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September 23, 2009

Steve Stricker


LAURA HILL: Steve, welcome. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to the TOUR Championship. It's kind of been a big buildup and it's finally here. Talk about your expectations for this week now that we're at the conclusion of the FedExCup.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's a very exciting week. I think there was a lot of buildup, especially we had last week off, and I think a much-needed week off for most everybody, needing to get a little rest coming into this week. It's an exciting week. There's a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation, and you've just got to -- bottom line is you've got to play good to do some good things, and you can't try to get ahead of yourself thinking about the FedExCup or anything like that, I don't think, and just try to pay attention to this tournament and play well here.

Q. Steve, if it comes down to the last hole on the last putt, $11.35 million on a whatever-footer, I can't comprehend that. I'm wondering whether you can get your lid around that one and what that might be like, since the way -- I think that's what they want. Pretty incomprehensible.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it is, and I hadn't thought about it until Steve Sands mentioned it out there with the Golf Channel. I hadn't even thought about it. But I'm sure you'll be just as nervous over that putt to win a golf tournament as if it was a million dollars, if it was going to be compared to $11 million. I think the nerves are going to be shot any ways.
But yeah, it's unbelievable that we're playing for this type of money, especially during these times. But that's what they wanted, I think, and the excitement is here. I think there's a lot of anticipation and excitement just for that reason, that somebody could come down to the last few holes to be playing for that sort of money.

Q. Have you ever stood over one thinking, okay, this is worth X amount, maybe in those years when you were on the bubble in your card and trying to take a cut and cash a check? Most guys don't think about that component when they're out there, do they?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I don't. I don't know what most guys do, but I don't really pay attention to the money aspect of it until reading it in the paper the next day and seeing how much you either missed or made (laughter) on that last hole. But you can wear yourself out thinking about stuff like that. You know, at least I've just tried to do the best I can out there and shoot the lowest score I can.

Q. This has been asked a lot, but now that you're on the property, just the feeling of this tournament. It's not a major, but it is important. Where does it fit in the pecking order, and what are the factors that players look at about a tournament that makes them -- whether this is high on the blood pressure meter or not?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. Well, I think since developing this FedExCup, I think this tournament has taken on a bigger importance. There's a lot more at stake here. I mean, first of all, the money, the prestige and winning the FedExCup. So I think it's taken on a bigger importance, if I can repeat myself.
What was your second question?

Q. What are the personalities, the variables of individual tournaments that -- is it the golf course, is it the perks, is it the reward, the paycheck?
STEVE STRICKER: I think it's all that stuff put together. And like I said, when FedEx came on board and the TOUR came up with this format and the type of venue that we're at here at East Lake, I think adds to that. It's a great championship golf course. And then, you know, you put together all the accolades that go along with playing here, winning this tournament, and possibly winning the FedExCup. I think put all that together and it makes the event pretty important.

Q. And a follow-up to that, do you look at this week as the finish line of the season, the big heavy work is done? Or because there's more events to play, the season never really quits?
STEVE STRICKER: I look at this as the finish line, I know that. I've been looking forward to this finish line for the last month. But yeah, this for me is the finish line.
You know, there's still more events to play, but I've been typically a guy who has taken a lot of time off in the fall, so I won't be playing in those Fall Series events unfortunately. But it's a time I need to spend at home, so I look at this as the end. I still have The Presidents Cup, so a couple of nice events to finish off the year and then get some rest.

Q. This is probably a bad time to ask about Shanghai.

Q. Nothing.
STEVE STRICKER: He does that every week. (Laughter.)

Q. There's a mathematical chance this week that at the end of the tournament two guys could end up in a tie for the FedExCup, at which point you go to a sudden-death playoff. Do you like that, or with such a large stake, do you think it should be a different type of maybe a three-hole thing or what have you? We are talking about $10 million.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, either way. I like the sudden death part of it, I think, rather than the three-hole playoff.

Q. That's because you can putt.

Q. You're a good putter.
STEVE STRICKER: But still, I think the -- you know, each shot and each hole then is very important when it's -- not that it isn't in a three-hole playoff, but you saw what happened at the British Open this year, kind of lost its luster there down maybe the last hole. But you wouldn't have that in sudden death. There's a finality to it with that possibly one hole, maybe more. But I like the sudden death aspect of it, even though we're playing for that type of money. I still like -- I think it would be very intriguing and very exciting to watch, as well.

Q. The points restructuring came out last November. When did you fully comprehend how important it was to get in the Top 5?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I don't know. I pay attention to the points, but my main objective is to play well each week and try to -- you know, my goal was to win a golf tournament this year, and once I won one, I still kept that as a goal, to continue to try to win. You know, I just let all that points kind of take care of itself.
You know, I didn't enter into the Playoffs thinking, well, geez, I need to win to stay in the Top 5. I thought if I could play well and stay in the Top 5, you know, that would be a huge bonus. But entering the Playoffs is really probably when I started thinking about staying in the Top 5 and then really focusing on the points. Prior to that, you know, I looked at the points, but still basically at each event, each tournament throughout the year. I just tried to play as good as I can and let that kind of take care of itself.

Q. Could I jump ahead a week and get your thoughts on what kind of captain Freddie will make and what it will be like to play for Freddie?
STEVE STRICKER: I've been very excited. We've been exchanging text messages back and forth over the last month or so. Yeah, I'm very excited to play for him. We all know what kind of attitude Freddie has, and I think that will be a good attitude for the team. I think it'll relax us. He's kind of a free-spirited, free-caring guy and very light to be around. I think it's going to be a fun week. There's a lot of things, you know, with Michael Jordan being there, I think it's going to be some unique experiences and a fun week to be a part of.
And any time you can play for your country I think is a very cool experience. I've been on these last teams the last couple years, and it's something that I want to do every year. I mean, it's pretty special when you get a group of guys together, guys that normally you're trying to beat every week, and now you become teammates and you feel that bond and you grow closer together, and then throw in Freddie as your captain. It should be a pretty special week.

Q. Your thoughts on him making Jordan assistant captain. Have you given any thought to what Jordan is going to be doing and how you'll react to that?
STEVE STRICKER: I haven't given it any thought. I think it'll be fine. Michael is at all the team events any ways. I mean, he was a stationary, a figure at -- I don't know what hole last year at the Ryder Cup. We were walking off the green and there he was every day giving us knuckles as we walked off. The guy is at every one of them, which is pretty cool that he shows his support and love for the game. I think it's great that he's going to be there. You know, he's there any ways, and to be able to talk to him and spend some time with him in a couple weeks should be pretty cool.

Q. It seems like every year there's some discussion on the 18th hole, par-3. Obviously that's rare; there's no other course on TOUR where that's the case. And with the emphasis this week obviously on $10 million, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that as a finishing hole, whether that's a strength, a weakness, somewhere in between, and maybe if they flip the nines and ended on the other side whether that might be a little more theatrical?
STEVE STRICKER: I really think it's a great finishing hole. It's a long iron, utility club for me probably. I haven't played it yet this year but it's usually a utility club or a 3-iron. It's a great finishing hole. You can hit a great shot in there, and whether I make a birdie, but to make a par is a great score, and bogey is in play very easily.
I think it provides a lot of drama. It's a little different than a par-5, but you can get a range of scores on that hole. So I think it's a great finishing hole.

Q. Can you talk about the course conditions this week and how that's going to affect play? As a guy who's played in Wisconsin and Illinois in bad weather, are you a good mudder? Is your swing conducive to playing in sloppy conditions?
STEVE STRICKER: I'll tell you what, I played nine holes yesterday and it was surprisingly dry. I came down here with the expectations of there being puddles everywhere, super soft, greens plugging, and it's far from that. It's in unbelievable shape for the rains they've gotten here. The greens are actually firm. You can hear the SubAir systems on every green. They're on. They're sucking that water out of there, and I think the course is in great shape.
As far as being a mudder, you don't have to be a mudder this week unless we get a lot of rain while we're out there playing. But it's in great shape, and surprisingly how good it is.
LAURA HILL: Steve, thank you, and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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