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March 31, 2011

Steve Stricker


MARK STEVENS: Steve Stricker shot a 5-under today. If you want to talk a little bit about your round and then we'll go ahead and take some questions.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. It was a good start. I mean the weather is perfect, perfect today, hardly any wind. You know, going out there after I've been here the last three days with some little bit windier conditions, you knew scoring was going to be better today, and it looks like it is and the course is in great shape. So, guys are going to make some putts and take advantage of these calm conditions today, and I was just fortunate enough to get off to a good start, hit the driver well and hit a lot of greens in regulation and gave myself some chances.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Questions.

Q. You had those four straight birdies, stuck it close to the flag. Anything rhythm-wise that was happening right then?
STEVE STRICKER: Those are holes you really kind of need to take advantage of, too. Maybe not so much the par 3, what is that, 13 -- no, 14, but you have a short iron in at 12, par 5, 13, and then another par 5 at 15. You know, you go into that stretch thinking you're going to get some birdie opportunities, and, you know, I hit some good wedges in there and hit a good 4-iron at 14 to about 8 feet and made some good putts. They're all in that 5-to-10-foot range. So that was a good stretch and kind of got me going.

Q. Is this course obviously three, last four years, you played awfully well here. How close are you, do you feel like, as far as breaking through here?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it's hard to tell because I come from Wisconsin this time of year and I don't really know where my game is at. I come down here early. Got here Sunday night. I played a bunch of holes on Monday over on the tournament course, then over on the other course. So it's kind of always a wait-and-see, no expectations for me when I come out of the cold weather, and this is no different.
So I just try to do as best as I can, play hard, you know, see what I've got at the time, and today was pretty good. I drove the ball well which sets up a lot here, you can drive it well, and, you know, that's half the battle and I gave myself some opportunities.

Q. The other day you were really working hard on the putting green. Did you switch putters or were you messing with anything in particular, just working with your game?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I switched my grip. Kind of had to find that feel again with a new grip. But, you know, again, I come from where I can't practice that at home. I can in my basement a little bit, but it's not quite the same so I usually have a lot of reps on the putting green, chipping green, and try to play as many holes as I can when I'm coming still from cold weather. That's what I was doing, trying to putt and get that feel as best as I could.

Q. Do you have like turf down in your --
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I made a putting green in my basement and it's carpet, basically just green carpet (laughter).

Q. What's it run on the stimp?
STEVE STRICKER: It's pretty fast.

Q. Is there, you know, we laugh about it, but the benefit of that, putting on a carpet in your basement, you know, when you come to a place like this, is there a touch or something that you at least bring out of there?
STEVE STRICKER: Actually, you know, my carpet there's no imperfections. It rolls perfect. These greens are just like my carpet. I mean, they're so good. The speed is pretty similar, too. Mine may be a touch slower, but it's pretty quick and, you know, it's just getting the feel. Putting longer putts. I can't maybe putt a 20-footer at home. Out here I got to do some lag putting from 30, 40 feet just to get the feel.
You know, I don't spend a lot of time putting at home, so that's why I spend a lot of time when I come out here, too. Every once in a while, I'll go and practice, take the kids down there and do whatever in the basement. That's why I practice hard when I get out.

Q. Do you have any lumps or bumps?
STEVE STRICKER: I do have some contours.

Q. How did you do that?
STEVE STRICKER: With cement.

Q. Great idea. We don't even have basements down here (laughter).
MARK STEVENS: Anything else?

Q. Lot of guys, you know, their mind's here but looking ahead. Same with you?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very much so. I can even feel like you're getting -- I feel like I'm even on edge a little bit thinking about next week and a little uneasy. You're trying to figure out where your game is at. You know, for me I'm kind of cramming, you know, trying to play this week, see where I'm at, you know, see what I need to work on, see what's doing -- see what I'm doing well, but you always have that in the back of your mind.
It's a good test here this week, too. There's a lot of water. It makes you focus. The greens are quick like next week, so there's some similarities there that help you prepare for next week as well.

Q. Talk about having no expectations this week. Is that in some respects a real help in terms of achieving the right sort of frame of mind to compete?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. I mean, I always say that I have no expectations, but deep down I've got some, you know. I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt, but I still expect to go out there and play well.

Q. Who are you trying to calm, you or --
STEVE STRICKER: My inner demon, I guess, maybe. But, you know, like I say, I don't know what I have when I come here. I work hard the first three days when I get down here and try to develop a feel. I'm a feel player. I try to develop a feel for what I've got going at the time and kind of run with it. I don't hit the greatest shots at times. It's a little skunky at times. But I got it around well today, kept it in play very well and drove it well, which is big around here, I think.

Q. Did you leave snow up there?
STEVE STRICKER: No. It snowed last week. We had highs in the low 30s all week. No courses are open yet. They're talking about maybe opening next week, I guess. It's getting close, but it's 40s I think this week.

Q. 40s this morning, 49 this morning here.

Q. On the four birdie holes, would you mind saying what you hit in?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. On 12 I hit 3-wood off the tee, I had 92 yards and hit a sand wedge to about 5 feet.
13, laid it up and I had, I think 63 yards. Hit a lob wedge to about 10, 12 feet.
14, I hit a 4-iron, had 201. I hit it in there about 8 feet. And then 15, driver, 3-wood and I had 86 yards and hit that to about, you know, 5, 6 feet.

Q. Any great saves out there or anything?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I hit a lot of greens. Fifteen greens. Got up and down on my second hole, No. 2 out of the bunker, and should have got it up and down -- hit it in the front bunker in 16 and hit it to 3 feet and lipped it out. You know, it was a good round. I wasn't in much trouble today, which was good.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot for taking the time. Good luck the rest of the week.

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