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May 5, 2007

Steve Stricker


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Steve Stricker here to the interview room at the Wachovia Championship. Steve, great round of 66 out there today. If you could talk about some of the birdies that you made out there today, as well as the conditions you faced coming down the stretch and what you think some of the leaders are maybe going through right now.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, thank you. Yeah, it was a good day. I made a lot of birdies, I putted well. My putting is finally coming around. And I hit the ball well. I always had it in play and had a lot of opportunities today. Hit more greens today than I have the previous two days, so just more opportunities, and I took advantage of some of them. So it was a good round.

Q. Did you have any sense while you were out there sort of all that's been happening this afternoon with guys holing shots and the moves everybody has been making?
STEVE STRICKER: No, we've heard a lot of roars today, I mean, a lot of big roars. Right away on our third hole, somebody holed it out on No. 1 behind us. I understand Vijay holed it out on 12. We've heard a lot of big roars today, so yeah, I mean, I didn't know who was doing it, but obviously there were some great shots.

Q. Anyone yell for you?
STEVE STRICKER: No (laughter).

Q. How different is the course today from the first two days, and how much different do you think it would be with winds that they're predicting for tomorrow, to be a much windier day?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, today was ideal scoring conditions. I mean, it was virtually no wind, the greens are pure, and they were holding for the most part. The fairways were running out still so you could get some length on your drives, but you were being able to stop the ball much quicker on the greens, and like I said, they were rolling really good.
And with no wind, as good as most of the guys are, players on TOUR, they're going to take advantage of that, and a lot of guys did. I didn't expect that coming out this morning. I figured another tough day, another tough round, and then I got off to a good start and then I started looking at the guys on the leaderboard and there was a lot of guys making big moves. I figured that today was a day to make some birdies.

Q. How was the crowd on 17 today?
STEVE STRICKER: It was good. Why?

Q. Was it loud? I know you parred it.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You know, by that time the umbrellas were up so they were quiet, but yeah, there was quite a few people there. But it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

Q. Do you feel like you're a pretty good mudder? In the past when you won the Kemper it was rainy. In Wisconsin if you didn't play in the rain you put them away a lot.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I feel okay in these conditions. I'd rather have it 85 and sunny, but I don't mind this. You know, neither does everybody else out here. I mean, everybody else out here takes advantage of days like today, as well, if they're hitting it well. But I don't mind the bad weather.
You know, I just seem to focus a little bit more. You know, when other guys start grumping around because it's raining or windy or something like that, I kind of thrive on that. I enjoy when the conditions get tough.

Q. What have you figured out the last couple years? It seems like you're playing less and getting more out of it. How have you made that work? Did you stumble onto a secret of any kind?
STEVE STRICKER: No secrets, just enjoying myself a lot more out here. I'm playing a lot better. I'm a lot easier on myself. I feel comfortable with where I'm at, what I'm doing with my swing, and just trying to take each shot as it comes and go along. If I do hit a bad one, I just try to shrug it off. I do get upset, but not to the point where I was a few years ago. Like I said, I'm a lot easier on myself and enjoying being out here.
I realized going through that downtime of three years that -- I realized that this is what I'm supposed to do. I'm a golfer, and so I just decided to play -- practice harder and play harder, and this is what I need to do and this is what I want to do.

Q. Did you ever collect your Comeback Player of the Year trophy?
STEVE STRICKER: I did. They sent it to me in the mail. I didn't think I was going to get anything.

Q. No ceremony or anything?
STEVE STRICKER: They announced my name at the player meeting the other night (laughter).

Q. Congratulations.
STEVE STRICKER: Thanks a lot.

Q. Did it feel weird to get that award? Obviously it was an award for good play, but usually it's gone to some guy who had a broken leg or an injury or something. I mean, it's kind of a mixed blessing award, really.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you don't want to be up for that award too many times (laughter). But I had opportunities for about three years in a row to do it, and I didn't do it until the third year. And every year I told my wife, "wouldn't it be great if we were comeback Player of the Year?" And finally it came to life. Like I said, I don't want to be in that position again. But it's a nice honor.

Q. How would you assess your game versus early in your career? What do you do better? What do you do differently? Analyze the parts of your driving, putting. Is it that much different?
STEVE STRICKER: It's probably not that much different. I think I'm a little more consistent now. I think I'm a little bit better ball striker. I could be better. I have room to improve there with all that. But I still do the short game and the putting well, and when I start to drive it and hit my irons well, that's when I start to play well.
You know, I think I'm just a little bit more consistent than I was -- this last year and a half, compared to my first few years on TOUR.

Q. I don't know that the last couple guys are going to finish today. I was just wondering what kind of advantage that might be for you not to have to get up at the crack and play 16, 17 and 18 right out of bed.
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt. I was very happy to finish, and I think it's a big advantage to be done. I'll have a general idea knowing what time I'm going to go off tomorrow. It'll be later in the afternoon, barring any weather problems. But it'll be tough on those guys. They're going to have to get up early and finish those holes and then sit around or maybe go back and nap for a while.
Fortunately I can just get into my same routine and wake up and know generally what time I'm going to play, later in the day.
STEWART MOORE: Steve, thanks for your time. Great round.

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