Accenture Match Play interview: Steve Stricker

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February 22, 2013

MORE INTERVIEW: Accenture transcripts archive

DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome a victorious Steve Stricker.  It took three extra holes, but you got the job done over Nick Watney in your second match at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Yeah, it was a good hard fought match on both sides.  We both played well.  We made a lot of birdies.  He threw in a couple eagles.  I knew it was going as to be tough to finish him off, too, because any time you're up with a couple to play, or four to play, the other guy has got that luxury to kind of get really aggressive, and I'm trying just to make pars to make him make birdies to beat me, and he did.
Hats off to him, he put the pressure on me coming down the stretch, and I feel fortunate, really, to get through it because it    any one of those extra holes could have gone the other way.  So happy to be moving on.

Q.  Can you just talk about what was going on the par 5 there, the playoff hole?  Nick was in the bush and then you had a putt to win.
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Yeah, he was in a bush.  I think he was just trying to determine whether that bush was attached or if it was loose impediments that he was up against.  And I knew I still had to make a 4.  I figured he was going to make a 5 some way or another.  I hit a nice little shot in there to three feet, and I kind of    I thought I hit a good putt to tell you the truth.  I thought it was going to break a little to the left, and instead it went a little to the right.  Should have just played it straight.
Yeah, I was kicking myself going really to the next hole.  You get an opportunity to finish a match up with a three footer and not do it, especially in extra holes, it stings a little bit.

Q.  Since you announced you were going to have a limited schedule in 2013, you're going to be fresher, but do you feel like   and maybe it's too early to tell   you're going to put more pressure on each start, particularly one like this where you could be eliminated any day?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
I actually feel the opposite to tell you the truth.  You know, I kind of have the    I guess I'm telling myself out there, I'm like, you know what, it really doesn't matter, I'm playing 11 events.  I'm probably not going to play the Playoffs at the end of the year.  I feel like it's taken a little bit of the pressure off me.
You know, I turned 46 this week.  I just feel like it's time to stay home, and that, too, takes some of the pressure off, too.  I want to play well and I want to win and I want to keep moving on, and I'm a competitor and I want to do well.  So I feel like I can do both.  I can stay home.  I'm good with limited play, I feel like, mentally and actually physically, because I need the rest at times to kind of    especially this last six weeks to get my body going again.  And I also    I feel like I come out really fresh, and my attitude is really good.  That's worth a lot.
If you look at the history of the game, some of the greatest players in the world played a very limited schedule.  I'm not saying I'm one of those players, I'm just saying that they must have known something, that coming out playing 15, 16 times, whatever they did, was good.  And I'm going to do less than that, but there's other reasons why I'm doing that.  I just want to be home and be with the family.  I feel like it's taken a little bit of the pressure off and I'm more excited to be here, and I'm actually more ready to play.

Q.  Was this kind of a growing feeling over the past couple years or was there one weekend where you said, okay, I'm going to do this?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
No, it was a feeling over the last two or three years where I was thinking about    I've never been a guy who's played a lot.  I've played 19 events I think the last few years, and then throw in two or three other ones in the silly season, and it ends up to be 22 events or something like that.
Yeah, so I've been contemplating it and throwing it around and talking to my wife about it.  And finally this year during Tiger's event I kind of made the decision to do it.  I knew I was serious about it when I started contacting all my sponsors and telling them this was my plan.  And to their credit, they've all stayed on.  It's happy    it's a good thing for me that they still believe in what I'm doing out here.  Family is a priority for me.  You know, so it's all been good so far.

Q.  Have you thought about the scenario if you were to win two or three of your first four or five tournaments you might play more?
   
STEVE STRICKER:
  I don't think so.  I think the only    I guess the thing that could make me play at the end of the year, into the Playoffs, is if I was really high on that list.  But I've already scheduled something during BMW week.  I plan on being hunting out west somewhere, so I'm making commitments during tournaments late in the season during that playoff stretch.

Q.  And after all the snow has melted, how is the course playing?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
It's actually playing really nice.  It's in great shape, probably the best I've seen it here.  The greens are pure.  The fairways are great.  Everything about it is first class and top notch.  It's really nice.

Q.  Two questions:  You said that we could see the dismay on that putt on 2 when it went the other way.  How did you miss something    it was pretty significant that it went the other way.
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
On 2?

Q.  The playoff hole, yeah.
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Well, the other thing I kind of had    I should have just played it straight.  And I just kind of    sometimes you try to put break in there that isn't there, and I was thinking about the valley to my left, and everything should have gone to the left.  If it's any other time    I probably hit it a bit too hard, too, but I thought right there on the inside right and it squirted a little bit to the right.  And I had my shadow over the hole, which is always tough to putt and line up when you have your shadow over the hole.  Not that that's an excuse, but like I say, I didn't feel like I pushed it or hit a poor putt, it's just I probably played a little bit too much break.

Q.  You appeared to be shocked when it went the other way.
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Yeah, I was shocked.

Q.  And you also said that you were kicking yourself after that.  So how long did that last and how did you turn it off?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Well, I didn't hit the greatest of shots into 3, although it turned out really nicely.  I hit it a little fat, a little chunky.  You hate to hit a shot like that on Nick when he's playing so well all day long, but you'll take it, any way to move on.  It's a tough hole.  I didn't really want to go to that hole.  It just doesn't set up well for me.  It's a tough hole.  If you miss it to the left, you're in jail.  It's tough to get it up and down.  So I just didn't want to go there, and that's why I was really kicking myself.

Q.  Were you still kicking yourself at the tee?
   
STEVE STRICKER:
  No, no.  I mean, walking over there I was, and then you've got to suck it up and try to hit a good shot.  It was out of my mind by the time I stood over the shot.

Q.  When you are taking weeks off, how much of it do you watch, and also, did you have any sort of pangs about Riviera?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
Yeah, I watch a lot of golf when I'm home.  I always    maybe not so much the first two or three days, but I always love to watch the last nine holes of a tournament.  And no, I wasn't kicking myself.  I enjoy being at home.  The kids and my wife haven't kicked me out of the house yet.  They're not telling me to go play.  So that's a good thing.  They've enjoyed having me at home, and that makes me feel good.  Yeah, I just feel like it's the right decision, and I'm not second guessing myself at all.

Q.  People say the seeds don't really matter and the No. 1s are already out right now, but could you compare the depth of potential winners now to when, say, like you won in 2001?  Is there a significant difference in the depth of potential winners or is it about the same?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
No, I would think there's a deeper field nowadays.  Well, especially when I won in '01, I think I was around the 90th or 100th ranked player to get in because not a lot of Americans went over to Australia.  Maybe that shows you how deep it was.  (Laughter.)  The 100th ranked player won.
But no, there's so many good players, and certain players this course sets up for, certain players it doesn't, and that's kind of the tough part that it's here every year, so it kind of favors a certain type of player, I think.  A guy who hits it a long way definitely has an advantage here, I think, so you've got to do other things well.
But no, I think anybody in this field can get on a roll and a run and go a long ways in this.

Q.  I know like you say, nothing really surprises you, but does Scott Piercy beating Luke Donald by that score catch your attention a little bit?
   
STEVE STRICKER: 
You know, that does catch your attention.  Like I said, I think anybody can beat anybody, so that doesn't surprise me that he beat Luke.  But 7 & 6 surprises me.  Was he 7 under through 12, did I hear?  Maybe he used them all up today.  (Laughter.)
   
DOUG MILNE:  Steve, congratulations.  Thanks for your time.

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