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February 5, 2010

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: Steve Stricker, thanks for joining us today after a very wet but successful second round 6-under 65. Through two rounds you've chipped in four times, so you've got to be feeling good, number one, to be out of the rain; number two, where your game is headed heading into the weekend.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm very happy to be done with the round to tell you the truth. It was pretty miserable out there today. It never really let up. Conditions probably even got a little worse as the day went on. This morning it was probably the warmest temperature that it's been so far today when we were hitting balls and warming up, and then I think it progressively got a little bit cooler and wetter obviously and made playing pretty tough.

Q. What is the key to playing in weather like this? In your mind what did you have to tell yourself you were going to have to do as the day went on and the weather got worse?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, patience I think is the biggest key. You can't let the weather or the conditions get to you, and obviously a good short game I think is also very key because it's tough to make a regular swing. I mean, you've got a lot of clothes on, you're wet, it's just not as easy swinging on a day like today compared to a 70-degree sunny day. Your body feels different, the club feels different in your hands, so you're going to miss shots. So a good short game, I think, and patience is key.

Q. What are the worst weather conditions you've ever played in? Do you have any stories or memories of bad, bad weather?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, this ranks up there pretty close. But the British Open at Muirfield, I forget what year that was, but it was like this but blowing -- 2002? You know, it was windier, colder, rain coming sideways, and it was, like I say, much colder. That was probably the toughest.
But this ranks up there. There's very few rounds where you'll actually play in rain all the way through, but today we did. We played 18 holes in the rain today. That doesn't happen too much. Usually they call it because of lightning or the course gets too wet or something. But yeah, this was pretty bad, pretty miserable.

Q. You birdied No. 4 today. Can you talk about that? That's a nice hole to birdie.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I hit a utility club, a 21-degree utility club. I knew it was in there close, but I guess it had lipped out, so I hit it in there to about a foot and a half, whatever it was, and yeah, that's like stealing one.
And I chipped in on 18 on birdie. So a lot of good things happened for me today. I made that turn, chipping in at 18 and birdieing No. 1 and then making birdie at 4, some of the toughest holes on the course, and I'm making birdies. You know, you try to run with it, and you're like stealing shots when stuff like that happens.

Q. Can you talk about the birdie on 1, and what was the decision back in the fairway?
STEVE STRICKER: Sure. We had like 247, I think, to cover the whole bunker, and we hadn't been able to hit anything 247. Even our drivers were going about 236. I knew I couldn't get there, so I just wanted to lay up as close to that bunker as I could, the pin was in the back, and give myself a good look at birdie.
You know, I hit just a good little pitch shot there. I had, I don't know, 57 yards, I think, to the hole, so it was the right decision. I thought about maybe trying to hit 3-wood right left of that bunker and getting a little more of a pitch -- a little chip shot at it. But I think it was where I played it, hitting it in the fairway and making sure that I gave myself a chip at it.

Q. Just out of curiosity you mentioned Muirfield in '02. How did you qualify for that?
STEVE STRICKER: Good question. Match Play maybe the year before got me in. I didn't play bad forever, you know. (Laughter.)

Q. I know the weather is making your grips a little slippery, so how many times did you have to change your glove?
STEVE STRICKER: You know what, amazingly my glove lasted the whole round today. We went through about four towels, but the glove actually I was able to keep it fairly dry, and it lasted all day.

Q. Was there anything that happened where you thought the round was going to be called or should have been called?
STEVE STRICKER: No. Actually the conditions out there are very good despite all the rain. I don't know how much or if we got rain last night at all. But the greens are fine. It doesn't sound so good now. If this continues, I'm sure some puddling on the greens is going to eventually happen. But we had actually great conditions despite the weather.

Q. Do you think you're going to have a pretty big advantage -- are you glad you're in now?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I really wish I could go back out there. (Laughter.)

Q. Are you feeling pretty good about that lead right now?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm just happy to be done. You know, I'm going to get out of here, go back to the hotel and get dry. We may go to the LA game tonight, which would be kind of fun.

Q. The advantage is obvious of finishing early and getting the round in. Is there any disadvantage to waiting around tomorrow?
STEVE STRICKER: No. Looking at the weather forecast, I looked at it yesterday and kind of did the long-range, and it looks like tomorrow afternoon is supposed -- this stuff is going to move out. Maybe some rain again tomorrow morning for a while and then clearing up and getting a little bit nicer. That was another focus of mine was playing well so I could tee off later and maybe catch some better conditions. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but no, there's no disadvantage to getting done and getting out of here.

Q. Doug mentioned the other chip-ins. Where were the other ones?
STEVE STRICKER: I had two yesterday. I chipped in yesterday at No. 1 for eagle, and then No. 12 for birdie, 18 for birdie today. Oh, I putted one from off the green today on No. 10, which I hit it in the bunker on my second shot at 10 and really had no play, hit a decent bunker shot out, but it ran about 15 feet away onto the fringe, and I ended up making that to start my day. That turned out to be pretty big, too.

Q. Obviously you had a tough finish at the Hope last year and then you had a chance here. How much did those two losses which were pretty tough ones for you play into your mentality the rest of the year?
STEVE STRICKER: They were disappointing, but it's so early in the year for me when I come out to the West Coast until May. April I can start to play at home a little bit, usually May the courses start to get a little better. But this January, February, March, April time for me is so new to me. I mean, I spent two weeks at home hitting balls. I can't play, I don't chip, I don't putt. Any good tournaments I have early on just provides me with a lot of confidence, because like I say, I don't get the time in at home. I can hit balls out of a trailer, but I don't get the playing aspect of it.
They were disappointments last year, but I took them as positives because it was so early in the year, and I think it helped me later on. I mean, they're great learning tools, and I learned a lot from those events even though I didn't win them. And I think it provided me for the rest of the year with the confidence and knowing what not to do type of thing and learn from your mistakes. But I didn't take it as -- I didn't beat myself up over them or anything like that. I was disappointed but I still took them as positives.

Q. You played so well at the Hope last year except for that No. 10 on the final day. Was there a reason you didn't go back this year?
STEVE STRICKER: Just scheduling. I played the two tournaments in Hawai'i, and I had my family with me over there and wanted to make sure I went all the way back home with them instead of shipping them off home. It was just a schedule thing.

Q. (On playing with Anthony Kim.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I mean, he's a great player, and he's got a lot of confidence and he's a great putter, chipper. He does a lot of good things. It's fun to watch. He's got a lot of talent. I think we were kind of pulling each other along. You know, he hit some great shots in there at some par-3s and some other holes. Yeah, it's always fun when a couple guys are playing well. I think he shot 4-under today, which is a great score today, too. Yeah, you can definitely feed off each other out there.

Q. He shot 5-under.
STEVE STRICKER: Was it 5? I thought they said 66. Oh, yeah, 71, my fault.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind just running us through your birdies and giving us some yardages and clubs the best you remember.
STEVE STRICKER: Birdied No. 12, hit a wedge in there to about eight feet -- actually 11, I'm sorry, I birdied 11. This could take a while because I don't remember.
No. 14, hit an 8-iron to about 12 feet.
Chipped in at 18, hit driver and 3-wood. Most of the guys won't get home there today it played so long. We had like 230, I think, to the hole, and I hit an actually pretty good 3-wood and I think I barely got it on the front. I was just in the rough to the left, chipped that in.
Birdied No. 1, hit a driver and laid up with a utility club to like 55 yards like I said and chipped to about a foot.
Birdied No. 4, hit a 21-degree utility club to about a foot and a half.
No. 5, birdied 5, 3-wood and an 8-iron to about probably 24 feet maybe. Anthony Kim was right behind me and showed me the line.
And then birdied No. 8, driver and a 4-iron to about 18 feet.
DOUG MILNE: Steve, congratulations on a great round, and thanks for joining us and best of luck on the weekend.

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