cool to see what he's doing down there and what kind of program he's put together. He's put together probably the best program in the NCAAs and at the college level. It's really neat to see.

You never would have thought that being in a Midwestern state, you know, so it's cool, and he shows that it can be done. Really being from a cold weather climate, it doesn't matter, so that's neat to see.

Q. You talked about feeling good coming into this tournament. Does it compare to how you felt coming in the years that you won here?
STEVE STRICKER: A little bit maybe. You know, I always have kind of the same feeling when I come here. I'm excited to come here and play. I'm fired up. I'm anticipating the starts, all that stuff, where I have good feelings here. I feel like I'm going to play well here. Whether I do or not is another thing, but I always come in here with a good, positive attitude, you know, and good vibes from other years. In that regard I feel the same.

Q. In addition to your great play, in the 2016 calendar year you're an assistant captain for the Ryder Cup team. Can you give your thoughts on how the team is shaking out so far?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think it looks really strong, and the guys just outside the number, 9 through 12, look really strong, too. I think it's shaping up to be a great team.

There's still a couple weeks left, three weeks, I think, left before the final eight are finalized, and then I think there's a couple more playoff events before Davis makes his picks, but I think the team is looking great.

And there's a few other guys. You've got to put Furyk in that mix, too, the way he's been playing and the round that he shot. You know, he's a great competitor and been a part of so many teams, so you've got to look at him, too.

But I just think it's a really solid team and guys are playing well, and they're looking forward to the event. Everybody talks about it and has their sights set on that event, and I think even some of those Olympians that are over there if I'm not mistaken are going to play Wyndham; did I hear that right? They want to qualify. They want to be on that team. That's what it means to the players, and it's first and foremost on a lot of guys' minds right now.

Q. Are you content with being a captain, or are you thinking of trying to play your way on, getting a pick?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm trying to play my way on. I'm here. I want to play well here, and I'm going to try to play the first couple -- Barclays for sure and see what these two events hold. But yeah, I'd be a fool not to think that it's not possible, so the goal is out there for me to try to play well and try to -- I don't know if I can make it on points, but I can get the attention of Davis and the other guys and just see if that's possible or not.

But I've got to play some good golf yet, a couple good tournaments, to show that it's worthy because it's a long shot, but it's out there.

Q. What would that mean to you not only in terms of Ryder Cup, getting in that discussion, but winning for a fourth time here?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it would be great. We're out here to try to win, and I'm no different. I want to win again. To win here again would be really special. You know, it's a special place for me, and to do it here in front of a lot of friends and family and fans would, again, be really special.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to thank you for your time today, and good luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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