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July 11, 2012
STEVE STRICKER: I know it's going to be difficult. I know it's going to be a big challenge, but excited about trying to do it.
Yeah. Excited to be back here. It's always fun to come here. And I get a lot of support here, and kind of been adopted by the local community here as one of their own. And obviously I get some friends from home, and then some University of Illinois people that I've gotten to know over the years. They come up, so it's a truly home game for me this week. So it's an event that I look forward to, and excited about trying to go out and trying to do it again.
DOUG MILNE: With that we'll jump into some questions.
Q. Steve, when you said you didn't really appreciate how much (indiscernible). It looked like it was going on Sunday last year. Have you given it a lot of thought?
STEVE STRICKER: I haven't thought about it a lot, no. I mean I know that it hasn't ‑‑ I know the four guys that have done it, and it's a pretty rare thing in our sport. But I haven't thought about it, you know, a tremendous amount of time.
But you know, I know that it's going to be kind of hard. It's going to be really hard, and it's going to be a big challenge. And I've got a lot of good vibes going around here, and I feel good about going around this course; and I've played well. So I have that on my side, too. So that's always worth a shot here or there.
But yeah, as far as the history part, really I haven't thought about it. I'm not one of those guys who really looks ahead. I kind of try to stay as close to the present moment as I can, I guess, in the golf game at least, and try to take one thing at a time, and so I really don't look ahead too much. But it should be fun.
Q. Steve, some of your peers are calling it the Steve Stricker Invitational by John Deere. How does that make you feel?
STEVE STRICKER: It's flattering. I don't know if that bobble head is too flattering. (Laughs). But it's all nice gestures. Don't get me wrong. I'm just teasing.
But you know, it's been a great ride here. I don't know any other way to say it is that a couple times it looks like I wasn't going to win the tournament and I ended up pulling them off, especially last year. So it's kind of ironic. I love to deer hunt, and first thing I see when I walk in from the parking lot every day is this big huge deer out in front of the clubhouse. And I kind of chuckled at it this morning saying if a tournament was meant for me to win, it would be something like this, right here in the Midwest, John Deere people with that Midwestern value, down‑home people, and same here in the Quad Cities area here, too.
So it's nice to be here, and yeah, it's always fun to come here.
Q. Did the gator catch your eye on 18?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it did.
Q. Did you think I'd like to have another one of those?
STEVE STRICKER: Sam Allen, said you could take another one of those, couldn't you? You could always get another John Deere product, for sure. But yeah, that one looked really cool, and he was telling us a little bit of history behind that vehicle and what kind of power it has and all that stuff. Again, I don't like to look forward to Sunday, but yeah, it's a pretty cool‑looking piece of equipment.
Q. You look at those John Deere products, you've got a lot of them. Then you look back in the three years you've won 2.4 million dollars here. Thinking about that and looking back, does it ever blow your mind on what you've been able to accomplish this much early?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. I don't even think about the money, to tell you the truth. I think about the equipment that I've got. I upgraded to a tractor, a farm tractor this last year, and I love it. You know, it's like driving in a Cadillac, I told Sam today. Air‑conditioning. You know, it's covered on the inside. My little daughter was riding with me the other day.
So they got some great equipment, and yeah, the money I guess I'll think about that after the fact, but it's the things that you can touch and feel at a normal ‑‑ you know, on a day‑to‑day basis that you look back at.
And I can't believe three years have gone by, to tell you the truth, and me winning the three in a row is ‑‑ I don't know where the time has gone, to tell you the truth. So it's weird in a way, but it's nice to look back at those three years, too.
Q. Do you know the last person besides you to win, do you remember, before the three?
STEVE STRICKER: Kenny Perry.
Q. Considering the history that you bring to this event, does this one feel any different than any others? Different aura around you or the tournament?
STEVE STRICKER: Obviously I'm getting more attention, I think, this time around. But really I feel a little bit more relaxed than I can remember that I felt the last two years. Even though there's probably a little more on the line here, you know, trying to become a player that's won a tournament four times, but I actually feel somewhat relaxed, although excited, and still nervous energy. But I think I feel better than I have the last couple of years coming here. I don't know if that's a good thing or not.
But you know, I enjoy coming here, and you know, I think I know what to expect. Doesn't always necessarily, you know, correlate into shooting low scores, and that's what I gotta pay attention to. But you know, I'm excited to be here. And maybe going through it the last two years, you know, being the defending champion here the last two years, I'm a little bit more prepared on what's going on here, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Q. Does the pressure escalate ‑‑ is there more pressure now than when you stood on the first tee on Thursday 2009?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't think so. I mean, you know, I've won here three times, and I can always look back at that and say I've done something pretty unique and pretty cool.
You know, I don't feel the pressure that I have to go out and win this week again, although I want to, and you know, I'll try my hardest. But I can take a lot of pride and joy away from what's happened here over the years. And maybe that's why I'm a little bit more relaxed, too, is that I've had a great run here. You know, I'm going to try like mad to try to do it again. But I'm comfortable where I'm at, you know, and take it from there and try to play my best.
Q. How are the course conditions out there? Does it run fast? How do they compare to previous years?
STEVE STRICKER: It's a little softer. The fairways are soft. The greens are soft. The course is in great shape. You know, the fairways are good, the greens are good, but a little bit on the softer side than what I've seen here over the years, although I think Monday did you guys get some rain here?
I could tell the greens had some ‑‑ some of them had a little bit of kick to them, but for the most part they're holding shots, full shots in there and they're pretty soft. Hopefully it firms up a little bit, the fairways get a little roll to them, but I heard they're putting water on them last night and even this morning, so maybe their intention is to keep it a little bit softer than normal so it's definitely softer.
Q. With that said, what's it going to take to win?
STEVE STRICKER: It's going to be low. If the weather continues to be ‑‑ the forecast, what I've seen, it's supposed to be great weather, warm, probably not a tremendous amount of wind. I expect as usual the scores to be very good here.
Q. One of the media days you were here you talked about playing with Tiger, you said you said he plays in such a fish bowl. It's not a fish bowl I'd want to have to play in every week. But this week do you feel like you're in a Tiger‑like fish bowl because all the focus is on you?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, a little bit. There's a lot of focus and attention on me and I'm not real comfortable with that position, I guess. I played with Tiger last week, and I mean that's a different fish bowl. That's a big fish bowl.
But you know, it's always fun to do every once in a while. But to get a steady diet of it, I mean I guess you get used to it over a period of time, and I'm sure he is. But for a guy like me who doesn't get it on a regular basis, you know, to come here, it's nice, but it's a little uncomfortable, too, at times. But it's stuff you gotta deal with and learn to go with and be as accommodating as I can and still try and get your things done on the course, too, because that's why we're here is to try to play and play well. So you gotta balance those two things out.
Q. Did the words four‑peat come up at all last week with Tiger, about how he managed to do what he's done?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I talked to him about it, and you know, in his own little way ‑‑ I think we all know what his way is ‑‑ he told me to get it done. But yeah, he said some really nice things to me, you know, and it was nice. Like I said, he said some nice things, but also made a point ‑‑ he said ‑‑ threw me a jab saying only one of us has won four tournaments in a row. So he gets his point across, but yet he was really nice and tried to provide some support for me to do it again.
Q. How do you feel about the state of your game coming into this week considering where you were at when you were here in June?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You know, I think I'm progressing. I don't know if I'm really there yet, but I feel like I'm moving in the right direction. I've spent a lot of time working on my putting, and I feel like that's getting a little bit better. I showed some signs last week of doing that better.
I'm hitting the ball okay. It's just getting it in the hole, it seems like recently, that's been a little bit of a struggle. But I put four solid rounds together last week and hopefully get that putter going here this week because that's what it's going to take is good ball striking and a hot putter because the scores are going to be good.
Q. Clair was saying if not for the charter you probably wouldn't have committed on that three rolls when it started. Is that the case?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. That's probably close to being pretty accurate. You know, I was the guy who felt like wanted to get over to the British Open and I would leave ‑‑ I was leaving either Friday night or Saturday night and I'd get there ‑‑ you know, I was leaving Friday night and get there Saturday, do nothing Saturday and then have four days to prepare for the British Open.
And then once the charter situation came and Clair asking me to come back to his tournament year after year, which it was always hard not to come here because it's so close to home and everything. Finally decided to give it a rip, and you know, that charter has made a big difference, and it's actually worked out perfect.
You know, you give up a little bit on the rest part of it getting there late. We don't get there till midday on Monday, so you're a little bit behind in that department, but you know, you still get enough rest. You know, it's a great way to get there. It's one flight, direct over. And that's why the field has gotten better here I think because of the things like that they've done here. And the word is out that the course is good and the tournament is good and they treat you well here, and that charter is a definite help.
Q. Steve, last year I asked you if you were treated like a rock star around here. After getting all this attention, as far as your game is it a positive or could it be a distraction from what you're trying to do? And also, why does your game match up so well this week?
STEVE STRICKER: It can be a positive. You get a tremendous amount of support and you start to make a birdie here or there, you can go with the energy that the crowd is providing you and giving you and you can get on a good roll.
As far as my game matching up here, you know, I really don't know. You know, I like the look of it. It's fairly generous off the tee. If you hit some good irons, you should have some good opportunities for birdies, because you can hit the fairways you should get a lot of opportunities for birdies.
The course is in good shape. It's bentgrass. It's what I grew up on, so I'm comfortable with that. You know, it's right here in the Midwest. It's the same style of golf that I guess I grew up on as a kid, although the course is a bit different than what I grew up on. But all those conditions are fairly similar.
And any time you can come and be close to home, drive your car here, you know, it all helps. All that little stuff helps.
Q. Steve, do you also have one eye on where you're at in the Ryder Cup standings points, and how important is this week to maybe get you back to where you're automatically on the team?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. I've got some work to do. I think I moved up a spot last week and I'm 13 now. I keep an eye on that.
I really want to be a part of that team, right here in Chicago. Again, right down the road. It's going to be a great event. A lot of anticipation there and excitement for that event, and I was on that team over in Wales when we got edged out, so it would be nice to be a part of that again and try to win it back. So yeah, I'm keeping a close eye on it and trying to play. That's why I added an event last week before this one, to try to not only start preparing, getting my game ready, but to get some more points for the Ryder Cup as we get closer to the end of the year.
Q. Steve, could you comment on the three Illini in the field? That's a pretty good deal.
STEVE STRICKER: Really cool. Mike Small is building quite a program up down there, and it's fun to see and fun to follow. And I was supposed to play with Luke yesterday and things just didn't work out for me to get here.
But yeah, I was excited to see that he got a spot in the field. And then Thomas Peters winning the NCAA Championship, that's two Illini in three years. So it's pretty cool stuff. It's fun to watch.
And you know, Illinois golf is in good hands. Mike's doing a great job down there, and he still plays very well, and it's fun to watch.
Q. How is the neck?
STEVE STRICKER: It's been good. Yeah, it's been real good. Still doing all my exercises and taking care of it, and it seems to be pretty stable at the moment. I've regained some strength in my left side. So things seem to be good.
Q. Did your kid get the Steve Stricker bobble head?
STEVE STRICKER: No.
Q. How many have you signed?
STEVE STRICKER: I've signed quite a few already. Not much. Not much.
Q. With last year's wind, as harrowing as it was, is that the most thrilling victory that you've had out here?
STEVE STRICKER: For me, yes, by far. That was my I think 11th win, and the 10 previous to that, you know, there was not that much ‑‑ well, there was some excitement obviously for me, but nothing like that where I pulled one off at the end like that. So yeah, that was really fun to see ‑‑ or fun to be a part of I should say and fun to take part in. Instead of usually watching those types of finishes, I was able to provide one of those.
So that was cool, and I think about that shot often. And you know, I just told Jimmy told it was really the putt on 17 that enabled me to really ‑‑ I made like a 15‑footer at 17 that really no one ever talks about, but for me that putt at 17 was the one almost as big as what happened on 18. It allowed me to get in that position to try to win it. So it was just kind of a fairytale dream finish for me.
Q. The neck injury wasn't a result of that fist pump?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No. Although my caddie tore his ACL or his MCL on that jump that he did. So he had to get that fixed.
Q. Steve, did you bring any sense off invincibility to this facility with what's happened the last three years?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No.
Q. I mean it doesn't seem to fit your personality. Just with everything that's happened.
STEVE STRICKER: No. I've got confidence going around here. I feel good going around here, but to say that I'm invincible would be funny. I'm not laughing at your question. But to me it would be funny just because I'm not that type of person, and I know the way the golf game is. It's very fickle. It's very up and down. You never know what's going to happen. That's why I always try to stay in the moment and not try to get too far ahead, because it can snatch it away from you in a heartbeat sometimes. I've been down that road, too.
So you know, I just take it for what it is and keep working hard at it.
Q. When you were in here we were talking about your putter, even contemplating a switch. Have you done anything in that regard?
STEVE STRICKER: Have not. No. Still the same putter. Still doing the same thing.
Q. Have you prepared any differently for the British Open this year? What have you done to prepare for the British this year?
STEVE STRICKER: I have not prepared for the British yet. How is that for your answer? But no, I haven't done anything yet. You know, when you ‑‑ I just prepare for the next tournament basically. So I really ‑‑ I'd never played Greenbrier before, so I didn't know what to expect there. So I go in there and really just try to prepare like I normally do.
For the British I'll just be taking it on the run. I'll get there and I'll know that I'll have to keep the ball down a little bit, so I'll do a lot of preparing for that the two days leading up to ‑‑ or three days leading up to the tournament. But definitely you gotta come up with different shots, put the ball back in your stance a little bit, flight it down some. So there's all a little bit of different things you gotta do, but I haven't even started to do that yet.
DOUG MILNE: Steve, doesn't look like this is the last time we're going to see you this week.
STEVE STRICKER: I appreciate it. Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports