What they said: Steve Stricker

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January 08, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: An 8-under par 65, Steve, just a tremendous round of golf, five straight birdies on 11 through 15. Just get some overall comments on your day.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, thanks. It was good. Teeing off, you didn't really know what to expect because the wind had flipped around. I think getting off to a good start was key and I parred the first couple of holes and kind of settled me down I think and had some opportunities to make birdies and made the turn at 2-under.

I think that was the biggest thing, birdieing 9, to get to a couple under on that side. I just kept giving myself chances all the way around on the back side and hit them close and made the putts. Had a lot of it seemed like downgrain putts, so not a lot of great and hit them in the right spots and could take advantage of it that way.

But all in all a good day and got myself in position to win.

Q. Curious if you could talk about No. 12??

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that was kind of a do-or-die swing, really. I had a divot left of the ball which really was not in play. But I had a two-inch-by-one-inch piece of a divot right behind the ball and it was kind of blowing back and forth, whether I was going to hit it on my downswing or not. Called for a ruling and I didn't think I could move it. And he made a good point, Slugger did, saying I couldn't touch it at all on the way back; or when I'm addressing it, I can't touch that, which -- good thing, because I didn't really think about that part of it.

But I had 178 yards into the wind, and I hit a 4-iron. Just hit it up in the air and it came out perfect. I didn't hit the piece of grass. Clipped it, you know, nipped it just right and you know, when you hit a shot like that, you want to make that putt. That was the topper of it all, making the 5-footer, straight downgrain, so a pretty straight putt.

But that was kind of a big key to the round, keeping it going.

Q. So you wanted to avoid --

STEVE STRICKER: Kind of came a little more on the inside and tried to turn it over more. Because the wind was left-to-right, I had to turn it over and I thought I could miss that little piece of grass, that little divot by coming more from the inside. It just came off really good.

Q. How many times have you played the course with the wind like it was today??

STEVE STRICKER: Not many. I have. Some years, we get this through the course of maybe the seven or ten days that I'm here, you may get it a couple of times. I've seen this wind before, which is a big help. You know some of the holes, how they are going to play, but it's been a while -- quit playing, we are trying to do something here, Doug. (Laughter).

Q. Just curious, with that wind, you know right out of the gate, that's a brute of a hole. What did you hit??

STEVE STRICKER: I hit a good drive and a 3-iron, and I think being short on that hole today, I actually saw it was like one of the top longest drives to the hole that day. Because I'm a little shorter, I actually could carry on the downslope of that first hole and I got a little bit of a scooter and it ran out there to the end of the top of the hill.

So I hit 3-iron in there. Francesco hit 3-wood in there. And that's kind of what I was expecting to hit in there. But for some reason, it must have caught the ridge or the slope just right and caught it down there.

But I knew those first couple of holes were going to be tough today, and I think tomorrow we have the same wind. I think it's still coming out of the west somewhere.

Q. Did you sense going through the week that everybody looks at this like a working vacation at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week, things get really serious; obviously going into tomorrow??

STEVE STRICKER: I don't treat it as a vacation. I come over here trying to get off to a good start and I try to take advantage of this warm weather. Try to get as much practice in as I can, because I can't do that at home. So I get over here early, try to get ready. Spend quite a bit of time practicing.

So I treat it as work. You know, it's a great place to work, don't get me wrong this week, but yeah, I'm trying to get off to a good start and play well here this week.

Q. You grew up in Wisconsin and there's certainly no golf courses like this in Wisconsin. What's the biggest adjustment you make when you come over here and mind-set of playing this, as opposed to what you're used to, or what you grew up used to??

STEVE STRICKER: Well, yeah, it is totally different than what I grew up on or what I'm used to. But you know, I play all over the country and all of those courses are pretty much not what I grew up on, either. So you adjust. You come to these places and you adjust.

I've been out here long enough, and this course takes a bit of course knowledge. You know, there's some tricky shots. There's some tricky slopes. You know, where to drive it sometimes is important and where to hit it into the greens. Maybe not so much this week because it's soft. But typically a ball rolls out a long way on some of these greens, but not this week.

This course takes some getting used to fortunately I've been over here three or four times and played it a bunch and had some success here, so I feel good here. But I think it's just getting used to the wind, and we had not had any until today. But just knowing that they can come up and wear to put your ball and place some of your shots.

Q. Because there are so many unique little shots and challenges and so forth, not that you ever fall asleep on any shot on any golf course, but do you almost feel like you really have to pay attention to every little factor on every shot here??

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you do. I find that, especially on the greens, because you can get a sidehill putt, say, left-to-right, and the wind is blowing left-to-right and the grain is going to the right and everything is telling that you it's going to break big time to the right and you've got to trust it and let the wind do its thing.

So there's a lot of little things you have to be very cautious about around here. It gives you generous areas off the tee but it's kind of a second-shot golf course where you have to really know where to put your ball so you can have a good putt at it, because you can spend a lot of time putting big breakers here.

And like I said, fortunately I had a lot of putts that were pretty much straight downgrain. And you're going to have downhill putts here, you just are, because they put the pins on the edges and you are going to have downhillers, but a lot of mine were just straight downhill, so I took advantage of those.

Q. There's a theory that a tournament like this is the easiest to win, or the FedExCup or THE TOUR Championship because it's only 30 guys. Do you subscribe to that theory and would you like to see more players in the field??

STEVE STRICKER: I don't agree that it's the easiest to win, either one of them, just because it takes the same number, whether there's 140 guys here or 30 guys here. I mean, if you have a full field here, 18-under is probably still leading the golf tournament.

So you have to get to that number, and tomorrow, who knows what it's going to take. But you still have to shoot the scores. So I don't really agree.

The bunching up may be not as much; it may be more spread out in a smaller field, but you've still got to shoot that low number. And no, I kind of like the way the field is. It rewards a guy who wins a tournament the previous year. I know there's been talk about maybe having a two-year win system for here. And I understand that for the sponsors and all that, but as a player, I like it the way it is; where you're rewarded for a good year for winning last year, and that means something on our TOUR.

Put some emphasis on winning a golf tournament, and this does. That's one of the first thing you think about when you win is that you get to start your year off here. So I think it's pretty special.

JOHN BUSH: Go through your card, birdie on 5.

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I hit a driver and 3-wood just to the right of the green and chipped to five feet.

6, I laid it up perfect. I was on the downhill just about a foot in the rough and kind of fatted it. Never got it to the green. And then didn't get it up-and-down.

8, I hit a 5-iron to about 20 feet.

3-wood and utility club just short of the green and chipped up to five feet.

11, hit an 8-iron to probably 18 feet.

13 was a rescue club and a 9-iron to probably about eight feet.

14, 3-iron off the tee and a sand wedge to a foot.

15, three-shot hole for me. I hit a lob-wedge 44 yards I think to about four feet, laid up. And then I had I think 47 yards, lob-wedge to three feet.

JOHN BUSH: Steve, thank you.

Transcript provided by ASAP Sports.

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