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September 6, 2009

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to thank you for joining us for a few minutes here after the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Great round, 66 capped off by an eagle 3 at the 18th. Just a few comments on the round, and you talked a lot about the experience of getting to play with Jerry out there.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it was a good day. It was a day where Jerry and I fed off one another. We both got off to good starts. He maintained that strong play all the way through the front side there, and I think he made the turn 5-under, and I think I bogeyed 8 and made the turn 3-under. So we were pulling each other along there, and it was a lot of fun.
Like I said, we fed off one another, and I just had a little bit stronger finish than he did. But he played great. It was tough conditions out there with the wind, not really being able to get a handle on the wind direction at all today, especially on that back side. We were coming up short, going long. It was difficult, and the greens firmed up again today and made things a little bit more difficult trying to get them close to the holes.

Q. The yardages you had in on 16 and then the second shot on 18, good numbers for you? It looked like both of them landed just short and then got to the right distance.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, well, 16 when the ball was in the air my heart was up into my throat. We thought it was a little bit helping out of the left and it looked like it was just getting held up with the wind. I hit it solid, I hit it up in the air like I wanted to, but it just looked like it was getting held up, and I could hear the fans up there by the greens yelling "get up" and stuff like that. I didn't know where it was going to come down. That was some of the toughness of it out there today. It just varied a little bit, the direction of the wind.
And then on 18 it was a little bit hurting out of the left, and I was at my very max of hitting that utility club. I usually hit that 225, 230, and we had 230 to the front and 237 to the hole. The only thing I had going for me is I had a little bit of a downhill lie that would keep the ball down a little bit. I hit it solid, and it landed, I don't know, three, four paces short and just got up there very nicely. I saw the bounce on TV. Somebody showed it to me.
But again, that was max -- I maxed that one out, and it turned out good.

Q. Talk about being in this position again as you were last week. Some guys have come in -- I talked to Heath Slocum after missing the cut. He said he was kind of drained after last week. Are you drained, exhilarated? What are you feeling going into tomorrow?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm excited about tomorrow. I felt like last week I had an opportunity to win another golf tournament. I didn't let it slip away, I guess; I made bogey on the last, I guess, was what happened, and Heath made a great putt. But it's draining for a couple of days, but it was nice to go home and get away from it. We had an extra day in there because this tournament started on Friday, so I felt a little bit ready and recharged for this event and ready to go.
I'm excited about tomorrow again for the opportunity. It's going to be tough. The course has really firmed up a lot overnight or maybe this morning, whenever it did. But it became very difficult out there, and you can tell in the scoring that it's a little bit more difficult.
But I'm looking forward to it tomorrow and seeing if I can't have a chance on the back nine again.

Q. What was your frame of mind after yesterday's round, and how did you bounce back mentally?
STEVE STRICKER: I was disappointed after yesterday's round, very disappointed. That one, I was going along fine, I made a couple birdies on the front at 7 and 8, and then didn't get it up-and-down on 9. I putted from the fringe and hit a terrible putt, which was fine; you're going to make bogeys. I don't know if I lost focus or what. I got tired, I felt tired at the end of the round. But I just didn't make any putts yesterday. I think I had 32 putts.
So the emphasis today was grind a little bit harder on my putting and concentrate a little bit harder on my putting and make some good strokes, and I did today, which was very satisfying.
But yeah, yesterday stung a little bit after yesterday's round, and it was nice to come back with a good, solid round today.

Q. Your success in the FedExCup, not just this year but all three years, has been well-documented by the TOUR. Are you ready to be the TOUR's Mr. September at this point?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I'm not. Like I say, I think it's coming to the end of the season. I think that's what I really look forward to the most is spending time at home and doing some other things right around the corner. I think I'm a little bit more relaxed. I've had a good year this year. There's really nothing for me to lose coming into these Playoffs this year.
But yet again, I'm very focused on trying to play well and trying to win this whole thing. The two are kind of going hand in hand nicely. I feel relaxed, I feel fresh still and ready to play. What have we got, two more events after this one. So it's still a long haul, but I've set myself up for a good finish. But there's still a long way to go.

Q. Is there any impact of not having Tiger in contention in this, or is it that you may surpass him at the end of this tournament?
STEVE STRICKER: I haven't even thought about it. I mean, it's always nice if you're up around the lead that he's not there, I know that, because he's such a dangerous player and a great player as we all know. But what did he fire today?

Q. 1-over.
STEVE STRICKER: 1-over today? But yet it's good for the tournament when he's there. It's good for TV when he's up there. But as a player, it's nice that if you're up around the lead that he's not.

Q. Which leaderboard is more in the front of your mind, just winning a tournament is enough to worry about, and when do you start thinking about the FedExCup?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, this tournament, this leaderboard here, is what's on my mind. All that other stuff will take care of itself if you can just focus at the task at hand here, play well here, do as well as I can here, and hopefully move up.
But yeah, this is what I'm worried about. You can't worry about the other one unless you're doing well in something like this or making points in an event like this. I am solely thinking about this tournament.

Q. Is it fair to say that you're a little bit underrated as a ball striker because of your reputation for rolling it?
STEVE STRICKER: Reputation for what?

Q. For rolling the ball.
STEVE STRICKER: I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hitting it. I've gotten a lot better. I've gotten more consistent. Yeah, I don't know, I guess maybe because my wedge play and my putter play stands out, that's what I get noted for, which is fine. I mean, that's a very good key to playing well out on TOUR or anywhere in golf is to have a good short game and a good putter.
No, I don't mind. I would love to hit my irons like Tiger. I mean, I watched him the last couple days this week and then last tournament at the Barclays, and I've never seen anybody hit irons as good as that guy. It always gets me going back to the ratings knowing that there's a lot of room for improvement because in that department he's unbelievable.
No, I don't mind that I'm looked at as a putter and a short game guy, but I would love to get better in some other departments.

Q. What was the club at 16, please?
STEVE STRICKER: It was an 8-iron.

Q. Were you and Jerry sort of a mismatched pair in he's sort of the extroverted guy and you're a little bit quieter?
STEVE STRICKER: That's a good way of putting it. Yes.

Q. He said it took you a while to warm up to him, huh?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, no, I've always liked Jerry. You've just got to take Jerry with a grain of salt and let him go do the things that he's going to do, and he knows that. Some things that he would do, I wouldn't do; and some things I do, he wouldn't do. But we get along fine. He's a great guy. He's a great family man. We enjoy being around each other. We spend a lot of time together at home and even out on the road. It was fun to play with him today.

Q. Any examples specifically of something he'd do that you wouldn't do?
STEVE STRICKER: (Laughing.) You know, I guess he just wears his emotions more on his sleeve than I would. At times I do. I try to hold it in because I don't want to have anybody see that in me. But there's times I would love to just let a club fly or throw a ball or whatever. But he just wears it a little bit more than I do.

Q. He mentioned outside that playing with you seems to rub off on him because the difference in temperament, you're a little bit more of a fluid player and the short game. When you're playing with him, do you draw anything from him, maybe that competitive fire and hockey mentality or anything like that? Is that a two-way street?
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt. He's very competitive, and I am, too. Just, like I say, I don't show it as much.
I found myself today grinding and bearing down as hard as ever. But that's what he does. You know, he's fighting to the very end and grinding it out, and that's what I love about him, and that's why he's a good player. I found myself doing the same today.
Yeah, I think we complement each other well. He usually plays very well when I play with him. We teed it up maybe a month or so ago, actually it was at Bridgestone, and he played very well. I think that was in the third round. So yeah, we do well together, and we do draw off one another for sure.

Q. Did you guys talk to each other yesterday when you found out you'd be teeing off together, any friendly wagers or anything between you?
STEVE STRICKER: No, we didn't, no.

Q. Yesterday's lead, I think, was 12-under. You're at 13. A lot of guys up near the lead. What kind of approach do you take tomorrow with so many guys up there?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, again, you've just got to go out and do your own thing. That's my belief anyways, is that I've just got to go out there and do the things that I know how to do, play the course the way I've been playing it.
I think from when I looked at the weather, the wind is supposed to be a little bit calmer tomorrow. But I needed a day like this today to get back into it. I talked to my wife this morning, and I told her it was going to be windy and it was going to be a little more difficult today, and I had a 4-, 5- or 6-under par in my mind to get back in it. You know, so I needed a day like today.
And tomorrow with the firmness of the greens, maybe a little bit less wind, the scoring might be a little bit better but still probably difficult. But just do the same things I've been doing every day here.

Q. Jerry said outside that it took you -- you guys have known each other since you were teenagers. You didn't coach him up on the putting stroke until right before the Shark Shootout when you had a financial stake in it. How do you counter that statement?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I'm just happy that he's putting better because I've got him as a partner in the Shark Shootout again. (Laughter.) He's worked very hard on his putting, and I've tried to help him along the way. I started helping him last year at the Shark Shootout and then off and on when he's asked for my help throughout the year this year, and it's gotten a lot better, I think.
And he looks like he's putting it with some confidence. I'm happy for him because he's always felt bad about his putting, I should say it that way. That was an area where he felt like he could -- he's just streaky, and he would admit that. But I think he's gotten very consistent with that this year.
I think his stats, I've looked maybe two, three weeks ago, and those stats are a lot better, way up. So I'm happy for him, and he's put in the time and he's worked hard at getting better at it.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind running us through your birdies and bogeys and giving us some clubs and yardage.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, hit a lob wedge on the first hole to about eight feet.
Hit a wedge from about 123 yards on 2 to about 15 feet.
Birdied No. 4, I hit 3-wood off the tee in the front bunker and hit a bunker shot out to maybe ten feet, made that.
No. 7, the par-5, driver and a 3-wood lay-up, and then a lob wedge from I think I had 70 yards. I hit it to, I don't know, four inches.
Bogeyed 8, hit a 4-iron, landed too far, rolled through the back of the green, didn't get it up-and-down.
No. 10, I chipped in, drove it in the left rough, tried to bounce it up short of the green and it stayed short of the green, and chipped that in.
Bogeyed 14, mis-clubbed, drove it in the fairway, we were in between a 6-iron and a 7-iron, and we took the 7-iron and it came up on the front of the fringe and didn't get it up-and-down. The pin was all the way in the back.
15, a driver and a 6-iron to about eight feet.
16 was an 8-iron to about three, four inches.
Bogeyed 17, hit a good 3-wood off the tee and then just tried to chip a 9-iron down the hill and hit it short of the bank and let it kick up over, and I flew it over the knob in the middle of the green and it went over the green and missed about a three-footer.
And then eagled 18.
DOUG MILNE: Steve, thanks for your time. As always, we appreciate it.

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