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June 29, 2019

Steve Stricker

Notre Dame, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome Steve Stricker into the media center. Steve, a 4-under par 66 in the third round, a three-round total of 18-under, 192. That breaks the record for lowest 54-hole score in the U.S. Senior Open. 18-under par is three better than the previous mark, and the 192 total is also three clear of the previous record.

The six-stroke lead is the second largest lead in Senior Open history. And, Steve, you finished with 48 consecutive holes without a bogey. Some very steady play over the last few days, mistake-free really. What was the key for you out there today?

STEVE STRICKER: Much the same as it was the first two days, just driving it in the fairway. Hit some pretty good iron shots into the greens. Just didn't get into too many problems. That was the key. And if I did, I was able to get it up-and-down or make a save of some sort.

But pretty steady round again today. And the course toughened up a little bit today. The wind was coming from a different direction, kind of a west-northwest to almost a northwest wind, and it played a little bit different.

Greens firmed up. Some of the pin locations were a little bit tougher, and you could tell in the scoring, too, it wasn't quite as good as it was the first couple of days.

THE MODERATOR: A couple pars to start and then you birdied the third hole.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I hit a good drive around the corner, had just a little wedge. I think I had 121 to the hole and hit it in there about six, eight feet.

5, I hit a 3-iron. It was 227 to the hole today and hit a 3-iron to probably about 18 feet.

7, 3-wood off the tee, had 150 yards exactly, hit a 9-iron just short of the hole, probably about six-, eight-footer there, as well.

THE MODERATOR: Turned in 32 and then birdied 11.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, hit a good drive at 11, hit 142, I think, something like that, and hit -- back into the wind, and hit a 9-iron just short of the hole, probably about an eight-footer.

THE MODERATOR: Seven pars coming in, but some nice saves being out of position on 12 and then at 18.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, 12, the par-3, my whole thing there was not to miss that to the right. I was okay with hitting it in the bunker over there. The wind was straight off the left, and kind of couldn't get settled on the tee box there and kind of pulled it a little bit too much. But I had all the green in the world to work with there and chipped it up there to a couple of feet.

Q. 18 out of position off the tee but a very nice second shot?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, 18 I drove it to the right. Had a decent lie in the rough and hit a 7-iron right in the center of the green and had a really good look at birdie, too.

Like I said, I had some opportunities on the back side that I wish I could have capitalized on a couple more of them, but all in all, a good day.

THE MODERATOR: Fairly substantial lead going into the final round. Will that alter your strategy at all? Will you play more conservatively, or do you think you'll still continue to put the pedal to the metal?

STEVE STRICKER: I think I'm just going to keep doing the same things I've been doing. My whole objective is to get it in the fairway and then see what pins I feel comfortable shooting at or steering away from. That's been the game plan, and I've been putting well. Hit a lot of good putts again today, a few misreads, but all in all, I putted it nicely again.

Q. It seems like you have great control of your swing. It just appears that distance control is good, everything. Can you just talk about the comfort level you have right now with what you're doing with your golf swing?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it feels pretty good. I've been working on it pretty hard the last month or really all year. I feel like I've played a lot of golf. Been trying to find some clubs and equipment that I like, and so I went back to an old set that feels really good.

That's part of it, too, I think. I'm swinging at it a little bit more confidently, feeling good with what I have in my hand. And I hit it well last week. I hit it well at the Memorial. So I'm kind of building on those tournaments, so maybe -- leading up to this is because of that, I guess, and just another day. One more day, if I can do the same thing tomorrow, we'll be in good shape.

Q. This is your debut U.S. Senior Open, and I don't remember if we asked you why you haven't played the first two times. Could you elaborate on that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I don't know why. I think because I was playing more on the regular Tour. Last year I was scheduled to go, and I don't know, I was tired or just coming off of our tournament that we host in Madison. I think it's just a scheduling thing that has gotten in the way of me coming the last couple years, and it finally worked out this year.

Q. And the numbers 3, 4 and 5, which are playing third, first and second toughest here in the tournament, you've played them in 4-under, which is an advantage. Why have you played those holes so well?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. You know, I just -- I know they're good holes. You know, again, you step on that 3rd tee box, and your goal is to get it in the fairway, and then you go from there. And same with 4.

There are some holes that can come up and get you, and I've been trying to play those very smart, and I've hit some good shots into some of those holes. Yeah, you can go around there and play those in even par, you're doing well, and I managed to make some birdies there.

Q. Is there a level of comfort playing with Jerry Kelly, who's a friend of yours, somebody you've known for a long time, even on a big stage like the third or fourth round of the Senior Open?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's comfortable yet kind of weird, you know, in a strange way. We've been partners in team events, at Shark Shootout or the Bass Pro Shops out on the Champions Tour. Not too many times we come up head-to-head -- last week we had a playoff against one another, and that felt weird, too. Usually we're rooting for each other and not really playing all that much head-to-head in a final round, especially in a major out here.

It's fun to play with him, and it's fun to be out there with him, but yet it's kind of awkward, too. (Laughter.)

Q. I don't want to overthink this, but what part of the factor of your play this week is a comfort level with being here in sort of the part of the country where you grew up and you went to school? Does that have a factor?

Q. The courses of the Midwest are a certain kind of golf course.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, for sure. We drove here. We were able to hop in a car and just drive down around Chicago. It's an area that I grew up playing in. Maybe not particularly right here, but in the Midwest. I went to school at Illinois, playing on the same type of grass that I always played on growing up as a kid and then in college.

Yeah, so there's a definite comfort level that I enjoy being here.

Q. Are you still feeling ornery, or are you --
STEVE STRICKER: I've still got a little tinge of orneriness.

Q. Maybe that's a good thing.
STEVE STRICKER: I think it is.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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