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August 29, 2007

Steve Stricker


STEWART MOORE: Steve Stricker, thanks for spending a few moments with us here at the Deutsche Bank Championship. First and foremost, congratulations on the win last week at The Barclays. You move into first on the FedExCup Points list. Obviously bringing a wave of emotion. Talk to us about the last three days and going home and now you're back out.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's been a little bit of a whirlwind the last three days, but it's been a lot of fun. It's been a long time coming, and anticipated a long time coming.
I was scheduled to go home and see my daughter off to school for her first day today, so it all worked out well. Family met me at the airport and friends at the airport when I flew in Sunday night and kind of moved on over to our house, and it didn't last very long because everybody was working the next day and all that, but that was a nice gesture of all my family and friends to be there. It was a special three days, and it's been busy to say the least.
STEWART MOORE: Obviously with the FedExCup format, you're first, you're going to play with Rory and K.J. Is that kind of a neat aspect of the FedExCup format, that you're playing with the guys who are leading, right there with you, after winning last week?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very much so. It's the guys you're right there with, and you can see how they're playing at the time and what you need to do, but basically it all comes down to playing well again in a golf tournament, and that's what we're here for, again, is just to make sure that you get off to a good start and be around on the weekend and earn points.
I mean, but playing well takes care of a lot of things, and that's my -- you know, my mind thought and just what I'm trying to do. I think it's important, again, just to get off to a good start, not worry about the points structure and let that happen at the end of the tournament and look at that later on.

Q. You talked about your pairing. How much excitement does the Tiger-Phil-Vijay pairing bring to not only the Playoffs but this event?
STEVE STRICKER: I think it's great, and also just the fact that everybody in the world is going to want to go and watch that pairing. You know, I think it's just a unique feature of this playoff format. I think it brings a lot of excitement and anticipation from the players and the fans alike.
I know when I was coming down the stretch last week, not down the stretch but after I won, thinking about, you know, if I was going to be playing with Tiger the first couple of days here. It's not happening, but it was on my mind.
I'm sure it's on everybody's mind a little bit after the tournament is over, who they're going to be playing with and what position they're in and where they stand and all this.

Q. Were you glad you weren't playing with Tiger or disappointed?
STEVE STRICKER: A little of both (laughter). You know, it would have been a great experience, a neat experience, but I don't need that right now, either, to be playing with him. I'm just trying to focus on my game again. It's tough, it's tough playing with him. It's a circus. I mean, it's just -- he deals with it every day, but for a guy who doesn't play with him very often, it's very distracting, so it's difficult to play with him.

Q. I wanted to ask you about this idea of a home field advantage, if there is one. You talked about Westchester and that being one of your favorite courses until Sunday afternoon around 5:55 p.m. David Toms made the point a couple years ago when this was first announced that he's a southern guy and maybe the northern courses aren't the best for him. What are your thoughts on that? You've never been here I don't think, have you?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I've been here. I've been here a few times. I top-tenned it last year when the course played very long and wet and cold. I enjoy this course.
It does favor a long hitter, I think, here. I haven't been out there yet this year, but that probably hasn't changed much. But it does favor a guy who bombs it a long ways. A lot of the carries are in that 270 to 280 range, at least they were.
But I have the feeling, and I think for the most part, most players feel like if they're playing well, they can compete at any course. And I say that -- maybe not every player, but I would say most players feel like they can compete at any course, and I think I kind of -- I showed myself that last week thinking that that course wasn't really suited for me, but once I got going and started feeling good about it that looking back, it is a good course for me.
I think if you're playing well and doing good things, I think you can play well at any course.

Q. You had a few days to evaluate what happened Sunday. What do you see as the biggest difference between that and some other close calls?
STEVE STRICKER: I think just being in that position a few earlier times. You know, those close calls that didn't quite happen, you know, were definitely learning experiences. A lot of people saw them as negative experiences. I saw them really as building blocks or positive experiences.
I would have liked to have done better in some of those previous events, especially at the U.S. Open or the British Open, but maybe it just was meant to be this way, where I learned from those poor Sunday showings. Even though I wasn't scoring that well this last Sunday, I was hitting it fine, I felt comfortable, and I had kind of a calmness on the inside there.
It just came out on those last five holes, I guess. I mean, I was patient, and I think that showed myself a lot, too, that I was just patient enough and good things happened at the end.

Q. You were obviously very emotional after Sunday, after the victory. Could you kind of describe, kind of crystallize, the feelings? Was there one or two things you thought back to, things that you've overcome?
STEVE STRICKER: Not really. I mean, I'm an emotional guy as it is. I mean, I just -- I don't know why. I was starting to believe that it may be a problem (laughter), that maybe that's why I wasn't winning some of these events, because I was getting too emotional out there, and maybe that is the case.
You know, I tried to hold that emotion off on Sunday. But that's the way I am. I did it in every one of my victories. It's just who I am, I guess.
But this one does mean a lot more. Maybe that's what came out. You know, I just -- after the struggles that I've had and really not winning a stroke-play event for 11 years, it was just a pretty special and sweet moment.

Q. In the worst of times that you had as far as golf related, did you ever imagine that this would have happened?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you think about it, you dream about it, you keep telling yourself that it can happen again, but you still have to get out there and get yourself in those positions, and I wasn't doing that at all. So it kind of seemed like a far-fetched idea.
As the last couple years have progressed, I started seeing more improvement, a better attitude, and just the fact that I was getting in there more and more times gave me the notion that this could happen, and I started believing in myself more and more. That's probably why I've been playing better; I just started to believe in myself more and more each time and feel more comfortable with what I'm doing and feeling comfortable in that final round like I did is a big step, I think. It's just kind of evolving, I guess.

Q. Last time you won, it was a great week. This time it's been a really good two years. I wonder if you could talk about the differences and what this win you think will do for you as you go forward.
STEVE STRICKER: I hope it just keeps me going. I mean, that's kind of the way I'm perceiving this. I don't want to stop. I did that once, and I don't want to do that again. I just want to keep this momentum going.
I think I have a better understanding of TOUR life than when I went through this the first time, didn't maybe really understand that year in 1996. I did have maybe some poor judgments at the end of the year that I now understand a lot more (laughter). I wouldn't do it differently, I really wouldn't. It's just I understand a lot more about myself and the game and TOUR life.
Hopefully I can keep this going in the direction I want it to go and keep trying to improve. I think it's just a confidence level, you know, and that's what I want to continue on trying to improve and working on.

Q. Good thing The Skins Game is already set, huh?

Q. You haven't seen the course yet I take it, you just rolled in?
STEVE STRICKER: I haven't. I just got in. I'm going to go out there right now. I've heard it's really good, though.

Q. What do you see as the best parts and maybe the worst parts, per se, of this new system?
STEVE STRICKER: I think the best parts is that it adds a ton more excitement for both the players and the fans and the time of the season that we were lacking before. Even though Tiger didn't play last week, it kind of added more of an excitement to it. I mean, all of a sudden three guys are ahead of him, which he dominated the whole year. It just doesn't seem right, that all of a sudden he's in fourth place on the deal. But it is the system.
But I think that also adds more excitement to it that he's now got to come from behind, which he probably won't have a problem doing. But it just adds more excitement to the playoff system. And I think it brings more attention to our game, like I said, during the time of year that we were just kind of -- the majors were done and golf was kind of on the back burner was football is starting and all that kind of stuff. I really see it as a positive.
You know, I'm happy as heck to be a part of it and to be in the position I'm at.
Negatives, you know, I'm sure there's going to be some tweaking with the whole structure of it. I mean, Tiger not playing last week, they see that as a negative. And there's guys not playing this week. I guess it's up to them whether they can play four in a row, and people think that they may not be able to play the four in a row as it is. There's a lot of guys out here that can't play four in a row. I'm questioning whether I can maintain my focus and desire for those four weeks, you know.
It'll be tough, but it's the first year. I guess we'll wait and see how it plays out, but I think it's pretty exciting. I think the players are going to keep getting more and more excited about it as it goes on. I know everybody wants to continue to play. You can see it; they're here, for the most part, the majority of the players are here, they're trying to move on to the next event. I think the players are taking a hold of it, as well.

Q. Just curious if you can give us a little more detail about Sunday night, about the things you did. Everyone going back to the Stricker house, was there a 21-rifle salute in the backyard?
STEVE STRICKER: No, we just all went back to my house, my wife and I's house, and we just had some beers. That was it. Talked about -- really not about golf. We were just catching up with people that I haven't seen for a little while. My parents were there. It was way past their bedtime (laughter). But it was good. You know, it was nice to see people show up there, and they were just as excited as I was. It was a good moment there in the airport.

Q. When did it break up?
STEVE STRICKER: About 11:00, 11:30.

Q. And Monday did you find yourself just reliving everything?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, Sunday night really I didn't sleep at all. Maybe it was the eight beers that I had that I couldn't get to sleep (laughter) because usually I don't drink. I couldn't get to sleep, and I was just so excited. Nicki was the same. She couldn't sleep, either. I talked to Tom, my caddie; he couldn't sleep. It's been so long, and it was such an exciting finish for us; I was just still flying high at that time. It was hard to sleep.

Q. You told that great story last year about Bobby winning that little three-hole or six-hole tournament and saying, "Daddy, I won, I get to go to Hawaii."
STEVE STRICKER: Well, she made a sign that said, "At last we get to go to Hawaii."
STEWART MOORE: Steve, thanks for coming in. Good luck this week.

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