MORE: John Deere Classic transcript archive
THE MODERATOR: Go ahead and get started. Steve Stricker, like it welcome you to the interview room. Kind of a slow start on the front, but you got it going on the back.
Take us through your round and we'll get some questions.
STEVE STRICKER: Sure. You hit it right on the head. Slow start, really a little bit out of sorts to start with. Hit some shots that I haven't been hitting. Just little unsettled I guess you would say to start with. Had a good warmup on the range. Good tempo, good everything. Kind of lost that, I, guess walking to the first tee, but settled down.
I guess the birdie at 10 and then the one at 12 really helped. Then just had a really good back side. Same thing happened to me yesterday in the pro am, so I just told myself I think I made five birdies on the back side yesterday, so I just told myself we can do the same thing. Be patient.
I was just thinking if I could get it to 3 or 4 under for the day and come out in the morning and have a good one. I did a couple better than what I was thinking. Good it was a back nine.
Q. (Question regarding 18.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I was trying to get it right in the same spot there and pulled it a little bit. (Laughter.) No, actually it was a good break, too. It's all hardpan over there, too. Got in that burned out stuff and it just took off. The rules official there, Tony Wallin, had given five or six other players relief for the same thing.
Once you get over there you have all the corporate area left of the water on 18 that's in your way, so you really have no option to play it towards the green if you wanted to or even if you had a shot. I don't know if I looked to see if I had a shot, to tell you the truth. He says, You're dropping up here if you want to. I'm like, Okay. I just picked it up right away. Didn't even look. It couldn't have been good from there.
Q. How far to you move it??
STEVE STRICKER: I bet it was 20 to 30 yards probably.
Q. Do you look at this as pressure or as an opportunity??
STEVE STRICKER: I'm looking at it as an opportunity. It's fun. But there is pressure involved. You're trying to do it and there's a lot of expectations not only from me, but from a lot of other people to do it too.
I try to tell myself, I've won it three times. How in the heck can I win to the fourth time? I'm trying to downplay it to myself. Maybe it's working. I've done that every year here. Every time I come back I'm like, Oh, there is no chance I can win again. I just won it lat year. It's hard it repeat.
I kind of downplay it, so I think I'll continue to do that and just try to go about my business and try to do the things that I do on a normal week to week basis. It's a little bit harder here because of those expectations, but it seems you know, it's fun.
It seems to be working the way I've been thinking about it, so just go out and try to do the same thing tomorrow.
Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Maybe. You know, I don't know. Yeah, it's possible. Who knows what he's going to say in that text.
Q. You said yesterday scores are going to be low and you were right about that. Are you surprised that this afternoon group put in the scores they had??
STEVE STRICKER: Were the scores better in the afternoon or were they just about the same? Except for the 10 under?
Q. What does it mean going into tomorrow morning??
STEVE STRICKER: Well, you know what I'm looking forward to are getting on fresh greens tomorrow; greens are pretty tough out there today. You know, it has to be this way just because they're soft. They're marking up quite a bit from the amount of players on there.
They have keep 'em soft because of the heat and the humidity, so that's what you have to deal with. They're in good shape, but they get beat up because they're soft. Tomorrow should get some fresh greens. Some good low scores out there this morning, but I'm looking forward to it.
Hopefully get another good solid round under my belt tomorrow.
Q. You mentioned the birdies. Talk about holing the second shot on 14.
STEVE STRICKER: Did you see it? I didn't see it. I couldn't see it. (Laughter.) You could tell me about it because I didn't see anything.
I had 73 or 78 yards, something like that. It was under 80 yards. I just couldn't see the pin. I had lined it up with a divot in the bunker, and I know that that shot plays short over there. I been over there before.
I hit a good shot and felt like it came off good. You don't expect it to go in, but that was really a big momentum boost for me on the back side. When you can go from 2 to 4 under in one shot, that provides a lot of momentum and it got me going.
Birdied the next hole and then birdied 17, so it was a good last few holes, good finish.
Q. You talked about being out of sorts early in the round. Were you at all thinking, This is the start of number four? Does that creep into your mind at all?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm thinking about it for sure. You know, any time you start a tournament there is always a little apprehension, I think. Doesn't matter how much you practice, how well you're hitting it on the range or anything, you're starting the tournament, and there is always a little bit of uneasiness, I think.
So I had a little bit of that. Like I said before, the expectations that I put on myself trying to do it again and the other people rooting for me, you know, the fans and the local people here, I have family and friends here, so you put all that together and it can lead to some of those uneasy feelings.
Q. Did you look at the scoreboard and see what had been posted this morning??
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah. I knew I actually thought it maybe lower coming into this afternoon. I thought maybe somebody would go 8 or 9 in the morning. So I didn't feel too bad about that.
You don't have to lead after the first day. I told myself, Just go out and shoot a nice solid 4 or 5 under round. You shoot 5 under every day here, 20 under, you're be right in the thick of things.
I didn't need to be up there and have the lead after the first day, and I wasn't thinking that. I was just trying to go out and shoot a nice solid round to start with.
Q. What did you think of that introduction on the first tee??
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, took forever. Yeah, that was pretty cool. It's a nice feeling to come to a place and get that support from the fans and get an introductions like that. Don't get that at too many events. That was pretty cool.
Reminds me of I played with Tom Watson back in the mid '90s, and it was at Phoenix tournament. They introduced him and then they ripped off his entire accomplishments. You know, all his majors, all his TOUR wins. They not only said I don't know how many majors he won, eight maybe.
STEVE STRICKER: They not only listed that he won eight majors, they went and said that he won five British Opens, you know, right down the list of all the majors. So it was pretty cool. Then he proceeded to hit it to a foot at No. 1 and a foot at No. 2, and I'm like, Oh, this guy a pretty good.
So it was nothing like that. That's not what I'm saying. It's just that it was cool to get that introduction here this week, today.
Q. Obviously you always get a lot support here. You will get more tomorrow on Illini Day. D.A. Points said he has his Illini Day wardrobe already laid out. Do you have an Illini Day wardrobe, and can you tell people what it is??
STEVE STRICKER: Orange and blue. I do have it laid out already. I got to iron my orange shirt and you blue pants, so I'll be wearing that tomorrow.
Q. Are you intimidated at all by the fact that you have a football coach following the group??
STEVE STRICKER: No, but I heard a, Go Hawkeyes out there a couple times at 15. That was probably who it was for. I was wondering if the guy was jabbing me or what. Now I know the Hawkeye coach was there.
Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, how did Luke end up?
Q. Minus 5 and 6??
STEVE STRICKER: Nice. And D.A. what?
Q. Minus 3??
STEVE STRICKER: That's a good start for us all. Luke is only playing in his second event. I think he finished 18th down in Memphis at the FedEx St. Jude. He's off to a good start. That's important.
It's important to get a good couple of pro tournaments under your belt and get some confidence and belief that you can play with the guys out here. So I'm happy for him that he's off to a good start. Hopefully continues.
Q. Watching Luke, he plays with a very calm demeanor. Talk about that. He's really looking the part right off the bat.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, well that is good. You know, most times I can remember I can only relate to what I felt like my first pro tournament. It was the GMO, and I was scared out of my I wanted to say something else, but I was scared. You know, it affects how you play.
If he can handle those nerves being only his second TOUR event and obviously he did it in his first one that's a good thing that he can do. That's just going to bode well for him for the rest of his career when he can handle it right out of the gate like he's doing.
Q. What might you say about this course to somebody that hasn't been here to get guys to come here??
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, and I have. I been trying to get guys to come here. I think it's one of the coolest events we play in. Kind of like old school PGA TOUR. It's the way the TOUR used to be: Smaller towns, community really gets behind it, the course is fun to play. The scores are low, but we don't need to have a U.S. Open style or a tough course on a weekly basis.
So it's kind of fun to come here and know that you have to go out there and make birdies. That provides a pressure in itself knowing that you have to go out there and shoot low, but it's just a fun event.
They take great care of us. They've got the charter flight for us over the British Open, which makes things a lot more easy than it used to be prior to the British Open.
So, yeah, I've told a bunch of guys that. Tried to get some other players to come here just because it's a nice event, it really is.