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June 25, 2019

Steve Stricker

Notre Dame, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to welcome you here to the media center here at the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame for the 40th U.S. Senior Open championship. My name is Mike Trostel, and with me right now, it's my pleasure to welcome in Steve Stricker, 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR, four-time winner on the PGA TOUR Champions, and playing in your first U.S. Senior Open this week. You've played in 21 U.S. Opens. What makes playing in your national championship special, whether it's an Open or a Senior Open?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think just being a USGA event, it's our national Open. That's what makes it special to me. If you were to pick a major to win, our national Open would probably be the one that I would pick. So it's always felt very special to come to a USGA event, even playing amateur golf, trying to play in the U.S. Amateur, it always was something that I held a little bit higher up on the list of tournaments, and it was no different when I became pro, and it's no different now when I'm a senior.

So excited to be here and looking forward to seeing the course. I haven't been out there yet, but looking forward to seeing it, and I hear some really positive and good things about it, too.

THE MODERATOR: You're coming off a busy week hosting a PGA TOUR Champions event in your native Wisconsin, the American Family Insurance Championship, playing host there last week. How do you turn the page and refocus going into a major here at the U.S. Senior Open?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, good question. I got a couple days to kind of get my brain right. Yeah, it was a busy week, got in contention, had a chance to win. A little bit of a letdown when I don't make that putt on the last hole, and now I've got to kind of refocus and get reenergized because it was a tiring week. Yeah, but shouldn't have any problem getting excited to play here and for a USGA event and the Senior Open. I'll take it easy the next couple days, learn the course a little bit, practice and hopefully be ready on Thursday.

THE MODERATOR: You went through registration over at the football stadium. What was that experience like?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, how cool was that? That was quite a treat and a thrill for us to go over there and see the locker room, see the field. We threw a couple passes out on the field, my wife and I, and just a really neat experience. You see it on TV so much when you watch Notre Dame football on NBC, and to see the stadium, to see the board that they're hitting on the way down and to do that yourself is a pretty neat experience.

Kudos to the team here to pull that off. I'm sure that wasn't easy. But very neat experience for us, too, as golfers especially, to come in and see that and see the stadium.

Q. What have you heard from your fellow competitors who have been here on this course, and you've played, I'm sure, some Coore & Crenshaw courses. What are your thoughts about them as being the architects here? What have the fellow players told you about this?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's always been very positive. I have not heard a negative comment about this facility, the courses, anything here. What I've heard is it's very fair, right in front of you, straightforward. It's in great shape. And Coore & Crenshaw courses are typically that way. They do a good job of the design and the playability of courses. They throw in some tricks and tough spots here and there, like every designer does, but I heard this is very good.

Q. Does your win over a month ago at the Tradition give you a little bit of a boost coming into this major championship?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. Yeah, it does. Any time you can win, you can draw on those experiences and hopefully use them the next time, especially when you come to another major. Yeah, I'll hopefully get the opportunity to get in contention and have an opportunity on Sunday to try to win. It would be a dream, really, to try to have that opportunity and try to pull that off. Looking forward to the challenge.

But to your point, yeah, you can draw on all those past experiences, especially the one there at the Regions, and hopefully I can use that come Sunday.

Q. From Madison, Wisconsin, there's a lot of public courses there. Do you draw on your experience from public courses and how much rain we've gotten here in South Bend recently? Can you talk a little bit about that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I grew up on a nine-hole public course basically in a small town in Wisconsin, and played a lot of public golf going up. Still play some public golf now here and there. Yeah, we've had a tough spring, as well, a lot of rain. The course that I play at now my father-in-law owns, and it sits on some marsh ground, and we've had a tremendous amount of rain, and they've had to deal with things, I'm sure like this area has to deal with, as well.

Yeah, you just learn to adapt and deal with the conditions. It's just the nature of the game. We're playing outdoors, and whatever Mother Nature throws at us, we have to kind of roll with. You know, the weather looks good so far here this week, so hopefully that stays true and we can get this in without any hiccups and have a good event.

Q. You've played -- the first time I met you was at the Point O'Woods at the Western Amateur, and in the last 40 years or so, there have been some great golf courses built. There's attention now to Midwest golf courses and tournaments and all the majors that have come back. I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, playing golf in the Midwest.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's -- I can only really talk about Wisconsin because I'm more familiar with that, but we've seen a big surge in championship golf courses. We had Whistling Straits held a PGA Championship. We're going there for the Ryder Cup next year. Two PGA Championships, Ryder Cup next year. Erin Hills, a U.S. Open a couple years ago. There's a couple new courses in the center of our state, Sand Valley. All of a sudden golf in Wisconsin is big, and it's a golf destination spot where people can come in and play the four or five courses in Kohler and then they kind of go to Whistling Straits and then they go over to Sand Valley. Stevens Point has got a good went at SentryWorld, Milwaukee Country Club. There's so many great golf courses in our area. We're spoiled, really.

So it's cool to see. You can take a lot of satisfaction in knowing that we've had some pretty cool events in the state of Wisconsin and really throughout the Midwest. Here we are here right at Notre Dame in South Bend and holding a U.S. Senior Open.

A lot of good courses, and it's good to be a golfer in the Midwest.

Q. You're playing on both tours, PGA and PGA TOUR Champions. Can you tell us how you balance that schedule, and also similarities, differences between the tours? And then the final part, have you sought others' advice on how to do this, like a Kenny Perry who's gone through this before?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's been a challenge. I pull myself in both directions. You know, I still enjoy playing on the regular Tour, and I enjoy competing and playing out here, as well. That's been the toughest part, the two or three years that I've played out here. I haven't played a full schedule out here yet. I've been still bouncing back and forth, mainly because of my Ryder Cup duties next year. Being the captain, I feel like I need to continue to be out there, see the guys. I've played with a few this year that potentially could be on the team, a Patrick Cantlay, a Keith Mitchell, guys that I don't know as well as some of the older players. So I feel like that's important.

Yeah, and I've talked to other players that have gone through the process of trying to play both, and they say the same thing, too; it's hard. They told me that you've got to commit to one or the other, and I have not done that. (Laughs.)

I want to, but I still feel that desire to play both places. That's a great question. I don't know the answer yet. I'm still struggling with it from -- a couple weeks I can either go to John Deere or the SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Now, John Deere has been so good to me, but Akron, Ohio, for the SENIOR PLAYERS would be a lot of fun, as well. That's the constant struggle and battle that I find with myself on where do I need to go and where should I go.

Q. Your alma mater has had amazing success competing for national championships for almost a decade. Since we're here at Notre Dame, another northern school, what can schools like Notre Dame take away from what Coach Small has done at Illinois?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, another good question. First of all, he's a great guy. If he came into a room -- if I was a parent and he came in to recruit my son, Smally's personality and charm and everything, you'd be like: I want my kid to go play for you.

And he's got a proven track record. He's made it to the nationals maybe 11 or 12 times in a row, most of any other team I think, I think I read, or up there with other teams like Oklahoma State or whatever.

He just gets it done. And he's played on TOUR. He's got the respect of his players. They love to play for him. He's got that -- I don't know what it is. He's just got that extra something, and they've got a great facility down in Champaign. The weather is not great, right, but you can practice indoors, and that's proven, too. There's guys that play in the Midwest and even live up north that can still play on TOUR, and they play successfully. So you don't have to be from a southern state to play well.

So he's got all these things going for him, and I think the past history that he's had with guys making it through his program and then playing on TOUR, and successfully playing on TOUR, is a big thing that he's got in his pocket.

Q. I'm sure you're a college football fan, you probably go to Wisconsin football games.

Q. Are you excited about Notre Dame and Wisconsin playing at Lambeau coming up? And when you were out on the field tossing the football around, did you get any secrets that you could take back?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very excited. I don't know if I'll go to that game. We'll definitely be watching it, though. We're big Badger football fans, and we go to all the home games. It's kind of a -- it's a tradition at Wisconsin, just like I'm sure it is right now. I've never been to a football game here, but come Saturday morning, people are filing into downtown Madison and tailgating, partying, getting ready for the game. It's a ritual. Just like it is across the country, I'm sure.

We have finally gotten into that ritual, and our kids love it and my wife likes it, and our friends, we see them consistently. It's a big deal, and we enjoy that, and we'll definitely -- most definitely enjoy watching the Notre Dame game, and who knows, we may try to go to that game.

But I don't have any secrets. I threw Mark O'Meara a little pass out there. I think he almost pulled his hamstring trying to catch it. (Laughter.)

We're at that age where hamstrings, achilles, calf muscles are all in danger. But it was really cool. That was a neat experience to go down there and chuck the football around. My wife was throwing it and she threw better spirals than all of us, so it was a neat experience.

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