July 11, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Well, we will go ahead and get started. Like to welcome Steve Stricker. Like I introduced Zach yesterday, you're really not someone that needs much of an introduction here at the John Deere Classic.
You're making 17th start; three consecutive wins, so forth. I tried to look up one thing that maybe not...
STEVE STRICKER: What is it?
THE MODERATOR: 60 rounds, 171 under par.
STEVE STRICKER: Probably shy of Zach, though.
THE MODERATOR: I don't know.
STEVE STRICKER: He's a lot under par.
THE MODERATOR: We'll leave that one alone, but three wins; coming off a Top 5 finish here last year. Obviously a place that's incredibly special to you. With that, just a few comments on being back.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, again, it's always very exciting for me to come back and drive down the road and see all the John Deere equipment and relive some of the great things that have taken place for me here over the years.
So it's a great trip down here. I played in Zach's outing on Monday to get the week started. Just made the drive over Monday night. Excited to be here and excited to get it going tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: You are in the midst of a great year. You're making your tenth start on the PGA Tour with a top 20 at the U.S. Open; you've won twice on the PGA Tour Champions this year and haven't finished outside of the Top 5 if I saw correctly.
Overall, just still got a heck of a lot of game left in you.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I'm very close to playing well out on the regular tour. It seems like one round each week that I played on the regular tour has kind of bit me in the butt. It's cost me from having some really, really good tournaments.
My putting hasn't been up to snuff on the regular tour so much, which is kind of -- you know, kind of made things difficult at times. You need to have every aspect of your game going well on the regular tour. I think a little bit of that has cost me some good finishes.
Overall my game is in decent shape. Had the last couple weeks off, and rested and ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: Start with Craig and move up here.
Q. Is there an adjustment when you talk about playing on the regular tour. Is the green speed different? You have to reset everything as you come back to the regular tour?
STEVE STRICKER: The setups are a little bit different. The green speed, some weeks we play some faster conditions out there on the Champions Tour. We played in Mississippi, Biloxi, and that was super fast. So it's really not the green speeds, I don't think.
The way I've looked at it, each tour has helped me for the other tour. If I play on the Champions Tour, I get in a mode of making birdies, being aggressive, having to make putts. The pressure out there is to go low every round.
That has translated into some really good rounds on the regular tour. I come out with the same mentality on the regular tour, and vice versa. I come out here, play some decent golf, and get some confidence knowing that I can still compete out here. I take that to the Champions Tour where I feel like I should have a chance to win every week I go out there. They've really kind of helped each other out, so that's been the really good thing.
I feel like I've done fairly well at both tours. Guys have told me, You can't play both tours. Well, I felt like each tour has helped me play the other tour, so I've taken that a little bit as a challenge and tried to perform well at each level.
Q. Was it a difficult decision to come here?
STEVE STRICKER: No.
Q. Rather than to Exmoor?
STEVE STRICKER: No. I mean, I still think I can win out here on this tour and can compete out here at a high level. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. It has a lot of special memories for me.
So it wasn't a hard decision at all.
Q. If it was a different tournament on the regular tour this week would you have been there?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, maybe. Maybe. But, again, this has been a nice spot for me to come and enjoy the people and the course and the tournament and Clair Peterson, what he's done.
So, yeah, it's really not a tough choice.
Q. How much of the relationships over the years that you've made here, be it Clair or the others in the area, does that adds into everything?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very much so. It makes the whole week very special, you know, some of the John Deere folks I've been able to meet over the years and get to know. Just a great company in what they're doing for the community and how the community steps up.
I mean, you can everything put in place, but the community still needs to participate. And they do. They come out here and support this event. I know this is one of the largest per capita in terms of charitable dollars that goes back. It's a special tournament and a special place.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I wish I was about 20 years younger. Then it would be really a good time to be Steve Stricker. It is a good time. I'm having fun with everything that I'm doing.
The event that we have in Madison, AmFam Championship, is very special to me as well. We raise a lot of money. It looks like we're at $1.6 or $1.8 million that we're going to raise a couple weeks ago for our local charities and my foundation. So it is.
And to be a part of these teams still, to be a part of Jim Furyk's team this year coming up, you know, and hopefully few more teams in the future, that keeps me involved with the younger generation. Keeps me active out here on the regular tour.
That's another reason why I play out here. I still want to be out here seeing these kids and being a part of what they're doing, be around. So it's hard to give that piece up.
But, yeah, it's fun. To be doing what I'm doing now at age 51 I wouldn't have thought that when I was 31, so it's a good time.
Q. If I could follow up, you may not pay a lot of attention to what we say, but when you hear the defending champion of this tournament say you've got to be able to strike the ball like Steve Stricker does or Zach Johnson. How does that feel?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you know, it does. It feels good. I think I take this as a bit of a challenge at 51. Still feel like I'm in decent enough shape. I watch what I eat and how I exercise and take care of myself a little bit. I still feel like I can compete out here.
It's a challenge still. This game has always been a challenge for all of us. It's just another challenge for me at this age to try to prove that I can compete at this level.
So you're always trying to prove something out here I feel like, and this is just another chapter I think for me. You know, I'm not supposed to be out here, I'm not supposed to be able to compete, but yet deep down I feel file like I can.
Q. Is part of winning out here again going to involve you forgetting you're in your '50s and believing with every fiber of your being that the golf ball doesn't care about your age?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, very much so. I don't feel like I'm in my '50s. I mean, preface that by saying when I wake up I do, but then as I get going I feel okay. (Laughter.) You know, feel like my game is strong enough. I do a lot of small things well: chipping and putting for the most part.
The length is an issue at times against some of these guys that really bomb it out there. There is room in this game for guys that can plot it around and be smart and play smart and take advantage of your opportunities and not make the mistakes.
So, yeah, I don't put an age on myself. I haven't for the last few years. Just trying to do my thing.
Q. You kind of touched on this, but it's a two-part question. You said earlier the difference between the four rounds on the regular tour and the three rounds on the Champions Tour. Is that part of being 51 and an older body and having to deal with that extra day, the extra stress on your body? What are you doing differently with your body in terms of staying in shape and being able to play?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I don't know about that, whether it's a concentration thing or -- I don't know what it is. I been trying to pinpoint that issue on the regular tour this year, why it's usually been one round.
At the AmFam Championship it was one round there, too. I'm not quite sure, but I just keep trying to plug away.
And what was the second part of your question?
Q. Just physically how are you doing? Have you changed your regimen to keep your body prepared to play?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I think I try to rest a little bit more than anything. Off season I still do the same kind of stuff, work out.
I'm always continuing to try to eat better. My wife eats really well and I'm trying to get on her page and diet, which is really hard for me. But, you know, it's a work in progress.
You know, I just try to stay active. Even when I go home. I'm not one to sit around and watch TV and do nothing. I'm always staying active and trying to move around and keep going.
Q. What's the toughest food or snack that you miss?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, I don't eat too much gluten anymore, so I stay away from the breads. There are a lot of good gluten-free breads out there these days, but my killer is having a soda or two a day. I'm not a diet soda guy, so that's probably some calories I could get rid of.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, Dylan took 25 bucks from me at the U.S. Open, so I'm trying to get that back some way, shape, or form. But a good player, good kid. Got a lot of game. Again, comes out here with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder I think to try prove something.
When you have a guy like that, he's small in statute but just a huge heart and a huge -- just a big focus on wanting to play well.
Like I say, it almost seems like he's got a chip on his shoulder that, hey, he's going to prove people wrong. He doesn't hit it very far but he's got a lot of game and a lot of determination. I like that in a player. It's cool to see.
Nick, on the other hand, I just saw him upstairs. He's got a lot of the length on his side. Good swing. Got a lot of the potential in this game. He could do a lot the good things, as well as Dylan.
But kind of two different games, two different personalities, but both very good players.
Q. Broc Everett just won the national championship, a midwest guy. For a veteran who has been at this a while and who made that college approach, what general pieces of advice for a guy at that stage of his career?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think the biggest thing I've learned -- and I don't know Broc -- but I think the biggest thing I've learned over my career is to be yourself. To play the game that got to the level that you're at, and continue to try to hone in and perfect the things that you do well.
So many times, so many players -- and I was at fault with it when I was younger too. You watch someone else playing and you're like, Wow, I want to be that guy; I want to hit it like that; I wan that length; I want his putter, his short game, whatever.
I think you've got to just stay true to yourself and be the player you are and do the things you know you're good at and keep trying to improve those things.
Q. Is that common?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much.
Q. Wanting to emulate so many different people?
STEVE STRICKER: Very much so. I think that's the key, is just to know your strengths and weakness. Work on your weaknesses obviously, and your strengths, because your strengths can carry you a long ways.
But just to stay in your own lane as my wife would tell me. If I'm barking at her for something she's like, Stay in your own lane. So I think that is pertinent to players out here, too. Stay in your own lane.
Do the things that get you to be player that you are, and then just continue to hone in and get better and perfect those skills.
Q. Do you even know how to use a compass?
STEVE STRICKER: No, and I'm still trying to figure out -- I got to ask him -- really what was he trying to do there, because it's not that much of a science. It's not that exact. Because I watch and I paced off some of the pin locations that the TOUR officials pace off, and it's not exact. I mean, they'll tell is it's 20 on, and it may be like 20, 23 on sometimes. It's off at times.
The book can't be exact because it's some guy's drawing of it, right? So it's not like he's taken a GPS mapping system to write it in our books. So still trying to figure out in my own head, and I've got to ask Bryson how exact he was trying to make that, because it's not an exact science.
Q. The 18th hole here is pretty tough, the toughest finishing hole last year. Why is it such a tough hole, and what have you done to play it so well?
STEVE STRICKER: I don't if I've played it that well. I made one birdie on it that mean something to me, but it is a hard hole. It's an awkward tee ball. You know, if you hit it through the fairway on the left you're in that bunker.
If you try to cut the corner a little bit you can hit those overhanging oak trees on the corner and the ball knocks down to some thick rough.
It's a good driving hole and then it's a demanding second shot with a green that's got a lot of undulation on it and a tough green to make putts on. Really when you're standing on that tee box you're just looking for a four and getting out of there I think.
Maybe get a 15-, 20-footer look for birdie at it. Yeah, it's a good hole from start to finish.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We want to see you in here after every round this week.
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