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February 16, 2010

Steve Stricker


COLIN MURRAY: Steve, thanks for joining us here in the interview at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. You come in as the No. 1 overall seed. Fresh off a victory a couple of weeks ago at the Northern Trust.
STEVE STRICKER: I'm very excited to be here. It's always a special week. We don't get the opportunity to play match play except for some of the team competitions at the end of the year. It's always a lot of fun. It's a challenge. You know, you never know when your going to run into a hot player or a hot round. That makes it more difficult to continue on in the tournament. You have to be ready right from the start of have tournament and play well all the way throughout.

Q. Can you compare your level of optimism this week as the No. 1 seed compared with Australia when you were the number 55 seed?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, my whole attitude towards my game is total difficult from 2001 until now. Obviously, I've had a ton of good things that have happened to me in the last 4 or 5 years. I think my confidence level is much higher than it was in 2001. Not to say that I'm just going to win the tournament like I did then. You have got to have a lot of things go right this week. First of all, you have to play well and second of all, you have got to dodge a player potentially that comes out and plays really hot and, you know, I believe anybody in this field can beat any other player in this field. So it's that difficult and that's what makes this tournament very challenging. It scares me a little bit, too, to tell you the truth. Just because you never know what you're going to get or who you're going to run into. So you have to play well. Did I answer your question or kind of dodged all the way around.

Q. Kind of dodged it a little bit. Would you have been -- what do you think -- how do you think you would have felt if you would have lost to Padraig in the first round at the Australian when you were 90th in the world at the time compared with whatever frustration you felt from losing early?
STEVE STRICKER: Compare the two?

Q. You weren't expecting much when you went over there?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I was just happier than heck to be playing -- what do you say I was ranked?

Q. 90.
STEVE STRICKER: There were 30 something spots to fill that 64-man field. I was a excited to play there. I asked a couple of caddies. They declined to come over with me. Maybe that tells you what state of my game was in at that time.

Q. Do you enjoy the increased attention you are getting now or do you just accept it?
STEVE STRICKER: To tell you the truth, I'm accepting it. To be at the center of attention, you know, like if I'm out with a group of friends. I'm surely not the guy that stands out from the crowd. I try to, you know, do the things I need to do here, all my only obligations and stuff. I don't really care for it that much.

Q. Do you prepare any differently for a match play tournament versus stroke play tournament?
STEVE STRICKER: No. It's all the same. I just try to get my game in shape just like I do any other tournament or any other week that I'm on TOUR. Try to feel comfortable with the things I'm doing that week. A lot depends on how your opponent is playing. If he's in or out of the hole can influence how you are going to play the hole, too. You have to be conscious of that. I prepare the same way.

Q. After winning Northern Trust and you went home, how different is it for you to be at home after a win and trying to prepare for the next week versus coming home and not having won?
STEVE STRICKER: It is a huge relief to have won this early in the season. You know, it -- I guess it gets that monkey off your back a little bit, again this year. I still go home and I still do the same things, even after winning. I don't take it any less seriously. I don't really slough at all after winning a tournament. If anything, it motivates me even more to try to do some different things to try to improve.
I will go home like I did last week. I took the first couple of days off. I was extremely tired. I started right back at it on Wednesday getting ready for this week. I actually got here Saturday night to try to get ready. That is probably no different if I were to have not won the Northern Trust. If anything it fires me up, gets me more motivated. I tend to work harder at it.

Q. Is there more time required of you? People saying let's get together, that kind of stuff?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, there is a couple of guys in this room that have been calling me taking up my time. It's all part of it. Thinking about changing my number but -- no, it's all good. It is something that you have to deal with. It's a lot different than what I'm accustomed to or used to. But it's all good things.
It really -- you know, I feel like I haven't changed one bit during all this. I work just as hard as I did leading up to this last few years.

Q. Have you been where you were is there any part of you that is afraid of going back?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm always afraid of going back. Every day I wake up and kind of pinching myself, not really believing what has happened over the course of the last four years, really. I think that's maybe why I continue to work at it so hard all the time. Even with the success I've had lately. You know, I knew where I was or I know the feelings that I had and where I was about 5 years ago. Those are not good feelings. You know, I'm going out there much more relaxed now. I feel way more at ease and calm, I guess, when I'm out there playing. I feel like all this lately has been icing on the cake. I am just riding it out and continuing to work at it and work hard at it.

Q. A long time ago, did you know you were that tough that you could have gotten through that stretch and gotten back to where you are now?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know if anybody would know if they are tough enough to get out of a slump. I guess you find out what you are made of when stuff like that was happening in '03, '04 and '05. It wasn't good. It wasn't a lot of fun to play.
I still tried to look at it as positively as I could back then. I was still making a living doing what I was doing. I was still supporting my family and everything. When I looked at it that way, it kind of took some of the pressure off. I always figured I could relay on past champion status get in maybe 10, 12 events a year, make enough money to make ends meet and all that. I dug down deeper. I figured out within myself this is what I want to do. I worked hard at getting back to the type of player I thought I was capable of being at one in my career.

Q. What seemed like a realistic goal back then? I assume you didn't sit around going I could still be No. 2 in the world?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I didn't think that but I surely thought that I could win again. That was the goal when I was working at it at the end of the '05 and beginning of '06 season, that was my No. 1 goal is to get back in the winner's circle again. You know, it was a long, hard haul. There was a lot of time and a lot of energy put into it. I think that's why I get so emotional when I do win. I know what's gone into all this and where I was before and where I'm at now. It means a lot.

Q. The last three majors have been won by first time major winners. Can I get your thoughts on how you approach majors and your thoughts on the rotation coming up?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm excited for them. I'm not going to try to put anymore pressure, any more expectations on myself leading into those majors. Go in there like I do any other year, any other major or any other tournament for that matter and just try to play as well as I can. I love all the venues this year. I think it is pretty unique year when we get to go to play Pebble and St. Andrews. I got a major in my backyard in Whistling Straits just north of Milwaukee. I'm not going to put that extra added pressure on myself going in there thinking I have to win the tournament or anything. Just go about my own business and do what I do every week.

Q. How much more confidence do you have now?
STEVE STRICKER: It's night and day difference. There is no question. I have contended pretty much at every major The Masters, The Open, the British, and the PGA. I have confidence knowing that I have been up around the lead in those majors. You know, it's a tough week. Everything is elevated. Everything is on a little bit bigger scale, including your nerves. It is a challenge. It is a challenging week for everybody. But it's something you've just got to try to blow off and just treat it as a normal tournament and see if you can't get yourself in position.

Q. What do you know about --
STEVE STRICKER: What's that?

Q. What do you know about McGowan?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know anything about Ross. I know who he is. Other than that, I don't know much about him as a player. I never -- I don't think I have ever been out with him. So I don't know much about him.

Q. Is that a good thing or bad thing?
STEVE STRICKER: Neither. I don't think it's good or bad. Like I say, our paths haven't crossed. I think he is very young player, if I'm not mistaken, 27 or 28 years old. I'm sure he likes having me as a seed rather than Tiger. They are all going to be tough. All the matches are going to be hard. I don't think you can look past anybody in this tournament. I am going to have to be ready to play and play well tomorrow.

Q. Do you recall the last time when you played with someone in match play when you haven't played with them before?
STEVE STRICKER: Maybe Pierre Faulke back in 2001. I didn't know much about him then and played him in the finals of that year. I think he made that Ryder Cup that year and all that. I didn't know much about him.

Q. Who did caddy for you in Australia?
STEVE STRICKER: A buddy of mine.

Q. Second, what was the conversation between you and Nicki like when you came home and you were second in the world again?
STEVE STRICKER: She was sleeping when I got home. But you know the next day she sat there and she's like, "Can you believe you won again?" That was her comment. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Q. Did you take it supportively?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I did. She is in my corner a hundred percent. We're just riding it out. It's been unbelievable and I don't take it for granted. I just want to continue what I have been doing. That's what I strive for every day is to continue the things that I have been doing.
COLIN MURRAY: Anything else? Thanks, Steve. Good luck.

End of FastScripts

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