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August 24, 2011

Steve Stricker


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome a familiar guest here at The Barclays, and the Playoffs, Steve Stricker, to the interview room here.
Steve, you've got that nickname out here, Mr. September, for consistent overall performance in the FedExCup Playoffs. Do you feel like again you're ready to continue that trend as we move into the Playoffs this year?
STEVE STRICKER: I hope so. I think I can continue on what I've done the last four years and play well through these next four events.
It's an important stretch. There's a lot riding on the line, and I'm excited to start the end of the season really. It's kind of the stretch run and we are at a great facility here; and it's in great shape and it should be a great test of golf, too. I'm excited about it.

Q. You're having success at an age that historically players tend to fade a little bit; there are some out here today, too. Is there a reason for that? Is it just sort of happening? Do you have any thoughts on succeeding in your 40s?
STEVE STRICKER: You know a lot of guys have paved that way prior to me and showed that could happen. Vijay comes to mind and Jay Haas played well into his late 40s. If you take care of yourself, which you know, means I guess working out to some extent, eating healthy and just staying active, and working on your game, and still having that desire.
I think the desire is the biggest thing. But it wasn't too long ago, about six years ago, where I went through a period of time where that was kind of my troubled years, and it kind of -- I realized that I needed to refocus, reenergize and do all of these things again to get back to a level I thought I could play at.
But you're right. I think the biggest thing when you get this old or to be my age, is the desire to come out here and play on a weekly basis, and to be ready to be competitive. I think it takes a lot of work at home, and I think that's when you start to see guys fade to their mid to late 40s, because it's tiring and it takes a lot of effort. You know, your skills diminish. Your attitude probably diminishes with that, and so there's a lot of things that go with that.

Q. Watching you tee off on 18 this morning, you pulled a hybrid out, and Nick Watney was just in here and said he's going to hit driver all day off that hole. Is there any rhyme or reason when you step up to a risk/reward hole like that? Do you always play it safe and play for the score, or do you sometimes pick each day and where the flag is going to be and try to attack it based on the day?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, if I was 25 and 26 and had the length that Nick Watney had, I would be pulling out driver, too (smiling) but I can't get there.
My best effort, if there's no wind, I can probably get it up towards the front somewhere and for me, there's just too much risk there. There's bunkers around. There's real tall heather stuff on both sides of the fairway. And really, I can hit an iron or a utility club and have a wedge in my hand and hopefully take it out of play.
But you're going to see scores from guys hitting drivers that are going to make doubles and stuff like that. It's a tough shot. Unless it's downwind, I'll be laying it up.

Q. What makes it so tough?
STEVE STRICKER: It's kind of an awkward tee ball and it's a big carry. I don't know what it is. It's 270-something I think to the front from where we are at and that's up the hill. Davis Love, I played with him yesterday, he smoked one, and it was a little bit into the wind and he flew it in that bunker.
I looked across from it and he would have barely flown it on the front, and he ripped it. I'm nowhere -- I don't have that length. It's just an awkward tee shot. The green is pretty severe in spots and they are going to put some good pins on there I'm sure. So you are going to have to -- if you are going to go for it, you have to miss it on the correct side to give yourself the opportunity to knock it close.

Q. Can you put your finger on why you've played well late in the year in the FedExCup Playoffs?
STEVE STRICKER: The only thing I can think of is that the end of season is about four tournaments away, and I really get excited for the end of the year, spending more time at home. Hunting season is a month away and I get to do a lot of that.
And it means a lot. We are out here and these tournaments, these four tournaments, they mean more. If you can't get fired up and excited to play these four, then you have issues I imagine.
But it's a good time. I love fall. We have some cooler temperatures, even though it warmed up this afternoon, it was cooler this morning. I enjoy this time of year.

Q. Is this the kind of old-style course that suits your game, very wild greens like this?
STEVE STRICKER: I hope so. We'll have to see; so far, I played well in the Pro-Am today.
There are things that you really have to pay attention to on this doors. Some of the greens are really severe and if you get on the wrong side you're in trouble. You have to drive the ball well, because the rough is very thick. And to be playing out of the rough here, you're going to be struggling.
But I really enjoy the greens. They are really good, they are fast, and you have to pay attention on them. You can get a putt that gets away from you pretty quickly.

Q. On 14, 280-yard par 3 over water, what's your strategy there and how do you approach that hole?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's a good one. Hopefully they are going to move the tees up because it's pretty long. I hit utility club there today. But it's soft. That's the one thing we have got going for us is that green is soft.
And going in there with a utility or a long iron, you're going to see guys being able to stop it, so that's one good thing, because the green has got a lot of movement to it. It's very difficult, so just to walk off there with a 3 is a job well done.
16 is, what, the par 5, isn't it? Touch driving hole. It's awkward -- and there's some awkward tee balls out here, and there's another one.
You know, the fairway hugs up against the trees in the out-of-bounds to the right and it's kind of moving away from you. And if you don't hit the fairway there, I think you really don't have a good chance at getting over the cross-bunkers that are maybe -- I was looking today and they are about 170 yards short of the green.
So that's a definitely hole if you don't get it in the fairway. So again, premium on getting in the fairway at 16, and then they give you a nice generous landing area for your second shot there, and it turns into a birdie hole if you can drive it in the fairway.
So the key to that hole is obviously getting it in the fairway off the tee.

Q. Working on a story on Luke. How impressive would it be to you if he won both the Money Lists on The European Tour and the PGA TOUR?
STEVE STRICKER: That would be very impressive. My hat's off to those guys, anyways, that are trying to play both tours. I just went over to the Middle East one event this year, and it's tough. And they make it look so easy. They travel over there, play well overseas, and then come back over here and play well here, at least Luke has been, and a lot of the other guys do, too. They make it look pretty easy.
Like I say, that would be very impressive.

Q. I just threw this question at Nick, so I'll give it to you as well. Favorite and least favorite things about New Jersey?
STEVE STRICKER: Favorite thing about New Jersey? The traffic. Zipped here in about ten -- (laughter) what's so funny?
CHRIS REIMER: That would be both favorite and least favorite then?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, my favorite and least favorite, traffic. That's good.

Q. You talked at the Masters a little bit about trying to stay fresh later in the year and trying to be more selective in your scheduling. How has that helped so far this year?
STEVE STRICKER: It's been good. I think I played 15 events up till now, probably one or two more than I had thought, but still, I feel fresh and ready. And it's worked out well.
You know, I still go home and I still practice hard, trying to prepare and get ready, but I've been able to take a couple of more two-week breaks instead of just one week, and that's been nice where I can just get away from golf for a week and get back at it again.
I like what I've done so far and it really has not hindered my play at all. If anything, I feel like I'm a little bit more fresh mentally when I come to an event.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you very much. Good luck this week.

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