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June 24, 2015

Kevin Streelman


THE MODERATOR: Want to give us your thoughts about coming back to a place where you ended with seven birdies and a pretty unbelievable ending. You've got a plaque out there now and all kinds of things have changed. Then we'll have some questions.

KEVIN STREELMAN: It was fun coming back here. Just real quick, I was looking where the media center was and I texted you was it in the same spot, because I was in such a blur last year I couldn't remember exactly where it was, everything happened so fast I couldn't remember exactly where it was. But coming back here is very special. It's an honor. Sometimes when we have good weeks we kind of move on to the next week, or in my case last year we had gone on a family vacation right after and kind of get away from it, and it's not until you come back that you really remember how special it was and how much it meant. It will probably go down in my career as one of my most special moments. So to have it here with the tournament, the people around here, this community is an honor and it's something that I'll never forget in my entire career.

THE MODERATOR: You're getting ready for the Pro-Am. Have you been out to number 12 yet?

KEVIN STREELMAN: No, I haven't. I haven't been out there yet. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to seeing the plaque because it's very special of them to do that for me. As I said, it's awesome. I have my parents here, Courtney's parents are coming in today. And Courtney and Sophie are here last year. Last year we were carrying her around, and now she's running around, and everyone's so sweet to her. Travelers sending her onesies. It just means a lot. It's great to be back.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
KEVIN STREELMAN: So the Travelers sends the champion, and then they send it out to multitudes of people, but M&M's with the champion's face on them. So the first time I saw my face on an M&M, it was a little strange, but it was very cool at the same time to give them to friends and family. Travelers just goes out of their way to do a little extra to make it more accommodating, more fun, more enjoyable. Whether it's just getting the wives to get spa appointments or like they had a little Lululemon gift today or onesies for our children, whatever they can do to just help us out. It's something that we don't take lightly, and it's something that means a lot to us. So they really get it.

Q. What is the sense of your game right now? Is it a plus or minus (no audio)?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, I'd want to be in the majors. I'd played in ten straight so I was a little disappointed to miss this one, but it is what it is. I had two weeks at home to recharge. It started to get a little hot in Phoenix, so I got some pool time in with my daughter and wife. I just feel really recharged. I'm playing four in a row here through the Open. I've played really well. I was looking at my results and I had a couple of finishes I wasn't ecstatic about, but to have a top 20 at Memorial, Top 10 at Charlotte, Colonial didn't have a great Sunday, but I felt like I played really well. Basically it's just been the putter most of this year. I did some great work last week with Gabriel Hjertstedt, my short game instructor. So I feel good going forward. I'm excited for these four weeks.

Q. Kevin what are your goals for this season?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Sure, I've never been one to really write down specific goals, but one thing I try to do is try to get better the next day than I was today. That's what's helped me from when I was dead broke on the mini tours to where I am as defending champion here. I just wake up to try to get better, and I know those things will take care of themselves and have for me. I want to get into contention as many times as possible throughout a year. That's why I play the game. That's why I love playing the game. To be on the tee Sunday afternoon to look around and see who's got it and who doesn't is the ultimate for me. The trophies and the money and all those things kind of go away and they're forgotten about. But it's those moments that are most fulfilling to me is when I'm in the heat of the battle and can look someone else in the eye and say who is going to grab this title? That's what I love about the game of golf?

Q. Kevin, welcome back. Could you offer some more insight into what role your faith plays in your success? We've heard a couple times now about the Bible study that was so important a year ago, in contrast to perhaps having the temptations of having a life on the road and being an athlete that's adored by so many, how do you stay grounded?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a follower of Jesus, and I believe he is who he said he was, and it's helped me through times in my life that are unimaginable. So the few weeks I've won on TOUR in particular and many weeks I've had great weeks, the studies the prior week have really hit me. And it basically comes down to making golf -- I think any of our professions too important. I think we all worship something. When it becomes money or our job or sometimes even children and they're placed in front of the creator, I think, is when things can get dicey. So for me the study that week Ben Crane spoke, and he had won at Memphis a few weeks prior. And he said a scripture that had really hit him was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says rejoice, always pray earnestly and give thanks regardless of your situation. It's easy to give thanks when things are going well and it's more difficult when they're not. I came in here missing four cuts in a row. I was really down on myself. Really making golf too important and really feeling sorry for myself. It was at that moment where I was just broken. Ben really spoke to me and said, listen, you have to be thankful no matter how bad things are because of what he did for us, and that just lifted me up to allow me to do what I do. I was free to not only struggle, but I was free to be great. In that moment I was able to trust my instincts and trust my training. And ball came out and it was something that hadn't done on the PGA TOUR before.

Q. When you play 15, 16, and 17, what kind of mindset did you have going into each hole?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I think what's so incredible about this golf course is the swings you can have at the end of the event. 15 is a hole where you can tap in eagle or struggle to make double, but that's what makes it a great golf hole. So I think it's fun after a week of the Open where everyone's just grinding to save pars at the end of the tournament to an event here where people can make charges. It makes for just great sport, and it makes it great for everyone to watch. So 15 you've got to knock it on that green and try to make it a two or three. And 16, depending on where they put that pin, it's a dastardly little par three. 17 is probably the most important tee shot out here, because if you're not in the water, you're in trouble. But that left bunker over that water hazard with the wedge or 9-iron can be a scary shot. So it's an incredibly important fairway to hit. And 18 same deal about hitting that fairway and trying to give yourself a look for birdie.

Q. (Indiscernible). How was that conversation and how long is he going to be here for?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, so Ethan Couch was my caddie at the par-3 tournament at The Masters. He's a young 13-year-old from Alberta, Canada who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor about a year ago. And I invited him to caddie for me at the par-3 tournament and we won, and it just was something I'll never forget and one of the most special moments of my career. Travelers have been incredible backers of mine and obviously many of us on TOUR. But Andy went out of his way to ask me to invite Ethan to come this week. They would take care of everything, bring his whole family down from Alberta and give him a place to stay. Right now he's competing in the putt-putt championship with Andy Bessette and his little brother Evan and his parents Jennifer and Jeff are here as well. It's just a huge golfing family that are pretty special people. So for Travelers to bring him down, have him compete today. He's going to walk around with me at noon at the Pro-Am and then hang out and watch me the next few days as well. So I'm very indebted and grateful to Travelers for doing that for him. It just kind of shows the class organization that they are and the way they run things around here.

Q. Jordan Spieth won. He's only 21 years old. Can you talk about the caliber of competition, especially with the quote/unquote younger players like early 20s?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I was so happy for Jordan. He is, first of all, a great young man and a good friend. And his caddie has become a dear friend of mine and my caddie as well, Michael. I'm very excited for the youth movement, particularly the representatives they have: Rory, Rickie, Jordan, Justin. These kids are studs. They're just -- golf is in good hands with them at the helm. It's made golf a special place. You have some older guys that still have it, and you have the youth who want to take it, so most of them are really, really good people. I'm honored to be their friend and their comrades out here. We're just trying to put on a great show for great fans around the world.

Q. I know you had the vacation planned no matter what after the tournament. But when you won, did you try to talk your wife out of maybe going for a week or so saying hey, I'm on a nice roll now? And if not, where did you go, what did you do, and how did you not think about the win?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I definitely wanted to go. We were looking forward to it for a while. Scottsdale gets pretty hot in the summer. I remember leaving Scottsdale, it was 115° and we drove up -- this was the day after we left here -- and we drove up to Flagstaff, which is about a two-hour drive and it was 75° as we got out of the car as you go from 1,000 feet to 7,000 feet elevation. It's refreshing. My parents, Courtney's parents went straight to the pond to do some bass fishing when we got there. It was really relaxing, enjoyable. Forest Highlands is where we stayed and played. It's a private golf community. I did a clinic for the members Friday night. Had a beer or two and sat down with a bunch of people and felt really welcomed. It was just a nice, enjoyable getaway after a very special week.

Q. Geno Auriemma has been known to have a wager or two. Do you have a wager today?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I met coach Geno at the putt-putt championship. He was playing with Ethan. I'm excited to play with him and George today and give him a hard time. He knows well that I'm a Duke guy and a Duke fan. We've already chirped a little bit about that. But, yeah, nothing but respect for what he's been able to accomplish and what he does for the local community around here. We'll have a lot of fun.

Q. Can you quickly tell us how you met Ethan? Did he write you a letter? Did you meet him at a tournament?
KEVIN STREELMAN: No, actually the par-3 tournaments you can choose to have who you want to caddie for you. This is my fourth Masters since I've had mom and dad each caddie for me. I had Sophie the year before. She was just a little baby, and I had my father-in-law walk around. I told Courtney I wanted to do something different and I had it in my heart to contact Make-A-Wish. So I did it on my own. I didn't know their national chapter happened to be in Phoenix. So I called the local chapter which happened to be the national chapter and introduced myself. They were excited. I tried to get a couple other players to play together. People had already invited everyone. I couldn't find anyone just yet. The funny story that nobody knows behind the scenes there is one of the players I asked was Jordan. And he said, "Oh, man, I really wish. I would have loved to have done that. I've already asked my dad. I just don't know how many of these Masters I'll be in" (laughing). So maybe next time he'd be willing to help out as well. He was really excited to do it. But he had just asked his dad. He could point come back on that offer. But, yeah that was his quote. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to be back in there. But they said Ethan, they had three kids who really wanted to go to The Masters, and Ethan was the first on the list. So I asked for his phone number and gave him a call the next day.
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