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December 2, 2009

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Steve Stricker to the interview room here at the Chevron World Challenge. Steve, thanks for joining us for a few minutes. Let's start off if we could just talk about '09 was another incredible season for you. Of the 22 events you started, you had Top 10s in exactly half of them, 11 Top 10s, and of those two of them were wins obviously. Just if you wouldn't mind a few words on your year, '09. A lot of things obviously went right, so talk a little bit about that, and kind of how you're feeling as you're heading into the off-season.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, obviously it was a great year for me, and you know, a lot of good things happened. Part of that was a winning Presidents Cup team, which is always something that I strived to be a part of, one of those team competitions at the end of the year.
And obviously looking forward to this week. This is always a great event to be a part of, and the course is in great shape, and it looks like we've got some good weather coming our way, at least for about three of the days.
But excited to be here, and very happy the way I played this last year.
DOUG MILNE: You did finish second here last year. If you could just touch on the course, the shape and condition of the course as you're heading into the competitive rounds tomorrow.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's in very good shape. The greens are perfect. They're holding a little bit. You know, they've still got a lot of speed to them so you have to make sure that you're on the correct side of the hole, and we should have a good championship. A lot of great players are here, and like I said, I'm very excited to be here.
DOUG MILNE: With that we'll open it up and take a few questions.

Q. Obviously because of your close association with Tiger, how difficult is it for you preparing for this tournament knowing all of this is going on around the tournament now?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, good question. It's been hard. You know, just to see what's been going on to him the last few days. I'm not going to kid you; it's -- it was a shock to see that, first of all, he was in a car accident, and then all the developments after that obviously is a shock, too.
But yeah, it's been hard. You know, I mean, we all want him here. We all look up to the guy. We all admire what he does and has done on the golf course.
You know, I'm not going to kid you, it's taken a little bit of the life out of me being here because usually I'm paired with him here in this event and very much look forward to playing with him the first round, and him not being here, I'm not going to be able to do that.
But we've still got to go on. We've still got to play in this tournament and make it a good one and help out his organization, and hopefully he works everything out at home and gets back real soon.

Q. This whole situation has sort of resurrected the question where do we draw the line between fame and privacy, and I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on sort of the privacy aspect of this versus what the public has a right to know from athletes that are well-known such as you.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I'm in no category like a Tiger Woods or other celebrity. I can't imagine what kind of microscope that Tiger and other famous celebrities go under on a day-to-day basis. You know, it's a tough question. I don't think it's really any of our business to get inside his private life. But it all drives us to want to learn more, I guess, and I don't know if that's right or wrong.
But I respect what he's doing. You know, he's trying to make it as private as he can, and it's just hard because everybody is trying to get a piece of information on really what happened.
But we may never know, and I really don't care. I don't really want to know. It's too bad that it happened and that it happened at this time.

Q. Because Tiger has such a pristine image, for lack of a better word, how much do you think this is going to tarnish his image, and what about his ability to bounce back from this?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know, I think his image is going to take a little bit of a shot. I think I'd like to see him come on TV and just pour it out a little bit and show what's happened a little bit. I don't know if that'll ever happen. But people forget, and if he just does the right things from here on out, people will forgive him and move on and forget hopefully.
But yeah, he's going to take a little bit of a shot, but as far as bouncing back, we all know what kind of person and player and how hard he works at things. So I'm sure he will bounce back. I don't think there's any question that he will bounce back. But it's going to be hard on him for a while, and it sounds like he probably won't play. He usually takes this time off, so we probably won't see him for a while, which is norm for him this time of year.
But I expect him to come back and be the old Tiger.

Q. I'm working on a groove story, and lot of the players say that the biggest change is going to be with the wedges, and you're one of the best wedge players in the world. Can you talk about what you have done or what you will be doing to adapt to next year's grooves and how much it will have an impact on next year?
STEVE STRICKER: This is my first week with the new grooves. I hadn't touched a club since the Presidents Cup, so I'm very rusty and have just gotten some of the new wedges in my bag.
Fortunately my wedges that I played before weren't very aggressive in the groove department, and I didn't have a special kind of face that -- Bob Vokey makes a spin-milled face, so I didn't have the maximum amount of spin I could probably get off my wedges beforehand. Well, the new grooves, I'm finding along with the new face that they've put on there, I really haven't lost too much more spin. I think it'll be a little different out of the rough, but so far I really haven't noticed too much of a change, and I've been playing conforming irons the last four or five years.
For me personally, I don't think it is a huge change. But for some guys they're going to have to change irons and wedges, and that will affect some players.

Q. Usually this time of year we talk about you being Comeback Player of the Year. I just wonder, it must be a little bit of a strange feeling being the top-ranked player in the field at Tiger's event.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I hadn't thought about it, but it's just some of the things have paid off from what I've been doing over the years, and I continue to work hard at what I've been doing, continue to do the same things. You know, I don't look at that World Ranking so much, you know, the actual number or anything like that. I just tend to go about my business and try to do what I need to do and try to keep improving on what I've been working on over the last four, five, six years.
It is a process with me. It is all the time, and my confidence level is good, especially the way I played this last year, so I just continue to try to do what I do.

Q. Just one last Tiger question. You said you would like to see him come out and address this on TV. What did you think or what was your reaction when you heard that he did make a statement today and put a statement out on his website about the situation?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I was happy to see it come out a little bit, not happy on what was said in there actually, but just happy that he came out and addressed it. But again, you know, I'm on that line. I'm on that fence whether that's even any of our business or not.
I mean, I wish can would have just been handled with Elin and Tiger if there was a problem. And do we really need to know? I guess that's the bottom line. Everybody likes to get into these celebrities' personal lives, and it's all fascinating and everything. But deep down, what does it really matter? It has come out, and it's unfortunate. But we've just got to move on and hopefully everything works out on the home front for him, and he can move on with it, as well.
DOUG MILNE: Steve, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

End of FastScripts

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