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June 3, 2011

Steve Stricker


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Steve Stricker, thanks for joining us here. You followed up a 68 yesterday with a 67 today. Got a couple people still out there, but looked like you'll have the lead going into the weekend. Maybe some opening comments, first maybe your hole-in-one?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that shot there is always a bonus. You don't expect to make a 1, but it was a good number for me there today. We had 186. That shot has always provided me with trouble over the years, and it's just a tough par-3. There's not a lot of room there to hit it, and what I had going for me there was a little bit of a left-to-right wind and I draw the ball so I could pretty much hold up against the wind, and it started off right at the hole and went in. I didn't see how it went in, but it looked like it went in fairly nicely like a putt. You know, it's a shock when you see that go in, obviously, but a good way, a great way to finish the round.
I made the turn 1-over for the round and shot 30 on the second nine, so got things going in the right direction.

Q. I guess your last ace was at Phoenix on the party hole in the final round. That must have been pretty memorable, too. It's been a while, but --
STEVE STRICKER: It was, but that day I had teed off the back nine first, so there wasn't a lot of people there. (Laughter.) Yeah, there wasn't too many people. That was the same year that Tiger made his ace. You didn't see mine that year? No?

Q. Oddly that's not replayed all that often.
STEVE STRICKER: I won the car, though, that year. That's my last one. I've only had two out here on TOUR.

Q. Why did you win the car?
STEVE STRICKER: For the ace, but he did his on Saturday. It was for Sunday's round.

Q. Timing is everything.
STEVE STRICKER: That's right, so I was out on the back nine first, too.

Q. What car?
STEVE STRICKER: It was an Oldsmobile Aurora.

Q. What did you do with it?
STEVE STRICKER: I used it for a little while and then traded it in for a minivan.

Q. Just wondering, were you pretty positive about the way that shot looked because your body language kind of standing on the tee made it look like maybe you were iffy about it.
STEVE STRICKER: After it was in the air?

Q. Yeah, in the air.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know, like I say, it's a tough shot. It's a good par-3, and there's not much room there to hit it. You know, when it came off, it came off good, and I was surprised that it came off good because I haven't hit some good shots there in years prior. But it came off good, and it just -- it really looked good the whole way. It wasn't one of those that swooped in from one side or the other, it just was going right down the flag the whole way.

Q. There were some up-and-down rounds out there today by guys that have six birdies, four bogeys, double bogeys, things like that. Your game obviously is a game that keeps you out of trouble. Do you think that puts you in good stead on this course today?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I hope so, but there's a lot of trouble out there. You know, there's a lot of water. The par-3s are good. If you start firing at some flags and missing them on the short side, it's very difficult to get them up-and-down.
You've got to be cautious, and there's times where hitting it in the middle of the green 30, 35 feet away and taking your par and moving on is a good thing because there is a lot of opportunities here on the flip side. There's some short holes, there's some reachable par-5s, so you just kind of be as patient as you can.
I was kind of running out of patience on that -- my front nine, which was the back, at 1-over, but I just was trying to get it under par for the day, and once we got it going, then you can get on a roll here like a lot of players have.
But there's a lot of danger here, and that's why I think you see some up and down scores.

Q. After the hole-in-one, did anybody in the gallery say anything as you were walking up there, any good comments?
STEVE STRICKER: The common stuff, You're buying, What are we drinking, all that kind of stuff.

Q. Do you have a bunch of aces off TOUR that you can recall? Do you know how many? Do you keep track?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't keep track, no. I think that's in the seven, eight, nine range, somewhere in there. No, but I don't jot them down at home and log them all or anything.

Q. Why not? It would be a nice wall in the minivan. Do you remember your first one?
STEVE STRICKER: I was in college at Illinois, I think. It was in a practice round where I hit about three balls off the tee. I don't even know if that constitutes a hole-in-one.

Q. What about before today, since Phoenix?
STEVE STRICKER: I've had a couple at home, yeah. I know I had one against my brother-in-law at our home course. We were playing a match one day and had one against him.
Yeah, so I mean, here and there. But like I say, I don't really keep track of them.

Q. It seemed like the scores maybe weren't quite as good today except for yours. Any reason that you saw? Were the greens getting firmer or faster?
STEVE STRICKER: The wind was out of the east, so I think the back nine played a little bit trickier. You had some holes that played into the wind, especially the finishing holes, 16, 17, 18 played into the wind. There wasn't that much wind, but there was just enough of it to kind of make club selection difficult and affect the shot.
I think 12 still plays very difficult. You know, and then you turned around and you played a couple holes into the wind starting off on the front, like 1 was into it. Yeah, I don't know why the scoring isn't as good. Maybe it's typical from other years, I don't know. But the course is in great shape.

Q. What did you hit on 16? How did you play it today, and what do you think about the change, the new hole there?
STEVE STRICKER: I hit a 6-iron. The pin was right up front next to the water. We had -- I don't remember the yardage, 190 or 189 or something like that into the wind. I was actually trying to hit it in the right bunker. I was trying to aim it at the bunker and if I turned it over onto the green, so be it. But I ended up hitting into the bunker and not getting up-and-down. You can make a number there. You can make a double in a heartbeat, and that's what I was trying to avoid. I ended up making bogey, but you've got to be cautious there. It's a tough hole.

Q. Do you like it? Do you miss the old? Were you ambivalent about the old 16? Did you like that one?
STEVE STRICKER: It was kind of a nonedescript hole. There wasn't much pizzazz to it. I think this adds a lot to the course, especially coming down the stretch. And I think coming down the stretch when The Presidents Cup is here in a couple years -- '13, so I think that'll be good theater for that. It's going to decide a tournament possibly. The collection of par-3s here are very good, and that just strengthened it quite a bit.

Q. You kind of had a tough decision to make in deciding to skip Colonial. I was wondering, you're definitely deciding to cut back a bit, but at home are you working just as much or trying not to take as many swings at home to save your body or whatever?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I get away from the game a little bit more lately at home where I won't pick up a club. I'll take a couple weeks off, and that first week, week and a half I won't pick up a club, and once I get going again I practice and work at it pretty hard leading up to a tournament, and that was no different for this week, either.
I played -- in the first ten days I was home I played maybe four times with friends or my wife, I know, I played with. So I kept swinging it and kept playing, but I really didn't care, didn't work on it that much. And then starting on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, leading up to this tournament, I worked at it pretty hard.

Q. When you got your game back in '06 and have gone forward with that, was there ever a point early on when you got good again that you were worried about taking too much time off to fall out of your game?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, that's always kind of a tough thing, especially at the end of the year. You know, you have a good year, whatever, and you end up taking eight weeks off, and you never know what's going to be back waiting for you when you start playing again. So that's always -- you're right, there's always a concern there that you may lose it. And I think that's the concern of every golfer.
I mean, my brother-in-law -- I have a lot of friends that are players out here, and my brother-in-law was one, and I think that's a concern for everybody, that you take time off, you're going to lose your game. So yeah, you always wonder about that, but I think if you just put in the time and work at it again, you can get back to where you were.

Q. So the answer would be no?
STEVE STRICKER: That would be no. A long way around it.

Q. What did you do with that ball?
STEVE STRICKER: I actually gave it to my scorer. Signed it and gave it to my scorer.

Q. You used it on 9, as well?

Q. So eagle-birdie with that one?

Q. The standard bearer or the lady that was doing the scoring?
STEVE STRICKER: No, the gentleman that was doing the scoring.

Q. Did he say anything in particular other than thank you?

Q. Does he know that it's the one you had the hole-in-one with?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know if he knows -- I just signed it and gave it to him.

Q. So he has no idea?
STEVE STRICKER: Maybe not. I didn't tell him. You know, I don't know. It's just a ball.

Q. Is it going to take another ace to outlast this field, and what are you going to need to do to stay on top on Sunday?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, long ways to go, first of all. Obviously I'm happy to be where I'm at, but you've just got to keep doing the same things I've been doing and try to do the same things, play to my strengths. If something isn't right or feeling right, you know, on a particular shot, play a little smart, and then be aggressive on the things that I feel good that I can be aggressive at.
Just do the same things hopefully I've done the first two days. It's always tougher, I know that. Heading into the weekend things change, your body changes. Guys get more aggressive, especially tomorrow. So you just kind of got to be patient and hang in there and keep doing the things you know how to do.

Q. Over the years if you'd listed the horses for this course, your name would probably not be on that list. Is there a reason in your mind why you've put those two numbers up the first two days this year?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. No, I don't know. Somebody told me yesterday I've never had a top 10 here, so I don't know why that is, whether I'm just feeling more comfortable playing this course or -- I don't know. Good question. No, my name would not be on that list.
You know, I've made a lot of cuts here over the years, but I've always felt like I've played my butt off to shoot 71 or 72, and that's kind of the way I was going down the road today, you know, playing hard to shoot over par or right around par, and until things turned on that second nine for me. But that's kind of the way it's been for me over the years, play real hard and see very little low scores.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Steve, thank you.

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