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May 25, 2021

Steve Stricker

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Press Conference

Southern Hills Country Club

JOHN DEVER: We're joined by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, two-time PGA TOUR Champions major championship winner, also. Coming off a solid -- we spent some time with you last week at the Ocean Course, played some solid golf. Does any of that carry over, or are these two golf courses so divergent and different that it isn't much help?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it can carry over. I felt like I struck the ball really nicely, so I can carry that over for sure, and I've got some work to do with the putter. Hopefully I'm not going to carry that over. But yeah, I can definitely take away from last week and some of the good things that I did or doing, and hopefully make a few more putts.

The course is in unbelievable shape. It's an unbelievable test. They could set it up harder than last week minus the wind. It's a great spots for us, and we're lucky to be here, and I'm happy to be here.

Q. Initial thoughts on the golf course, first time you've seen it since the restoration I would assume?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, first time I've seen it since the redo. I've got to believe the membership is loving it. I mean, it's a little bit more generous off the tees, but a little bit more demanding into the greens. The greens are in great shape. There's a ton of run-off areas now where you really have to be cautious and not short-side yourself and let the ball run sometimes 20, 30 yards away.

It's a wonderful test, and I've talked to some of the members, too, that I've known over the years, and they're loving it, and we are, too. It's in great shape.

Q. What about getting to come back to Tulsa, as well.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, the last time I was here, whatever the major was, I can't remember if it was a PGA last -- in '07? Yeah, and this was actually -- this goes back even for me to '94, I think the '94 PGA was here, as well, right? And I was representing Palmer Ph.D., so I got to play with Arnold. I was the first alternate and didn't end up getting in that week. I can remember walking down No. 1 there with Arnold and him regripping his clubs, so that was a memory that sticks in my head all the way back to my rookie season on Tour.

It's a great place for me to come back to and a lot of great memories here.

Q. You didn't get in the field that week but you played with Arnold and took a little money from him as I recall?

STEVE STRICKER: I don't remember the money part. I just remember him -- I think he either snap-hooked it on 1 and he grumbled and unwrapped his driver leather grip of his driver and then he maybe pushed one on the next one and he grumbled again and goes walking down the hill unwrapping, and I was just taking it all in at that point being a rookie and spending some time with him was priceless.

Q. When you guys go to some great places, the greatest places in the world, when you go to a place with such rich history, do you feel it?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, for sure, and all of us have been around the game for such a long period of time, all of us have played multiple majors, some of the guys have won here, so yeah, there's a lot of history here, and you remember certain things that you've done here in the past. Yeah, so it's neat to come back to a place like this and to play it again.

Obviously next year the PGA is going to be here, and it's going to be a great test for the young guys, too.

Q. Does Phil winning last weekend make your job more difficult with all the captain's picks or less difficult?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, good question. You know, I've been thinking about what Phil did yesterday. First of all, it's unbelievable what he did at 50 years of age, almost 51. I played with him on Monday last week. He struck it nicely.

Now him climbing from 52nd I think he was all the way up to 16, there was a reason why he was 52nd, right? He wasn't playing all that great. Well, now there's a reason why he's 16, because he had one great tournament.

But now I need to see what he's going to do from this point forward. We still have a lot of play left. I'm rooting for him. He's a great team player. He's great in the locker rooms. He's a great partner. So I'd love to see him continue what he did this last week and keep climbing that point list because I think he's a huge benefit for our team. Bottom line, I think he does us a lot of good, and it was really interesting and cool to see what he did this last week for sure.

Q. Last week Phil winning, he mentioned that he attributed a bunch of his health kicks and his golf swing to why he can still compete with the younger guys. In your game what do you kind of attribute to your lifestyle or golf game to help you compete with the younger guys at your age?

STEVE STRICKER: I'm not taking it to the extreme that Phil takes it to, but I still watch -- I could probably do better on what I eat, but I still watch a little bit. I still am very active. I'm working out, something that I've never really done in the course of my career, and I've started that within this last year. I'm just trying to take better care of myself. I figured if I want to play until I'm 60 years old I'm going to have to do a little bit better.

We reached that point. Phil has had some health issues over the years that he's addressed, and he's done these things now to even come out of it even better and stronger, and he's hitting it far still, which is a huge attribute that he has that enables him to compete at the young guy level. I don't have that luxury because I don't hit it that far, but he's still pounding it out there with these young kids.

That'll carry him further on in age, as well. He's dedicated to it from what I understand, from listening to him, and it's paying off.

Q. We had local favorite Scott Verplank on, and he spoke at lengths about you guys' relationship. I even mentioned that he loves going up to see your dog Chevy now that you're in his neck of the woods. I was curious what you think about Scott.

STEVE STRICKER: No, we go back a long ways, and he's a close friend of mine. He stays at my house during our Champions Tour event that we have in a couple weeks. We love him as a family member, and my kids love hanging around him, my dogs love hanging around him. He's a great guy. I'm going to play with him here tomorrow nine holes, so I always look forward to being with Scottie and hanging around him.

Q. Phil easily could have committed and been here today and that would have been pretty exciting after what happened this weekend. Does what he accomplished raise your level of anything is possible?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, for sure, and I think he showed everybody that it's possible later on in your career. We go from Collin Morikawa -- Julius, was Collin the youngest PGA winner?

Q. No, he wasn't. He was like third youngest.

STEVE STRICKER: So we go from one of the youngest players to the oldest player in history to win a major.

That's the cool and unique thing about the game of golf, and that's what's exciting. If you put the time in and you work hard at it, Phil showed us that we can continue to compete at that higher level.

Q. You talk about going way back with Scott. When he was in his prime, what did you really admire about his game?

STEVE STRICKER: Well, that's another thing. I can remember in college he was -- I made it to nationals my freshman year, and it was at a place called Bull Run, I think, in North Carolina somewhere. I thought it was North Carolina but I could be wrong. Wake Forest was putting it on. He had won a pro event, I think, at that point or maybe the next -- anyways, he was the king of amateur golf and college golf.

I went out to watch him, and I still kid him to this day, I went out to watch him after I finished playing nationals. I went out to watch him finish up, and I remember him hitting it in a bunker and topping it out of the bunker and running it up the fairway, and I kid him to this day, the best player in the game at the college level and amateur level, I go out and I watch you and you topped it out of the bunker.

But yeah, we go way back. I was a fan of his before he even knew who he was. Yeah, quite a career he's had, and battling with diabetes and all that and powering through that shows a testament to his will and courage, too.

Q. We had Jim Furyk in here earlier talking about struggling with his ball-striking. You were talking the other day about struggling with your putting, which we never hear. What's your process to work your way back in and get a feel by Thursday morning?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think just working at it. This was my first go-around. I didn't do anything yesterday, so I'll come back after lunch and hit some putts and work on it and hopefully pick up a few things that I can take to the first tee on Thursday.

Yeah, it's a challenge. The game of golf is a challenge, especially as you get older. Everything becomes a little bit more of a challenge I feel like.

I'm working on some good things, and I showed some good signs last week but a lot of not-so-good signs, but hopefully some stick with me this week.

Q. I thought it was very interesting how last week at Kiawah, correct me if I'm wrong, but the first two rounds with played with Billy Horschel and Daniel Berger who are both 9 and 12 on the Ryder Cup standings. From your own perspective how do you keep the mindset of being a competitive player while trying to scout for players for the Ryder Cup especially with the incentive of six picks this year instead of four and also finding time to spend with your family and your loving dogs and your kids and all that?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, fortunately I'm able to kind of compartmentalize and get things separated. When I went there last week I was going there as a player. Even though I'm watching some of these guys, but first and foremost I'm working on my game and trying to play well. I still have that strong desire.

I think that's what's keeping me motivated to play well, because I still am anxious and get fired up to play, and I want to play well still. When I play bad on Sunday like I did, I'm still disappointed on how I putted and how I -- and the score that I shot.

That tells me the still the fire is in there and I still want to compete at a high level. Flipside, I still get to watch some of these guys. I think just me being there, me making the cut, I played with Scottie Scheffler on Sunday, it just gives me that opportunity, that credibility to be out there with them to kind of just put a name to a face. Like I haven't really spent that much time with Scottie Scheffler and I was able to play 18 holes with him and I got to watch his game.

So there's a lot of things moving, but I'm enjoying the whole process and still being out there and trying to compete with them.

Q. Any chance we see you do what Tiger did in 2019 at the Presidents Cup and pick yourself as a captain's pick out there?

STEVE STRICKER: No, not unless -- no. I have no desire at that point right now. I'm just looking forward to Whistling Straits and being a part of that team and bringing that Cup back home.

Q. When you played Monday with Phil, and obviously as you've noted he had shown no form. When you played with him Monday was he still talking to you about Ryder Cup and wanting this make this team or was it not much of a discussion?

STEVE STRICKER: No, it was more about his trash talking the two guys that we were playing because I was Phil's partner. He struck it nicely on Monday, so he was all into the trash talking the other guys. So we didn't talk much Ryder Cup stuff at all.

So now we can. With him, he's right in the mix. I think I'll be as interested as everybody else to see where he goes from here. Is he going to play like he did prior to this? Or use this as a stepping-stone and a motivational factor to make this team and play strong the rest of the year? We'll just have to wait and see.

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