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September 28, 2010

Steve Stricker


GORDON SIMPSON: For everyone who has had to sit through every player interview and the captains today, well done. We are joined by Steve Stricker, and Steve, you get the final word today, your first visit to The Celtic Manor Resort, what is your initial impression, please.
STEVE STRICKER: It's nice. We had a good time out there today. The course is good. It's in great shape. The rough is up. The course kind of looks like we are back home in the States somewhere. It kind of likes like somewhere in maybe Pennsylvania or somewhere like that. We are trying to trick ourselves into thinking we are in Pennsylvania I guess.
It's nice to be here.
GORDON SIMPSON: So you're saying that works in your favour then.
STEVE STRICKER: The course? I'm not saying anything. You're putting words in my mouth. (Laughter). No, I'm not.

Q. You played with Tiger today, you've obviously played a lot of golf with him, give us your impressions of where his game is at, obviously he's making a swing change and that can be difficult. How did he play? And then secondly, what do you think his motivation levels are like?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I thought his game looked great today. He drove the ball great. His iron play was unbelievable. He hit great iron after great iron. I thought he looked really good. He's talking very positively. I think his motivation level is high, as it is always in this event, I think. I think he's a little misunderstood when it comes to these team events. I've played on a couple Presidents Cup teams with him, and he wants to win just as badly as anybody on our team. It's perceived otherwise I think at times, but I think he really wants to win. He's looking forward to playing here. And I thought he looked, you know, pretty sharp today.

Q. Just to follow that, do you think that -- he's got obviously a couple more events to play this year, but this is the last really big one. Do you think that there's something in that for him to show people, hey, you know, I haven't gone away? Somebody in here earlier said, you just turned into an average golfer?
STEVE STRICKER: Ordinary golfer. Yeah. (Laughter). I heard that already. News travels quickly.
No, I think he's -- I don't know. I can't answer for the guy. I don't know what he's thinking, I mean, to be fair. But I think he really wants to play well. I think he's worked very hard from what I hear on his game, and it looked like he has today. So I think, like I say, I think he really wants to play well and he wants to win. I don't know what else I can add to that.

Q. For the record, we asked him how you were playing and he said you were spraying it all over the place. (Laughter)?
STEVE STRICKER: I take back everything I said then. (Laughter).

Q. I wanted to ask you two things, mostly about the speed of the greens, were they about what you thought, slower side, quicker, and if they are slower, is that something that you would expect?
STEVE STRICKER: The speed, well, we are coming off last week at THE TOUR Championship where they were about 14 I think on the Stimp. So anything to us is going to feel, the guys that played last week, anyways, is going to feel a little bit slower.
I came in last night and putted on about nine greens, walked around, and they were a little bit faster yesterday, but then we had some rain this morning and that slowed them down a little bit. But that's kind of what I expected. And who knows? It's only Tuesday, and they could speed up a little bit. They are good. The grass coverage on them is good and they are smooth, so the greens are pretty good.

Q. You said a minute ago, that Tiger, he's talking positively. What do you mean by that?
STEVE STRICKER: Boy, you catch everything, Doug.

Q. Well, I just figured he wasn't talking about us, that's all.
STEVE STRICKER: It just sounds like he's in a good place. It sounds like he's excited with what he's doing on his game. I've been asking him what he's been working on and stuff, and it sounds like he's very happy with what he's doing.

Q. You and Tiger had a great record at The Presidents Cup. Was that just that both of you were playing really well at the time, or is there a certain chemistry that you two guys have?
STEVE STRICKER: I think we have got a good chemistry. I think we gel nicely together. I think our games complement each other's nicely. We both -- he's even said it; that our games are very similar. We do a lot of the similar things. Although he does extraordinary things, and I kind of just do normal things. I try to do the things that I'm good at, and that's chipping and putting and all of the little things and drive it in the fairways most of the times, and I think we complement each other's games very well.
And we enjoy playing together. That's a huge key when you go out with a partner; you'd better enjoy playing with that guy and expect to be put in spots where you might not be used to being in, whether that's 40 yards up in the fairway or into some trouble and not feel bad about it. I think that's the biggest thing is not feel like you're letting your partner down so much, but you're trying just as hard as he is to hit good shots. I think it's just an understanding between one another and enjoy being with one another out there.

Q. Can you explain what it is you enjoy about playing with Tiger?
STEVE STRICKER: We just have a good time. We played a ton together at the end of last year. We talk about different things as we go around, not necessarily golf. We give each other a hard time. So he's easy to play with, he really is. He's fun to play with, good to play with and I've kind of embraced that over the last few years playing with him and look forward to hopefully getting to play with him this week. I don't know for sure, but hopefully we can get back out there.

Q. You're playing a lot of golf recently, are you tired?
STEVE STRICKER: A little tired at times. Especially the plane ride over doesn't make you too snappy. (Laughter).
You know, felt pretty good. I got some good sleep on the plane and I slept good last night. But I'm looking forward to the end of the season. You know, one more week of really grinding it out and it's an important week, and a week that I've looked forward to all year long to tell you the truth is to be a part of this team. But after that I'm getting away from it for a while.

Q. Is it a bad time to ask about Shanghai I guess?
STEVE STRICKER: Where? (Laughing).

Q. Corey said he is going to be cautious about not over playing players before Friday starts. As perhaps one of the elder statesmen of the team, what emphasis would you put on that this week, and how important is it to be prepared and not over-play?
STEVE STRICKER: It's very important. I think most guys will play 18 holes again tomorrow, maybe play eight or nine holes on Thursday, and just make sure you get your rest. You know, I think it's important, especially these first two or three days to get your legs back, because it does. That trip takes a lot out of you, and make sure you get your rest and get ready, because being rested and fresh, you know, counts for something, too. And that's what his ideas have been toward us, trying to instill getting some rest; do your work out on the course but yet make sure you're getting your rest and get ready for Friday.

Q. What toys and cool things might you have in the team room other than the obligatory ping-pong table?
STEVE STRICKER: It's the same, ping-pong table and we have got a --

Q. Bar?
STEVE STRICKER: A bar? Is that what you said?

Q. You had a bar at The Presidents Cup apparently because Leonard came in and pulled that stunt?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, just like any other team room. We have the ping-pong tables. I don't know if there's a bar or not -- yeah, there is one outside the area there. But same type of stuff.

Q. You've been around a long time. '93 was the last road win for the U.S., it's a long time ago. Why do you think it's been that way, and why do you think you guys could change that?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I think The European Team has gotten a lot stronger over the years. I think, you know, no different than this year, they have got a great-looking team.
Coming over here, I've never been a part of one to play on foreign soil, but from what I hear, it's very difficult. So it's a challenge. You know, so you put those two things together, us making the trip, putting them on their home turf, and you know, good play.
So put all that together, it makes it very difficult to win. So that's my answer.

Q. What about just in -- I mean, is it making the putts, is it getting some momentum? What are the things that you can do, the little things?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, obviously to keep the crowd as quiet as you can is always an advantage, and that means us playing well. If we can get off to a good start in these matches and hopefully quiet the crowd and be the aggressor maybe and making birdies before they do, and like I say, it's always going to be tough to quiet the crowd, because, you know, when they make a birdie or get on a little roll, you're going to hear it.
But if we can play well, that's the whole objective is play better than them, and that should quiet all of the fans up a little bit and make it somewhat easier, but it's still going to be very difficult. I have this feeling this it's something that I've never experienced. In Valhalla, I've experienced it, but it was on our side. You can feel that positive energy, and now I have this feeling that it's going to be something more to deal with.

Q. Are you guys back in the room watching each other do these interviews?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think so. (Laughter).

Q. Did Tiger tell you about the question he got?
STEVE STRICKER: No, another media guy told me about the question.

Q. You got five rookies on this team who have never been in any team room setting; any surprises so far?
STEVE STRICKER: No, not at all.

Q. Anyone behaving differently than you would have thought?
STEVE STRICKER: Bubba is a character. He's probably the Boo Weekley of this team.

Q. What a shock?
STEVE STRICKER: What a shock?
It's a great mix of guys to tell you the truth. We have some guys that have a tremendous amount of experience and we have some guys with no experience and we have some guys in the middle. We are all getting along nicely. It's fun to go in the team rooms. Everyone is very relaxed and light so far, and hopefully we can keep it that way.

Q. Give us a good Bubba and Boo analogy?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, Bubba is not quite as funny as Boo. What is the word he came up with, 'compatibate' that Boo came up with at Valhalla? We have not got to that point with Bubba. But he's very light. He's very vocal at times. It's just there's some good stuff going on.

Q. How do you think he handles that first tee ball with the bleachers set up over there on 1?
STEVE STRICKER: I think we are all going to be fine. We have all prepared for opening tee shots and what this all might bring us. It's going to be a lot of fun and they are enjoying it which is nice to see. It's easy.
I can remember my first team, back in '96, Palmer was the captain. You know, I was afraid to say anything, afraid to make a move because of all of these guys that I've looked up to for so long and now all of a sudden your teammates with them and you're trying to find your place on the team and you're not sure where that's at but these guys are not that way which is cool to see. They are right in there with everybody. They are not afraid to say something. They are joking around with everybody and they feel very comfortable, which is nice.

Q. You were talking about your putting at East Lake and how you were a little cold; you were so hot just before that, how do you lose your stroke? Was it the greens at BMW? Have you found your stroke since you left Atlanta? And how important is that for you, because you're known to be a great putter?
STEVE STRICKER: I think a lot to do with it is I'm getting so many more birdie opportunities than what I had previous years. I'm hitting the ball better probably than I've ever hit it, so I'm giving myself more looks at birdies. And I was used to making everything. Now when I get all of these looks at it, when some don't go in, I start to wonder why.
So really, I'm burning the edge on a lot of putts, and I did at East Lake again, and I've been working hard at it. Tiger looked at me today. We talked about our strokes over the years and he gave me a good little pointer, and it's something that my caddie and I mentioned last week, something in my setup that didn't look quite right.
So started doing that again today and it felt like my old self again today and so it was very good in that regard. It's just raising my hands up a little bit. I've always had my hands a little bit higher at address before I take the putter back and even Jimmy, my caddie had mentioned it last week that it doesn't look like the heel of my putter is off the ground as much, and Tiger said the same thing. It was a little bit of a setup issue. I'm real close to making a lot of putts, and today it was good.
GORDON SIMPSON: Steve, thank you very much.

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