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June 27, 2019

Steve Stricker

Notre Dame, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome Steve Stricker into the media center, nine birdies, one bogey, an 8-under par round of 62. That ties the lowest round in USGA Open history. It's the fifth 62 in U.S. Senior Open history and 13th 62 in a Senior major. You were in here the other day and talked about turning the page from last week after hosting your event in Wisconsin. Seems like you were able to find a way to do that today. What were the keys?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, just being patient, I think. I saw some good scores this morning before I teed off, and it looked like there was some birdies to be made out there. But being a USGA tournament, a USGA setup, it's always important to keep the ball in play, get it in the fairway so you give yourself some opportunities, and I was able to do that.

Had some opportunities, took advantage of some, putted the ball really well today and just played solidly all the way around.

THE MODERATOR: Let's go through the scorecard. You started really nicely with a birdie on 1.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, 1, hit a sand wedge. I had like 103 or -4 yards, hit a sand wedge in there to about three feet.

THE MODERATOR: And then the fifth hole, really tough par-3, I think toughest on the course today, the long par-3.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm trying to think of No. 5. I've got to take my yardage book out. I've only been around here once and I can't picture what I hit. Oh, the 240 hole. I had 241 to the hole, hit a utility club in there pin high, 20, 25 feet left of the hole, made a nice putt. It was a tough breaking putt that found the bottom of the cup.

THE MODERATOR: Bogeyed 6 but got it back on 8.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, hit a nice full 6-iron. Had 196 if I remember right, a little helping wind, hit a 6-iron just underneath the hole, probably about 12 feet, made that.

THE MODERATOR: And then followed it up with another birdie on 9.

STEVE STRICKER: No. 9, yeah, it was a good drive and a 9-iron. Had 138. Hit a 9-iron in there to about 15 feet, made that.

THE MODERATOR: Made the turn, another birdie on 10.

STEVE STRICKER: Yep, 10 I hit a good 3-wood, got it way down there, had 132 to the hole, hit a wedge. It was a perfect number. Hit a wedge in there to about four or five feet.

THE MODERATOR: And fourth in a row on 11.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, No. 11, a driver and a 7-iron about 18 feet probably.

THE MODERATOR: Parred 12 but then the short par-4, the 13th.

STEVE STRICKER: 3-wood off the tee and then it was a wedge, 121 I had, and I hit that maybe about five feet underneath the hole, putting straight up at it.

THE MODERATOR: And then closed it out with an eagle on 17.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, eagle at 17. I had 214 to the front, a little mud on the ball, front right. It was a perfect 3-iron, really, and hit it good. Hit it nice and high and soft, landed into the upslope, hit it pin high, had 228 to the hole and hit it pin high. Had to putt it up over a ridge and hit it going away from me, hit a good putt with good speed, and it went in.

Q. Talk a little bit about your mindset coming here. As you explained the other day, you came here losing the golf tournament, could have had a chance to win it, and you were also hosting it. How much did that play on you coming in here and getting in shape?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You know, it was a little bit of a downer when I left Madison on Monday. Having that opportunity, whenever you have that opportunity to win a golf tournament and you don't make the putt or hit the shot that you're supposed to, it bugs you. I didn't sleep very well Sunday night, Monday night. Slept a little bit better Tuesday night. But it was eating at me, given that opportunity to win and not winning.

So I came in here, my focus really was to get some rest and get reenergized to play today, and played nine holes each day on Tuesday and Wednesday and rested a lot and just got ready and felt ready to play today.

I was excited to be out there, and I saw some good scores early, and that motivated me to keep aggressive, really, because I didn't want to get too far behind, and was able to put up a good number, as well.

THE MODERATOR: Your wife, Nicki, has been caddying for you on and off since 1994. How much has she caddied for you this year, and how specifically does she help you out on the course?

STEVE STRICKER: She's caddied for me quite a bit this year. We've traveled as a family quite a bit, and she's been on the bag quite a few times. I think she's getting tired, though. I think she's ready for the year to be done. But we have a good time together. We have a lot of fun out there, and she felt the pain last week as much as I did when I missed that putt.

So we're out there as a team, and we enjoy each other's company, and the kids have been traveling with us quite a bit this year, and they're back out with us. They came in today, our two daughters. So it's become kind of a family affair again on Tour with Nicki caddying and the girls coming along. So it's been a fun year.

Q. I think you've talked about this some earlier, but how much do major championships motivate you now?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I mean, they motivate me a lot. I hadn't played in many out here on the Champions Tour before this year. I had only played the Regions Tradition before. I played my first Senior PGA, which was a great event at a great venue at Oak Hill, and then same goes for this right here at the Warren Golf Course.

It's a great event. My first U.S. Senior Open, and I wish I would have played more of them. It's got a great feel to it, and it feels like a major. So you want to play well here. Just like throughout my career on the regular Tour, I had a few opportunities here and there, but never was able to win one. I figure, you know what, let's try to win some out here on the Champions Tour. It motivates me a lot.

Q. Steve, how much -- you said you only played nine and nine here the last couple days. You saw the golf course, and then the rain last night, how much did that kind of affect how the course played today?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think it softened it up quite a bit. There was some standing water right away when we walked off the first tee box today, so we knew there was quite a bit of rain here last night. But the course held up wonderfully. The greens didn't get too beat up. Usually when they get soft like this, they get pretty beat up. But they held up very well. The balls were stopping pretty quickly. They weren't spinning back so you didn't have to worry about that part being uncontrollable, so you could just really fire right at the pins, and the ball was going to stop.

I think that's why some of the scoring was pretty good today. Just it softened up quite a bit, and guys could be pretty aggressive with it.

Q. Having covered you for all these years, it's hard for most of us to imagine you being cranky after not getting something done. Were you cranky Sunday and Monday?
STEVE STRICKER: I was cranky, yeah.

Q. What's Steve Stricker like when he's cranky?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I don't know, maybe ask my daughter that. Or my wife. She was cranky, too, though. I'm telling you, I think that upset her just as much -- I ended up consoling her a lot. I'm like: Listen, come on, we're going to have more opportunities. We're all right. We did a lot of good things last week.

So actually telling her those things probably reiterated those in my mind, too, telling myself: Hey, listen, I hit the shot that I needed to hit on 18, gave myself the opportunity, didn't make the putt.

And putting has been a little bit of my bugaboo this year a little bit. But seemed to figure that out today.

But yeah, I was quiet. I was just ornery. I didn't sleep worth a lick Sunday and Monday night. It just was eating at me.

So I was anxious to play. I was anxious to get back out there and play today for that reason, because I wasn't able to get it done last week, and I got something to prove again. It was a good day, good start.

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