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September 3, 2009

Steve Stricker


MARK WILLIAMS: Steve Stricker, thanks for making time to join us in the interview room at the Deutsche Bank Championship. You've had a lot of success in the Playoffs and coming off a T2 last week, nine Top 10s this year, scoring average you're in second behind trying Tiger, as well. A lot of good things happening this year, so just talk about this week and what you're looking forward to at the Deutsche Bank.
STEVE STRICKER: I'm very much looking forward to this week. I enjoy coming to Boston and playing the TPC here, and it's an exciting time of year for us. It's a lot of golf, a lot of stuff riding on the line for each tournament, a lot of money involved, and it's an exciting time to play.
Another exciting thing for me, it's towards the end of the season, so you've got that in the forefront, too, that it's winding down. But it's a lot of fun. You know, there's a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement going around each tournament that we're at.
MARK WILLIAMS: You seem to peak for the Playoffs. Is it because it's toward the end of the season and you're looking forward to getting finished?
STEVE STRICKER: It's like I said on the range, deer season is right around the corner. I start to do some different things. Seriously, you want to play well at this time of the year. This is the third year of the Playoffs, and there's a lot of -- like I said, there's a lot on the line, a lot of money involved, and you can really make a good year in a short period of time. You know, you can do a lot of good things, and there's a lot of prestige to all these tournaments that we're at. So it would be -- it's always good to play well at them, and it's good to be up near the top.

Q. Just to confirm, you will not be at Shanghai or the Singapore Open?
STEVE STRICKER: Did he say something? (Laughing.)

Q. When Heath was 124 last week and won and went up to No. 3, was that too much do you think?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. You know, we talked about it amongst players. Some players yesterday, I was out to dinner with Rick George last night, we talked about it a little bit, and you know, I don't know. We don't know what the right answer is. I think you can debate that until you're blue in the face if you want.
I think Heath made a great quote at the end of the tournament after he had won, saying that it was like a playoff -- like a wildcard team that had just gotten into the Playoffs and then he won his first event, and now he's got a chance to win it all. You know, and I guess when you look at it that way, I mean, he did win one of the playoff events, and it's an event we're putting a lot of emphasis on.
You know, all of us that have gotten into the Playoffs, whether it's 124th position or 50th position or 10th position, whatever it is, I mean, if you win, I think you should be up near the top. I don't know if 3 is the right number or whatever, but I do think that he should be in the TOUR Championship for sure, and I think that pretty much guarantees him of that.
But I don't know. You know, there's a lot of -- like I say, you could question the points all you want, but I don't know what the right thing is. I guess what's nice is that there wasn't a ton of movement in or out. You know, I mean, if you played well, you can kind of hold your position. If you played poorly, guys weren't -- like it didn't happen like last year to Padraig Harrington. Nothing like that happened where they dropped 30 spots or anything like that I don't think.
So I think there was less volatility that way, with the movement that way. But when a guy does play well, he's rewarded very heavily, 2,500 points. It's not quite what Tiger won on the year, but it was more than what I won on the year in one tournament. When you look at it that way, is that right, five times as many points? I don't know. It's a tough call, but I think you've got to give the guy credit. He stepped up and it was the first Playoff event and he won it, so he was rewarded for it.

Q. Do you think the fans understand the FedEx point standings, how points are awarded, and what it all means?
STEVE STRICKER: Probably not. But I'm a NASCAR fan, and I don't understand their point system. I watch guys who win races or lead a bunch of laps or whatever, and they don't move up as many spots as I thought they should move up when I look at the points the next week type thing, and I'm still a NASCAR fan. I don't know if that really -- I don't know if you really need to understand it. You can just watch from week to week and see where the guy is at, and if you have a favorite player or whatever, you watch Heath jump up to where he is.
But I think some of the players even have a hard time grasping it. We've changed it now for the third time in three years. I guess we're just trying to get a feel for it, to what's right, and like I said, I don't know if there is a right thing. Let's come up with a point system, I guess, and stick to it and then play it out each year. But I don't understand NASCAR. I don't know if anybody in here could tell me what NASCAR points do. And that's based on from what I understand a lot of things, laps led, and I don't want to get into it, but all that different kind of stuff.

Q. What would be wrong with just starting all over again? The Playoffs in other sports you start from scratch.
STEVE STRICKER: I guess from our perspective, golf has always been where -- your year has been based on your whole year, not just a clump of four tournaments. I think that's why there wasn't any resetting of points this year. You still wanted to reward the guy for playing well throughout the year, sort of like Padraig Harrington last year. We reset the points at the first of the thing last year and he didn't play very good in the Playoffs and he's not making it to the TOUR Championship, which I think personally hurts the TOUR Championship. You've got a high profile player not there, a multiple major winner in that one year, and he's not there at the TOUR Championship, which we didn't think -- I guess the TOUR didn't think it was quite right.
I think it rewards good play throughout the year, and yet, you know, it gives the guy an opportunity, just like Heath did in the 124th position to have a good playoff run, and he started well and jumped right up into contention of it all. So I think it rewards, so far, both ends of the spectrum.

Q. How did you feel on Sunday night? Were most of the thoughts good ones, that you played well and got close, or was it a little bit of a sting?
STEVE STRICKER: It was a little bit of both. I was happy that I got myself in there again. I was a little disappointed, and I still am, thinking about that bunker shot, because it was a bunker shot, but it wasn't as hard a shot as I made it out to be. It was a good lie. My stance was a little funky, but I really felt good about hitting the shot. I felt like I was going to hit it in there, I even felt like I had the perfect club to get it right to the hole. When I saw that I thinned it a little bit and hit the lip and came tumbling down the fairway, that disappointed me, and it lasted a couple days.
Yeah, I look back that I got myself in that position again, and each time I'm in there I feel more and more comfortable all the time, and I felt comfortable in that position again. I played good on Sunday, and Sunday I thought was a tougher day from the other days. We had a little bit different wind direction and stronger in the afternoon, and being Sunday and everything. But again, I was happy to be involved in it all.

Q. What's your comfort level like here on this course?
STEVE STRICKER: I enjoy this course. I really like what they've done here the last few years, Brad Faxon and whoever he's been working with in the redesign of it all. I really like it. It looks a lot better. It plays very good, the condition of the course is very good. If we have weather like this for four more days, I think the scoring is going to be good. But I enjoy coming here.

Q. Looking at the course, certain holes can be high-impact holes. 18 is a hole like that, very eagle-able. What's your mindset going into a hole like that?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you've got to drive it in the fairway there first of all. But you're right, it's a hole you kind of need to try to take advantage of. I don't know, sometimes where they put the pins, it's difficult to make an eagle, but it is possible. But first of all, you've got to get it in the fairway and then get it over the hazard and get it on the green and give yourself a legitimate shot at birdie.
I think when you're stepping on that tee, that's what you feel like you should make on that hole is a 4, I guess. But you've got to hit two good ones to do it. I think it's a good risk-reward hole, and it takes two good shots to get it on the green.
And they're starting to firm up a little bit today, too. I notice the ball is rolling out a little bit more and they're getting a little bit quicker, so that will make it a little bit more difficult to keep it on there.

Q. This is a question about the Presidents Cup. The weekend of October 10, 11 out in Harding Park, and the PGA TOUR, of course, has sponsored that since 1994. Do you think the players should get paid real U.S. currency versus the stipend that they get from the TOUR like the Ryder Cup? Should they get paid real U.S. dollars? You don't get paid but you get a stipend that goes to your favorite charity. Is there any discussion amongst the team members this year that they should get paid?
STEVE STRICKER: Nope, I have not heard any, and I don't expect there will be any problems with that. I mean, I haven't heard that for a few years now, and I think it's gotten to the point where players want to play for your country and be a part of that team atmosphere. I mean, it's become a pretty good event, and I know I want to be a part of it every year that it's held. I can only answer that on my end. I haven't heard any raising of that question at all.

Q. You mentioned the greens a minute ago. There seems to be an awful lot of focus on Tiger's putting at the moment. What did you see last week, Thursday, Friday?
STEVE STRICKER: Nothing out of the ordinary. I mean, I don't think he made as many putts as he normally does. The stroke looked fine. I didn't see anything funky there, not that I was really grinding looking at his stroke. But we talked about putting a little bit, and we have on and off here and there talked about putting.
But I don't see anything different. I guess they're just not going in. I guess we're just shocked when he doesn't make one because he's made so many over his career. I think that's the biggest thing. I think he still putts good. I guess his stats are a little bit down. I saw that stat pop up on TV somewhere. But I guess they're just not going in as regularly as he normally does. But it still looks good. He putts it pure.
I mean, he's the best, you know, at putting. I guess, like I said, it's just a shock when they don't go in.

Q. I thought you were the best.
STEVE STRICKER: No, he's the best.
MARK WILLIAMS: I think we're done. Thanks, Steve, for joining us, and appreciate your time.

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