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September 5, 2008

Steve Stricker


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Steve Stricker for joining us for a few minutes in the interview room here at the BMW Championship. Nice start to the week, 4-under 66, nice birdie there on the last hole. Just talk about your round. I know it was a little sloppy out there probably.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it wasn't too bad. It was definitely a lot drier than I thought it was going to be after seeing the conditions yesterday and knowing how much rain we got. But it wasn't too bad. I got off to a good start obviously, 4-under round. I hit it well, had a lot of opportunities, hit a lot of greens in regulation, and when you make a putt like that on the last hole, it leaves a good taste in your mouth at the end of the day, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. Two questions about conditions. The only high-ground holes are the ones on the back nine up on the ridge. Is there a perceivable difference in terms of how they handled the water as compares some of the lower areas on the golf course? The second thing is zoysia tends to handle the rain better in terms of mud balls. Did you run into much of that?
STEVE STRICKER: I didn't notice any difference on those holes you're talking about being drier or anything else. But the zoysia, there was very few casual water spots, and the balls really didn't pick up that much mud. So you're right, that surface that we played on today, the zoysia fairways, is really good. You squish in it; I mean, you can hear the water is there, but the ball still sits up really nice on it. We had ball in hand so you got to tee it up today pretty much. No, I thought it was in great shape. The grounds crew had it in great shape. The bunkers were perfect. The greens were really good, just slow because of all the rain that we had. But overall it was very good.

Q. Did it play easier because the greens were softer, or tougher because longer and hitting out of the rough?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, probably a little bit of both. I mean, it was easier to get it up-and-down, I think. You could be a little more aggressive firing at the pins just because if you short-sided yourself -- a couple times I couldn't reach the green because I hit it in the rough off the tee, and the chip shots you could fly all the way there to the hole. That made it a little bit easier.
But it did play long. You know, you hit a lot of long irons in there. The TOUR staff actually moved us up on a few holes, which helped, but overall it's still a difficult course.
The first thing here is to get it in the fairway because that rough today was wet and it was difficult to get the ball out of it.

Q. What is it about your game? Do you have like an alarm clock set off that goes off just before the playoffs? You just seem to always play well in these events.
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. It's the playoffs (laughter). I don't know. You know, obviously I've been working hard trying to get on this Ryder Cup team so I've been putting a lot of time in trying to get my game going in anticipation of hopefully being on the team so I could -- so I've been working hard at that. Then finally when I got the call there last week, it just was like a huge weight had been lifted off.
And today felt that way. I was much more relaxed out there. I was a lot more easy-going on myself. It was a little bit easier to play because the last two weeks I've been kind of on pins and needles just wanting to get that process with the Ryder Cup over with one way or the other, and today I could definitely feel a difference.

Q. If you hadn't been chosen, would it have been tough to tee it up this week do you think? Would that have been a letdown do you think? I know there's a lot to play for still.

Q. Do you sense it might have been hard?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I do sense it probably would have been very difficult. I was gearing up all year for this. It was the No. 1 goal for me to start the year, and I would imagine if I wouldn't have been picked it would have been a big disappointment. But I don't have to think that way.
You know, it's just the opposite; it's just very exciting to me, and I'm looking forward to that week. Knowing that's there, you know, I can still focus on this tournament here and try to do my best and give myself a chance at winning.

Q. A couple things. How long was the putt there at the end?
STEVE STRICKER: It was probably a 35-footer.

Q. Were the greens generally slow today?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, generally they were a little slow.

Q. So you hit that one hard?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you had to hit it a little extra when you had an uphill putt. I did there, and it went in.

Q. I don't know if you noticed this much, but were there a lot of people out on the course? Were the galleries pretty big?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I thought the galleries were good. There wasn't a ton of people following our group around, but Ernie Els was up ahead of us. I saw Phil go by. He had a ton of people and Ernie had a ton of people with him. Yeah, I thought for the way the weather was and the conditions and the way they were yesterday, you know, it could have turned away a lot of people. But it still looked like a lot of people came out and supported the event, which is really cool.

Q. What were the pros and cons of having a day off yesterday for you, and what did you wind up doing?
STEVE STRICKER: There were no cons yesterday (laughter). I really needed the rest. I was tired. I went to a movie with Tim Herron, and then Jerry Kelly and Tim and I went out to dinner.
Actually waking up today I felt more tired. I suppose doing nothing yesterday, you know how that is. When you do nothing it's like you get more tired. So I felt tired coming out here today, and then it took me a few holes to kind of get -- I felt like I had made a long-distance plane ride. When I got up my eyes weren't really focused. But a few holes went by and I got back into it and was sharp again.

Q. What was the movie and was it thumbs up or thumbs down?
STEVE STRICKER: "Death Race." It was thumbs down.

Q. What's the hardest thing looking forward to tomorrow about 36 holes, and do you warm up differently? Do you consciously try to conserve energy? How do you handle the 36-hole format knowing that you're actually going to do that in a couple weeks, as well?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you just have to pace yourself. You've got to warm up. I won't do that any differently tomorrow. You can't short-change yourself there I don't think. And just go about it just like you would if it was an 18-hole day. And maybe just try to pace yourself a little bit more, maybe walk a little slower, take little shortcuts, maybe not go up the sleep he's hill, all that little stuff. Try to feed yourself well and you know it's going to be a long day, so everybody has got to go through it, though.
That's the one good thing; we're all going to be out there at the same time all together. No one is going to get a benefit with the weather or anything else, because we're all going to be out there.

Q. You mentioned the other day how difficult this stretch is this time of year, from British Open on, all the tournaments you guys are playing. Are you glad that there's an off week next week? There was a lot of talk about that coming into this year with the Ryder Cup the week after. The way that's working out, is that good that there's an off week and that the TOUR Championship has been pushed back?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think it's a good idea. Guys made a push here toward the end ever since the British Open, and then the PGA, WGC event, Bridgestone, you know, it's been a long push. I think the guys on the team and even the players that aren't playing in the Ryder Cup I think are looking forward to a week off. You know, it's been a long year. It's been a culmination of a lot of tournaments, and guys start to wear out this time of year, and I think everybody just needs to get a break every once in a while. It's nice that it's kind of a forced break, too. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it, and I know a lot of other guys are, too.

Q. Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, have you talked with Paul about any people on the team you'd feel comfortable playing with?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I haven't talked to Paul at all, just got that one phone call last Monday, and that's been it. I guess when we get there on Monday of Ryder Cup week, we'll go over a lot of things then.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you.

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