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August 25, 2007

Steve Stricker


NELSON SILVERIO: Steve Stricker, thanks for joining us for a couple minutes. We know you're on a tight schedule so we're going to get you in as quick as possible.
Would you just comment on your round, you took the lead today; just some general thoughts.
STEVE STRICKER: It was a good round, a good, solid round. I played solidly. I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself a lot of opportunities. I just tried to keep plugging along, and it was a good day. I did a lot of good things today.

Q. Can you just talk about being in the last group at the British and then I believe at Congressional --
STEVE STRICKER: K.J. was in the final group.

Q. What did you learn out of that and what do you look forward to to making things different?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's just obviously those didn't come out my way in those tournaments. But you know, you still learn a lot. You get to feel the pressure. You get to feel a little bit different. Your body feels a little bit different. You learn how to handle rejection I think a little bit when you don't win.
You know, it's been a long time and I keep giving myself the benefit of the doubt when I get in this position that one of these times it's going to come out in my favor. I haven't been beating myself up about not winning any of those events, but obviously I would like to win. It's been a long time since I've won, and I'm just going to try to bring as many positive thoughts to the table tomorrow as I can.

Q. In regard to the condition of the greens, a veteran caddie told me at the beginning of the week that the good putters will figure it out, and you're certainly one of the better ones. I'm just wondering, does it take some doing to kind of deal with the surfaces here, and would you agree with that whole -- not to jinx yourself -- (laughter) -- but do good players figure it out?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think so. Good putters find a way of getting it in the hole. I think no matter what the conditions are, I think they find a way.
Obviously when the conditions of the greens are like the way they are -- and we've putted on a lot of these types of conditions this year. Congressional was the same way, almost exactly the same way; soft and a little bit bouncy and then they start to get firmer and a little bit bouncier and faster.
We've putted on conditions like this this year and you've got to deal with it. Maybe you play a little bit more cautiously or try to stay underneath the hole so you're putting uphill most of the day. Or if you do have an uphill putt, maybe a 30-footer or something, make sure you don't run it by maybe a foot or two, because then you've got a downhill on bumpy greens which is not always a lot of fun.
You know, you just maybe play a little bit more cautiously on the greens, and some guys can handle that I guess and maybe some can't. But it's just -- it's tough and you've just got to deal with it.

Q. This run that you've been on, really since the late spring, has it not taken anything out of you? A lot of guys say that when they are in contention, it's hard to come back the next week or two weeks later and get back on the leaderboard, but it seems like every other week, you're in this interview room.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's because I'm in such great physical condition, I guess. (Laughing) No, I don't work out, so -- I don't know. Mentally it takes a lot out of you. But I do find the time to go home and when I do get away and go home, I don't pick up a club for a couple of days usually between tournaments. I plan on going home for every one of these Playoff events. I probably won't get to Boston until maybe Wednesday. So I'm kind of trying to get away from it, spend some time at home with the family and just kind of regroup and relax and get fired up again to come and play, because it's been a long time for me to play four tournaments in a row, and for a lot of guys. I mean, some guys do it a lot and some don't, but it's been a while for me.
So I just plan on trying to get away, trying to stay fresh. That's the whole deal is trying to stay fresh, because it's the end of the year, and playing four tournaments in a row, it's easy to start getting a little uptight, you know, if things aren't going your way.

Q. With the number you shot today, which was quite a good round, can you talk about a 62 from Hunter Mahan today and how impressive that is?
STEVE STRICKER: That's very impressive. Obviously he's played great all year, and it's nice that he made the Presidents Cup Team. But that is one heck of a round, course record around here.
Maybe he was out earlier when the greens were a little bit better, but still, you have to hit it well and get it in the hole and that's very impressive.

Q. Just as a follow with regard to Hunter, he's a guy talking about how much he was beating himself up quite a bit and had a change of attitude with his swing and mental coach right before the Open. Can you talk about that dynamic? I'm sure every one of you guys out there does it at some point, and how difficult is it to weave your way out of that mentality?
STEVE STRICKER: It's just the nature of this game, because it's a frustrating sport. Even when you're playing well, it gets to be frustrating. And then to add the pressures of being out here on top of that at times, I mean, and playing for a stretch of time where you're maybe tired or worn out; all of a sudden you start beating yourself up and thinking negative thoughts. But that's a time where you've got to ask for some help or get away from the game I think for a week or two and just kind of refocus and maybe get a fresh look or a fresh start at it.
So it's a challenge for all of us. Every one of us goes through that type of scenario.

Q. You've obviously talked a lot about the years that you've struggled. How much would a win in your mind complete the circle for you?
STEVE STRICKER: It would mean a lot, it really would. You know, making this Presidents Cup Team was almost like a win, but you know, you play well for a two-year period to make that team, and that's an accomplishment.
But you know, we're all out here to win and I'm out here to win a tournament, and it's been six years. So this would definitely, you know, put an exclamation point on my year and, you know, it just would be -- I don't know what to say. It would mean a lot.

Q. At what point does a two-shot lead going into the final round of a tournament, at what point did that seem the most farfetched when you were struggling with your game? At what point did that seem the most farfetched, having a lead like this?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm not understanding.

Q. Low point of your career -- when did you not --
STEVE STRICKER: Did I have a low point in my career? (Laughter).

Q. When had you not even thought about leading a tournament by two shots going into the final round? Was there a point?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm still not following.

Q. At what point did this seem impossible?
STEVE STRICKER: I didn't have a date in mind but I suppose there was a time in there where I thought whether I was going to make any cuts or not, let alone whether I was going to lead the tournament.
And I don't want to talk about that anymore and you shouldn't bring that up anymore either! (Pointing finger) (laughter).

Q. How would you describe your confidence level as a guy who has played superb golf this year and as a guy who has not won in six years?
STEVE STRICKER: I couldn't hear the last bit, confidence level for a guy who has not won --

Q. For a guy who has played some really nice golf all year and also for a guy who has not won in six years.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's pretty good. I feel comfortable out there. It's a funny game. I went from feeling so uncomfortable in those not-so-good years to feeling fairly comfortable.
Obviously when you get in the final group and in contention, maybe leading, other things creep in there. You know, your nerves play a little bit of a role in how you play, but when I made bogey today on the first hole, it didn't shake me up at all.
So I guess that tells you that I'm fairly confident; that I can come back after that, even though it was kind of a stupid bogey and I missed the green to the right on the short-side.
But, you know, I didn't beat myself up there at all. I said, you know what, there's 17 more holes and let's just keep plugging along. Lo and behold, I shoot a good number.

Q. Earlier in your career, you remarked that you were not a fan of this golf course. Playing well, has your perception played or because you're playing well, you like it now?
STEVE STRICKER: It's because I'm playing well. It's a great course, isn't it? (Laughter).
It's a U.S. Open-style course and I think I only came here one time, I think, I'm not even sure. I told my wife after I missed the cut, "Take a picture, honey, we're not coming back." That's how I felt about it. Guys say that a lot out here. If the course rubs you the wrong way, you know, you just stay away. And I did, for whatever reason; whether I just wasn't playing well or if I -- whatever, I don't even remember.
But I gave myself the benefit of the doubt coming here this week and telling myself that it was a course that I should like. You know, it was a U.S. Open-style course and the greens should be firm, you need to drive it in the fairway and pars are good scores. Obviously pars are not as good as they usually are this week because it's soft, but it's still the same principle. You have to get it in the fairway and get it on the greens and be in position on the greens. Because if you're putting from the wrong side on these things, it's very difficult.

Q. Will you take a picture if you win?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. (Smiling).
NELSON SILVERIO: Seven birdies, one bogey, would you mind taking us through your card.
STEVE STRICKER: First hole hit a 6-iron to the right of the green, short-sided myself and knocked it onto maybe 35 feet and 2-putted.
Birdied No. 3. Hit 3-wood, 8-iron to about two feet.
No. 5, the par 5, I hit driver, 3-wood, just short of the green, chipped up to maybe 12 feet; 10, 12 feet and made that.
No. 7, hit 3-wood and a lob-wedge. I had like 77 yards I think there and hit that to about 15 feet below the hole.
No. 9, I hit driver and a utility club to the back rough and chipped up to probably about six feet and made that.
No. 10, I laid up off the tee with a utility club. I hit a sand wedge -- or my lob-wedge to maybe ten feet and made that.
No. 15, drove it over the tree on the corner there and had 125 yards and hit a wedge to probably 12, 15 feet.
Then 17, I hit 3-wood, lob-wedge to about three feet.
NELSON SILVERIO: Good luck tomorrow. Thank you.

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