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July 5, 2008

Steve Stricker


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Steve Stricker Stricker for joining us for a few minutes at the media center at the AT&T National, solid round today, in the final grouping there on Sunday, a place where you've had some experience and some success. Just talk a little about tomorrow and obviously you played well today; what you did well today.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, excited about tomorrow, about the opportunity to try to win again. The last couple of days have been good. Scored well, been putting well. Starting to drive it a little bit better at times. Still struggling with that just a touch.
Overall, it's two, good solid rounds got me into position with a chance for tomorrow.

Q. Having come close here last year, how good does it feel to have another chance?
STEVE STRICKER: It feels great. Obviously when you come to a place that you've had some past success at, I come here with some good feelings and good vibes coming to the tournament. So it feels good that I can just say that I have the opportunity tomorrow to try to win, and hopefully put together another good round and you know, make a run at it coming down the stretch.

Q. What is it about Washington that seems to bring out some of the best in you?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. I've missed cut here, too, before. (Laughing).
I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the humidity; I don't know. I enjoy the area. Like I said yesterday, I came out here as a kid and I had an uncle that lived up here and we came out here as a family and we went and watched the fireworks down in the mall area when I was a kid. I came out here for the PGA Championship in 76, so I have been out here off and on my entire life.
To win here was special, and to have my wife on the bag was very special, and I've had some other good finishes here; the opportunity to win here last year. I just enjoy coming here. When you enjoy coming to places, it makes it a little easier going there and maybe that reflects in the way I play, I don't know. But I do like it here.

Q. Could you talk about your mental makeup today, were the shots just falling or did you make a conscious effort to go for it today and win this thing?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I'm not -- today was no different than any other day. Just trying to get it in the fairway, that's my first thought, and from there, I kind of assess whether it's a pin that I can feel good about firing at or not.
Today was no different, and didn't get into a whole lot of trouble. I played the tough holes well again today, which I think is a key around here. No. 6 I made par. I birdied 10, parred 11. Those holes, if you can play well, that's going to determine the outcome tomorrow, especially if you can get through those holes playing those well is important and that's what I did again today.
There was no conscious effort trying to win it today or anything. I just wanted to give myself an opportunity for tomorrow, which I did.

Q. How do you explain three 3s on No. 10?
STEVE STRICKER: No idea, and I don't want to talk about it either. (Laughter).
I don't know. (Laughter) I got one more day. I want to make one more.

Q. I don't want to be a rally killer; keep on going.
STEVE STRICKER: I have one more day. That's all I'm going to say.

Q. How about a club?
STEVE STRICKER: It's been a different club. It's been a 3-iron and a 4-iron. I don't know, I played it well last year, too, and that's really all I'm going to say.

Q. Today was a 4-iron?
STEVE STRICKER: Today was a 3-iron.

Q. Can you tell us about last night at the White House, how was that, what did you do, where did you watch the fireworks from?
STEVE STRICKER: The president asked me a lot about the policy and stuff going on around the country -- (laughter).
It was great. I tell you, I'll remember that for the rest of my life. Just the opportunity to go there and just to see what goes on in just throwing a party and trying to get into the place. And then once we're in, they pretty much let you walk wherever you wanted to go. We went up on the second and third floors to watch the fireworks, their private residence areas, and to look at some of those rooms, I went in the Lincoln bedroom and the Queen's bedroom and to look at the artwork and to meet the people, condo leisure arise sat next to me for a little while last night and talked to her about golf and what she's going to do after they are done with their -- come January.
So, yeah, it was interesting. I'm really a fish out of water, me and politics, but it was a lot of fun to see.

Q. Talk about slow play at all?

Q. You came into the week ranked in the Top-10, did that give you any expectations for yourself of going into the weekend, and feeling that you are supposed to be in the position that you are?
STEVE STRICKER: No. The ranking to me, I don't think about it. I don't really -- I shouldn't say I don't care about it, because a lot of our TOUR depends on how we are ranked. But you know, I'm just trying to play good golf and trying to fix some things that go wrong when I'm out there in my swing. That's all I'm worried about.
When you play well, all those extracurricular things or extra things take care of themselves. And that's one of them, the World Ranking.
You know, because I'm ranked where I am, am I supposed to be winning here; that doesn't mean anything. There's 120 good players here, and any one of them could win. No, I didn't feel that way at all.

Q. Besides the obvious, which is the score, what's different about your opportunity tomorrow and the one you had last year?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know if there is any difference. You know, I mean, we're a little -- what won last year, 9-under? You know, we're there right now.
You know, I think the course is playing a touch easier than last year and I think that's reflective in the scores.
You know, there's a lot more guys with the opportunity to win I think. I don't know how we stacked up last year at all. I don't know if it was -- I know K.J. had the lead going into last year I think --

Q. Stuart, wasn't it?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, he did, that's right. So I don't know if it's really any different or not. I just know there's a bunch of guys there. There's a bunch of guys at 7 and 8, and even the guys at 6; there's three guys there, or two guys. And now Tom Pernice is at 10. So you're going to have to play well. There's going to be some guys coming from behind probably with some low scores, and you're going to have to shoot a good, solid round tomorrow to win.

Q. You're able to finish off a tournament when it was played at Avenel, I was wondering how you look at the closing holes there and the closing holes here and the problems they might present.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, 16, 17 and 18 at Avenel, par 4, par 3 over water, and 18 is a pretty good hole.
You know, here we have the opportunity to make some birdies I feel like coming down the stretch, if you can drive it in the fairway. 15 is a par 5, a birdie hole. And actually 16 is a par 5 birdie hole and 17 is a short-ish par 4. If you can get in the fairway, you're looking down on the green; that you can hit one close in there.
And 18, too, is playing fairly short. You know, if you've got the guts enough to take aim at the pin on 18, you're going to have an opportunity for birdie. But there is some penalties there.
You know, I think you have more of an opportunity here to maybe make a birdie coming in than over at Avenel. 17-over at Avenel is a little bit tougher I think than what we are facing on the way in here, and 18 always proved to be a pretty good hole at Avenel.

Q. What's turned around a little bit for you of late? Why have you been playing a little bit better this week?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I don't know, it's just the nature of the game I think. I got off to a great start at the beginning of the year. The first ten events, nine events I guess, seven of them I didn't finish out of the Top 15.
So I got off to a great start and then just kind of hit the wall. I don't know if I lost my concentration or I got tired or mentally fatigued or what, but it's just the nature of sport. I've gotten to understand that throughout my career, the ebbs and flows of sport and the highs and lows and all of it that goes with it. You know, within a year, you're going to have that. You're going to have some highs and you're going to have some lows, and I just went through a little period where I didn't want to be out here, for one.
I was tired, and when you feel that way, it shows in your game. I mean, I've talked to hundreds of players, and they all feel the same way at some point; where it's a struggle to come out and you're mentally tired and your game's not sharp, and the two kind of go hand in hand, the mental aspect and your game.
And now I'm trying to kick myself in the butt a little bit more and get fired up. I've got a stretch run here to try to make this Ryder Cup Team, so I've got a lot on the line. Probably about four more events left, so trying to work at it a little bit harder and get a little more focus for this last little bit.

Q. The weather forecast is kind of shaky for tomorrow afternoon. The schedule has been moved forward. You guys will be playing in threesomes going off two tees. Wondering if that will have any impact at all.
STEVE STRICKER: No. It won't be any different. You're playing with one extra guy, but it will be -- everybody will be out there playing under the same conditions, which is good, and so no, it won't be any different.

Q. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, given where you've been the last two months, are you fairly confident that you've got the ship headed back in the right direction coming into the stretch run of the season?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I am. I'm feeling better about it. Still like I said, I don't feel great with my tee ball, my driver specifically, which kind of goes hand in hand over my career with the way things have been.
But I still go up there with the attitude that I'm going to hit a good one. I'm not standing up there thinking I'm going to hit a bad one and I'm not going up there with a negative attitude or anything. It's just that they are not going where I'm looking, which is difficult at times.
But I'm fighting through it, and when I do hit a good one, I've been giving myself opportunities on the greens, and like I said, I've been putting well and managing my game well, just doing that well, too, has helped a lot.

Q. Last year when you're in contention here, it had been a while since you won and you went and won later in the year at The Barclays, just wondering how much of a difference that makes in just your mental state, being in a situation like this again?
STEVE STRICKER: For me, I've won four times, and I've been out here 15 years. So it's not like I win like Tiger, four times to six or seven or eight times a year. Guys who win a lot, they are familiar with that position; I am not very familiar with that position. I mean, I have been close over the last few years, but still, I've won one time in the last, since 2001.
It's still a challenge. It still is very difficult to do. I'll be fighting with nerves and everything tomorrow just like everybody else, but you know, you've just got to try to fight through that. I've just shown over my career, guys can play poorly and then all of a sudden jump out and win. There's guys like that out here that maybe play poorly for a period of time and then all of a sudden they are in the winner's circle.
I'm the kind of guy that has to be in that position it seems like, anyways, a long time, and build up some confidence like I did last year. I had a lot of opportunities to win and finally it happened.
So hopefully tomorrow I can at least give myself a chance. I'm in good position now and I'm excited to see how I can handle it again tomorrow.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogeys today.
STEVE STRICKER: Drove it in the left rough on No. 1 by a step or so and hit a sand wedge to eight feet.
Birdied No. 4. 3-wood and an 8-iron to about probably ten feet.
Birdied No. 7, the par 3. Hit a 7-iron and that putt was probably about 15 feet.
Bogeyed No. 9. Hit a wedge over the green and didn't get it up-and-down. Missed about a 15-footer for par.
Birdied 10. Hit a 3-iron to about a foot and a half.
Birdied 13. Hit a 6-iron to about a foot, foot and a half.
Birdied No. 15. 3-wood in the fairway, 8-iron to about 20 feet.
And then bogeyed 17. I flew a 7-iron over the green. Took a drop from the camera tower there and didn't get it up-and-down.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you very much.

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