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August 19, 2008

Steve Stricker


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome our defending champion here to The Barclays in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
I take it you got out on the course, as the defending champion coming to a new course must be a little strange, but what are your impressions of the course and the tournament here.
STEVE STRICKER: We have a great course this week. It's an old, traditional course, some uniqueness on some of the greens. The layout is good and challenging. I think it's going to be a difficult test for everybody this week. The rough is up and spotty in some spots where it's real gnarly and laying all over the place. It's going to be difficult if you hit it in the rough, and the greens provide a challenge, too, because they are pretty severe in some spots and difficult.
So overall, my first impressions, I played 15 of the holes and it's going to be a good test I think and should provide for an entertaining tournament.
CHRIS REIMER: You finished last year runner-up in the FedExCup and were part of the excitement of the Playoffs, are you looking forward to getting back into it and doing that again this year?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much. So this time of the year, the season is winding down but we have a lot riding yet on the line. There's a lot involved, a lot of money at stake, Ryder Cup is still out there as a possibility for some players. So there's a lot going on. This just adds to it, and then it provides a lot of excitement.

Q. Just wondered, did you play the fifth hole?
STEVE STRICKER: I did, short par 4.

Q. What do you think of it?
STEVE STRICKER: It was into the wind today, so I tried hitting a driver and couldn't get it there. We all laid up. I think that's a good hole. It's a hole that if the wind does change around, you're going to get some guys that are going to go for it, but you'd better be pretty precise because the green is very narrow. It's maybe only nine or ten steps wide, so if you miss it off on the sides, you're going to be in trouble.
So for me personally, I'm going to just lay it up there every day and take my short wedge shot in there and it should provide me about 80 yards or so or less, and try to make a birdie that way.
But again, a lot of these courses -- this hole that's been around forever. But that's been typical of tournaments in the past is having a drivable par 4, and it provides, like I said, a lot of excitement. You're going to get guys going for it and that could lead to trouble sometimes.

Q. Do you like all of the changes they have made to the FedExCup?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's hard to say yet. I know there's going to be a lot more movement this year. I guess we're just going to have to see how it plays out again this year again.
I've heard some crazy things that could happen. I was going around with Zach today, and you know, a guy -- Zach was telling me that a guy in his similar position, two guys in the same position, if one guy finishes fourth and then misses the cut, the guy who finishes 70th both weeks can actually pass that guy who finished fourth and missed the cut.
(PGA TOUR Statistic Note: In order to equal the 4,400 points earned by finishing 4th and missing the cut, a player would need at least consecutive 41st place finishes.)
You know, there's some crazy things I'm hearing that could happen, and whether they will or not is another thing I guess. We'll have to see how it plays out. I know there will be a lot more movement in the standings. The points are a lot different and everybody is a lot closer to go. They wanted some more movement, and they are going to get it, too, the way I understand.

Q. There's a theory among the locals here, the club pro, etc. -- you played the first five holes among your 15, that that is the place, your first five holes, you'd better make your birdies and everything, because once you get to 6, it gets real difficult. I was wondering if you've thought that in your trip around the course today.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I didn't think of that until you said it, but looking back now, you're right. I mean, 6, 7, 8 and 9, 10, 11, 12, is a good stretch of holes in there. And even 13, the par 5, very narrow driving area there, and if you don't drive it in the fairway, I don't think you're getting it over the tall grass, the moguls in the middle. There's a stretch there that's very difficult, you're right.
And the greens get a little funkier in that stretch, too. There's some real difficult -- 14, and there was another one, too, 12, pretty severe.
So, yeah, you're right, there is a challenge there in the middle of the course. I didn't play the last three. 15 wasn't too bad. 14 wasn't too bad. But 14 green was real tough.
You're right. There's a lot of good holes. It seems -- and the par 5s are not reachable from what we played today. It's pretty soft out there. So it's going to be a good test. You're going to have to drive the ball in play, and just so you can advance it up there and get it on the greens.

Q. Why did you stop there?
STEVE STRICKER: I had to come here. (Laughter).

Q. Just a question about Padraig. Do you in your own mind slot him now among the great golfers of all time, great golfers of his generation; has that entered your mind at all since he's done what he's done the last 18 months?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I haven't really thought about it. I know what he's done the last few months. I think you could put him down as one of the better golfers of our time, for sure. Winning two majors within a year and a half, or basically a year -- yeah, three majors, three in 18 months.
Yeah, you look at that, and he's won the same amount as I think Ernie Els, right? Yeah, you definitely put him in a different class. You know, to look at how he played starting the year, I think even from his standards, it wasn't up to what he thought or is capable of playing, and all of a sudden, goes over, wins the British Open and then wins the PGA.
Obviously he works very hard at it. I seem him working very hard, and he's a great player. But to classify him as one of the best of all times, I don't know if he's there yet, but obviously one of the better ones of our generation with the way he's been playing the last couple of years.

Q. How would you assess your year and where is your game right now?
STEVE STRICKER: My year has been fairly steady. I had a little rough patch in there about four tournaments in a row where I missed the cut four in a row and didn't play very well. But my game has been back. It's turned around. I've had some good tournaments, Top-10 at the British Open. Probably not as well as I played last year, but again, my game is pretty much the same as it was last year.
Just the scoring at times isn't as good. I don't think I'm putting quite as good at times. My short game is good, but my scoring average is not as good as last year, but every tournament we're playing in, it seems like the last couple of months, you know, if you shoot par, you've played a heck of a round.
It's been a tough stretch of tough golf starting at the U.S. Open and then you have the British Open, Bridgestone was very difficult, the PGA. Every course I've played the past couple of months seems to be pretty hard. I've had some good rounds and some poor ones, but maybe not as consistent as last year. I'm starting to drive the ball better and my putting is coming around, so I'm looking forward to a good stretch here in the Playoffs.

Q. As well as you've putted throughout your career, are you a one-putter guy? Are you loyal to your putters?
STEVE STRICKER: I am. I've had the same type of putter my entire career. It's all been pretty much an Odyssey, but I had a black face and now I have a white face, but it's the same design. I've putted with the same one for probably the last four or five years.
I may change the grip on there every once in awhile, but that's about as bizarre as I get.

Q. I was standing behind the tee box on 5 when you and your group went through. The thing that struck me as interesting is every one of you and your caddies seemed to differ on the yardage; how difficult is that fifth hole, and what type of challenge is it going to present this week?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, you can make it as difficult as you want to I guess, or as easy as you want to, because the lay up is pretty straightforward. If you just decide to play it up there, you're going to have probably 80 yards or less. We had 80 yards to the hole today after I laid up. And that's not that tough a shot. The green is narrow, but I guess if they put the pin back, it could be difficult.
You know, if you end up trying to drive it there is when you're going to start getting into some problems is the way I see that hole. If you're not right on with the drive, if you're off to one side or the other and if you get to be pin-high, especially on the left, you're going to be really stinking. You're going to have a tough time.
I just plan on playing it, laying it up and wedging it on there and trying to get a putt at it, because like I say, if you try driving it is when you're going to get in trouble.

Q. I saw you whip out driver after you hit the 3-wood up there. Is it difficult to resist the temptation to just pull it out and go for it?
STEVE STRICKER: For a lot of guys, it is going to be. For me, I hit a good driver there today. It was into the wind, but I flew it maybe, I don't know, five, ten yards short of the green. With the wind the way it is today, there's no way I'm getting there. But there are guys that hit it longer than me obviously and they are going to be tempted to do it.
Like I say, that's going to lead to some interesting problems I think, because the green is so narrow and if you're off-line and you get up there pin-high, you're going to have problems just getting it on the green.

Q. Is the Ryder Cup on your mind?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it is.

Q. How do you keep it out of your mind when you're on the first tee, or what are your thoughts about impressing Zinger?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know, we've got two tournaments left. I just want to play well and that's what it's always come down to to me on TOUR is just trying to play well. A lot of things take care of themselves if you play well. I keep telling myself that over and over and over.
If I start thinking about the Ryder Cup this week while I'm out there playing, it probably won't make for a good tournament. So I have just got to concentrate on what I have to do here and play well.
I'm sure he has a notion one way or the other whether I'm going to be on that team or not, and if I play well, it's just going to help my cause, and if not, it may add some doubt. But I can't be thinking about that and I'm just going to have to try to block that all out and play my game and try to play well here.
CHRIS REIMER: Thanks, Steve. Good luck.

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