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February 19, 2013

Steve Stricker


CHRIS REIMER:テつ We want to welcome Steve Stricker here to the interview room.テつ Steve, coming off a runner‑up finish I believe at Hyundai.
CHRIS REIMER:テつ Talk about what you've been doing since then and the excitement to come back to the Accenture Match Play Championship.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, this is always an exciting event to come back to, and being a former champion here back in 2001, it's a special event.テつ It's a different event that we play in out here on a normal basis.テつ Like I say, that difference brings a lot of excitement to the event.テつ Always a lot of anticipation from the players being here, and I'm no different.テつ I'm excited to be here, and I'm looking forward to getting it going tomorrow in the snow.

Q.テつ If anyone can handle the snow, it's you.テつ What has semi‑retirement been like for you, and what is the biggest challenge coming back from not having been in a competitive arena for not over a month to playing in this format?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ It's been good.テつ I've enjoyed the time at home.テつ I actually needed the time at home.テつ I wasn't in very good shape at Hyundai there with some pain going down my legs, so I actually needed the time away to get better and healthy.テつ I feel good now, and it's been a good six weeks at home.テつ I've enjoyed it.テつ And really for me, this is par for the course.
I don't mind coming off of long breaks and getting my game in shape.テつ I still spend time, I hit balls at home the last week or two, at home.テつ And then came out here to Phoenix a few days early, so I was up in Phoenix practicing and playing and then came down here Sunday.テつ I've got a lot of golf under my belt in a short period of time, and my game feels good.テつ I'm excited to be here, and that's worth something, too.テつ Your excitement level goes on when you don't play a lot.テつ I'm looking forward to playing, and hopefully play well the next few days.

Q.テつ How does it feel being in the top 64 in the world and being invited to play in this Accenture Match Play?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Well, this is one of the events you want to be a part of.テつ When you set your schedule at the beginning of the year, you want to be in that top 64.テつ Like I said before, the event is unique. テつIt's really the only one we play like this all year long, and you want to be a part of it.テつ It's a big event, you get the top 64 players in the world here minus a couple guys this week, but yeah, it's one you want to be a part of, and it's fun stuff to be here and it's a great one to win and to get your year off to a good start would be a positive and be a bonus.テつ But yeah, like I said, this is a good event, one of our top events in our world that we play in.

Q.テつ I always enjoy watching you putt and you always seem to be spot on.テつ Is there something specific you focus on when you have to make a pressure putt?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ You know, not really.テつ I put a lot of time in putting.テつ I guess it comes somewhat naturally to me, I guess, but I enjoy that aspect of the game, and I enjoy trying to make putts.テつ I find that an interesting part of the game.テつ I've done that fairly well over my career, and I have a lot of confidence in that end of the game, so it's something I take a lot of pride in when I do practice it and compete.

Q.テつ Have you planned out how many events you might play this year?テつ And then also, looking ahead to the start of the next season in the fall, what you might do then?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I think this year I'm going to play about 11 events.テつ You know, the majors minus the British, I probably won't go over to the British Open, throw in the John Deere, Houston Open probably, PLAYERS Championship.テつ Right now the plan is not to play any of the FedExCup at all and just shut it down right after the PGA.テつ Probably won't play any of the fall events, either, so I'll be at home a lot, maybe play a couple times in December to get ready for the early part of next year.

Q.テつ The early reports out of yesterday's PAC meeting seem to suggest that a majority of the players were actually against the ban.テつ I'm curious if you found that surprising, and can you ever envision a scenario where the TOUR would create its own rule separate from the USGA?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ It's not surprising, I guess, because of all the things that players have gotten to learn about since this has come about.テつ I was the same way; I was for the ban to start with, and my decision or my feeling is swayed a little bit, also.
I think the timing of it is poor.テつ We're at a point in time in the game of golf that we're trying to keep players, lure players into playing the game, and we all feel‑‑ a majority of the players feel that it only puts a negative spin on that, maybe detracts the local guy, the club member, the public player, whoever, from playing at times.
And this rule has been good for 30 years or so, so yeah, I guess the more information that we've received, I think it's swayed a lot of the players' opinions.
And to your second question, I can see us adopting‑‑ I don't know if that's going to happen.テつ Don't even know if the USGA is going to go ahead with the rule change.テつ But I can see the TOUR adopting the rule saying that it's okay for players to use a long putter.テつ And we have probably a couple other rules out here on our hard card that are different from USGA rules, too, and this wouldn't be any different, I guess.

Q.テつ Wouldn't that lessen the effect of the governing bodies, if they were to go ahead and still implement that rule, reverse bifurcation, it would seem odd that the average club guy technically wouldn't be able to anchor the putter but you'd see the TOUR pros using that method?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, it would be kind of odd, but I can see like if a club is going to have an event, they may adopt a local rule, as well, saying, you know what, we have a few of our members that play with this long putter, we may adopt a local rule, as well, and let the person, the player putt with a long putter.
So I think it's going to be interesting.テつ It's a tough subject.テつ It's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.テつ But I know it's changed for a lot of people over this last three or four months that we've been talking about it, how it's being viewed.
And really, I'm not really for the long putter, but I'm‑‑ it's kind of confusing.テつ I'm really not for the long putter, but I'm really not for the change, either.テつ I just think it's a‑‑ like I said, the timing is bad and at a point in time when we really don't need to be messing around with it.テつ Our game out here on TOUR is pretty strong.テつ A lot of the‑‑ not a lot, but there's a couple players that have won majors with a long putter, and they're faces of our TOUR.テつ And to take that away, I think, is not a good thing for our TOUR or our sport at this time.

Q.テつ As you alluded to, you were in physical distress in Maui.テつ Did you pinpoint exactly what was wrong, and what have you done to get back to a healthy state?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I got home the week after Maui, and I got an MRI and found that I had a herniated C5 that was giving me the pain down my leg and into my foot.テつ Losing strength, I found that next week I was home.テつ I got a cortisone shot that same week.テつ And really from that point on, I've been feeling good.テつ And I've done a lot of physical therapy, a lot of strengthening of my back and left side, and I feel really strong.テつ No pain at all anymore in my butt or down my leg.テつ So it's been good, knock on wood, and hopefully continue down that road of maintenance, really, for that back issue that I have.テつ But it's been good.

Q.テつ Was there any temptation at all to spray a little deer antler spray under the tongue?

Q.テつ Where did they stick the needle this time?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ In my back.

Q.テつ Better?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Much better.

Q.テつ Thirdly, one last thing on the anchoring thing, when you speak of the oddities and kind of the choppiness of it, what about the idea that someone like Webb Simpson could play the PGA TOUR and then go back to the U.S. Open that he's won and not use it?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, that is a concern, right.テつ That is a concern for all of us, that if the USGA goes ahead with the rule, what happens to those events, and what are we going to do?テつ Are we going to change that rule?テつ I mean, there's really no indication from our TOUR or Tim on what we're going to do yet.テつ I mean, I know where the majority of the players stand, it sounds like, from yesterday's call.テつ And I know that they're drafting up a letter to send to the USGA and the R&A to kind of voice our position as a TOUR.テつ But after that we still don't know where it's going to lead us to, and it's going to be interesting.
But that is one of the possibilities of being able to anchor out here on TOUR, I guess, and then go to a major championship and not be able to anchor, which would be pretty weird.テつ And for those players to try to make that change is going to be pretty tough on them.

Q.テつ (Inaudible.)
STEVE STRICKER:テつ It seems like it is, yeah.テつ I don't think that will happen.テつ And like I say, the TOUR is just going to kind of wait and see and see what the USGA‑‑ if they're going to go ahead with this or not.テつ So I guess we're just going to have to sit back and see what the USGA is going to do.

Q.テつ There are considerably more Europeans in the field than Americans.テつ I know a number of your PGA TOUR brethren, U.S. players, have said they think the World Rankings may be skewed a little too heavily in favor of the Europeans.テつ Any validity in that?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ You know, I really don't know. テつI didn't know that‑‑ if there was more European players here than Americans.テつ I mean, they've showed they play well, they've competed to a high level.テつ That's always been a gripe of American players, I think, over the years, that the European Tour is weighted heavily.テつ But they've also played great.テつ They've shown that they can compete at a high level, win major championships, beat us in the Ryder Cup, all that kind of stuff.
But that's always going to be a debate, I think.テつ That's always going to be an issue to talk about.テつ It's a tough system to get right, I think, first of all.テつ And accuracy is tough in that department of the World Rankings.テつ But really, I can't even comment on it to see if it's right or wrong.
CHRIS REIMER:テつ Steve, thanks for your time and for your perspective.

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