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July 11, 2010

Steve Stricker


DOUG MILNE: All right, Steve Stricker, 2009 and now 2010 John Deere Classic champion. To say that this was a pretty spectacular week for you would be an understatement. Just absolutely from start to finish an amazing week. Just some thoughts on the week, and just kind of how things, if they have, started to set in.
STEVE STRICKER: It was a great week. You know, a lot of cool things happened here at this tournament, not only for me, but Paul Goydos shooting 59 and fourth man in history. I think that's -- we were talking about it today. He'll always be in that group of people, or group of guys, or girls. Anna did it that, too.
But hat's off to him, you know. There's a lot of cool things that happened this week, and feel fortunate enough to be sitting right here, I'll tell you that. It was a tough day today, and glad it worked out.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll go ahead and take some questions.

Q. Steve, did that iron shot at 4 change the entire atmosphere of the round?
STEVE STRICKER: I think it did, you know. Making bogey there -- if I'd have made the putt and made par, you know, I mean you start off with -- what did I have, a six-shot lead, and I played great the first two holes. I was aggressive, feeling good, hit a good shot in there at 3, hit a good drive at 4, you know, and then just walk off with a bogey there. And Mags makes a birdie, I think, and all of a sudden my lead is, I don't know, five, I think at the time.
And you know, it's hard, you know. It's a position you want to be in, you know, with a big lead, but you know, you have everything to lose, and this is exactly the same way I felt at Northern Trust. It was difficult. It's a hard round to play.
You just -- I wasn't the same player as I was for three days, for sure, today. And you're just afraid to make a mistake, and that's hard to play golf that way. You know, I thought I got off -- like I said, got off to a good start. I wasn't backing down. I was coming out to try and make birdies right away, and you know, for some reason it just kind of changed, and I don't know why.
You just -- like I say, you end up playing 30 or 40 feet on the safe side of the hole and trying to two-putt, and when I did hit it in there a couple times, I didn't hit very good putts, and I felt like my putter kind of left me there for a while, or most of the day. Didn't hit very many good putts. So it all was kind of mounting, and it wasn't a good feeling really.

Q. You're not the first guy who's said that it's pretty tough to play with a big lead to finish off. Is it a human nature thing or subconscious? What's it like when you're playing so well, in that respect it might have been tougher pin placements.
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think it had anything to do with pin placements. I think it's just human nature that you don't want to screw up, and it's hard to overcome. You don't want to give shots away and let the guy in by you making a mistake.
So I still had the thought if I shoot 2 or 3-under, they're going to have to shoot 9-under to catch me, and that's a heck of a round. So I was just playing, you know, my deal, biding my time and keep dragging it out, but they're applying the pressure, which makes it harder for me to keep playing safe.
But I think it's just you don't want to give shots away, and then you end up playing a little safer than you normally do, and it leads to tougher birdie putts; and then they creep in closer because they were playing some good golf.

Q. He said he had to convince you of how good you were a few years ago. (Indiscernible). Do you believe that now and are you believing it more and more and are you convincing yourself with every win?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You know, that's a tough question. I do. I believe that I'm a good player. I believe that I still have some things I'd love to fix about the way I play and about how I hit some of my iron -- my iron play hasn't been that good. It was good this week. I need to become a more consistent iron player.
But no, I believe that I'm a good player. You know, I would love to get in contention and win a major. I mean that's right at the top of my list. But you know, things that I've done the last two and three and four years prove that I'm a good player, and I keep telling myself that.
You know, I'm the type that I kind of don't want to boast or I don't want to pump myself up, so it's hard for me to tell you that, you know, I'm the greatest player in the world. I'm not going to do that, you know. And I just do my own thing.

Q. You see that in Tiger, he's cocky; right?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm not going to even comment on that. (Laughs). He's confident, and that's what you see in all great players, they're confident. And I'm confident. I may just not try to show it, though. I don't want to come across as being confident or cocky, even though deep down I am. I am confident. And I try to just play and let my scores and the things I do on the golf course speak for themselves, I guess.

Q. Do you feel your confidence is building over the last couple of years?
STEVE STRICKER: It's been building. It has. My confidence level has been building, you know, since 2006. And that season was a good season for me. And it's progressively gotten better, and I believe that I'm a better player today than I was, you know, four or five years ago.
So that part of it is good. But I also believe that I can get better, and that's what excites me, too, because I still feel like there's things that I can improve on and try to get better at. And you know, that's good in our profession that, you know, you still have room for improvement and you still work hard on a daily basis to try to get better.

Q. Paul was just in here, he said that Steve wasn't having his best day, but when it came down to it on 17 he made a world-class putt to right the ship. Is that something that springs your confidence?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, and you know what, I made some big putts over the last few years when I've had to. And I told myself, you know, when I stepped up to that, I'm like, you know what, you can make this putt, even though I hadn't been putting very well throughout the course of the day. Told myself you can make this and you need to make this.
And you know, I look back at some of the big putts that I've made, and you know, there's nothing to be scared of, and I rolled it in. So that was a big putt; to go into the last hole with two shots instead of one was huge.

Q. What was your thought, then, after your drive on 18?
STEVE STRICKER: After I hit the tree?

Q. Yeah.
STEVE STRICKER: I was trying to hit it in the fairway off the tee, although I'm thinking to myself, you know, bogey is going to force him to make a birdie, and that's one heck of a hole to try to make a birdie on.
So after I hit the tree and my objective was just to get it down there where I could get my third shot on the green and make a 5 and force him to make a birdie. You know, I don't have to make it -- it doesn't have to be pretty. I just wanted to win, and fortunately it worked out.

Q. Paul was just reflecting at how high your level is now, played mediocre. What are your thoughts on Paul this last week, what he accomplished, and follow up the 59 and all the distractions and playing the last three rounds 12-under?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, no doubt. Well, I've always liked Paul. We had a good time the last couple times, we talked a lot. It's kind of odd, in some ways I'm trying to beat him and he's trying to beat me and we're chitchatting going down the fairway. But that's the type of guy he is.
You know, I'm happy for him, first of all, that he was able to do what he did. He's been out here a long time, and like I told him, he'll always be linked with the gentleman that shot 59. Or like Annika shot 59.
But it's something very special that he did this week, and it's really cool to see it happen to him. And it shows you the strength of our TOUR really that, you know -- I'm not saying that anybody could shoot 59, but the depth of our TOUR is such that, you know, that he did. It's pretty cool.

Q. You said yesterday that you'd trade the victory for a 59. The position you're in now, would you trade for a 59?
STEVE STRICKER: You mean the 54?

Q. The John Deere Classic Championship.
STEVE STRICKER: No. This is why we're playing right here, to win trophies and win tournaments. No, I wouldn't trade anything for this. This is the bottom line right here. Doesn't matter how you get it done. It's pretty special when they hand you that at the end of it all.

Q. How do you settle down and get yourself ready for the British?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. It's going to be a tough turnaround. But gotta get out there tomorrow once we get there and see the course, even though the weather doesn't look very good. I've been watching the weather, and doesn't look good.
But we're going to have to get out there, and there's so many different lines you can take there at St. Andrews depending on which way the wind blows, and you gotta know where the bunkers are. And there's so many blind shots and blind bunkers that you can't see, so you gotta get all that straight.
And fortunately my caddie's been there a few times. He says he understands it and knows where to go and knows the lines depending on the wind and all that kind of stuff. So I got that going for me. But have to get out there tomorrow and get some golf under my belt and try to learn a few things.

Q. Steve, what do you think it was that helped you persevere and continue to hold that lead for the last half a hole or whatever it was?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I reflected back to Northern Trust a lot today. It was pretty much the same scenario, although today I got off to a good start. Northern Trust I got off to kind of a shaky start and then kind of followed through the whole rest of the round.
But you know, I just kept doing my thing. You know, tried not to make a mistake, tried to put it in the smart side of the green, give myself a putt at it and force the guy to come and make birdies and try to catch me. And that's what I kept doing. You know, I just didn't want to hand him a shot here or there and give it away, so continued to play pretty conservatively.

Q. Less aggressive than the past few days?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah. Way less aggressive. Even on No. 7 today, the par-3, Paul hits it in the bunker, Mags hit it short of the green. I knew it wasn't on the green. So my first thought is just get it on the green, get my 3 and get out of there.
Other days I've been trying to flag it. You know, so your whole frame of mind, your whole thought process has changed, which is why, you know, it's hard to do just because three days you're going for everything, and then today you're laying back and hitting safe shots all over the place.

Q. Like the No. 4 hole, did the crying kid make your concentration at all?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No. Oh, yeah. Didn't bother me.

Q. Didn't affect it at all?

Q. Steve, this is two back-to-back winners here. How much would you like to make it three times in a row?
STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah. Any time. Any time you can win three times in a row would be great. You know, it's a long ways away. We've got a year to go, but it would be fun to come back and try.

Q. Do you aspire to No. 1?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't want it. I don't want that. I mean believe me, I want to play good, and if it leads to that, so be it. But I'm not worried about any ranking. I was worried about getting on this Ryder Cup team this year. I think this goes a long way to do that. I want to be a part of that again.
You know, majors are important. Obviously going over tonight and then Whistling Straits for the PGA, got my goals set for these couple of majors coming up, and I'd love to get in with an opportunity to try to win. So if it ever leads to that, so be it, but I'm not going to proclaim that I'm going to be No. 1 player.

Q. (Indiscernible).
STEVE STRICKER: I slowed down because I thought it was going to go to the right, you know, and I slowed down and covered it a little too early and just pulled it a little bit. Yeah, it should have gone to the right, but I kind of over-compensated for it.
DOUG MILNE: Real quick, lastly, if you wouldn't mind just running us through your birdies and bogeys and just giving us some yards and descriptions and we'll cut you loose.
STEVE STRICKER: Hit a 9-iron on No. 1 to about eight feet. Hit driver and a 3-wood to about 25 feet and two-putted on No. 2 for birdie. Bogey No. 4, I hit an 8-iron left of the green and missed about an 8 or 9-footer.
Birdied No. 10, hit a sand wedge from 89 yards to about four feet. Shortsided myself again at 11. Hit a 7-iron on the right bunker, missed about a 15-footer. Birdied 17, hit my drive to the right, laid up. I had 91 yards with a sand wedge and hit it to probably about 12 feet. And then 18, drove it in the right trees, laid up, hit it on there to about 15 feet, two-putted.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Steve, congratulations. Always appreciate your time.

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