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January 9, 2019
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started here with Steve Stricker at the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii. Steve is making his 15th start at the event and he's got six Top 10s here.
Steve, if we could just get an opening comment about starting the calendar year here in Hawaii.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's obviously a lot of fun to be here. Would've been a little more fun if we would've started the week last week over here, but this is always a great event here. Sony does a wonderful job. Great course. It's a fun course to play. You look out all around and you got these sceneries to look at all the way around.
It's fun to be here, and get to play next week on the Champion's Tour in Hualalai. It's a great two-week stretch for me.
THE MODERATOR: Can you talk a little about that balance between the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, what this new year might look like in that regard.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm taking my top 25 all-time career Money List, whatever you call it, exemption. I plan on trying to play a little bit more out here this year and see with where that takes me. I really don't know what to expect. Still feel like I've got some game to compete out here, and I am working hard still to try to play well out here.
Start the year off with my concentration being on the regular tour and see where it goes from there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
STEVE STRICKER: It does. That's a course where it's not a bomber's course. You can kind of maneuver your way around there. I've played there a bunch. I haven't had great opportunities there in years past, but I have had a couple there where I could have gotten in the mix.
But it's fun. It's fun to be there. It's a big, huge week for our tour, the fifth major, if you want it call it that. It's one you want to be at. It's going to hurt if I'm not there.
Q. Give us an idea what your schedule looks like through PLAYERS.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I know I'm playing Pebble. I may throw in Phoenix on the front side of Pebble and L.A. on the back side. Not sure how that three-week stretch is. Pebble for sure and one of those two or all three of those.
I'm going to try to concentrate on playing I think all the majors on the Champions Tour. I've never won a major. To try to get one out there would be a lot of fun and something that I have kind of set my sights on this year to try to do, which then in turn would get you in the major out here on this tour.
So just to try to do a little bit of that work on the majors out there, and then throw in the regular tour out here. If I get off to a good start I'll probably just bag the idea of trying to play in the majors out there and concentrate more out here.
Q. So what do you think the number may be this year? Of course we all remember you cutting back a few years ago and so forth. Could you get up to 17, 18 events this year overall?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, last year think I played 20 times, 19 times. I was 12 out here and I think 7 on the Champions Tour.
Q. So much for retirement. Semi retirement.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. I am actually playing more since I've turned 50 I feel like. There is just more opportunities, and then there are these opportunities that -- you know, we're putting in an event in Madison on the Champions Tour. Andy North did last year and Jerry Kelly. Some of those I want to go play in. So I just feel like there is more opportunities.
And getting in contention and winning out there has been a lot of fun. It's kind of a Catch 22 because I'm excited to play and win out there, but it drives me to do some better things out here, too. So it's kind of working both ways. When I come here and play well on the regular tour, if I show some good signs it help me when I go to the Champions Tour, too. They are kind of feeding off one another.
Q. You wouldn't have any other ulterior purposes for being out on the regular tour, would you?
STEVE STRICKER: No. What do you mean?
Q. Poker face. Just curious if you were helping Tiger getting ready for Presidents Cup or if you're...
STEVE STRICKER: I'm in system, yeah.
Q. And if there might be something else that you would have to do next year?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. I know about helping Tiger at the end of this year, and I enjoy being a part of that process with whoever the captain may be.
As far as two years from now, I just don't know yet. It's something that I would be truly honored and excited to do right there in my home state of Wisconsin and right down the road, couple hours down the road.
But no one knows yet for sure. Got to hold off and put it in the PGA's hands and the committee that's making the decision and go from there.
Q. Are you playing Honda?
STEVE STRICKER: Not sure if I'm going there yet or not. I may.
Q. Just curious if you picked up any vibes in Wisconsin when the PGA finally announced going to May, realizing the limitations of majors. Did you get a sense from the golfing community there that they were a little bit down about that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah for sure. That's a big question mark for our area. We'll see how it goes this year in the Northeast. Could be a challenge there this May in the New York area. And it's probably even a little bit worse in Wisconsin at that time of year.
We'll have to wait and see. Definitely when it came out that May is the time frame for the PGA, kind of was a little bit of a downer for me personally thinking that maybe the PGA won't be able to come here again to our state.
But we'll have to wait and see. The courses just aren't ready in May, you know. Unless they can do something special that I don't know about, I mean, that growing season isn't too long by that point. We can get some good weather and the course could be great; it could be awful depending on the year.
Yeah, going to be tough to get back there, I think.
Q. As much time as you spent in this job and all the things do, you when your daughter decides to become a journalism major, is there any part of you that just cringed?
STEVE STRICKER: I just said, Just don't be like Alex. See Alex and then go the other way. Just don't do that. No, Alex, you know I love you.
She doesn't want to do what you guys are doing. She wants to get in the marketing side, social media side of companies and getting it out there that way. There are so many more communications jobs nowadays than I'm sure what I even know about or what -- I'm sure you guys know 'em.
But just so different, especially in the social media side.
Q. I am trying to think now. You're coming up on 52 next month, right?
STEVE STRICKER: Yes.
Q. Have you talked to anyone older than you who has done both tours of when you know that it's time to lean more to one side than the other? Do you know what the signal is going to be?
STEVE STRICKER: I've talked to some guys. I talked Tom Kite at the Ryder Cup this last year about my position a little bit. Everybody has been different. He gave me the idea like I should be on the Champions Tour. Take advantage of this opportunity. You have a short window, all this kind of stuff. I'm like, Yeah, you know what? You're right.
Then you talk to somebody else and they say, You know, the number of years are winding down for you on the regular tour. Stay our there as long as you can. Enjoy the tournaments. I'm like, You know, you're right. I don't know which way to go still. Everybody has their own opinion. I think bottom line is I'm just doing what I feel like doing.
That's where I can't even make up a schedule really because I don't even know how I'm going to feel at the time of some of these events. I may want to go to down to Naples and play, but right now I'm thinking about playing L.A.
So it's just hard. That's been the biggest issue the last couple years. That's kind of why I keep telling myself this year I want to focus on the regular tour. My intention right now is to be out here and try to play as well as I can out here and try to win again. I still feel like it can happen. A lot of good things are going to have to go right, but I see some really good things in my game again and my putting is starting to come around a little bit better.
So I'm optimistic and that's why I'm out here.
Q. Not to get too personal, you take a guy like Tom or someone of his age, he wouldn't have made nearly as much money as was available when you were coming through, too. You can almost see where it might be looked upon as strictly a financial thing, which is maybe not the case. I don't know.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's true. I mean, the money has changed so much over the years. It's changed since he was gone through the PGA TOUR to when he was -- I mean, some of those guys made more money on the Champions Tour than they did on the regular tour.
I'm not looking at the money part of it. If I did, I think I made more money last year in seven events on the Champions Tour than I did on the regular tour. If that was the case I would be playing more on the Champions Tour. I feel it's a challenge, and I'm still feeling good enough and excited enough to take on that challenge. I've always been a guy that somebody he says, no, you can't do it, then it fuels me more to do it. Kind of taking that a little bit more personally, I think, and then making me focus a little bit more out here.
Q. If you had a putt with your life on the line and you couldn't putt and Tiger couldn't putt, who do you pick?
STEVE STRICKER: I tell you what, Phil Mickelson has looked -- and I've talked to him recently about it, too -- he looks so good over putts. He is. He's putting great. He would be a guy who has been in that situation a bunch with big tournaments on the line, team events and all that. He's been through it all. I would probably pick Phil.
Q. Did you want The Match?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I didn't watch The Match. Did he not make any putts?
Q. (Regarding Ryder Cup.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I watched that. Nobody made any putts or drove it in the fairway.
Q. Right. We had Jordan in here earlier, and he clearly, during his career, which basically skyrocketed and then he fell into 2018, which was not a very good year for him. Can you talk about years coming off of years where you played well and then all of a sudden you hit the wall and what that's like when everybody is questioning what happened to Steve Strick and how you battled through that?
STEVE STRICKER: That's funny. I got the same question from Rosie this morning, so you guys must be on the same -- I think if you're asking me about Jordan and then relating it to me and the ups and downs, I guess what I told Rosie, and I'm going to say the same thing, because I truly believe it. Jordan what that year in his first or second year on tour. Which year?
STEVE STRICKER: Second year on tour. So now that's his benchmark that we're all looking at him as. It's kind of unfair. Not to say that he can't do it again, but that's kind of the standard we're holding him to. For him not to win this last year and have a mediocre year, that's golf in general. It's something we all have to deal with, the ups and downs of the game. You can get on runs and runs and you can get on runs that are going south, too.
You kind of find out what you're made of and what kind of desire and perseverance you have to get out of that a little bit of a slump. I don't think he's -- he's not in any way, shape, or form down like I was, I feel like. I mean, finishing 130th or 40th on the Money List kind of thing, you know. He just had a little blip on his screen there, and I'm sure he'll be fine and come back and he'll work harder at it I'm sure and he'll find out what it takes to get back to that level.
But if he ever has another year like that again, I don't know if he can. I mean, it was such an unbelievable year. The unfortunate thing is he had that so early in his career and we hold him to that high standard. I think that is a little bit unfair.
Q. Do you think the way people perceive you as a golfer, what kind of golfer you are, is it different from the way you perceive yourself?
STEVE STRICKER: How do people perceive me as a golfer?
Q. How do you think?
STEVE STRICKER: Wow. You keep throwing it back at me. (Laughter.)
Q. You hear stuff. You read stuff. Everyone has a label to them, don't they?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I don't read a lot.
Q. By choice or by ability?
STEVE STRICKER: A little bit of both. (Laughter.)
Q. Steve Stricker, man, what a great putter.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. People talk about my short game and putting. I feel like I'm more than that now. I am a good driver of the golf ball. I manage my game well. I'm a good short iron player. I really rely on that. I keep telling myself that. Good putter.
Yeah, so I feel like the tag on me is how I believe the type of player that I am. If that was your question. I kind of forget.
Q. Yeah. It would seem like most people think of you more one dimensional. Steve Stricker, great putter. Dustin Johnson, bomber.
STEVE STRICKER: Right. So I guess if you say that, I feel like there is more to me than just being a great putter. I think players know that I'm a good wedge player, and that will come out, too, every once in a while.
I see myself as a good short iron player, good around the greens sure, getting it up and down; maximizing my score is another big strength. Yeah, that's kind of the way everybody else sees me, too.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Steve? Thanks for the time, Steve. Best of luck this week.
STEVE STRICKER: Thanks, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports