May 22, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Steve Stricker, who posted a 2-under par-70 today. He is now 1-over for the championship. Steve, I'm going to ask you about your week. You've steadily posted better numbers as you've gone along. You've played pretty good golf here. You had the one tough hole on Thursday, otherwise you'd kind of be right in the thick of it there.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, one shot really where it led to a triple bogey at 13 on the first day. Yeah, three shots better around here when everybody is so jammed in there means a lot.
I've struck the ball nicely. Putter has been good and bad. It was better today. Yeah, so I'm happy with what I'm doing and excited to be playing and playing in front of people and playing in a major championship is always fun. Especially at my age, to be in here and playing is always a treat.
Q. I think you've played the last five holes even par for the championship. How big a victory is that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, they're good stretches of holes. The wind is quartering a little bit different than it was the first two days, so where they were in off the left, now it's kind of straight across from the right. A total different feel.
The whole course had a little bit different feel today, but the last holes are off the ocean. It's more off the right. They're playing a little bit shorter because they're not playing into the wind but still playing difficult.
Overall, yeah, if you can play those holes in even par for the tournament, it's doing something well and doing something good. Hopefully one more day and try to make a birdie or two coming in tomorrow, but it's been fun.
Q. I know you haven't been totally happy with your putter. You've talked about it a little bit this year. How much better has it been this week and what else are you doing well?
STEVE STRICKER: It was actually mediocre the first couple of days. Today I stroked it really nicely. I thought I hit a lot of nice putts, made a couple nice putts. Yeah, so it was definitely better today. I think I caught on to a little something today, and it seems to be every day. I'm kind of searching for something to kind of count on the next day, and that's been the problem. One day it feels pretty good and I'll try that the next day -- do you guys relate to that? (Laughing).
Yeah, so that's been the frustrating part, so I'm finding myself thinking a lot about my stroke while I'm playing, and that's a no-no. You can't do that. Today I gravitated towards one thing and just tried to really grind out my line, and it seemed to help.
Q. When there's big crowds like this, what does that do to a player's body, the adrenaline and the sweaty palms and all that? How does it feel different in front of that many people?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's totally different. You know, when we came back after the layoff last year, playing with no fans, that was really something to get used to, as well. And then now that we've got fans again, it's almost like, okay, you've got to readjust again and get that level of comfort back again because we all like to play in front of people. We all like to try to hit good shots and hear the crowd claps. They've been great this week, very supportive.
I wore red, white and blue today, and I heard a lot of U-S-A chants and Ryder Cup chants, so that was pretty cool, but it's been great to play in front of people here again.
Q. Do you sense there's some gratitude from not only the players but also the fans that we can just do this again?
STEVE STRICKER: For sure, yeah. You can tell people have been pent up too long. They're even a little more boisterous than they were before the pandemic I feel like. People are excited to be out and they're having a good time and they're drinking, they're talking, they're just full of life it looks like. It's good to see them.
Q. Could that be problematic 6:00 or 7:00 on Sunday when people have baked in the sun and been drinking?
STEVE STRICKER: It could be, yeah. I talked to a couple guys and they were drinking vodka lemonades. They keep going with that today, they're going to have some problems. But it's good to see them. The crowds here in South Carolina, they've been great.
Q. You mentioned at your age being able to compete here. What are your thoughts when you see Phil on top of the leaderboard?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very impressive. I played a practice round with him I think Monday. He struck it very nicely. He would have birdied the first three holes and I was his partner fortunately, so that's always fun, but he came in here very focused it looked like and confident in what he was doing, and he drive it well with me and hit some great iron shots. So it's impressive when you've got a 50-year-old leading at the top of the leaderboard. But he's a special player. He's one of the greatest players in the game, in the history of the game, and he's kept his health and his flexibility, and he still hits it long enough to compete. It's pretty cool to see him up there at the top.
Q. What were the teams on Monday and what was the outcome?
STEVE STRICKER: It was Phil and I against Zach Johnson and Will Zalatoris. Just to give you a glimpse of what Phil said, Phil and I were 3-up after 3 and he said it loud enough so everybody could hear, "You know, Strick, I thought we'd be more up at this point," and we were 3-up after 3. Typical Phil. It's good to see him out here. He has such a good time in those practice rounds and seeing everybody it seems like. He still has a tremendous amount of desire to compete at this level, and that's why he's doing it and that's why he's playing well.
Q. Would he have said anything about the Ryder Cup during that Monday round or is that off limits?
STEVE STRICKER: Actually he didn't saying anything about the Ryder Cup. I think he was just so engrossed in drilling those other two guys that that slipped his mind. It's cool to see. It'll be interesting to see how he handles it. As we get older it gets a little bit harder and harder and I'm sure it'll be hard for him. It's hard for anybody who's leading the tournament. But it's be interesting to see how he handles it.
Q. Is he in serious contention for a captain's selection?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, geez, I don't know. But obviously if he were to go on and win here and continue to play some great golf -- but he hasn't played really all that well up to this point, spurts here and there. He's won on the Champions Tour a couple times. I don't know if you've got to count anything out there. But it's nice to see him playing well. I'll be glued to the TV just as all you guys will and see what he does.
Q. How much weight can you put on one week even if it's a major?
STEVE STRICKER: You know what, you could put a pretty good amount of weight on this week I feel like just because I feel like this is really similar to Whistling Straits. We've got wind, we've got links style but not really links style golf, which is similar to Whistling Straits. We'll look -- myself and the captains, we'll look at who played well here this week for sure because this is a telltale for Whistling Straits.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, thanks for spending some time with us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports