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January 4, 2011

Steve Stricker


JOHN BUSH: We had would like to welcome Steve Stricker into the interview room here at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Steve, coming off another fantastic season in 2010. Just talk a little bit about your expectations for this coming season.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, thanks, John. Much the same this year as they have been over the last four or five years and that's just obviously to get off to a good start. Goal is always to win out here on TOUR and that's no different for me again this year. Just been trying to -- been home in Wisconsin trying to get the rust off and hit some balls. Got over here a little early and excited to be here. It's a great place to start the year, coming over to Hawai'i and we are staying over next week, also. It's a good two-week trip.
JOHN BUSH: Just talk about this golf course and plans for the week.
STEVE STRICKER: It's a course where I think you need some repetition on it. You need some reps on it. You need to learn a lot of things about this course. There's some different things here that we don't normally face at any other tournament. You've got big undulations, big downhill shots, some uphill shots, a lot of wind. The greens are huge. They are very good. They are smooth.
But you know, putting uphill is pretty slow and putting downhill is extremely fast. So a lot of different factors going around here. I think the more time we play it around here, the better you learn going around here each time.

Q. I thought it was such a great answer when Ann asked Graeme the similarities between Ireland and Hawai'i, what similarities do you see between Hawai'i and Madison?
STEVE STRICKER: Zero? (Laughter). Yeah, there's nothing similar.

Q. Seriously, when they always talk about optimism at spring training in baseball; is there any sense of that when you come here and if so, what kind of optimism is it, for you and do you think everyone else maybe?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I think always there's some apprehension, too. I mean, you're not sure what this new year is going to bring. You always go in, at least I do, thinking that you're going to have a good year and get off to a good start, so you're very optimistic, and I'm an optimistic person, anyway. So I'm always thinking of positive things and working and trying to get better and all that.
But I always come into the new year with some -- I don't know if they are doubts but just you're not sure what's going to happen, and you know, we haven't teed it up yet this year. I always keep telling myself that, you know, I ended the year well and what's different about, you know, starting right here in 2011, there's nothing different.
So I try to erase those doubts or apprehension by telling myself that, you know, I'm still the same player I was at the end of the year. Still the same player I was playing at Chevron and the Shark Shootout. So I try not to think of it as anything new and try to keep building on what I've done over the last four or five years.

Q. Just to follow up on that, in the 25 or so years you've been out here, do you think the way veterans look at the new year is different than someone who is going to be a rookie fresh out of Q-School and Nationwide? Do you think their optimism is actually greater?
STEVE STRICKER: The rookies? I don't know. The other thing is, I think I can remember my rookie year, you're kind of in a little bit of a panic stage. You don't know what to expect. You haven't played any of the courses. It's kind of overwhelming.
So you really don't -- you don't have a feel for thing. I think the longer you're out here, you know what to expect. You know a lot more about where you're going to go play and tournaments you like, the courses you like. So you can kind of set your schedule up ahead, and from that standpoint know what's going on.
Rookies, you don't know. So I think there's some doubts that can creep in and it's important I think as rookies, they first come out the first couple of tournaments is to get off to a good start and kind of ease into the season. But if they struggle early on, then that tension I think builds up and makes things it a little bit harder.

Q. You mentioned earlier this is a great place to start the year and obviously you're here to win a golf tournament. Is it difficult to balance the focus on playing a tournament with enjoying time with your family and just relaxing here?
STEVE STRICKER: Yes and no. I come over here to work, play golf, and I have to come over here to work because I get nothing done at home basically. I can hit some balls out of the trailer but I can't play. I come over here end and up playing a lot trying to get ready coming into the new year.
But I'll sneak away as early as I can and do other things with the family. They are having a good time. We have some friends coming in so they can all have a good time and I can still do things on the course. You have to balance it out and make sure -- at least I do, I need to get my practice in because I haven't been able to do it at home.

Q. I know you're reluctant to change very much of anything, be it equipment or anything, but wondering if there has been anything new since we saw you at Tiger's event or anything new you're working on?
STEVE STRICKER: Nothing really. Same clubs.

Q. Good and boring?
STEVE STRICKER: Trying to be.

Q. Is there something about this course that fits Ogilvy and Appleby or Australians in general? What's the deal with those guys?
STEVE STRICKER: I think maybe the wind. I would guess, you know, this wind doesn't really faze them as much as some other players. A lot of guys that live in the States, especially guys that live in Phoenix, pretty calm, pretty benign there most of the time. And then you come over here and it's blowing 20 to 30 and that's difficult. I think them growing up as kids, I would imagine they would have played in some wind and maybe they are just a little more comfortable playing with the wind because it does get windy playing here.

Q. There's always typically some talk about guys that are not here; tournament for all the winners and yet Tiger, although he didn't qualify here, has not been here a lot in the past and Phil skips it and some Europeans couldn't come or chose not to come because they didn't want to use one of their ten appearances not here. As somebody who has been around a lot, do you think there should be another look at changing the way the qualifications for this are and trying to get these guys here and trying to get past champions here?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, and I can tell you that they are looking at it. Well, I know we are looking at all of that as a whole, and especially the European number of tournaments. There's been some discussion about that. And I know they altered that a little bit already by filling in THE PLAYERS Championship, and at that point, that's where it sits. But I can see maybe them being exempt even from this not even being part of their 11, this tournament, just to get them here.
I think we are in a position as players and tournaments wanting to get the best field for our sponsor, putting on the best show that we can, and get the best field here and I think -- I know Hyundai would love to have more players here that decided not to come.
Yeah, I think we need to take a look at this one again, this tournament, and at the time, when the talk was about adding THE PLAYERS Championship, no one really thought about this event in particular I guess. But it kind of makes sense that maybe they should be exempt from this one, too, to get them here.

Q. Why penalize the event, in essence.
STEVE STRICKER: Right. I agree.

Q. So how many rounds have you actually played in the past two months? You talked about not being able to play at home, and how are you able to shake that rust so fast?
STEVE STRICKER: I played those two tournaments in December, Chevron and Shark Shootout, and then I just played three days in freezing Phoenix; it was so cold over there, we didn't play that much. And I got over here Friday so I've been playing Saturday and Sunday and yesterday.
I don't know, I enjoy the early part of the season, even though I'm not able to play a lot. I'm fresh mentally and that counts for something. You can let those bad shots kind of roll off your back a little easier because you know you're not as prepared and you are fresh mentally. But I don't know, I don't mind coming out of the snow. I'm used to it. Some guys, it may not be for. They may feel differently but I've done it my whole career, and I'm okay with it.

Q. When your family is here doing other kind of stuff and you're sneaking away once in awhile to join them, is there one thing that you would like to do that you haven't been able to do? Is there something that you're jealous that they are doing?
STEVE STRICKER: I'm really not a big beach guy, you know, taking my shirt off, laying there on the beach. That's really not my style. (Laughter) You know, I'll go to the beach and where my clothes there.
We are going to whale watch again on Monday, and we did that last year and that was probably the coolest thing we had ever done. The whales were right there and went under the boat; that was really cool, so we are doing that on Monday. Looking forward to that.
But they are cool just hanging out by the pool and the beach, and like I say that's not really my style. But we'll go shopping down at Lahaina and walk around, that's pretty cool, and doing nothing really. That's the neat part of this week is they don't have to do anything. They can just kind of hang out and enjoy the weather because we are not getting this at home.
JOHN BUSH: Steve, thanks for coming by. Play well this year.

End of FastScripts

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