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July 11, 2009

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: Steve, thanks for joining us. A day late but you got the round in, and it was quite a phenomenal round at that. Course record time, 10-under par, 61. You needed only nine putts on the back nine, which we're trying to determine if it's a record or not, and a 29 on the back which we're trying to determine if it's a record or not.
Anyway, just some comments on the phenomenal round and your mindset as you're set to play 36 tomorrow.
STEVE STRICKER: It was kind of one of those rounds where everything went right. You need to do that, I guess, to shoot 61. But I got off to a good start and made some good putts early on at 10 and 11. That kind of set the tone for me, because I been working on my putting.
I came out after yesterday's rain and knowing that we weren't going to play I worked on my putting. I worked on something that I felt like I hadn't been doing very well. And when I made those first couple putts at 10 and 11 set, it kind of set the tone for me. Made me feel like that was the right thing I was working on yesterday.
I just kept going and giving myself opportunities, and I putted very well. Holed a shot from the fairway at 17 for eagle. But it was just one of those days where it seemed like everything went right.
DOUG MILNE: What was the putting tweaking that you were doing that worked out for you?
STEVE STRICKER: It was my ball position. I worked on my ball position. It's been creeping forward on me a little bit, and I just moved it back a little bit. I moved it back and I practiced yesterday. The ball seemed to come off a lot more with a lot more spin. You know, it was rolling better. I was hitting it more solid.
That was the key. And we got on perfect greens this morning, too. The first day we played the greens were a little bit slower and a little bit more beat up because they were soft.
Today we got on there with perfectly smooth greens and a speed where you could be fairly aggressive at.
DOUG MILNE: We'll take questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it entered my mind twice. Well, maybe more than twice: After I made birdie at No. 2 to get to 9-under, I then again when I made birdie at, I guess that would be No. 6, to get to 10-under. You know, I had essentially three holes to play to make two birdies.
But, again, you know, it entered my mind, but yet I tried to play smart too and not get crazy and do anything out of my norm. But it did enter my mind.

Q. It's gonna sound crazy, but any disappointment with this round?
STEVE STRICKER: Not really. I think maybe a couple disappointing swings, if anything, where I didn't really commit to the shot that I was thinking of. You know, kind of a little overprotective at times.
It's tough I guess when you're that many under, you know. But I still played pretty protective, and that's kind of any style. Even though I'm that many under, I typically still hit to the fat part of the green and go from there. I still continued to do that. I didn't get very aggressive, even after making the birdies. I was still hitting it to the smart side and trying to make a putt.

Q. You just missed a birdie putt on 9. Were there any others where you thought, you know, just a couple more inches?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, not really. I 3-putted No. 3, and I think I hit a good second putt there, too. It just didn't break the way I thought it was going to.
Other than that, I, you know, can't go back really and say I should have done this or one should have -- I should have made another one there.
I made a lot of putts. That's the bottom line. I made a ton of putts. That's what you gotta do if you're gonna hit a number like that.

Q. Have you ever had a round like this where everything clicked for you?
STEVE STRICKER: I've had a couple two or three this year like this, which is always nice. I did it at the Bob Hope back-to-back rounds 61 and 62. So I feel comfortable going low and I don't get spooked. I feel like I want to continue to make birdies, or at least play aggressively smart and keep trying to go lower.
So I did that earlier this year and did it today.

Q. What's the effect on your game playing with two guys also playing extremely well?
STEVE STRICKER: I got to believe we were all feeding off each other. They hit some great shots in there, and I think we were collectively at -21 under for the group, which I've never heard of in all the years I've been out here. I mean, not even at the Bob Hope or anything like that, I don't think.
DOUG MILNE: Yeah, it's impressive.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, we all played well and it was fun. It was a great group to be part of it. And we're all friends. When I saw the pairing come out I was like, Oh, what a great pairing. We're all the same demeanor and we're friends, so it was a good pairing right from the getgo.

Q. You said earlier you had a couple disappointing swings. Where were those and what happened on them?
STEVE STRICKER: Probably on No. 7, the one that sticks out the most with me. You know, it was a 7-iron, just a basic 7-iron and I just, you know, didn't fire through it. Kind of guided it down there.
But there was probably a couple drives where I steered away from the trouble like on No. 4, but I ended up making birdie. Stuff like that, you know, where I start to get a little conservative at times.
You know, I hate to get aggressive at times when I'm that many under. Like I say, I still try to play smart. That's always been my game, and that's what I continued to do even though I was making birdies.

Q. Thoughts on playing 36 tomorrow? What will that be like? Do you prepare differently, or no?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I don't know. There's no other way to prepare for it. You just know that it's gonna be a long day, I guess. You know, I can't -- I'm in whatever shape I'm in right now. It's not like I can go out and be prepared for 36 tomorrow. I wish I could.
It's gonna be a long day, and I imagine it's gonna be humid, too. You're just gonna have to pace yourself. We're not re-pairing after the third round, so that's gonna create a little bit of a -- not really a problem, but a situation where somebody could come from behind. You may not be playing with the leader at all. Leader could be behind us, whatever, in front of us. You don't know where they can come from.
So that'll be a little different, too. It's gonna be a marathon. It's just gonna be a test of endurance and patience, because it's a long day and you just need to stay focused and be patient.

Q. You should be able to sleep on the plane.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, this should tire us out for the plane ride. Hopefully we get it in. I think the weather looks good enough we should get it in, which is a blessing. I was hoping that we were gonna be able to play all 72 and get it in.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: It's been a while for me. I mean, I played more than 18 holes at the Open this year. I'm sure I have recently. Nothing off the top of my head.
But the US Open seemed like a marathon every day we were there. This will be a test tomorrow.

Q. Did you play Houston this year?
STEVE STRICKER: I did, but I missed the cut there.

Q. If somebody won on Thursday, whenever that was, first round, did that change your mindset at all coming in thinking you were gonna have to go low today?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I felt like the cut being the number of guys closest to 60, I figured you know, needed to at least shoot 3, possibly 4-under just to be around for tomorrow. When you have that kind of mindset coming in, you tend to get a little more focused and play a little bit better, it seems like.
You kind of wonder why you don't do that more times. But, yeah, I had a goal out there to shoot at least 4-under, and I got to that pretty quickly. Just I felt like, well, here we do. Let's just keep it going and try to keep making as many birdies as I can.

Q. People may not know how hard it is to follow up a low round the next day. They fact that you're gonna play 36 holes, is that going to make that a little different?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, and I've followed up a good round this year with another low one at the Bob Hope. I feel like I can do that. Once I've done that, I can always go back and think about that and know that I've done that.
So I'm just gonna treat it as a whole new day tomorrow. We've got a long ways to go yet. I'm halfway done. The whole field isn't even halfway done yet with the tournament. I just realize that we got a long battle yet and it's a big, busy day tomorrow. Just try to do my own thing each hole.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, it would mean a lot. I get a ton of support here. You know, from both the Illinois people and Wisconsin people. We're not far from home. I've had some friends come down from home and seen some familiar faces here, Illinois people I've met over the years.
Yeah, it's always nice. Feels like a home tournament for me here. When you can drive to a tournament and get the type of support I get here, it's always a lot of fun.

Q. Talk about the condition of the course.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, we played ball-in-hand today, not you know, in the fairway in the closely mown areas. If you can drive it in the fairway, it's definitely advantageous, you know, to hitting the shots into the green, just because you get to clean it and wipe the mud off and give yourself a perfect lie.
It's a big deal. You know, I mean, that's why we're gonna see some good scores today, I think. But it had to be that way. It's just a little too soft out there. But the course is still in great shape. I don't know how many inches of rain we've had...
DOUG MILNE: Just under two.
STEVE STRICKER: Yesterday? And then Wednesday we got here -- yeah. I mean, I think he's held up great with four inches of rain in three days. So hats off to the grounds crew here and to the course itself. It's really held up very nicely.

Q. (Question regarding playing it down.)
STEVE STRICKER: Probably not. I had a couple mud splotches on my ball today that's definitely gonna affect my swing, you know, the type of shot you're gonna hit. There's no way of controlling that at all. It just alters the competition. I think they made the right decision today.
I'm sure tomorrow we'll probably play it down, but I think today was the right call. It's really pretty wet in spots. We'll get some mud balls probably tomorrow, too. But I think with this drying day today, the sun's out, it should -- although it's humid -- but we should get a little drier conditions tomorrow.

Q. Did you have any casual water instances today?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think one. And I think Scott Verplank had one, too. But for the amount of rain, that's not that bad. Most courses, if we've had four inches of rain, you wouldn't be able to play, or it would be really sloppy. It wasn't really that sloppy out there at all today. It was really good.

Q. You were talking about tomorrow being jumbled and trying to keep track to the leaders. Does that change your approach with watching leaderboards at all?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I do the same thing: I watch leaderboards. I like to know where I stand and who's doing what. I'll be watching it tomorrow. You know, I could be three shots, four shots behind by the end of today. I don't know.
I know Darron Stiles is out there, and he's 12 under or -- so, I mean, I'm still gonna have to go out there and play my own game. It's gonna take quite a few under to win here, especially if the wind stays down tomorrow. And the conditions are gonna remain soft, I imagine. Gonna have to still make some birdies and be fairly aggressive.

Q. (Question regarding course record.)
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I shot even the first day. That was the problem.

Q. Talk about your year. Seemed like you were knocking on the door early. Broke through at Crown Plaza. What happened that week to get you over the hump, so to speak? Was there anything that clicked in your game?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know, I was kept hanging around for a lot of tournaments this year where I had an opportunity to win. You know, I threw one or two away, probably, tournaments where I let other players in and just didn't finish it off.
Then I was just got off to a good start at Crown Plaza the first couple rounds, and just hung around. Almost thought I kind of -- it wasn't my tournament to win there necessarily, but I did have the opportunities there at the Crown Plaza.
It sounds funny. I ended up winning. But Tim Clark was kind of in control, and he probably kicked himself a couple times for the couple putts that he missed, or a bogey that he made.
But you look at any tournament week in and week out, and usually there's a player that will, you know, make a bogey or end up falling back a shot or two and let somebody else win. It doesn't happen necessarily with Tiger, but it happens on a pretty regular basis.
I just figured, you know, to keep putting myself in that position, and finally it went my way for that one time. Tim Clark had an opportunity to win, and then he didn't. I was there to make the birdie on the second playoff hole.
It's just funny. You got to keep hanging around and putting yourself in that position and it finally worked out.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I would be there for sure. Both these tournaments. I mean, these two tournaments here were tournaments, Milwaukee and the John Deere, where I really look forward to. Especially the first few years on tour and every year I've been on tour. They feel like home tournaments, like I've said.
But, yeah, that's disappointing that I won't be able to go there next week. Hopefully someday they get out of that opposite-date position and I can play it again. But I've got to go play the major. Just too many positive things that can happen if you play well in a major. There's Ryder Cup points available and just all sorts of things, especially if you were to go ahead and win one.
But I do miss going there and seeing all the family and friends that are usually there with me. You know, so, whatever. I guess it's been disappointing, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. Jerry is gonna be there this year. That'll help.
DOUG MILNE: Just run us through some clubs on your birdies and eagle.
STEVE STRICKER: Starting on the back, hit a sand wedge, actually my lob wedge, to about 12 feet.
11, hit an 8-iron to about 20 feet.
14 was a lob wedge to about 15 feet.
15 was a 7-iron to about, oh, six feet.
17, I hold out a wedge from 93 yards.
18, I hit a 6-iron to about probably 20, 25 feet there.
No. 1 I hit a sand wedge to -- you know, it was probably six inches.
2, I hit 3-wood over the green and then chipped to about five feet and made that.
I 3-putted No. 3 for bogey.
No.4 I hit a driver and a 7-iron to about 25 feet.
And 6, I hit a utility club off the tee and a 9-iron to about probably eight feet.

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