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November 27, 2012

Steve Stricker


JOHN BUSH:テつ We'd like to welcome Steve Stricker into the interview room, making his sixth start at the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual.テつ Welcome back to Sherwood.テつ Get you first to talk a little bit about your season, including your 12th career win on the TOUR.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, thanks.テつ Nice to be back here.テつ Always a fun event to come and play at the end of the year.テつ Kind of an event that I use to get going for next year.テつ So yeah, always excited to be here.
The season went well.テつ Any time you can win during the season is a good thing, and I got off to a fast start and kind of leveled off the rest of the year, but all in all, a good year, solid year, and looking forward to this week again to play.テつ Like I said, always fun to come here and compete in this event.

Q.テつ What is it about coming to Southern California that gets your juices flowing because you've had a heck of a lot of success around here?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Well, I get out of the cold weather, and it just basically turned for the worse back in Wisconsin this last weekend, and we had great weather all fall and I actually played a little golf out on the golf course last week.テつ But then over the weekend it got cold and pretty cruddy.
So it's a good opportunity for me to come out of the cold weather and get some rounds under my belt.テつ Haven't really picked up the club since the Ryder Cup, so it's a good opportunity to get my game going again for the new year and see what I have and see what I need to work on.

Q.テつ Tomorrow morning we're going to be getting an announcement on anchoring, and it looks like in 2016 it'll be gone.テつ You've always been known as a pretty good putter; you use a short putter.テつ What are your views?テつ Do you feel that there is an advantage?テつ Certainly Tiger was just saying in terms of nerves, holding the putter, everything flows, you hold it against your body.テつ Is that an advantage, and what do you feel about the change?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I do think it's an advantage.テつ Any time you can take your arms and hands out of it, especially your hands, I think when you can anchor it in your chest is a huge advantage.テつ I'm not a big proponent of long putters.
As far as the rule change, you know, it'll be interesting.テつ It's going to have to follow its course, I guess.テつ There's going to be a lot of upset people, a lot of guys that have putted with a long putter for a long time, and I have a feeling they're going to have something to say about that rule.
You know, as far as the action that the TOUR takes, I'm sure we're going to have to follow our protocol going through the PAC and then the board just to see how that all plays out.テつ It's going to be interesting, because like I say, there's going to be a lot of guys that aren't going to like that rule change.テつ I don't know if they're going to fight it or what they're going to do, but I'm for the change.
I think the way the rules were first written, I don't think they had this in mind.テつ But I also see the other end of it.テつ I also see it prolonging careers, you know, especially the older you get, it becomes a little bit easier to go to some style of long putter where you can anchor it.
So I can see both ends, but I think when they did change the rule, from what I understand, it was to prolong careers.テつ They didn't envision it where young kids were going to start playing the game with a long putter.テつ So I think that's where the rub comes from the USGA's standpoint, so it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Q.テつ In your view is the long putter the piece of technology that is most threatening the integrity or tradition of the game?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ You know, I don't think so.テつ You know, we've had a lot of breakthroughs.テつ I think one of the hugest things, the changes that have affected the game the most has been the utility club.テつ When you had to sit back there and hit a 2‑iron or a 3‑iron over 200 yards and try to get it to stop on a green, before those utilities came out, that was a tough challenge.テつ So that's improved and lowered the scoring, I think, a lot, just by coming out with those utility clubs.
I saw Vijay, I think, at the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club, he had about four or five of those things in his bag to hit out of the rough, get it to stop.テつ I think that's been a huge change in our game, and I think one of the factors that have enabled us to shoot lower scores and get the ball to stop quicker on some of those long approach shots.

Q.テつ You mentioned that you haven't played since the Ryder Cup.テつ I just wondered if the Ryder Cup lingered at all, the way it turned out, or were you able to move past it pretty quickly, or what were your thoughts?テつ It seemed like a lot of your teammates seemed to take this one harder than some of the others.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ No, it still lingers.テつ Yeah, that wasn't much fun the way that ended.テつ You know, and I feel a lot of responsibility there for not winning a point, Tiger and I not winning a point.テつ Yeah, I still think about it a lot, and there's reminders all over the place, especially at home when you get all these neat gifts that we get from the Ryder Cup.テつ Every corner I take, there's a picture from the Ryder Cup or a present or something.
Still a great experience.テつ I wouldn't have changed it for anything except the winning part of it, I guess, but the experience that you have with the teammates and the captains and all that is really fun and unique and worth it.テつ But yeah, I think about that a lot still.
The first week or two it wasn't much fun just trying to sleep, to tell you the truth, but yeah, that one hurts, and I think it still hurts a lot of us just because of how it all played out.

Q.テつ Was it harder to sleep of any one moment or two or just the overall enormity of the whole thing?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ You know, for me personally not winning a point.テつ You know, and I felt like I didn't play that poorly at times.テつ And again, coming down to my match on Sunday, the 17th hole, I hit a good shot in there, just through the green, and not to get that up‑and‑down for me was very disappointing.
You know, and then making the putt at 18, I thought we maybe had a chance again, and I knew Tiger was either 1‑up or even in his match, so we had hope for a little bit until Martin made that putt.
But yeah, I think for me personally, just not winning a point.テつ I haven't watched it.テつ I don't plan on watching it.テつ But I've heard that a lot of things went their way for it to happen.テつ But like I said, I feel a lot of the responsibility there, just because I didn't do anything for the team, didn't make a point for the team.

Q.テつ Does that make you want to play in the next one?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Not right now.
You know, I've had a good run with it.テつ It's been a lot of fun.テつ Yeah, you know what, I don't know.テつ It still stings.テつ It's not a fair question at this time.テつ (Laughter.)

Q.テつ For a guy who doesn't tend to play much golf after September, have you given much thought to what you're going to do when the season starts in October?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, another unfair question.テつ I haven't thought about it.テつ I'll probably just stick to my guns and do the same thing I've been doing.テつ You know, I'm getting up there in age where spending as much time as home is important to me, and I've had a great run with all this stuff the last six or seven years, so I'll probably continue what I've been doing and maybe play a little bit less.テつ I'm not sure.テつ But yeah, just continue to do what I am doing.テつ But it's going to be interesting to see how that all plays out, too, with guys and how they alter their schedules.
We play a ton of golf come July, August, September, and then truthfully I didn't feel like the last six or seven weeks was enough time, maybe because of the Ryder Cup or what, but now all of a sudden you're going to expect guys to get right back into it for another year, so it's going to be tough for a lot of guys, I think, to do that, but I'm sure they'll throw in one or two events and start their year that way.

Q.テつ You talked about some of the clubs that are beneficial to everybody, stopping the ball, blah blah blah, and the rules.テつ I asked Tiger this:テつ Would you be in favor of just having some rules for pros and others for amateurs to make the game a little more fun and easier for the amateur?テつ You guys play a different game than we do.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I could see a different set of rules, to tell you the truth, something that we could simplify a little bit easier for the amateurs.テつ I mean, we have a hard time‑‑ we play this on a daily basis and we have a hard time understanding all the rules.テつ It's pretty complicated.テつ So I could see having a separate set of rules, not only for equipment but rules to kind of speed up play a little bit.テつ Yeah, so I can definitely see a change in that regard.
But again, we're a unique sport that the amateurs play the same way the pros play.テつ Not too many other sports, I guess, are that way, either.テつ Yeah, but I can see that changing.

Q.テつ As someone who's putted well conventionally into your 40s as you have, have you seen it at all as hurting you that others have been able to close that gap because they can go to something like the belly putter or the long putter?テつ Is that in any way in your thinking?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ No.テつ I mean, because I really had the same opportunity.テつ If I wanted to putt with a long putter, I could have done that, too.テつ I actually picked one up over the summertime just to see what all the fuss was about, and it was pretty scary how fast I picked it up to tell you the truth.

Q.テつ The belly or‑‑
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I went and anchored it just right below my sternum and down the shaft a little bit.テつ It was a little different feel for me, but I got pretty consistent pretty quick with it.テつ So I can see that there was an advantage, even though I can't see myself ever doing it.テつ I can't say never, I guess, but it seems like there is a slight advantage there.

Q.テつ It's clear obviously that the Ryder Cup is still a sore spot or challenge for you.テつ In terms of disappointment amongst your career, does that now rank at the top in terms of disappointment and the level of hurt that you've had to get over it?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, you know, probably.テつ You know, probably it hurts the most, because you're together as a team and you're‑‑ like I say, I feel like I let some teammates down, captain down.テつ I mean, we all wanted to win it for one another and especially Davis.テつ Yeah, I mean, golf, you always have disappointments in golf, it's just the nature of the game.テつ It's how you bounce back and how you deal with it and how you move on.テつ I've had some disappointments no doubt throughout my career, but it's digging yourself out of those slumps or disappointments is what gets you pretty satisfied and keeps you coming around in this game.
When I struggled a lot with my game in the mid 2000s, that was disappointing, but the only guy I was letting down was really myself.テつ So yeah, it takes on a new level when you've got a team to deal with and you're letting other guys down.テつ Yeah, that‑‑ I wish we could change it, but they did all the right things that day and we did some poor things that day.テつ We'll all learn from it and hopefully move on.

Q.テつ When you look at Rory and his arc and his evolution and how he seems to contend every time he tees it up and he's either winning or he's up there, amongst his peers are you starting to say, this kid is not a flash in the pan; he could be very well the next No.1 by a long way?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, no doubt.テつ Yeah, I don't think he's going anywhere.テつ I mean, he's young, very athletic, got a great swing, seems to work hard at it, seems to have that desire, all the things that you need to succeed out here on a regular basis.テつ And he's got to have a lot of confidence from doing what he's been doing, winning both money titles from this year.テつ Yeah, so he's not going anywhere.テつ He seems to have a great head on his shoulders, which we all know in this game you need.テつ You can't do some of the things he's done without thinking properly.テつ You know, you would have thought that he would have been scored a little bit after shooting 80 or 81 at Augusta, but he comes back and wins the very next major.テつ The next major or the year after?テつ The next major.
So obviously he's got it all.テつ You know, I've been fortunate enough to play with him a few times, and he's got a lot of game.テつ It's fun to watch, and yeah, he's going to be around for a while.

Q.テつ Are you impressed with how he has gone from obviously a great ball striker, natural talent, but the putting was a little iffy, the short game was a little iffy, seems like the last couple of years he's really very solid around the greens now?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, and from what I understand he put in a lot of time.テつ He worked on his putting and short game a lot, and he can tell.テつ He feels good about it, looks like he's making good strokes.テつ Another sign that he's going to be around for a while.テつ When a guy puts his mind to it to work on something and to improve that part of his game and he's done it in a short period of time, it shows that he's got a lot of talent and willpower to make it right.

Q.テつ You know Tiger very well.テつ Do you think that this acceleration by Rory is going to be good for him in terms of getting him motivated to try and get back to No.1?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I think anything other guys do motivates Tiger.テつ I think he's so competitive, and he's been in that position over the years a number of days where he's been No.1 in the world, and him not being there has surely got to be motivation for him.
And he had a good year, too, winning‑‑ what did he win, three times?テつ So I have a feeling he feels like his game is going in the right direction, and I'm sure he expects to have a great year this year.テつ But yeah, seeing anybody else other than his name up on top I'm sure is motivation for him.

Q.テつ If you tried the belly putter in the summer and you were amazed at how quickly you picked it up, what kept you from wanting to use it in competition?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Knowing that it may be banned in another year, and just really not being a proponent of it, not feeling like it's‑‑ even though it is fair under the rules, I'm just not a huge believer in it.テつ That would probably be my last resort if I had to go down that road.

Q.テつ So in the back of your mind there was a feeling of this isn't really‑‑
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Quite right.

Q.テつ Legal?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Well, it's legal, just not‑‑ I think the biggest thing is if I was putting really poorly, knowing that it was going to be banned in another couple years, I think that's what would stop me right now, if it is going to get banned.

Q.テつ I always enjoy talking football with you.テつ I'm wondering your thoughts on your‑‑ put your NFL hat on and I'm wondering how you see the NFC coming down the stretch here.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ It's going to be tough.テつ I'm a Bears fan.テつ I root for the Packers when they're not playing the Bears.テつ I've got to get that straight.テつ The Bears and the Packers play one more time, and the Packers have the Bears' number lately, but they do have a one‑game lead.テつ It should be‑‑ it's going to come right down to the end.テつ The Bears don't seem to have that consistency to maybe win it all for sure, but to win the division, it's going to be tough for them, especially with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers right behind them.テつ It'll be interesting.

Q.テつ Is it nice to see your quarterback smile a little bit more?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Cutler?テつ Yeah, I'm a Cutler fan.テつ The way he comes across on TV I guess a lot of people don't care for him.テつ But I'm a Cutler fan.テつ I think he's great for the team.テつ Obviously he came back a couple of weeks after being injured and had a lot of spark for the team.テつ He plays good.テつ You know, he's a competitor and plays hard.テつ I am a Cutler fan.

Q.テつ Have you ever had a panic attack on the golf course or played with someone who did?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I have not.

Q.テつ What was it like when you saw the clips of Charlie Beljan and what he went through at Disney?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I didn't actually see it.テつ I didn't really watch any golf while I was away.テつ I had heard he had some problems, but I really can't even comment on it because I didn't see what happened.テつ I know that he won the tournament after having some of those, but I didn't see any of the clips or anything.
JOHN BUSH:テつ Steve, we appreciate your time.テつ Play well this week.

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