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January 23, 2009

Steve Stricker


JOE CHEMYCZ: Like to welcome Steve Stricker to our interview room. Steve with a career best today 11-under par 61, topping his previous career lows of 62s out at the FBR. Obviously you played well, maybe just talk about your round, what was so good for you, and then we'll let them ask you some questions.
STEVE STRICKER: Just gave myself a lot of opportunities today. I kept the ball in play, hit some close shots, made a couple of lengthy putts, and everything that you need to do kind of in an 11-under round, I guess I did. I guess the biggest thing was I gave myself a lot of opportunities and didn't make any mistakes.
JOE CHEMYCZ: 17 of 18 greens today.
STEVE STRICKER: I did not know that. So I did give myself a lot of opportunities.
And that's -- my goal this week, and I told my wife, I told my father-in-law, I'm like if I can just go around here and just make very few bogeys, I mean there's still some good holes out on every one of the courses and if you can just not make any mistakes and give yourself a lot of opportunities and limit the bogeys, then you should be doing all right. And that's fortunately what I've been able to do the first three days.

Q. Only at the Hope do we ask this question, 61, did you leave any out there?
STEVE STRICKER: I left a couple out there. There was really no 59 watch for me. It popped in my head for a second, but it wasn't as close as some of the other guys have been here in years past.
But I left a couple out there that I could have probably made, but overall it's pretty good.

Q. Briny Baird was in yesterday and he said that people are going to look at the top of the leaderboard, but watch out for some guys back in the pack because there are scores to be shot on all of these golf courses, particularly with guys coming over here. Was that your kind of approach after 36 holes was, hey, there's still scores out there?
STEVE STRICKER: No question. I figured that the toughest out of the two rotations is playing SilverRock and Bermuda Dunes. And when you look at the scoring on the computer at least I did, the lowest scores came out of playing these two courses right here, the Palmer and the Nicklaus. So I had played Bermuda Dunes and SilverRock and knowing that I was coming out here I felt like I had the opportunity to put up a good number and I felt like I needed to try to get back into contention.
I wasn't thinking 11-under, but I was thinking about putting up a good solid 8, 9-under round and fortunately I was able to get back in there. I don't know what the lead is, but I made up some ground today.

Q. And you go to Nicklaus tomorrow. Have you seen much of that or gotten a couple of practice rounds or anything?
STEVE STRICKER: Just went around it on Monday and just, I didn't play it, really, I just hit a couple drives off some of the holes. I guess I played nine holes there and then just rode around the other nine is what I did.
Being a short week, coming from Hawaii, we just didn't have a lot of time to prepare for all the courses. But I feel fairly comfortable with it. It's sort of like the Palmer Course, it's kind of target-oriented golf. You got to hit it to a spot and try not to force things, otherwise hazards and other things come into play.

Q. Do you recall a tournament where the conditions and weather and setup have been this favorable and so many low scores day after day, three 11-unders and three 10s already?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, the scoring is incredible. And I don't know, I guess just the weather is perfect, it's hardly any wind, the greens are probably the slowest they have ever, you know, played, played a tournament in. Usually they're probably got another foot, foot and a half of speed to them and sometimes pretty firm.
And Bermuda Dunes and SilverRock were actually fairly soft and slow. So I think that's why we're seeing good scores. The greens here today were smooth, perfect, but not a lot of speed to them. So I think that's why, again, you're seeing good scores, guys can be fairly aggressive putting it and the ball's not getting away from them.

Q. I notice that you have not played here since 2004. Anything in particular that brought you back this year?
STEVE STRICKER: The way it worked out on the schedule. That's what brought me back here. I figured I wanted to go to Hawaii and then I knew I was going to play Phoenix and instead of going all the way back home to Wisconsin in between there and then coming back out for Phoenix, I just decided to put this in there and play three in a row and try to get something going early. So that was the reason.

Q. The 23-under that you're at right now ties the tournament's 54 hole record. And you're a shot behind on the leaderboard. Is there a tendency to get frustrated about that or can you just go out and do what do you?
STEVE STRICKER: You just got to go out and play the best you can and try to give yourself as many opportunities and try to make as many birdies as you can and you can't slow down.
Again, there are some good holes out here, and you have to not be too aggressive or reckless at times and just, par's still not a bad score on some holes.
But for the most part you got to put your foot on the pedal and try to make as many birdies as you can and you know guys are going to do that, they're just going to keep making birdies, so you got to, if you're going to want to keep up you got to do the same.

Q. When the week started did you have 30 in mind or did you worry about that?
STEVE STRICKER: I didn't worry about it. I just, I've been out here long enough where I just know my own game and I know what works for me and I just take it day by day. I've seen it where guys will go out and shoot a ton under early and then come back to the pack, you just don't know what's going to happen.
So all you can do is worry yourself and go out there to play the best of your ability. And again, in a format like this and conditions the way they are, just try to make as many birdies as you can.

Q. So the weather in the Midwest had nothing to do with your following the sun from Hawaii to Phoenix?
STEVE STRICKER: No, it doesn't. I enjoy that cold weather because when I go home that means I can put the clubs away for a few days. So, no, this is obviously very -- that's probably why we're seeing good scoring too is because the weather is perfect, no wind. Usually around here in the tournament the years that I've played you get one or two days with some wind or something, but it's been hardly any wind at all and like I say, it's been great.

Q. In the big picture of your career do you ever still have moments where you think that, here I am in the year 2009 shooting 61 and there was a time when I wouldn't have thought that would have happened?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, I'm kind of, I've never been an alcoholic or anything like that, but I kind of keep thinking to myself as it relates to maybe a guy who takes it day by day. And that's kind of the way I feel about my game. I take nothing for granted any more. It's just, I don't know, it's a weird thing.
It's just, like I say, I don't take anything for granted, I come out each day to try to play hard, I keep working on the same thing, over and over again, and I get what it gives me back, I guess. But I put a lot of work into it and I try not to ever get ahead of myself any more.
And that's what I did probably back ten years ago and I learned a lot during the bad times. I had three bad years there and I really learned a lot about myself and I keep thinking about it and I don't want to go back to those three years ever again. So that's what keeps me going.

Q. So there's a lot of value in having fallen off the map as you once put it?
STEVE STRICKER: For sure. It tests you in every aspect of life and in your game and everything. This is what we do for a living. When I wasn't doing it well, if I was doing any other job like that I would have been fired. But fortunately enough I'm my own boss, I was able to do something about it, and I just put in more time and dug a little deeper and got a better attitude. And I just have seen both ends and I know what it takes to be on one end and at the other end. And I know where I don't want to be. So it's just something that I keep working on every day.

Q. There's a big pack that's only a couple shots off the pace, going into the final two days, it's still anybody's tournament, are you going to play aggressively, conservatively, what's the plan starting tomorrow?
STEVE STRICKER: Same as every other day. It's just to step on the tee and try to hit it in the fairway and then from that point determine whether it's a pin that I feel like I can go after or be a little safer at.
So I just try to take what it gives me and how I'm hitting it during the course of the round kind of determines how I look at things while I'm out there. So I'll just go out there and try to do the same things, try to give myself a lot of opportunities, try to take advantage of the par-5s. I don't know if those par-5s are reachable, I can't remember, I haven't played it enough, but there's always some scoring opportunities, I know that, and I will just try to take advantage of them.

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