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July 14, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We will jump right in. Steve, I don't want to alarm you or cause you any distress, I don't know if anybody has mentioned it, but you're pretty close to possibly winning your fourth consecutive John Deere Classic. 5‑under, 66 today after round three. You are right there for a final‑round move tomorrow.
Just get some comments on the round and the week so far through three rounds.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, thanks Doug. It was a good solid round today. Hit the ball pretty consistently all the way around and just made a few more putts coming in on the back side really.
I had some opportunities all day and didn't cash in on some. Just hit it a little bit closer I guess on the back side and made four nice birdies in a row, which I really needed to get up in there to have an opportunity for tomorrow.
Troy is playing well obviously. What is he?
THE MODERATOR: 19.
STEVE STRICKER: So it's going to be tough, four back going into the last day. I think I'm in that last group, so hopefully I can be the guy to put a little pressure on him tomorrow. It's happened to me here over the years, and it's a tough spot that he's going to be in.
I've experienced that, so it'll be a little bit different where I can maybe do some ‑‑ putting on some of the pressure from the other end this time.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. On the front nine, you lipped out the putt on 5. Were you a little frustrated at that point or thinking there is a lot of holes to go?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I was hot. I was not happy. It didn't have anything to do with the rules or anything, just making bogey there. I had 140 yards and we pulled the wrong club. It just was kind of a mental mistake there.
I'm not a big fan of mental mistakes. I kind of pride myself on making few of those, and I made one there. That hurt. You know, when I'm trying to make up ground, you know, I birdie 1 and then don't birdie 2.
Right there I feel like, Well, I had the started I want at 1, but then gave it right back. Most the field birdies No. 2 and I didn't.
So, yeah, I wasn't feeling too good about being even par through 5. But I was patient. I hung in there and gave myself a couple good looks from that point on. I think it was really the birdie at No. 10 to get to a couple under, and knowing that 11 can be a birdie hole and so can 12, but you have the stretch, 13, 14, 16, 17 to try to make a few birdies on.
Q. Yesterday you were coming from behind, and now you'll be...
STEVE STRICKER: That doesn't sound so good, coming in from behind. (Laughter.) I don't like coming in from behind.
Q. What I meant was coming from behind.
STEVE STRICKER: There you go.
Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. You know, like I said, I've been in this position Troy's in, and it's a difficult position because you have the expectations that you should go out and win. It's still very hard, because guys behind you are going for broke and they can be a little bit more aggressive and take a shot at pins, where with the guy with the four‑shot lead may steer away from many so pins and play a little bit more cautiously.
That's what he's going to have to deal with tomorrow. Like I say, every player goes through it who has a larger lead. Then the guys from behind, they feel like they can go out and be a little bit more aggressive.
Q. What's the most strokes you've come from behind?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't know. I don't even know if I have really come from behind.
THE MODERATOR: Here?
THE MODERATOR: Two behind heading into the final round in '09 here.
STEVE STRICKER: I have never really come from like‑‑ I don't think four or five, six shots from behind and won a tournament. I don't think.
Q. When you won the (indiscernible) you won by 8. Is that comfortable?
STEVE STRICKER: No. No, it's not a comfortable situation. The bigger lead you have, the more you expect and everyone else expects you to win. There is always a score out there where you could shoot 74, 75 in a heartbeat and somebody shoots 68 or 67 and bang, all of a sudden they made up eight or nine shots on you really quick.
It's tough. Trying to win a golf tournament is tough. That's why you see some of the things happened under stress sometimes. I'm right there with everybody else. It's hard to put it a way sometimes.
Q. You seem to work with pressure a lot.
STEVE STRICKER: No. You know, I've been fortunate that I feel like I've been focusing really well here. I've been really‑‑ and I noticed it really on the greens more so than anything. I'm really concentrating on my line and I'm really working hard on the greens.
I think that's been missing a little bit the last ‑‑ or first part of the year where I hadn't really putted that well. I think my focus really isn't there and I'm not paying attention. I've been worrying about my stroke rather than picking my line and stroking it on there.
No, in general I think I focus really well here. I'm into it. I get excited and start making a few birdies and feed off the crowd. It's been a lot fun, so I don't really have a hard time having my mind wander away.
Q. Do you think it would be intimidating to golf with you?
STEVE STRICKER: You have to ask them. I can't say if they're going to be intimidated by me. I wouldn't be intimidated by me. (Laughter.)
You know, Troy has been out here long enough. He's going to go about his business and not worry‑ try not to worry ‑ about anything else and try to play his game.
He realizes if he shoots 3‑ or 4‑under, that mean me, the next guy, is going to have to shoot 7 or 8‑under. So it's in his hands really. If he goes out and shoots 4, 5, 6‑under, it's going be very difficult for anybody to catch him.
Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: What was the question? (Laughter.) Zach and I get along really well. Well, we get along very well. We root for one another. We've been out together and been on teams together.
Yeah, I have the utmost respect for Zach and the way he consults himself on and off the course. Great family man and a friend.
So, yeah, I think it would mean a lot for Zach to win here. I mean, he's been close over the years. I think I've been the guy in his way on‑‑ I don't know how to say that, I guess. I've been the guy that's stopped him from winning, which I feel good and bad about, I guess.
But I know the people here would love to see him win as well. He's got a lot of followers and a big fan base here, too. I think it would be great for the tournament as well.
Q. How much excitement is that going to create with both you and Zach chasing tomorrow?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's going to be a lot fun. I can tell where Zach is on the course. I heard him walking up 18 and getting a nice ovation here. I knew when I he tee'd off, I could hear that.
Yea, so you can tell where he's at on the course. He gets a lot of support here as well. He's a local boy, and they've adopted me around here, it seems like. I get so much support and so many family and friends and a lot of people coming in from all over to watch.
So it's really a lot of fun for me and should be a lot‑‑ should be pretty exciting tomorrow with both of us right up there having a chance.
Q. Can you reflect on the three times you've won? A lot of history there.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know, I can't really‑‑ I can't believe three years have gone by, to tell you the truth. I can't tell you how I won the first or second year. It's just the last six or seven years on TOUR have flown by.
I think the excitement from last year and the way I won last year just drowns out other two years, I guess.
I really can't pinpoint where or understand where those three years went, because it's kind of a surreal moment really for me. But it's been a lot of fun.
Q. You said yesterday you'll have to go low. You're three back going into the last round.
STEVE STRICKER: Did he bogey the last hole?
Q. No, he didn't. Still think that's necessary, or do you think is it going to become more of a grind it out?
STEVE STRICKER: It all depends on what he doesn't. You've got to be prepared to go low. There are enough guys at 14 and 13 and 12 that there is a 8‑, 9‑under, 10‑under round. What did Troy shoot, 10‑under this week? So it's out there. It's a possibility.
You put a guy, like I said yesterday, 12‑under 13‑under and he shoots 10, that means I got to shoot 8.
So it's always there. The possibility is always there for someone to come from behind here. That's what makes this tournament really exciting. I think that's why the players enjoy it, because it's a tournament where you know you have to make birdies.
Sometimes that's hard, too. Going out there and knowing you have to make birdies is sometimes very difficult, because that puts a different kind of pressure on yourself, too.
Q. Can you expound on that. You said you need to make some early pressure on Troy and make some birdies, yet you've had most of your success on the back nine.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, hopefully I can birdie 1 like I did today and then solve No. 2. Haven't played No. 2 very well. Only one birdie there.
That's a hole where you need to be playing that 3‑, or 4‑under through three rounds, and I'm 1‑under. So I've given a couple shots there to the field.
You know, I've been patient, I guess. That's why I've been able to do what I'm doing on the back side. I just keep telling myself to hang in there and hopefully make a few birdies coming in. I have. I've been fortunate to do that.
Tomorrow I need to do it right from the start and continue making birdies and hopefully keep that pressure on him.
Q. Run through 17 and 18. 17, key birdie and 18 the great recovery shot.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. 17 I had like 240 front, 242. I had to take a drop. I was on the cart path, and hit a really good shot. It bounced dead to the right into that bunker. I've been in that bunker every day, but I've gotten it up and down every day there. So not a bad spot I guess to be.
But made a nice putt there. It was up the hill and breaking pretty hard to the right towards the back of the green, believe it or not. I hit a good solid putt.
Then 18, I struggled with that drive. That's the hole that really doesn't fit my eye very well. I've been left of the left bunker the first day, in the bunker yesterday, and now I tried to hug down the right tree line and I hit it in the trees today.
So that's a difficult driving hole for me. I had an avenue right up the chute there. I thought I hit a nice shot and it just kind of kept going. I thought at worst it was going to be just past the pin on the green, and it just kind of kept rolling down the edge there.
Then I'm like, Oh, my God it's going to go in the water. And then I didn't draw a very about lie down there. It was sitting in some bentgrass actually that was growing. It was really muffy and grass laying against me. I knew it wasn't a very good lie. It didn't look bad, but it just was muff. Just didn't come out right. Punched a 6‑iron.
Q. Do you remember the last time you played with Troy?
STEVE STRICKER: It's been a while. I don't know where, but it's been a while.
Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it's been a very important part of my career. I mean, I've won 12 times and three of them have been here. That's a quarter of my wins I was thinking about was right here in the Quad Cities. It's a special place for me. I got started here.
I can remember I played in the Canadian Open in '93 before I got on TOUR and finished fourth. That got me into the next week, which was here. Then I don't know if I played that well after that.
But that was over at Oakwood. So I started playing here back in the early '90s. They gave me a spot here I remember at one point. So it's always been a nice place and a special place. Yeah, so it means a lot.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Steve, as always, we appreciate your time.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you, sir.
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