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January 13, 2007

Steve Stricker


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Steve Stricker for coming in after his third consecutive 67, sitting at 9-under par. Steve talk a little about your position heading into the last day, and being in contention the first week out.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, obviously you never know what to expect the first week out, especially me coming from the Midwest, but I'm very happy where I'm at.
I've hit it fairly well this week, and continue to improve every day, and you know, it's gotten a little tougher out there today, too. It firmed up quite a bit. It's hard to get it in the fairway. And if you do miss the fairway, the ball, you know, you're trying to just chip it up on the green somewhere and it's ending up rolling a lot further than it has the first couple of days.
So it's getting more difficult and it actually was I think windier today, too, so that added to some of the problem.
TODD BUDNICK: Talk about today's round, you plodded along and birdied 16 and 17, and then had a chance for one on 18.
STEVE STRICKER: I had a good shot in there at 10 to about four or five feet, and right away bogeyed 11 and then 12, 13, 14, 15 were kind of a struggle. I hit good drives and ended up just barely in the rough. I thought I hit a couple of good shots out of there and managed to get them up-and-down.
So 16, I drove it a little left, actually, probably the worst of all my drives but I caught a break and I was able to hit a sand wedge to maybe 12 feet and made that and hit a 6-iron at 17 to maybe 25 feet and made that. So it was a good finish. Made a couple of putts coming in and excited for tomorrow.

Q. Did you look at the leaderboard much today?
STEVE STRICKER: No, not when I started out. I started looking, you know, on the way in, maybe around I think I first took a look after 15 when I got it up-and-down on 15 and saw that the leaders didn't go really anywhere at that time I think and maybe it's still the same way. Paul was at 12 and Luke was at 11. I told my caddie if I could get a couple coming in and get a little closer, I imagine they will make a birdie or two coming in but at least we'll have a chance for tomorrow.

Q. When is the first time you saw your Pro-Am partner on the board, and what kind of jolt was that?
STEVE STRICKER: It's really not a jolt because I saw him play. (Laughter).
I've been telling every pro that I run into that I played with him on Monday in the Pro-Am, and you know, he just turned 16 on that day, on Monday. I was really impressed, by the way he handled himself, and the way he played. You know, at 16, I was trying to think back to what I was doing at 16 and it surely wasn't trying to get ready to play in a golf tournament on the PGA TOUR. So it's really pretty remarkable what he's doing.

Q. Can you talk about your approach coming into this year versus what your approach was last year?
STEVE STRICKER: A lot different. I mean, it's night and day. Last year I had all the time in the world. I tried Tour School in '05 and didn't have exempt status at the beginning of '06, and I had all the time in the world to practise.
So going to Tour School, kind of got me fired up. I don't know what happened. I just decided deep down that I needed to work on it a lot harder. Did that. Got off to a good start last year and you know, built that confidence all through the year.
And this year I come in with a lot of confidence. I feel like I'm ready to play. Even though I had not played for two months, I still feel that I wasn't that far removed. You know, even though it's been two months, I still have all of the same good feelings like I had then and I didn't hit a lot of balls in that time. I started picking up the club in the middle of December and started doing the things that I was doing last year and still all the same good feelings.
So I come in here with a lot of confidence and hopefully continue that throughout the year.

Q. Can you pinpoint to any extent what it was that you were able to turn everything around?
STEVE STRICKER: I think the Q-School part got me that desire back again. The finish at Houston, I think gave me a little bit of confidence to move forward. I still left there -- I mean, I felt great. I finished third there. But you know, I hit it better, put it that way.
And then I think leading up, playing well in the Open and handling it the way I did, I had the lead after two rounds and I came out and hit it probably better on that Saturday round to start the round and I was more nervous than anything and hit it well. That gave me a big boost. And then you know, finishing in the Top-10 there and I'm going from no status to getting into some of these majors and finished second the next week. So I kind of got on a roll there and the confidence just built.

Q. When you played with Tadd on Monday, did you see a couple 66s coming?
STEVE STRICKER: He shot 65 with me. (Laughter).
So I saw it coming. I was keeping his score. I was like, "This little guy's beating me." I think I only shot 1-under on Monday.
But I was really impressed. He took out driver on every hole and I don't know if he has throughout, you know, the rounds. But he drove it everywhere. And I asked him on one hole, I think on 15 he took out driver and he hit it right down the edge in good shape. I'm like, "Are you going to hit driver there in the tournament?"
He's like, "Yep." Without even batting an eye. And here is everybody I've played with so far, you know, we're trying to knock some little 3-wood or utility club and try to get it rolling, we're bailing out to the right, and I don't know what he's done there. But he just seems like he has a lot of confidence in his game and himself and he played great when I played with him, all 5'1 one of him.

Q. What's your schedule going forward?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm not playing next week. I'm going to play San Diego and Phoenix for sure. I've got my eye set on the Match Play tournament, and I'm looking to see where I am on that World Ranking and that's my main goal on this West Coast is to try to get into there. If I need to play, I'll play. If not, then I'll focus on playing there.

Q. You're good in that tournament.

Q. What are you going to do, I know it's far down the road here, but if you qualify for the British, does that become any kind of tough decision for you, or do you almost have to go?
STEVE STRICKER: I would go to the British. Even though it's opposite Milwaukee there, I would go to the British.
All of the tournament people know that from the Wisconsin players, they know that they can't really compete against the major. If somebody is exempt for that, they know that for the most part that player is going to go over there and play. It's unfortunate, but just the way it is I guess. I don't seem to play too well in Milwaukee, anyways. Jerry, though, that's two majors for him, Milwaukee and the British. I don't know which one he'll choose.
TODD BUDNICK: Thanks, Steve.

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