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November 13, 2009

Kevin Streelman


MARK STEVENS: Congratulations, Kevin Streelman, on winning the inaugural Kodak Challenge and one million dollars. If you'd start off making some general comments. Up to Kevin's left, however you're looking at him, is Steve Powell from Kodak. And Kevin, if you'd start off, give some general comments about winning the Kodak Challenge and then we'll take some questions.
KEVIN STREELMAN: Well, first of all, just thanks to Kodak for thinking of this incredible idea. It's just been fun to be a part of, and I think it's just grown in momentum and popularity and excitement throughout the year, and it really was the talk of the Fall Series. It's definitely the talk of the locker room, there's been some trash talk between the players and stuff.
But it's just been a huge blessing to be a part of, and I feel very fortunate to have held on to the win to win at the end, and it definitely got pretty nerve-wracking the last couple of events, but just stayed strong and hopefully I can build on this and use it on the 71st and 72nd holes of a PGA TOUR events when I have the lead the next year or two.
MARK STEVENS: And what were your thoughts on the approach shot? That was a great approach shot there. Just take everybody through that.
KEVIN STREELMAN: Sure. The tees were up a little today, so I could take my driver over that tee and cut off a little bit of the lake. And but it still was pretty nerve-wracking on the tee shot, but just stepped up and really hit a solid tee ball. Just had 118 to the pin.
My sand wedge is 110-shot full, and it was down pretty good wind, so I said let's just hit this full and pick a good target and let it fire. As soon as it hit its apex and started turning right to the pin, I knew it was going to be a good shot.
Then I heard the screams. I thought -- I was hoping it was a kick-in. But it was still three and a half, four feet, I was like, oh, here we go.
But whether you make them or whether I don't, like I do on most every putt, I just say pick a great target, nice soft hands and make a good stroke, and put it on the right edge and turned to the middle and hit the back of the cup.
MARK STEVENS: Steve, if you'd make one quick comment just about the Kodak Challenge throughout the season and we'll go ahead and take questions.
STEVE POWELL: Sure. When we put this idea together, we, first of all, thought that this was the greatest card in golf. If you think about the collection of the 30 holes from the 18th at Kapalua, you throw in holes like the 18th at Pebble Beach, 16th at FBR, a lot of variety.
If you think about a golf course, these holes jump out at you as the Kodak holes. They're beautiful. They've got memorable moments on them. I think we've got one that will last a long time on the 17th here at Magnolia. So at the first level this collection of holes just seemed like a dream come true for us, and then when we started to keep score and actually modeled it over the last several years of who would have won, we realized that this was a competition that anybody could win. In fact, in some ways this is one that we said Tiger won't win because he won't play 18 holes, which is the minimum that you need to qualify, and suddenly you have competition out there with guys like Jason Gore and Chris DiMarco and Kevin Streelman and Bo Van Pelt and Nathan Green at the top of a million dollar leaderboard.
And that really made it something new and compelling for people to write about and talk about and fans to enjoy. And really this is part of what the new Kodak is all about. It's innovative. You can see in the technology that we even brought to the trophy that we've got pictures of Kevin from throughout the year. We've got 30 beautiful pictures of the holes and trying to really show that Kodak and the game of golf really belong together.
And we couldn't be more delighted with our winner. It's really been a pleasure getting to know a lot of these guys. Kevin's been awesome with us all year long, and we just really are very happy with the way that it worked out.

Q. At what point in the year did you say, holy cow, I'm feeling pretty good about this; I'm in this thing?
KEVIN STREELMAN: For me, at the John Deere Classic I eagled the 17th hole, I believe that was the second week in July. Hit probably my best shot of the year on the PGA TOUR, I hit a 3-wood from about 260 to two feet. So I had a kick-in to eagle there. And followed it up the next week in Milwaukee with another birdie on their Kodak hole, the 18th. And all of a sudden I jumped up from I think 11th or 9th place to tied for first.
And ever since then I've been tied for lead or in the lead throughout the year. So it's kind of been weighing on the back of my mind really since middle July.

Q. Kevin, you had said you sort of wanted to decide this on your own terms. Could you sort of talk about that, and getting it done on your first at-bat out there with a sort of walk-off birdie with Johnny Damon in your group?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Well, I did want to close it off in style. Like I said, I've been leading it for a while. Was there probability that Bo would hole out to tie me? Of course not, but I like the way it happened. It just was fun to be a part of.
I wanted to do it in style. I wanted to do it with maybe some class. And like I said, for me, I enjoy that, the nerves and the excitement and the exhilaration of playing golf for a living and then being in that arena and atmosphere, and that was pretty much the height of it thus far for me.

Q. It's gotta seem like the next time you have a putt to win a tournament, you're going to go, I've already done this?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah. In this game whether you're trying to make a 3-footer to beat your buddy on a weekend Nassau game or trying to win the Masters, you're able to draw on past experiences and really recall those as vividly as possible, and the better you are at that, I think the more frequently you're able to pull off successful shots in the heat of the moment.

Q. Kevin, a two-parter: You're going to be -- no matter how many more years this goes on, you'll always be the first Kodak Challenge champ. Also, you said golfers trash talking in the locker room. I didn't know golfers trash talk. Could you give me some examples?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Well, you know, the collection of guys that were at the top of this leaderboard, Bo Van Pelt, Nathan Green, DiMarco, Nicholas Thompson, they're all great guys. We all get along really well. So there just would be jabs, like when JJ made his eagle at Vegas, they did the camera picture, that got me going the next day. (Laughs).
So when I made my 40-footer the next day, I threw a couple fist pumps back at him. So that's just been fun to be a part of. It's such a cool sidebar, just unique and great idea that they've come up here with Kodak. So it's been fun to be a part of.

Q. Kevin, did you want to kind of get it done today while they had that front tee and you had a lofted club in there and you could stick it before you ran the risk of them moving the tee back almost 500 yards?
KEVIN STREELMAN: It is. It's a totally different hole from back there. It makes you take a much more challenging line off the tee, I would say, because it brings the right lake into play. So it makes it a little bit tighter, and you definitely will have mid to even long irons if the wind turns out. Guys were hitting 3-woods in there on the back tees during the practice rounds. So it's a much more challenging hole from that back tee.
So to have it downwind and off of the up tee box, I knew I needed to get it done. I knew I'd have my best opportunity today to get it done. So glad I could do it.

Q. All of us who follow this game, and we do, and some of us who play it know how cool you guys are under pressure, there's no doubt. But sometime when you're standing there, you had to go, oh, my God, this is for a million dollars. Was there that second?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I'd say over the putt, absolutely. You know, with the drive and the iron shot, I just step up and say, let's pick a good target and rip it, but when you put it on that green and you put it inside of four or five feet, the hard part of putting is everyone expects you to make it, especially when you're that close. That's where people have a hard time of putting is they start putting that pressure, I'm supposed to make this. All you can do is pick a good target and try and make a good stroke, and fortunately I made a really good stroke under some pretty big pressure.

Q. Webb Simpson made a much longer, much more difficult putt on that same green and he got nothing.

Q. Did that help you at all? Did that help you at all? Was his line sort of near yours?
KEVIN STREELMAN: It was close to mine. It was a putt that I knew what it was going to do. It was a pretty easy read on my part. It was a right-edger. The green was pulling right-to-left and it was uphill, so I could hit it firm. I wasn't going to leave it short. That's for sure.

Q. Can you kind of translate what were your actual thoughts over the putt? Or did you just block it out, your mind just go blank?
KEVIN STREELMAN: How I play the game, when I'm behind the ball, I step in, I've got a very clear target here in front of me, especially when I'm putting, because I've got my spots, two, three, four spots along my line. So I think the key is when you step in this way is to translate that, because it looks a little different from here to there, so when I go to the front of the golf ball, I'm trying to make the translation from my points here to there, step in and then just have really soft hands. I just try and keep the same grip pressure throughout and try and roll it over my spots.

Q. Did the left field bleachers help you or hurt you?
KEVIN STREELMAN: He roasted that thing. I think it helped me because we were laughing so hard. Me and Michael were just rolling after that.
But what a great guy he was as well. But we just tried to have fun and fortunately pulled it off.

Q. Kevin, you're nine strokes off the lead. Do you even care about the rest of the tournament?
MICHAEL COLLINS: We do have to play tomorrow. We might have an early tee time.
KEVIN STREELMAN: It's going to feel early. Do I care? Yes. I'll tell you what, for me, a personal goal of mine, just Money List, I was at 995,000. I wanted to top a million dollars this year just on the Money List. So I'll be able to do that now, which was a nice goal as well.
But we're just going to go out and have a ton of fun the next two days. Got two months off after this weekend and looking forward to getting home. But we got done what we really wanted to come here and get done.
I have a really funny story that I need to tell, too, about a Kodak hole.
After the John Deere, so I was tied for the lead this week, and the 11th hole at RBC was the Kodak hole, downhill, tight drive and over a lake -- over a creek on your second shot, and so the first three rounds I just hit poor tee shots. If you miss the fairway there at all, you gotta chip out and play for par. So I was chipping out the first three rounds.
Finally, the fourth round I flush one down the middle. And of course, the two guys I'm playing with are both sideways. And so finally it's my turn to hit, and I hit a great wedge in there to about five, six feet.
All right. Get my Kodak birdie right here. And the guys are still struggling, so I'm up there reading this putt, checking it out again. I'm up there 10 minutes before they finally get up there. Finally right edge, hit it firm, and we're at this point probably 40th to 50th place in the tournament. Just back, we're playing okay. We're just having fun. We're not going to win this golf tournament. So we're kind of getting out of the way.
But this one meant a lot to me, but the guys I was playing with didn't realize it. So I hit it too firm and it really power lips on the top side and goes three feet down. I throw my putter up, and I say some things I shouldn't have said, and the guys are like, what is Streelman's problem? (Laughs). They didn't realize that it was for the Kodak birdie. I was so mad. And they stayed away from me. And then I explained to them on the next block. They were like, oh, man, we thought you just lost your mind back there.

Q. Who were you playing with?
KEVIN STREELMAN: Do you remember, Mike, who it was? I think it was Brandt Snedeker. That was funny. That was one of the funnier moments for us in the Kodak holes so far.
MARK STEVENS: Kevin, congratulations. Thank you very much. And good luck the rest of the weekend.
KEVIN STREELMAN: I appreciate it.

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