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December 12, 2009
MARK WILLIAMS: Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly retained lead at 13-under par, 65, 7-under today. Was it more difficult than yesterday?
JERRY KELLY: Kind of exactly like yesterday, wasn't it? Just kind of flip flopped the nines. Told ourselves now we know how to play both sides, so why don't we just go out there and start from 1 and go all the way through 18 playing the way the way we know we can.
MARK WILLIAMS: You must've been looking at the leaderboard thinking, Man, we're getting a little far behind here after your front nine. To bring it with a 30 on the back nine must have been pretty satisfying.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, actually I was quite happy to see the leaderboard, because nobody was really running away. I mean, there were guys coming from behind and coming up to the top, but the leaders, you know, we were only three back at the worst when we were looking at it.
I felt pretty fortunate, because we hadn't birdied any of those first few holes. Fortunately enough we get off to a good start on the back and made some good birdies on the back side and got us right back in the lead.
Q. When you look up and seeing some of other leaders maybe having run away, is that a little discouraging a little bit?
JERRY KELLY: I don't think it would ever discourage us. Even when we didn't get anything on the front side, we knew we had 27 holes and we were three shots back. We felt pretty good about having that many holes left.
You've gotta be patient and you've gotta understand that it's a full 18, it's a full 36, it's a full 54. You can't just get caught up in what's happening in the short-term, and understand that if you keep on playing the way you are and putting the way you are, the percentages are gonna start to turn in your favor.
Q. Anything on the back nine that got you going?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know if there really was. We just made some...
JERRY KELLY: Some chip-ins.
STEVE STRICKER: Really that was -- yeah. What hole was that, 13?
JERRY KELLY: 13.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that was huge. What hole was that? Was that 13?
JERRY KELLY: 13. (Laughter.)
STEVE STRICKER: Really, out of four of us no one hit a good wedge shot there. You know, we all had chips at birdies, but that hole you need to have a couple putts at it.
Yeah, Jerry knocked it in there. I think that was a momentum changer really, because we went from birdieing that hole and going to the next hole, a par-5, and birdieing that one. We were off and running at that point then.
So, yeah, that was huge to keep the momentum going. And making what we did on the back side was big.
Q. And you chipped in as well, right?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, he had it in there probably for seven, eight feet for birdie. I was off the green, so I chipped in before he had a chance to putt it.
You know, I'm thinking about trying to chip it in just because seven- and eight-footers around here are tough. You got grain and you got wind.
So, you know, yeah, those were a couple good chips, and obviously we needed that kind of stuff to happen for to us shoot that score on the back.
Q. Jerry, the scores are I think as high as they've been at this event since it's been here. Is that gonna impact the way things get played tomorrow if there's still some wind out there?
JERRY KELLY: Yeah, I think the wind is gonna die a little bit from what I've heard and what I looked on the Internet. So I think that will play to our advantage a little bit.
I think we got a little loose with a few shots just because of the wind, and I think we'll understand it if we have it again tomorrow. It'll be the same course again.
But just knowing that it's just gonna take fairways, greens, putts. You know, it's about as simple a format as you'll have tomorrow in knowing what you have to do.
Q. Even though it could be gone by the time you guys tee off tomorrow, the birdie on 18, something nice though to have and get the lead by yourselves, get some kind of cushion?
STEVE STRICKER: No question. I mean, I told 'em on, I don't know where it was, going on 17, If we finish birdie, birdie we're in the last group. At the very worst, birdie, birdie.
So going down the last, I was thinking about making birdie. I know Jerry was, too, just to make sure that we could get in the last group and thinking Verplank and Leonard would maybe make birdie as well.
It's good. A one-shot lead is always better than being tied. We're in a good position, and it's gonna be a shootout. There's a ton of teams up there at the top, and a lot birdies are gonna be flying tomorrow.
We gotta got right in there with our own games and make a lot of birdies on our own, too.
Q. Would you mind giving us your assessments of the groove situation and how it might affect the game next year?
JERRY KELLY: The one thing we don't have here is a lot of moisture in the morning and no rough. So the two main problems with having less sharp grooves, I would say, is not here. I think some of the chips come off a little bit hotter and they don't quite get the grab. But that we figured out in a couple days.
It's the unknowns of water and rough that's gonna be the deciding factors in how tough it is.
Q. On the chips, will you play for more run, or will you try to bring the ball in higher, do you think?
JERRY KELLY: I bump and run a ball, so it's gonna help me. I'm not gonna get that great first check to throw it off line. It should just check and roll on the same line.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's gonna be interesting. There's so many great players out here, and for the most part, everybody is a pretty decent wedge player. If you're out here on Tour, your short game ius pretty strong anyway.
So I think everybody will learn how to deal with it. Like Jerry said, there are some circumstances that -- I played in some rough last week at Tiger' event, and actually my shots out of the rough came out softer than some of the ones I've hit out of the fairway.
So, I mean, it's gonna be a getting used to thing, I think. There's so much talent out here that I think guys are gonna find a way to get it done no matter what. In six months, probably not even that, you won't even realize what you had last year or all the years prior. You'll just be so used to it and it probably won't be that big a deal. There will be a little bit of adjustment. Guys will figure it out pretty quickly, I think.
Q. Do you think it'll give you motivation - I know the fairway is important - but will you feel like the fairway is more important?
JERRY KELLY: I think it will be. I'm hoping it will be anyway. It's the strength of my game and the strength of Strick's game now. We need to have that bomb and gouge have some sort of disadvantage, which kind of helps our situations.
Q. Steve, do you agree with that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I definitely think you need to be in the fairway more, especially if the greens get firmer you may find guys laying back. When I first got on the Tour, no one challenged bunkers. You laid up short of the bunkers.
The years have progressed, and everybody challenges the bunkers or they try to fly 'em over it and deal with their consequences when they get up there. Maybe that'll change a little bit. We'll have to wait and see if that changes a little bit.
Hopefully it gets the guy playing a little bit more conservative and trying to get into the fairway a little bit more just because of though grooves. It's gonna be tough to change some of the younger guys that have come out. That's their style of game.
They're gonna have to find the best way for them to score. They're gonna have to adapt, just like everybody is gonna have to, I think.
Q. Your birdies on the back nine, who had what, where?
MARK WILLIAMS: Birdie at 10.
JERRY KELLY: How did we go? That was all Strick. He had it about two inches or so with a little pitch shot there.
13, I had a stellar wedge shot about four yards short of the green and chipped that in with a pitching wedge.
Next hole, Strick had a great up-and-down from the pine straw to the left of the green.
Next hole, yeah, he chipped it in and I had it in there about six feet.
MARK WILLIAMS: 17 or 18?
JERRY KELLY: 17, he had me putt out first for birdie. He had about a 20-footer that he could go after with eagle.
And then 18, great shot. Knocked it in there, Strick, about eight feet again.
MARK WILLIAMS: What did you hit, Steve?
STEVE STRICKER: 8-iron, about 158.
Q. With Tiger gone, do you think next year the game will change a little bit the way you guys play, or do you think that he brings a little more competitiveness to the sport?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think him being gone will change anything of what we do. I think we all play to our strengths. Jerry has his and I have mine, and we all play to our strengths whether he's there or not.
We're definitely gonna miss him. We all know what he brings when he comes to an event: increased awareness and increased crowds.
But as far as him changing what we do, he doesn't. You just try to do your own thing. I've been out here long enough where you can't get caught up in what somebody else is doing. Just try to play your own game. I don't know if that's -- I can't talk for everybody, but I know that's what I do.
JERRY KELLY: Exactly the same. It has no bearing whatsoever on how I would play a tournament. I've got my game plan, and just because Tiger is the in the field, I don't challenge this more or that more.
I play the exact same way that I map out a course to win on Wednesday before. I don't care who is in the field. We have to play it that way. Yeah, doesn't change the way we play.
Q. Do you think it might change in the way of how many sponsors are out there now?
JERRY KELLY: I don't think so. I think you still have, you know, a great product to associate with. We have fantastic demographics. We're still a very morally sound sport.
I think there's no other sport that I would like to be associated with, and bunch of guys that I want to be associated with. So I think the corporate world, you know, I know they love Tiger and they love attaching to that super star athlete, but there's a lot to be gained from the PGA.
Q. Steve, I think everyone has attached this sort of inhuman perfection to Tiger on the golf course. Too many people made the mistake of thinking he was that way of the course. Thoughts on that?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think it's unfair how we have built him up over the years. Obviously on the course he's one of a kind. No one really know what he was like off the course. He's a tough guy to get around. He has his own little group.
I know him strictly basically on the professional level, at tournaments, some of those team events. But I think it's a little unfair how we judged him. And really, shame on us for thinking that's all he went home to do, think about golf and practice and that was it.
You know, so it's a shock. It's most definitely a shock to everybody to hear what's been going on. But, you know, hopefully he gets it straight. Staying away I think is a great thing to get his family life in order. There's no question we're gonna miss him out here. Hopefully he gets his priorities straight and gets back soon.
There's no doubt we need him out here. We need him out here because of sponsorships and just the awareness in our tour in general. Hopefully he gets it taken care of and gets back out.
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