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September 14, 2011

Steve Stricker


JOHN BUSH: Steve Stricker joins us here at the BMW Championship, currently 8th in the FedExCup standings, site of your win in 1996. Comment on being back here at Cog Hill and your preparations for the week.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's always nice to come back here. It brings back a lot of great memories for me. It was my second win of my career in '96. Yeah, so I actually still remember some of the things that happened during that year, that tournament. So it's always nice to come back.
This being the Playoffs now, there's a lot riding on the line here, and it's an important time of the year with only a couple events remaining, so it's important to play well here this week.
JOHN BUSH: Look back at the season for us, another solid season for you. Just comment on that.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it was another good season. Any time you can win and then back it up with another win, having two wins this year is always -- makes you feel good on the inside. You know, it's just a continuation of what's been going on over the last few years, so it's nice to continue that trend and keep it going.

Q. I would be curious when you said you sort of remember some of the things that happened, what some of them were, some odder things or things that stick with you.
STEVE STRICKER: I remember vividly my wife laying into me. That's what I really remember.

Q. Carry on.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I think it was on Saturday's round, I had been hitting it well, not making any putts, not really taking advantage of any of the things that I was doing that day, and I remember her having a nice talk with me. She was caddying for me at the time, and she kind of laid into me on the par-3, 14, after I hit my shot there. You kind of walk down and through the trees and come back up, and she laid into me pretty well.
And then from that point on, I think -- I don't know, I can't remember the details. I know I eagled the 15th hole, and I made a couple more birdies. I want to say I played the last four in 4-under with an eagle and a couple birdies. And that really set the tone really from that point on, and then I ended up winning by a large margin on Sunday.
But that stretch of holes there kind of separated me from everybody else.

Q. No disrespect, but we're not interested in birdies and bogeys, but what exactly did she say to you?
STEVE STRICKER: I can't remember, but I know I was beating myself up, and she just took it to another level and beat me up some more. But I needed it at the time. I remember that I was not in a good frame of mind, and I think I was leading the tournament or right there, and then when I finished that way, I think I had like a five-shot lead going into Sunday. I could be wrong on the days, but I know that was the big turn-around for me, that conversation that she had with me.

Q. Is she intimidating?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, she's intimidating.

Q. As half a local, a guy from this sort of general region growing up and college and whatnot, is it disappointing the way it looks like it's going to turn out here for Cog Hill, to spend all that money to try to get a U.S. Open and not only not accomplish that but to basically chase off the PGA TOUR because of the way it turned out? It just seems like a scorched earth scenario from top to bottom.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it is. It's an unfortunate situation, it really is. And I feel sad for the Jemsek family. Great family. I've gotten to be around them somewhat over the years. We had a college golf tournament here back when I went to Illinois and we got to meet Frank and Joe. You know, it's just too bad. I mean, they need to get their money back, I guess. It's too bad what happened here.
Visually it looks much better than what it did, but playability, from the playability standpoint, I've got to believe for the average golfer, it is very difficult. And the players on a whole don't really care for the redo. To see a tournament that's been here for so long sound like it's going to leave is disappointing.

Q. Forgive me if you've been asked about this a bunch, but obviously with Tiger being on The Presidents Cup team and your partnership with him the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I'm guessing you're happy about that. It would seem you guys wouldn't be split up, but yet it has been somewhat controversial given the fact that he hasn't played that well, hasn't played much this year. I'm curious where you stand on the whole thing.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I'm glad that he's going to be picked. You know, I would imagine that we'll pair up again over there in Australia. You know, I think he deserves -- from the playability standpoint, he hasn't played that much this year, or from the playing standpoint. But I think he deserves to be on the team based on what he has meant to the game over the years. He's been on a number of these teams. I don't think anybody is surprised that he's on the team. I'm surely not surprised that he's on the team. I'm glad he's on the team.
And I think this could serve him well, too. I think this will give him some motivation for the rest of this year to try to get his game going. I mean, he's got something to look forward to and to practice for, to get ready for. You know, much like what Greg Norman's pick of Adam Scott did a few years ago, too, I think Tiger can use that in the same way.
You know, I'm sure he'll be ready. I'd like to see how he's going to play. I'm anxious to see how he's going to play out there in California and that he's going to play in Australia the week before, so he'll get some starts in. I'm glad he's going to be a part of the team.

Q. You're one of a half dozen guys with a couple of wins this year. There's a lot on the table for you right now, potential Player of the Year and $10 million and all those kinds of things. Can you talk about the logjam two years in a row of guys fighting it out down the stretch for all that's on the table?
STEVE STRICKER: I think it just shows you the parity that's in golf, I think, much like any other sport that is out there. I mean, there's so many good players that are capable of winning. You know, and these younger kids come out with a lot of confidence. They've won on the Nationwide Tour and around the world. They come out with a lot of confidence, and the ability to win. So I think it's tough to win out here. I was talking to Butch Harmon yesterday, and we were talking about how many good players there are out here that are capable of winning, and it makes winning very difficult.
Yeah, everything is up for grabs every year, especially when you know your once-dominant player isn't playing as much, has been hurt, so it opens it up for a lot of other players. I think it's good in one aspect that other guys get the opportunity to win, someone is not winning all the time, so you get to learn about winning and gain confidence by winning. It's tough out there. There's a lot of good players, and guys are playing well.

Q. I think a lot of people would agree with what you said a minute ago that the golf course looks a lot better visually than it used to. What about the playability irritates the players?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I think first of all, it's in great shape this year. This is one of the best conditioned courses we've played all year. It's in great shape.
I think when conditions get as firm -- and they may not get as firm and fast as they typically can here, but when they do, some of the hole locations are pretty much impossible to get to, so I think that's the tough part. You know, to stand back there with a 3-iron in your hand on a par-3 knowing you really can't fire at it, you've got to hit it in the center of the green and then the putting becomes a challenge, too, because every one of his little clover leaves there's a mound before going down into the clover leaf. So you send it to the middle of the green which is the proper shot because you can't hold it in that little clover leaf, now you've got an up-the-hill, over-the-hill, down-to-a-pin location. And every green seems to have that, or a lot of the greens seem to have that.
So it's -- you know, how long has the redo been here, two years, three years?

Q. This is the third year.
STEVE STRICKER: So Tiger would be the first year and then Dustin last year, and that's the kind of player it lends itself to, I think, guys that hit it a long ways, guys that can elevate it up in the air with a lot of spin. But like I say, if things soften up here a little bit, it'll open it up to some other players. But it's difficult in that regard.

Q. Based on those comments about the layout, just sort of in general do you find there's a fine line between complaining and giving your opinion?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, if you complain about it -- I should say if you give your opinion about it and it's a negative one, it's probably going to be taken as complaining. You know, it is what it is, I guess. You can dislike something, but we all still have to play it, so you'd better not go out there with an attitude or a poor attitude I should say because you've got to play it, and it's an important time like I said before.
You don't want to go out there with a negative attitude about the course and just take it for what it is. Everybody has got to play it, and you just play it as hard as you can and as best you can.

Q. Have you ever won on a course you don't like?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I never went to Colonial, and I never thought I'd win there or Northern Trust, and I've won at both places. I like Northern Trust, but I never -- early in the year, February, cold usually, coming out of the snow, never thought I'd win there and ended up winning there. And really Colonial I had some not such good showings over the years and ended up winning there. If it's your week, it's your week, I think. If you're playing well enough, you can make any course great, and that's my point, I guess. If you just go in there with a good attitude about it and feel good about your game, then you can do all right on it, I think.

Q. I don't want to put you on the spot, but I get the impression from talking to your peers that if this was just a tournament in the middle of June that three quarters of you guys probably wouldn't even be here.
STEVE STRICKER: I'm not going to say that, but it's -- I'm partial to the old one because I won on the old one, I guess. You know, but like I say, from tee to green, visually it looks way better.

Q. The framing you're talking about?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, the framing, the bunkering. You get up around the greens and it becomes a different story. You watch my amateur group today, and they're playing from way up. They're living in those bunkers, they really are, and it's just -- it's almost too severe in spots. If they got this firm and fast, you'd be coming in with shorter irons, but some of the locations are unattainable.

Q. As someone who's putted so well in his career, what's your take on this latest stretch here with guys with belly putters? Are you amused by it? Does it bother you at all? As you've gotten older, it hasn't really hurt you; you've been able to obviously deal with the issues of a regular putter.
STEVE STRICKER: Now, whatever I say, is this going to constitute complaining?

Q. Are you going to say they should ban it?
STEVE STRICKER: No, I don't think they should ban it, I guess. I'm not a huge fan of it. I think the rules were once stated not to anchor any club against your body, and I know they changed that. I wish -- I'm more of a purist, I guess, and like to see things the way they were. But then again, you never know. Some day I may have to go to that long broom and deal with it then.
You know, it's resurrected a lot of careers, it really has. It's given guys another chance, which I'm all for, to give a guy more life and a better feel for putting. But I'm not a huge fan of it, no.

Q. What do you do if you do get into a putting funk or issues? Do you experiment with other putters?
STEVE STRICKER: I just work on my technique. I've putted with that same style putter my entire career, so I've messed around with other putters over the span of my career out here and really haven't changed at all. Here and there, but I've had this same putter in my bag for probably 10, 11 years. You know, I know it works. I've made some putts with it, so that's what I always tell myself. It's more the guy behind on the other end hanging onto it.

Q. You have had a putting funk before?
JOHN BUSH: As always, we appreciate your time.

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