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July 12, 2017

Steve Stricker

Silvis, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and get started. Like to welcome Steve Stricker, three-time winner of the John Deere Classic 2009 through '11.

Making your 16th start here at the John Deere Classic, obviously a place near and dear to your heart. A lot going on your Presidents Cup captaincy and playing Champions Tour and enjoying a lot of success out there.

With all this said, just some comments about being back here, like I said, at a place that is very near and dear to you.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it is always a special trip down the road to come here, the Quad Cities and TPC Deere Run. So it's always a special treat to drive in the drive and see all the John Deere equipment.

Brings back a lot of great memories. Feels like home. It feels real close to a lot of good things that have happened over the years. Always enjoy coming back here.

THE MODERATOR: How are you feeling about the state of your game? I think you've had four top 10 finishes on the Champions Tour in just five starts; top 16 at the U.S. Open. Just a little assessment on your game.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, had the last couple weeks off so I'm trying to get some practice in. A little rusty, I think. Hadn't played much over the two weeks. Excited, always excited about being here. Always seem to get a little extra out of my game here.

Things are coming along okay. I've practiced hard the last few days, and I should be okay once the tournament starts. Hopefully we get the round in this afternoon. I could use another 18 holes going around here. It's going to be soft. The course is going to play a little different than it has previous years I think because of the softer conditions.

But it's in great shape. The rough is up. So it's going to be a good -- you know, it's always a fun course to play. It's pretty good tennis. You got to make some birdies, and that's always a challenge, too.

THE MODERATOR: My last question and we'll open it up. Just Presidents Cup captaincy, for lack of a better term, how has that juggling act been?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I've never been more busy in my life than these last six, eight weeks trying to get in the U.S. Open up in Wisconsin and then our Champions Tour event that we hold in Madison then playing and Presidents Cup duties, all that kind of stuff. It's been very busy, but a good busy.

I'm excited about what I'm doing, and the opportunity to be the captain this year is a great thrill for me. So that's getting closer and closer and we're starting to ramp up some things on that end and talking to more and more players all the time.

It's just a great, busy time for me, and I look forward to the rest of the year.


Q. You played on Cup teams before. What do you think will be the difference now being the manager, so to speak? How do you get your players to do what you want them to?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I've played on a few, and then the last I don't know how many teams I've been a part of on the assisting captain side of things. So I've gotten to learn some of the things to do and not to do.

But, you know, it's pretty much -- you know, they run themselves. You just got to allow those players to have a great setting, allow them to bring their best games out, listen to them, provide the things they need and want, and just have a great environment for them to play well.

That's what I think I've learned most over the last few teams, and especially Davis. I think, it's just a calming atmosphere that he provided, and hopefully I can do the same. My demeanor is pretty close to what Davis' is. It's just talking to the players and seeing what they need for the week and let them do what they do best. That's play golf and hole putts and not try to get in their way.

Q. It's been a balancing act this year with everything going on. What have you learned about yourself, your game?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's a good question. You know, I guess what I've learned is that -- yeah, I don't know. I really don't know. I mean, I really -- it has been a juggling act. I relied on a lot of people. The tour has helped me out a lot with the Presidents Cup. I got an agent in my brother-in-law Mario that has helped me out a lot, but I'm still able to play golf.

I've still been playing okay. It hasn't been my best but still playing some pretty decent golf so when I get inside the ropes I can forget about everything else. I've learned that I can juggle a lot of things at one time.

Family life is another one at home that I'm having to make sure I pay attention to my kids and pay attention to my wife. It's been fun.

Everyone has been busy, the whole family, and they have enjoyed it as well. They're pushing me to play. But I've been able to kind of segregate the things and do the things that I need to do at the time and still focus on playing golf and doing what I love to do. That's still playing to compete.

Q. Kind of like five of the top 10 in your team have not played for ten years in any stretch before. If that stays that way, do you envisage picking experience to go with them, or keeping the youth brigade going by adding to it?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, we'll see, I guess. Yeah, I looked at that same thing. That's a lot of rookies on one team, and we may have to throw in some experienced players if that's the case.

But it depends if those experienced players are playing well at the time also. So I think it's just kind of a wait and see. I'm looking at it every week. After every tournament I'm getting the updated list and I am watching as closely as I can to see who is playing well and who's kind of sliding down that list. I can see who is doing that, too.

But I have a feeling some of these experienced players, we still have enough tournaments left where they're going to -- like Zach Johnson came up to me yesterday. He's like, You know what? I'm going to make this team.

I don't know, he's in the 20s somewhere on that list. He's down quite a bit, but it's got his attention.

So we'll see some of that going forward from the experienced guys that want to be a part of the team. It's just wait and see at this point. We got two majors left and a lot of the points to be had, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Q. It's definitely a changing of the guard, don't you think?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much so. It's great to see. These young kids come out with a lot of fire, personality. They've got to bulldog attitude it seems like. Kisner and Berger, and you know, yeah, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka.

You know, these young guys are coming out with a lot of talent, confidence in their game, and they're not afraid. That's what it seems to me on the outside when I'm watching. It's like they're stepping up.

Kisner when he knocked in the five-footer at Colonial like it was nothing, you know, that's great to see. That's the kind of guys we're looking for.

Q. Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer will be in here next, U of I. What is it like to watch another successful round of golfers come out of that program?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, no doubt about it. I played with a couple of them yesterday. Brian Campbell and Nick Hardy, and I was supposed to play with Dylan and he had another commitment.

Yeah, great to see the onslaught of U of I golfers that are continuing to play well. They're getting so close to winning a national championship. I just talked to Dylan just a second ago, and they want that in the worst way.

It's just really cool. It's fun to watch. Mike Small is a great friend of mine. We gave him an exemption to play in our Champions Tour event and he played great up there.

Just a great ambassador for U of I golf and the state of Illinois and just golf in general. His players respond to that. They're playing some great golf and it's fun to watch. It's fun to see it, and then actually get to be with these guys occasionally and have that connection with U of I golf.

Q. Steve, when you know scores are going to be low at a tournament like this, how does that change your preparation for it and does it alter what you do at another event?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, no, doesn't alter anything. I think coming into here you know the scores are going to be fairly low, and you just have to be ready and prepared right out of the gate to be aggressive when you can and play smart when you have to.

You know, it puts a little extra pressure on you when you get it in there saying you got to make these birdies. If you just stay away from the mistakes, limit those, you'll get plenty of birdie opportunities out here. That's been always my key no matter what course I play.

It's really no different for me. Play my game, get the birdie opportunities, hopefully get the putter rolling, and stay away from the mistakes.

Q. The PGA TOUR awarded the JDC the Tournament of the Year honor last year. What makes this stop, this tournament special and unique for you?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, this is old school. This is the way -- when I first came out here a lot of the tournaments used to be this way, you know, where the communities really get involved.

You know, Milwaukee had one similar to this, but this is another notch above that. The community involvement; you got a great sponsor in John Deere; a lot of pride in this tournament from the community and the sponsors and everybody who puts this thing on.

It's neat to see. You have Pork Chop Hill. What more do you need, right? So it's all these little things that make this event very special. That's why it is.

And it's a blue collar area. People worked hard. It's Midwest values. Put all that together, and this is a great event.

Q. Obviously mentioned Dylan and Nick playing this week in their first PGA TOUR event. You being a proud alum, what kind of things do you want them to be able to learn from this experience, and have you passed anything on to them?
STEVE STRICKER: I just played with those two guys yesterday, Brian and Nick. You know, just being there for them just to -- hopefully they have fun with it. I can remember my first time. It's a nerve-wracking time. There is a lot excitement. You're nervous about how you're going to perform.

But they're just starting. Some of them are still in school. I mean, they still have college yet to do and finish up, and then they're going to start their next go-round of professional golf. They're going to try to play.

I think the biggest thing is just have to fun with it this week and hopefully play well, gain some experience, but have a good time with it. It's basically they're right in their backyard and it should be a great experience for them.

Q. You mentioned the low scores. I think you're cumulatively a million under par here and have eight rounds of 64 or better which leads by a long way. Have you still got that in you though?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's a good question. I would like to think I am. Then there are times my body doesn't quite let me do some of the things I'm thinking about.

Mentally I'm still sharp and excited to play. It's a different game nowadays for me and the generation that's out here playing. These guys are hitting it 30 past me. I'm giving up a lot off the tee. There are a lot of things I've learned in the 30-plus years that I've played that hopefully I can use to my advantage.

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