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September 4, 2009

Steve Stricker


MARK WILLIAMS: Steve Stricker, thanks for joining us again at the Deutsche Bank Championship, opening round of 63, 8-under par. It betters your best score here by four strokes, and you now have 26 rounds in the 60s, I think, here in the FedExCup Playoffs. Just talk about your round today. You had five birdies in a row in the middle there and got it done.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it was a good start. I started the day well with a birdie, made a good birdie putt at 10 and then hit it to about four feet at 11. A couple good holes to start with, and to get off to a birdie-birdie start, just kind of got the day started in the right direction.
I played well pretty much all day, one little hiccup on No. 7 where I laid up in the rough, but other than that, it was pretty solid off the tee, hit a lot of fairways, gave myself a lot of opportunities.
The middle of the round was good. I think there was a stretch of five birdies in row there from 18 to No. 4. So that was a good stretch. Made a good save, like I said, at 7, but it was overall a good day.

Q. This is not the first time you've rallied during this stretch of the season. I'm just kind of wondering what gets into you. I know $10 million would probably be good. That's a pretty good motivator, the Playoff thing.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, maybe the courses just suit my game. I enjoy coming here to Boston, I enjoy the course. I really like what Brad Faxon and the group of people that he's been with that have redone the course. I really enjoy the course.
As far as the other tournaments, I don't know. You know, Chicago I've had some success at over the years, and Westchester I've won at, but we haven't been there. I don't know, it's just the time of the year. I guess we're winding down on the season, there's a lot at stake, and I don't know what it is, if I reach another level of focus or whatever, but I feel comfortable with my game the last three years since these Playoffs have started. I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.
So it's just, you know, I'm riding it out. It's been good, and I just wake up and try to do the same things every day.

Q. I'm curious, tee to green, if that's as strong as you've played this year.
STEVE STRICKER: It was probably one of my best ball-striking rounds this year for sure. I mean, it was hard to beat a couple of those rounds at the Bob Hope, but you know, from tee to green here today was pretty good. I even missed a couple putts early in the round that I could have made under 10 feet.

Q. Under seven, actually.

Q. Yeah.
All in all, it was really good. What I really like is how I'm driving the ball. You know, I stood up there and drove the ball well, and that's the key to any course is to get the ball in play and in the fairway so you can be a little more aggressive going into the pins.

Q. You've played a lot of golf with Tiger Woods in the last two weeks. For a lot of players that's a difficult task. Can you just speak about your comfort level playing with him and why?
STEVE STRICKER: I am comfortable playing with him. I've gotten over that -- I mean, he does some incredible things. I guess I'm to the point where I'm comfortable with what I'm doing, and I'm really not worrying about him. He's going to hit those great shots and he's going to make those great putts. I can't do anything about that.
You know, we're friends, we have a good time out there, and that's the way I look at it. I just enjoy being out there with him, and Heath today was a lot of fun. I worry about myself now and do the things that I'm capable of doing and not worry about what he's doing.
But back when he first came out and I was trying to stack up my game with his, it didn't stack up. I'm over that. I don't care. He can do all those great things, and I'll just do the things that I need to do to try to play well.
I think once I took that pressure off me, off myself, it kind of freed me up a little bit to play with him.
I think the biggest thing is to deal with all the people, all the extra things that are going on within the group, and I'm comfortable with that, too. I've enjoyed the last couple years we've played quite a bit down at the end of the season, and again last week and this week. But I've been having fun with it.

Q. How long did it take?
STEVE STRICKER: How long did it take to get that comfort feeling playing with him? Oh, you know, there was a stretch there, a time, where I didn't play with him at all because I wasn't playing worth a lick, and he's winning tournaments left and right. That was probably in the early 2000s where I didn't play with him hardly at all.
And then the last few years I've been playing a little bit more with him. I guess just a good round here and there got it going, you know, where I felt comfortable playing with him. But I really look forward to playing with him. You know, it's so cool to watch.
He's not playing his best. We all know he's not playing his best. But he still shot under par today, and he grinded it out, and it's still a blast and fun to watch.

Q. I seem to recall years ago you never really hit anything in college except a 3-wood for the longest time; is that right?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, when I first went to college, yeah, I was hitting 3-woods all the time.

Q. But you were still long enough?
STEVE STRICKER: My 3-wood was actually -- if I hit a driver, my 3-wood that I was playing was just as long or longer than my driver.

Q. It seemed like you had more length than I'm used to seeing from you today. Did you?
STEVE STRICKER: The last half of the year I think I'm hitting it a little bit further. I'm taking a little bit more aggressive swings with it; I'm hitting it a lot more solid. I have confidence, which always helps.
But yeah, I think I've picked up a few yards. I'm kind of sneaky long. You look at my stats, I'm not long by my sense of the word long, but I'm kind of sneaky at times, I think.

Q. Everyone talks about your putting. Is that the key to your good scoring?
STEVE STRICKER: I think my wedge play -- today or at all?

Q. Everything is setting up for you off the tee.
STEVE STRICKER: You mean my driving?

Q. Yeah.
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah, no question. When I struggled out here on TOUR, my driving was horrible. You know, I just looked at my stats either last -- just before this tournament or at the end -- I don't know, whenever. But I'm hitting more fairways than I ever have out here. My stat, I think, is like 66 or 67 percent of the fairways, and I think my best year ever was like 65, and that was like my first year out here.
That definitely has been a big key to why I've been playing better lately in the last four years, this run that I've been on. My driving has progressively gotten better.

Q. I was just wondering, have you ever been paired with Tiger in any of the Presidents Cup things?

Q. How do you think that would work?
STEVE STRICKER: I think it would work great. I think I could ride him all the way. (Laughter.)
No, I think it would be a lot of fun. We've talked about it. It would be up to Freddie to see if he'll put us together or not, but I think we'd have a lot of fun. Like I said, we've only talked about it, Tiger and I, but I would enjoy that.
MARK WILLIAMS: We appreciate you coming in, Steve. All the best.

End of FastScripts

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