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July 12, 2009

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome the 2009 John Deere Classic champion, Steve Stricker, back into the media center. Congratulations. We know it's been a very long day. Great 7-under par 64 today. It was good enough for the win. With the win you pick up 500 FedExCup points and move second behind Tiger Woods. Just a few comments now that 36 holes is behind you and you've got the victory.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, obviously it was a very long day. I'm ecstatic to be sitting here as the champion, obviously. Just tried to keep patient today and go about my game plan like I've been doing every other day.
You know, it worked out. Hit a lot of good shots. Putted well, and I'm very happy to be sitting here.
DOUG MILNE: We'll just go ahead and jump in with some questions.

Q. Steve, you had a 61 in this tournament. You won about six weeks ago. But every time I looked up on the screen, you looked focused. Is your team right now as dialed in as it ever has been?
STEVE STRICKER: It's pretty good. I mean, I'm coming off two weeks where I didn't play that much last couple weeks. I kind of struggled with some feelings that I had in my swing this week. You know, people may not see that or know that, but, you know, a player knows when he's struggling with a shot here and there.
My misses were a little bit to the left this week. Coming down that last hole, you know, that water is on the left, and I just didn't want to screw it up, you know.
But my game has been good. I caught a little putting deal that I haven't been doing very well after the rain delay on Friday. It was a ball position thing. From there on, I putted the ball really well. So that made me feel good. I felt very comfortable over my putter all of a sudden, where I hasn't been feeling very comfortable over it. It's always little things, and little things make a big difference in this game. It good though.

Q. How was your mental game this week?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it was very good. I was very relaxed today and maybe because it was such a long day. You know, it was 36 holes and you're tired out there. You're fighting fatigue most of the second round. You're just trying to stay in it mentally.
I felt very comfortable being in this position. I thought I hit some great shots coming down the stretch. If I could have made some putts -- same with Tim. He hit some great shots, too. So it was a lot of fun. Tim kept putting the pretty on me to a point where I had to stay aggressive out there and continue to try and make birdies.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's just the club had been passing by me and just hooking a little bit too much. Typically mine misses to the left, and they were creeping in every once in a while this week.
I wasn't starting the ball out to the right like I normally did. They were starting a little on my line and turning left. So it was in the back of my mind every shot. Let's put it that way.
It's hard tore aggressive, but I thought I did a very good job of managing my game. If I didn't feel comfortable with a shot, you know, I just got it on the green and went from there.
But very happy the way I managed my game and went about it when a shot didn't feel comfortable.

Q. (Question regarding lipping out.)

Q. When you see that, is that frustrating?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it's not -- you know, I mean, and Tim was in there a couple times too where if he would made -- and I miss them like you said, i hit the edge or lipped out or whatever, you know, it would have hurt a little bit more if he had made the putts that he had, too.
We kind of hit it in there a couple holes on top of each other and we both has kind of miss type thing. So I just decided to keep hitting 'em in there and keep giving myself the opportunities.
You know, I thought 17 would be kind of the pivotal hole, and it did turn out to be that way. He hit it in the trees and I hit it on the green in two. That turned out to be the crucial hole of the day.

Q. Early on in the day, a lot of people were making a run and getting up on the leaderboard. You just kind of stayed there and played your game and just waited it out.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, some of the scores, my caddie and I were talking about it, some of those scores the guys had started on the back. We kind of felt all week you could maybe shoot a little bit lower on the back side.
We just, you know, were trying to be patient knowing that those guys were playing the back first and will have to come to the front and finish on some tougher holes on the front.
Yeah, I was just being patient and playing my own game again and trying to get it on the greens because I felt so good about putting it.

Q. Complex question, maybe several parts. Do you think about your place in the game? What are your expectations going forward? Are you where you want to be? Do you think about where you were five years ago?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, yeah, I mean, I think about all that stuff you just said. My place in the game is I really don't know where my place is, to tell you the truth. I come to each place and try play my hardest. I had a lot of good things happen to me the last four years. Obviously winning twice in one year is something special.
You know, I just continue to work at it. You know, it frustrates me at times when I, you know, don't swing at it as well as I know I can, and that keeps me coming back and working hard at it. I just continue to work hard, and whatever, you know, extra accolades that come with playing well, it's just gravy or just bonus, because I really enjoy doing what I did today: getting in contention and trying to handle the emotions of trying to win a golf tournament.
And your second part of your question there, I do think about where I was five years ago a lot. You know, I take nothing for granted anymore in this game. That's why I think I continue to work at it hard, just because I know where I've been. You.
Know, back in the mid-'90s I was riding high. For a period of three, four years in the middle 2000s, 3, 4, and 5 where I didn't play very well, you know, I think about that time. That's why I think it keeps me sharp and working at my game hard.

Q. Steve, I can't remember, were you one of the guys (indiscernible) back in 2000?

Q. In that case, your thoughts on how this course and this event have evolved nine years later?
STEVE STRICKER: Is that what it was, nine years ago? I think I won a tractor then, too. I was part that was winning team.

Q. What I want to know is what you did with it.
STEVE STRICKER: I think I gave it away is what I did. But I'm gonna keep this one.
But, yeah, that seemed like a long time ago. I mean, I guess nine, ten years ago it has been. But this is a great event. I mean, they make you feel so welcome here. I don't know how many times I heard it around the course this week, Thanks for coming, from tournament officials to fans to media to anybody.
They just make you feel so welcome here and do such a first class job here. John Deere is a great sponsor. The course is very fun to play. It's a good golf course. If the conditions were a little bit firmer the scores probably wouldn't be as low, but it's a challenging course.
I know firsthand that all the players that come here very much enjoy coming here. They do a great job here. It's just in a tough spot on the schedule. I mean, last couple years I didn't come here because I wanted to get over to the British early and try to prepare. It just worked out that I could come this year. I'm glad I did.

Q. You gonna stretch out on the plane and think about this?
STEVE STRICKER: Hopefully I can sleep. I'm already thinking about next week. It's gonna be a short three days, you know, of practice and trying to get accustomed to the time change and the course and the weather and all that kind of stuff.
I should be able to sleep. It was a long day today, and it was a tiring day today.

Q. Is the jet gonna continue to be a factor in making...
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think it helps if players can play here, do well here, go over at the British and perform well over there too and show that it's not out of the question to play good at both places, even though we're thousands of miles apart.
But, you know, the jet makes it very easy to do. I used to play here before they had that jet. That's difficult to do. I think I would take off out of here and drive to Chicago really quick and catch a 9:00 or 10:00 flight to get over there.
So this makes it very convenient. I've been on that plane before and it's very nice. They're treating us well.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, I kind of felt like this could be my week. I did that twice this week, holing out from the fairway. That kind of got my momentum going, I should say. Kind of made me feel like if I continue to play the way I've been playing I would have a chance at winning.
I didn't want to get ahead of myself and think about winning, but just give myself the opportunity at the end. When that went in, it felt like this could be the day to do it.

Q. We talked earlier this week about you winning at Crown Plaza, how you backed into that struggling down the stretch. To control this one all the way through, how gratifying is that?
STEVE STRICKER: It's very nice. I tried to think of some players today. Obviously Tiger was right there. I thought about Hal Sutton, when he took down Tiger at the PLAYERS Championship. I thought about him and just try and step up and hit the shot and be aggressive and try to control my own destiny. I thought I did that today.
I thought I did a lot better job at that than I have in past tournaments. That was very gratifying and fun to do. That's why we're out here. It was a lot fun for me to try and do there.

Q. Is that an attitude now you can continue to employ?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, you would like to think so. You know, my feeling is that you just got to keep giving yourself the opportunities to get in there. I've done that a lot this year, which is why I've been in contention a lot and have the opportunity to win a couple times.
But I've just given myself a lot of chances to win. Some didn't go my way and some have. I guess the way I look at it is just keep giving myself more opportunities.

Q. Going back to the two hole-outs that you had this week, can you tell me a little bit about your wedges and how important they are to your game?
STEVE STRICKER: That is kind of my game. You know, short game, short irons. You know, that's kind of the bread and butter of my game. I pride myself on that, too. I work hard at those short irons. To do it twice, you don't expect to do that.
To answer the other gentlemen's question, I was struggling with my long iron was part of the problem, and there's a lot of long irons on this course. There can be. The par-3s are long, and some of par-5s you're hitting long irons.
So I was struggling with that. I got away with them. I hit them on the smart side and moved on. Yeah, my short game is what I kind of pride myself on.

Q. Was that the same club on both of those?
STEVE STRICKER: No. Actually, it was. Yeah, it was a wedge both times.

Q. 93 one time and one time I saw 96 I think.
STEVE STRICKER: 93 and 117 is what we had. But it was both the wedge. The first time it was 93 yards and we had to try to take the spin off of it, so I just chipped the wedge. This one was pretty much a three quarter wedge.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: I don't put a number on wins. I mean, you know, obviously a goal of mine at the start of every year is to win and to get to Hawaii at the start of the following year is always at the top of my list.
But I've been wanting to maybe get the opportunity to win in a major, and that's been, you know, right up there, too. Trying to have the chance of coming down the stretch in a major. I had that opportunity this year at the Masters really for a little while until, you know, I kind of sputtered out there in the middle of the round on the back nine.
But, yeah, you know, it's just winning. That's what we're out here to try to do: play well and win golf tournaments.

Q. Once you've done it, what's the exhilaration after the tournament grind and a 36-hole Sunday when the ball hits the cup on 18? Relief?
STEVE STRICKER: A lot of relief, especially after 36 holes today. Just the satisfaction knowing that all the time you put in and all the work that you've done has paid off. There's a lot of the good things that come along with winning.
The exemptions, the money, the FedExCup points. There's a lot of things that come along with that, so there's all that satisfaction, as well.
For me personally, it's about the work that I put in and it paying off when you do win.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, no doubt coming down the last hole was pretty cool knowing that I had a few shots in hand to play with. Getting the type of response from the fans I got was really pretty cool. Just felt like a home tournament basically. I mean, it's three hours from home and I went to the U of I.
It was nice. I saw a lot family friends over the weekend, so it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces.

Q. Is that why you're wearing orange?
STEVE STRICKER: Is this orange?

Q. What was the toughest part of the day?
STEVE STRICKER: There's a lot hills out here. It's a tough course to walk. I think just being -- the physical part I think is probably the toughest. And to maintain your thought process all day and to stay focused all day. I think those two things are probably the hardest.
When you're in contention, it's pretty easy to remain focused and to keep, you know, a sharp vision on what you want to do. Probably the physical part was tough today. I mean, I felt tired after I walked up one of the first hills this morning. I was like, this is gonna be a long day. But it was good.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: No. Not where the pin was. I mean, I could have reached it, but where the pin was there's really nowhere to bail out there. The bail out is in that bunker, which there was some room there as I looked at it.
But if the pin is on the right somewhere over there, with the soft conditions you might be able to put it up in the bunker and have some green to work with or miss it in the left rough somewhere. My wedge has been good and putting good, so I decided to lay it up and make it four the harder way.
DOUG MILNE: Just run us through your card. We've talked about the eagle. Just cover the birdies with some clubs.
STEVE STRICKER: A wedge on the first hole to about three feet.
Hit a 3-iron to about 30 feet at No. 2 and 2-putted for birdie.
Eagled No. 6. We talked about that.
Birdied No. 10. Laid up with a like a 5-iron and hit a sand wedge from -- I think I had 90 yards. Hit it to about 15 feet.
13, driver and a sand wedge to about a foot.
Then 17, a driver and a utility club in the middle of the green and 2-putted for birdie.
DOUG MILNE: Steve, congratulations and best of luck next week.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you very much.

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