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July 8, 2007

Steve Stricker


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Steve for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the AT&T National. I know you're probably a little disappointed with the back side of your round today, but you have to be proud to be in that position to start off with and I'm sure you learned a lot out there.
STEVE STRICKER: Did I. It was a great experience, again, but not really the results I was looking for today. But again, I can gain some confidence from this event again, and hopefully, you know, one of these times finish it off.

Q. Some of the putts you had, the putt on 16 looked ridiculous, it just jumped dead left.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, they were very difficult, but imagine everybody had the same problems. They were -- yeah, they were tough. And the pin positions are such sometimes where you're normally above the pin in a lot of the situations, so you end up just tapping it down there, and it goes any which way it wants.
But it's very hard. And you expect that on these types of surfaces, you know, poa annua surfaces. So you know, it's hard, and I imagine everybody had a hard time with it, not just myself but it was hard.

Q. Would rolling it make a difference?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm sure they do, maybe first thing in the morning or when they cut them, I'm not sure.
But you know, by the time 70-some guys go through there, everybody hits and putts from the same area, so it's going to get marked up I think.

Q. Did you hear the roar when K.J. holed out on 17?

Q. What went through your mind there? Obviously at that point you still had a chance there.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I didn't know who it was at that point until I looked at the board and I saw that he went from 8 to 9. So I didn't know how he did it. I ended up hearing that he holed out from the bunker I heard.
You know, stuff like that happens when you're going to win a tournament. It's kind of destiny and good for him; he made a great shot and holed it out.
I kind of ruined my chances before I even hit the second shot really, but must have played well.

Q. Similar to Wachovia, or how did you equate the two finishes?
STEVE STRICKER: Similar. Although Wachovia, that was the first time I had gotten in there for a while, and kind of stings like the U.S. Open. I had a chance after nine holes at the U.S. Open, and started off the back side double-bogey, double-bogey.
So, yeah, it's not a great feeling, but you still can take a lot of positives away from it. It's a tough enough game, let alone beating yourself up, you know, for finishing second.
I'll take a lot away and just try to do better the next time.

Q. Do you feel a little snakebit at all because of the fact that you have come close and put yourself in position?
STEVE STRICKER: Not really. There have been a couple of guys that have just played better. It could have been just the other way just as easy, I suppose. But the two guys that won, Tiger and K.J., they played well. And you know, it's just up to me, and that's the way I always looked at it; that it's up to me to make the putt, make the birdies or finish it off coming down the stretch and I just haven't done it.
I haven't gotten over that hump on that back side yet. I hit it fine on that back side today, but there was just a couple of putts that just I needed to make to keep the momentum going and I didn't do it.

Q. How hard was it to focus out there with the heat and the conditions? You and K.J. were the only guys in the last few groups that played par or better; everybody seemed to be going the wrong direction.
STEVE STRICKER: It was hard. I don't know if it had so much to do with that as anything, but I think the course just got difficult and the greens got a little bumpy today. I think that may have made it harder, and a course like this wears on you after a while.
And this is the final day; there are a little bit more nerves, a little bit more on the line. It just seems to get to people on the fourth day. That's just the way it is.
I don't know if it was the heat. The heat wasn't, you know, all that bad, but I just think with those factors that the conditions made it tough.

Q. Do you know K.J. at all, and how impressed are you with what you know of his game?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know him very well, no. I know that he's won twice now this year, which; you know, very impressive, and obviously he played well today; what did he shoot today, 2-under? That's a good ground, great round.
Like you said, nobody in these last few groups even shot under par, I don't think. So good for him.

Q. This is a new event; can you kind of give your general impressions of Tiger's event, whether you'll be back for instance, Congressional in general, is this something you'll look forward to?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah, definitely. This has been an unbelievable event to be able to have been put together in such a short period of time, I think a three-month period, if I'm not mistaken.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: 116 days.
STEVE STRICKER: That's pretty incredible, really, to get all of this put together and to be able to hold a tournament of this magnitude. It felt like a mini-major out there, you know, because of the course that we're on and the tournament host of Tiger Woods, and the field that we had.
So put all that together, and you had a great-feeling tournament, and it was run really well. And to add the twist of Fourth of July and to have the military people around I thought was great. I just thought it was a great event and I will be back.

Q. You played really well in the last two U.S. Opens. How would you compare the atmosphere and pressure to Oakmont and Winged Foot?
STEVE STRICKER: Maybe not quite as -- you know, the pressure is still there when you're coming down the stretch. But it's just those few words at the beginning of the tournament, like U.S. Open really gets your attention really quick.
But other than that, like I said, this was very similar. The crowds were unbelievable, a lot of support for all the players. And like I said, the course, having it here at this venue really means a lot to the players I think, and that's what attracted the field along with Tiger being the host. And it was, it was very much like a major tournament.

Q. Do you think it's harder to win now than it was when you first came on TOUR, just in general, the depth of field?
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt. I think the TOUR is much more -- so many guys can win. I don't know, Brian Bateman, what was he ranked, 340-something in the world. It just shows you that guys can get going with their game, get on a roll and they can ride it and they all seem to have the confidence to do it when it comes down to the crunch time, which it great. I think that's what makes our sport so fun to watch, just because you never know who it snap up a win. So I think it is very deep.

Q. Just to follow up on that, when you were playing around the third and fourth hole, there were a number of big roars off on the course that sounded like Tiger roars, but he didn't make a birdie that whole time. Was the crowd reacting to everybody; in other words, were they not just a Tiger crowd?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I don't think so. I think today we saw more support -- you know, yesterday you could tell, Tiger was up ahead of us, and that group kind of stayed with him all the way around.
But today there was a lot of -- you know, a lot of spectators on all of the greens all the way around. I thought the support today was great. I don't know if the attendance, was more out here today or not, it sure seemed like. And maybe people were not walking around as much today because of the heat.
The crowd today was great and there was a lot of people around and very supportive.

Q. Referred to the Open and having a chance there; Stuart had a chance in the Masters and he was a 54-hole leader and you both had a shot today. Do you think most people understand how difficult it is to try to finish off a tournament and win out here?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it is difficult and I don't know if people do realize that.
As a player, you know, I haven't been in this position -- I mean, I have the last few years, the last couple of years, I should say, but not since 2001 have I won, and I'm realizing how difficult it is to finish something off.
I'm sure that the general fan really doesn't get the understanding of that. You know, there's a lot of little things that go in it. Like today the greens were difficult to putt. You had to hit it in there really close to get a good chance at it, and there's always something that you need to overcome in the course of a round, and especially the final round.
There seems to be little obstacles all the time that you need to overcome, and it's difficult. You have your nerves to worry about and you have course conditions to worry about and just trying to execute, you know, is sometimes the toughest thing to do.

Q. It seems like when you play in the heat in D.C., whether it's here or across at Avenal that the bumpy greens become an issue on Sunday; does that need to be addressed or do you just live with it?
STEVE STRICKER: It's just the type of surface, I think. It's poa annua, no matter if we're here, or on the West Coast, they are that way there, too. It's just the way it is.
I don't know if there is anything you can do about it. Just you expect that. I teed off in the first group in the afternoon on Thursday and then the first group on Friday morning, and the greens were perfect. So I saw them from one end of the spectrum to the other.
But it's not a bad surface when there's little play on there and when they get firm, I think they are a better surface when they are firm. But when they get a little soft and you get a lot of play on there, they become very hard to putt.

Q. Compare that to the poa annuas you played on at Oakmont.
STEVE STRICKER: That was a different type of poa annua, from what I understand. I'm no greenskeeper but -- (laughter) -- they have like seven strains of poa annua in that surface at Oakmont, and it holds up under the heat and the amount of play it gets on there. It's just very durable from what I understand; and it did, it rolled pretty well. But they got a little sketchy, too, on the weekend.
When you get that many people on the greens, it just becomes difficult no matter what type of green you have, when you're the last group on the weekend, it's hard.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can you go through your birdies and bogeys starting with 1.
STEVE STRICKER: Drove it in the left rough on 1 and pitched it -- flew it over the green and didn't get it up-and-down.
Birdied 2. Hit a utility club in there to about 15 feet above the hole and made that.
Birdied 4 and hit driver and a wedge to about a foot.
Birdied No. 5. I hit 3-wood off the tee and a sand wedge to maybe about 15 feet.
No. 8, I hit a utility club off the tee and hit sand wedge -- that was a lob-wedge to ten feet.
Bogeyed 11. Drove it in the left rough, laid up, pitched to about six feet and missed it.
Bogeyed No. 14. I drove it in the fairway with a driver and then pulled a 7-iron in the left bunker and from there I had no chance to get it up-and-down. Hit it to about 30 feet and missed it.
Bogeyed No. 15. Drove it in the left rough. Pitched it out short of the green and hit my lob-wedge up there to about maybe eight or ten feet and missed that.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: I do know that -- I don't know where you were when you started the week, but you're pretty far up on the Presidents Cup list. I'm sure this helped, and you're also 11th in the FedExCup; those things ought to be pretty important to you.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, they are. I had not even thought about it until now. Thank you for bringing that up.
But yeah, that Presidents Cup is something I've been aiming for this year, so you know, I didn't -- obviously if I would have won, I would have jumped up quite a bit. But yeah, that's something that I'm looking forward to and hopefully a couple more good events, I can get on that team.

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