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July 10, 2010

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: All right, Steve. We know you've got some unfinished business you want to get to, so let's jump right in. Just absolutely incredible playing through three rounds here at the John Deere Classic. 9-under 62 today, just, no pun intended, but almost par for the course for how you're playing this week. Just tell us what's going on.
STEVE STRICKER: If I knew, I would bottle this. I don't know what's going on, but I'm trying to stay, you know, in the present and not really look too far ahead and trying to take each shot as it comes, and just you know, give myself birdie putts.
I've been putting the ball really well, and just try and get it on there in a good spot so I have a birdie putt. And I've given myself a lot of opportunities. I hit some great iron shots today at the kick-away distance, and you know, that helps out around a lot when you can go up there and just tap them in and move on. So I've been doing a lot of good things.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll just go ahead and start with some questions.

Q. Can you believe the last six rounds you got a 61 and a 62. Are you going to come back here next year (laughs)?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I enjoy coming here. I always have, you know. It just got to be too hard to come here and go to the British Open, and that's why I stopped coming for those few years.
You know, Clair was always on me, you know, to come back, and you know, they had the plane and all that. You know, I'm glad I did. You know, I really enjoy it here.
This reminds me of the way some of the tournaments were when I first came out on TOUR. You know, you got these neighborhood communities, smaller community events that the people really rally behind. Milwaukee was that way.
We were talking about, Paul and I out there today, that you know, this was a lot -- you know, Buick went away, you know, so some of the events like this hometown feel have gone away, and it's always nice to come back to this type of tournament.

Q. When you're playing as well as you are right now, are you aware of your surroundings or are you focused and zeroed in?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm trying to stay as focused as I can, and I've been doing a good job of that, to tell you the truth. I haven't -- I've looked at the leaderboards to see what the guys were doing. I knew Maggert was playing a good round today, and that's been motivation for me, really, to continue to try to make more birdies.
You know, Paul and I were real close to start the day and much of the front nine. But my motivation was still to try to continue to make birdies because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. You want to get as far ahead as you can.
This course yields low scores, so you gotta be cautious that somebody can come from behind and post a low one and catch you. So that was my mindset was to, you know, play my own game and try to make as many birdies as I can.

Q. Steve, is this course too easy in the sense that good players only want to play hard courses that are designed for players that are top ranked, excluding yourself, to come here?
STEVE STRICKER: You're saying that the course is too easy and that's why you may not get fields?

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE STRICKER: I think -- no. I think the last two years are a little bit different. I mean just because of the fact that we've had some rain and the conditions are very soft. And the course is in great shape, which leads to good scoring.
I think if you saw a firm course, I think it would be a little different. And we haven't had much wind. You know, you throw my score out and there's still two 19s there and that's really low, too, for 54 holes.
So I just think the conditions are right for scoring. You know, I don't think it'll hurt the field. I think players that come here love coming here. They spread the word that it's a great tournament to come to.
I think that's -- you know, scoring -- guys like to come and make birdies. I don't think that's a bad thing. You know, I mean guys enjoy coming here because it's a fun course to play and it's a little less stress this week.
You know, it's got that small-town feel. It's more casual. Guys like that. And I don't think making birdies is going to keep a guy away from coming here.

Q. How is a score like this and playing in conditions like this going to prep you for next week?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, this is not a British Open style course, for one, and we won't be shooting 25-under next week, two. The soft conditions we may have. I saw the conditions over there. They're expecting rain every day.
And even though they get rain, conditions will still be firm, probably, over there. But no, I mean truly not a good prep for the British Open, but it's a good place to come for guys who want to play here in the States the week before, get on a charter plane and get over to the British Open, you know, in first-class style and take the ease of getting over there away. You know, it's easier to travel that way, I should say, and that's why guys come here and play.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE STRICKER: I didn't know that. You know, yeah, any time you can set a record, one that's been around, I don't even know how long it's been around, you know, it's a nice thing to do. And there's been some other records broken here this week, obviously, Paul shooting 59. But any time you can add your name in the record book is a good thing, and it's cool and something you can reflect on later in life, I guess.

Q. Steve, this might not be ideal prep for a British Open, but from a confidence standpoint, the way you're playing has gotta help out.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. Very much so. I mean I feel like my game's -- you know, I did a couple of funky little things today, but overall, you know, I'm doing a lot of good things. And that's, like you say, it's good for your confidence, good preparation that way going into a major, you know, if you play well the week before.
And you know, I got one more round, and that's really the focus is I got one more round to try to come back out and do the same things I've been doing.

Q. Was there a divot out on 18?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. Hit a divot. The ball's rolling down there, kicked it up and then it ended up in a divot. So I was in two divots today, one on No. 6 also, which is pretty odd, you know, really in a round when you're in two divots.

Q. What does it feel like birdieing, you know, almost every other hole?
STEVE STRICKER: Feels good. (Laughs). That's why we're out here is to make birdies. You know, it's strange because you typically don't do that anywhere. You know, even when you're at home playing around.
But it's fun, you know. And it tests me or anybody in a different way, too, to try not to, you know -- I don't know what the right word is, to feel good where you're at or relaxed at the position you're in, and it tests you to try to focus and dig a little bit deeper and try to get more, which is fun to do also.
So there's different, you know, objectives and different goals you gotta look at while you're out there in the course of a round and try not to get complacent with where you're at and still try to make some birdies going forward.

Q. Guys typically have some trouble closing out even with a pretty big third-round lead. You had a big lead at LA and you got close there for a while. What did you learn from that experience?
STEVE STRICKER: It's hard. It's hard to have a lead, any sort of lead. I think I had a seven-shot lead at LA, and it got down to a couple, and it could have even been closer than that if Luke would have made another putt or two.
But it's difficult because you're in a position where you're supposed to win and you're in a position where if you don't win, you know you blew a big chance. And you know, you feel terrible about not winning.
So it's a tough spot, and you gotta just try to ignore it. I mean even though you can't, you just gotta go out there and try to play your own game, and I gotta do the same things I've been doing every day and give myself the opportunities.
And at LA I was a little cautious, I think, if anything. So I learned -- I learned that I need to be, you know, aggressive to the point of conservative, you know. I mean take a conservative line and be aggressive to that spot. And LA I kind of took that conservative spot and really wasn't aggressive to that spot. So you still gotta play.
You know, you got 18 holes to play, and you know, I hopefully don't make too many mistakes, but if you do, just move forward and forget about it and try to make a birdie.

Q. Steve, with the scores that have been shot out there, does that mean the lead may not be quite as large as it is and keeps you from being too conservative tomorrow?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much so. I think six-shot lead here versus LA I think is a little different here. I think it's a little tighter here just because guys can go out and get off to a good start. They can make some eagles. You know, you can eagle two, and there's just a lot of birdie holes out there. And they can catch up in a hurry. So yeah, you gotta realize that and still be aggressive to try to make some birdies of your own.

Q. Is there a comparison between shooting a 59 and 25-under?
STEVE STRICKER: I'd rather take the 59.

Q. Steve, are you a more aggressive player than you were seven or eight years ago? Do you play better more aggressive?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think I'm any more aggressive. I think I'm smarter. I think, you know, I've been around here long enough and on TOUR long enough where I understand more about myself and about my game and the situation that I'm in maybe out on the golf course. So I've learned a lot along the way.
I just think, you know, I'm obviously playing better than I did six or seven years ago. I think I'm just smarter, you know. I know how to deal with things a little bit better as they come along, and that's just because I've gone through a lot in the time period I've been out here.

Q. Steve, the numbers suggest as much, but do you feel this is the best you've played in a tournament on TOUR?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, the numbers suggest that. I mean I hit the ball really well for three days and putted great. Yeah, I mean you hate to say that you can't get any better, that this is as best as I've got. But there's still things that I can improve on out there and that's what I look at.
And you know, certain feelings that I look for in a shot, you know, if I don't do them in a given shot, I mean somebody that's out there watching, you know, they may think that I hit a good shot, but yet, deep down I knew that I had to kind of make up for something to hit that shot. So there's still certain feels that I try to get to and that I'm not feeling at times, so I still feel like there's work to do and try to become a little bit more consistent of a ball striker.

Q. Steve, sometimes you really have to grind out a round to get a good score. You made it look pretty easy this week. Has it been easy or have you really had to work?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I mean I always work hard in any given round. I mean it's -- I've hit a lot of greens. I haven't really been in too much trouble. I was in a couple of difficult spots yesterday that I kind of escaped.
But yeah, you know, it's been good. I mean it hasn't been easy. I'm not going to say it's been easy. It's been fun. It's been a new, like I say, a new challenge when you get to shoot some of these scores and try to force yourself to continue to shoot lower. That's a challenge. So there's different level barriers and obstacles you still gotta try to cross throughout the round and throughout the tournament.
But it's -- you know, like I say, it's never easy. It's never easy going out there. It wasn't easy to start the round today. You know, coming to the course today I felt like this is -- like I'd never been in this position. I was nervous. I was not hungry, I didn't feel like doing anything. I just wanted to get out there and start playing. You know, every time you're in a position it's a new set of challenges.

Q. There are a number of players at this tournament playing very well in their 40s and 50s. Why is that?

Q. Michael Allen. Why are so many players in that age group having success, and what does it take for players in their 50s to compete out here?
STEVE STRICKER: I think guys take better care of themselves than they did years ago. You know, the technology has helped the older player, I think, out a lot. You know, I mean the older guy still loses a little bit of distance, but you know, I mean it's still -- with the new drivers the way they are, you still can whack it out there and compete.
And I think what the older guys have on the younger guys is experience, and I think that adds up to quite a few shots during the course of a tournament. And I think that's the biggest deal is that the older you get, you've experienced pretty much everything there is to experience out here on TOUR and you can kind of apply that to the given situation that you're in.
So I think that's a huge thing is just the amount of experience that the older guys have gained throughout their career.

Q. Steve, you know, you weren't real happy the way you finished yesterday, missing that short putt on 18, you had a little trouble. Were you thinking about that again, I don't want to end like I did yesterday?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You never want to end with a bogey. But you know, I would -- today I played the hole -- after I hit my poor drive, I played the hole smart. You know, I put it out there in play where I had a wedge in my hand, and again, I just wanted to give myself 10 feet or under and get a putt at it.
And I wasn't, you know, stressed that I was having to work for par. You know, you gotta do that sometimes, and it's just -- it was a good way to finish. You know, going up there just being able to tap it in and not having to work on making a putt.

Q. You have obviously been on a roll playing great golf, long term and now short term this week. Have you ever been on a roll like this before? Is there any stretch in your career that you can compare these three rounds to?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I don't think so. I mean no, these three rounds are probably my best three rounds put together anywhere, for sure.
You know, but that said, you know, the last five years has been good. So it's, you know, something that I -- it's weird. I kind of -- I don't believe that it's happened, you know, at times, but yet then again, I always felt like I had something in me that I could perform at a high level.
So on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me. But yet, you know, I keep working hard at it and trying to get better. So that's the good positive thing about it.

Q. On the air today I heard two anchors describe you as, one, playing as well as anybody in the world; and two, a lot of golf (indiscernible). Does that kind of thing disturb you? Is it enjoyable or could that distract you thinking about yourself as playing as well as being No. 1 in the world?
STEVE STRICKER: You gotta realize that Justin Rose is the hottest player in the world. (Laughs).

Q. (Indiscernible)?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much so.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind just running through your birdies and giving us some clubs and yardages, and we'll cut you loose.
STEVE STRICKER: All right. Birdied No. 1 with a sand wedge from 101 yards to about 12 feet, got it up-and-down out of the bunker on 2 for birdie, made about a 10-footer.
No. 8, I hit a 9-iron from like 144 to under a foot. No. 10, hit my lob wedge from 60 yards I had there and hit it to about four feet, five feet. 11, I hit a 3-wood in the first cut and then hit an 8-iron to about six inches.
12, I hit a 5-iron to the center of the green and made a 30-footer. 14, I drove it left down there pin high. They had the tees up for us today, and I chipped it over the bunker to about five feet. 15, hit a little 6-iron from like 173, I think I had, to about 25 feet.
DOUG MILNE: 23 feet.
STEVE STRICKER: Okay. And then 17, I drove it in the right rough, hit it up in the left bunker, almost green high and hit a bunker shot out to about four feet.
DOUG MILNE: All right. Steve, best of luck tomorrow. We always appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts

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