MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive
CHRIS REIMER: Our second?round leader here at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Steve Stricker, with a fantastic 63 today. Just talk about the round and talk about sitting in the lead two rounds into the event.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it was a special day. You know, when you can shoot 10?under a lot of good things have to happen. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I made a lot of putts. I just played consistent. Really never got into any trouble.
It was just a good, solid round of golf. We're only halfway through, so I've got still a lot of work left to do. I realize that. So I've just got to come out tomorrow with the same mentality that I've had every other day, and that's just to take one shot at a time and keep plugging away.
CHRIS REIMER: Beating up the par?5s this week. I think you're 9?under on the par?5s. Talk about that.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think the course?? we're playing in the trade winds, so some of the par?5s are reachable. I've been able to get to some of them. They're all borderline for me. I need to hit really two good shots most of the time. I've been doing that, giving myself?? I had a few eagle looks at it and finally made one at 15 today.
It's always a key in the course of a round or even the course of a tournament to take advantage of the par?5s, and I've done that so far.
Q. Would you just talk about that closing stretch? I guess you would look at 14 onward as where you can pick up strokes and you probably picked up more than you would have imagined.
STEVE STRICKER: What did I do there? I went birdie?? okay, so I played them 5?under today.
You know, it's a key stretch. I think we talked about it yesterday, to belabor the point again from that same question that we had yesterday, that?? what do you want to know?
Q. Do you feel like you have a little unfinished business here from last year??
STEVE STRICKER: I do, and back when I had an opportunity to win at?? when Chopra won, I don't know what year that was, '08 maybe, so I've had some good success here. I enjoy the course. I think we've talked about also that the more times you can play it, the better off you are. There's a lot of tricky things to this golf course. There's a lot of things that make you uncomfortable at times. You know, the wind is really blowing. The greens are really severe.
So the more times you can play, the better off you are. I feel a little bit more comfortable here again this year. Just taking each day as it comes, I guess. But I'd sure like to get off to a good start this year.
Q. Ernie was 31?under here in 2003. Is that possible if conditions are similar, and does it enter your mind at all?
STEVE STRICKER: It doesn't enter my mind, and I really hate putting numbers on anything. I just go out and take what it gives me, really, if I'm feeling good, if I'm aggressive and can take advantage of some holes out there. But I really just get into the situation at hand and go from there, and that's what I did well today. I kind of ran with it. I felt good. I started making some birdies and I was patient when I wasn't making some. So it was good, and that's what you have to do when you get it going is just kind of keep it going, get on a roll and keep it going.
Q. You were just talking about the importance of course knowledge here. Are you a little bit surprised that the guy you're playing with tomorrow I don't believe has ever played in this event, Webb Simpson??
STEVE STRICKER: Right, we talked about it with Kelly in the booth there. Yeah, it is. It's a tough place to play your first time around. I think fortunately for all the first timers, we've had the same wind, and I can remember coming over here early on in my career, and one day during the practice rounds you'll get the trade winds and maybe for two days you get another trade wind but then it flips around and you get a Kona wind. It just like messes everything up. That messes with your psyche a little bit, too. It looks like we're going to have the same wind every day, so they're all going to get comfortable with it, and they're going to feel better about the things that they're going to try to do every day. I imagine you'll see some good scores from some other guys every day. They're just getting more comfortable with the situation.
Q. Can you talk about if there are challenges to having a five?shot lead? It's obviously versus a one?shot lead or something that's close by.
STEVE STRICKER: There's always challenges out here, there is. There's always something that you can try to do better, shoot for, overcome. That's the cool thing about this TOUR is there's always something. It'll be a challenge to see how I handle it tomorrow, and that's all I'm worried about really is tomorrow and try to?? just try to keep doing the same things. I can only worry about myself and take care of myself out there, so that's what I'll try to do.
Q. A little bit along those same lines, Kevin Na was 9?under for his last ten holes today, 29 on the back nine. Are there types of those runs out there, what Jonathan did yesterday, six straight birdies?
STEVE STRICKER: Yep, no doubt. Guys can come from back. I did it here a few years ago. I think I shot 63 in the final round to get in a playoff with Chopra. Actually 64. I think I was 9?under. So you can come from a long ways back, and it's a tricky course, so if you're not feeling sharp, you can kind of just be stagnant, too, and tread water and not make any birdies.
It's a course where if you're doing a lot of good things, you can shoot a really good score, and you can see in other scores, too, where guys just kind of tread water and don't take it very low. Yeah, it's scorable at times.
Q. From the first time that you came here to now, what would be the biggest difference in the approach you take to the course??
STEVE STRICKER: That I take?
Q. Yeah, something you would have never done the first time you were here.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I've just learned to play it. You learn the lines here better, I think. You know, the first time you come here, there's a lot of unknowns, and any time you play golf and you're not sure of what you're doing or what the course is giving you, you're?? it's hard to hit a shot. So when you feel comfortable about a place, you know where to hit it, you know where the correct miss is, then it becomes a little bit easier because you know what to do. And that's just a product of playing multiple rounds on a course, and you know where to hit it and where not to hit it, and that's, I think, the biggest key in golf.
Q. When you're coming out of a winter and haven't played a whole lot, what part of your game when you get to a week like this needs the most attention??
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I put a lot of attention on my putting so far this week. I've practiced a lot. You know, I hit so many balls when I'm home, what I really like to do when I come to a tournament when I'm still up in Wisconsin in the wintertime is play. I need to get holes under my belt. It's different hitting on the range than it is hitting a 6?iron into a green out on the course. So the more holes I can get under my belt practice wise, the better. So I really focus on putting and getting holes played.
I went to Phoenix for three days prior to coming here, and I got over here on the 31st, and that's all I do. I very rarely hit any balls. I went out and played and putted for the most part. So that's what I do.
Q. Where did you play in Phoenix??
STEVE STRICKER: I played at three different places, Whisper Rock with my brother?in?law, and then we played?? or I played at Golf Club of Scottsdale and then I played with Bubba and Aaron Baddeley and my brother?in?law at Estancia. And we beat them.
Q. Do you find you putt better on different grasses? And if that's the case, what's your grass?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I used to struggle with this type of surface over the years, but I've played so much on it and learned about the grain and how to putt it that I'm comfortable on this surface. I really?? I prefer bentgrass probably more so than anything. That's just what I grew up on. But I don't mind any surface really.
Q. And lastly, Martin is a little bit longer than you and a couple other guys are in the field, and they keep talking about bashing driver. You seemed to pick your spots a few times with 3?wood. Why is that?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I tried to be smart at No.12 today and tried to lay it up on top, and I hit it so far that it went farther than my driver did yesterday, and I had no play over there. And then I like to hit 3?wood, just a little chip 3?wood on 14 because it kind of takes the trouble out of play. I blocked it a little bit to the right today and it still carried that bunker. And I really?? if I just chip it, I can't catch the bunker straight away, either, and I can't get to that green hitting driver. I've seen way too many bogeys and doubles with guys hitting driver on that hole. For me it's not a smart play. If I can get a wedge in my hand in the fairway, I feel like I'm better off. I just try to play to my strengths, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Like on 12, it didn't.
CHRIS REIMER: Steve, thanks. Good luck.