Stricker Comes Oh So Close


On a rain-softened course that PGA Tour players lick their chops on, Steve Stricker came so close to matching Paul Goydos's record-tying 59 in the opening round of the John Deere Classic.

The tournament's defending champion, Stricker carded a 60 at the TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. The two scores set the all-time record for the lowest scores in any single round in PGA Tour history.

After signing his scorecard for the 60, Stricker met with reporters and discussed the what-could-have-beens. Here's what the native of Wisconsin had to say.

MODERATOR: We want to welcome Steve Stricker to the interview room. Steve, you shot a 60 today. Most days very impressive, but followed up a 59 earlier. Can you kind of talk about your mindset coming into the round after seeing Paul's 59 and then backing that up with a very impressive score yourself?

STEVE STRICKER: Well, thank you. Yeah, you know, Paul made history today, which is pretty cool. I almost wanted -- I was up eating lunch, getting ready to go, and I almost wanted to go out and see if he was going to make birdie on the last because it's not too often somebody shoots 59 out here on Tour. So good for him. I'm happy for him. My mindset was just to come out and try to get into the mid to upper 60s, you know. I was thinking 5 or 6-under today. And I thought if I could shoot that, I at least wouldn't be too far back; you know, keep chipping away at a 12-under score. So that was my mindset. And I got off to a good start, made a couple of long putts on the front side and putted the ball really well today and did a lot of good things, drove the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities into the greens. So I'm very happy with what I did today.

MODERATOR: Actually, you were part of history. These are the two lowest scores for any single round in Tour history. So a full day here at the John Deere Classic. Questions?

Q. That was going to be my first question. I know you just came off the course, but what are your thoughts about being part of history, a 59 and 60 on the same day?

STEVE STRICKER: Well, it is amazing. You know, 59 is amazing, you know, and I thought, you know, I'm like, golly, how did he shoot 59, and here I'm one shot worse than that. But you never go out thinking you're going to shoot a 60 or 59 or 61 or 2 or whatever. You're just going out there trying to do the best you can. And that's what my mindset was today, just go out and do the things I've been doing and play smart and don't get dumb trying to chase a 12-under. But you know, it's cool to be part of history. Any time you can do something like that and get your name in the record books, it's pretty cool.

Q. I wanted to ask you the other day and didn't get a chance to. When you're playing like you've been playing, coming down the stretch, do you get fired up or do you have to fight to not get fired up?

STEVE STRICKER: I'm pretty calm. You know, if anything, I tend to get a little emotional out there, which I did today. You know, I mean you're trying to finish the round. And you know, last year, you know, you're coming down the stretch and knowing how much it means to win a golf tournament, especially here, you know, and everybody does it. You know, the thoughts are running through your mind what it means to win or do something great out here. So I always gotta go and calm myself down in that regards. But I stayed pretty calm. For the most part today, I didn't get nervous. I was just doing the things that, you know, and focused on trying to do the things, the proper things on each hole, on each shot. And I really never got ahead of myself, and I took each shot as it came, and I'm happy for that. You know, mentally I did very well today.

Q. Can you talk about the sequence on 17, looked like you talked about hitting driver there. And then talk about that chip.

STEVE STRICKER: I wanted to hit driver so bad, and he said, go with it. I mean you got ball-in-hand, so I put it up on a little tuft of grass, and the lie still was sitting down, not as good as you'd like to hit driver off the deck. But I do hit driver off the deck fairly common at home, and out here I'll do it every once in a while. So I'm not shy of trying to do it. But we just thought the smarter play was to hit the 3-wood, try to get it up a little left of the green, maybe left side of the green. And it just didn't quite turn enough, and we knew we maxed it out to the front of the green. And you know, I'd taken those practice chips on the green, and I'd never taken a divot. Then I go down there and take a big ole divot out of the green. But it was a good two-putt, I guess. But you never know what to expect when you're chipping off the green, but it was a good 4.

Q. What did you think when you were walking to your approach shot there at 18, close to 10?

STEVE STRICKER: You know, I was just trying to give myself a good look at another birdie, to tell you the truth. It was a good pin for me to try to turn it in there. I played the ball right-to-left. I told myself don't overcook it. Just put it out there to the right and let the slope bring it out there. And I turned it probably a little more than I wanted to, and I was just happy that I had a little tap-in. I didn't realize it was for 59 or anything like that. Nothing was going through my head about that. I was just trying to hit a good shot and get another look at it.

Q. Did it look like it was going in at any point to you?

STEVE STRICKER: It looked good, working its way right down to the hole. I don't know, it was a little short all the way the way it looked when I got up there, but it looked good for a while.

Q. Golf tends to fixate on what's going on with those guys, particularly on Thursday. Everyone has kind of tuned in to what Paul was doing.

STEVE STRICKER: Well, 59 grabs your attention, you know. When somebody puts up a 59, I was following him inside here. He was 10-under with two holes to play, and then I looked at the computer and he birdied 17. By that time we were just starting to walk out to get warmed up, and somebody said that they heard a big roar, or big cheer. So yeah, you know, when somebody shoots 59, you pay attention. I can remember my first Tour event, a Milwaukee tournament back in -- I don't know when it was, '90, '91, I came to the course, and I think it was Robert Gamez to this day I think shot 8-under, and I'm like jeepers, eight shots back already and you haven't even teed it up. And that's kind of the way I felt today; you're 12 back before you even step on the first tee. And that's tough to swallow, and that's why you gotta get into a little different thought process and just think about chipping away at it and getting in your own little world and chip away.

Q. Talk about this morning, how the course is set up now and seeing those scores, how did you find the conditions this afternoon?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I mean scoring is -- or the course is right for scoring, I should say. It's soft. Fairways are soft. We had ball-in-hand, so you could clean it. The greens are very soft, so you could throw it right at 'em, at the pins. And they putted -- even this afternoon, even that they were soft, they still putted well. So yeah, everything is set up for good scores.

Q. Was ball-in-hand (indiscernible)?

STEVE STRICKER: It wasn't too bad, no. Just a little bit of mud. I mean no big clumps or anything like that. But it is really soft out there still. You're not getting any roll off the tee. But you know, I imagine tomorrow we'll be playing it down.

Q. At any point during the round when you got going, did you think 59, that you could be right there with Paul?

STEVE STRICKER: Very early in the round. You know, I think I birdied 1 and 2, 4 and 7, I think.

MODERATOR: 5.

STEVE STRICKER: 5 and 7. 5, 7 and 8, so 5-under through eight. And I'm thinking, I gotta get seven more, and it quickly disappeared, my thought of 59, even though I had, what did I have, 10 holes left. I mean, yeah, that's when it came in and it left my mind very quickly.

Q. You talked about chasing Paul today. Is it possible that it works both ways, that you could feel too good about the four birdies in a row you made and you could prematurely celebrate the round?

STEVE STRICKER: Sometimes. I mean it depends on what kind of player you are, I think. Some guys when they get to a certain point under par, that's their comfort zone and they have a hard time going lower. Some guys get under and they, you know, feel good about getting more birdies and keep going. I think it just depends on what kind of player you are, I guess, and how you take it, but for the most part guys out here are very aggressive and they're going to keep going low. You know, especially when you see 12-under on the board, I think it gives everybody a different mindset that, you know, to have a chance at winning this tournament you need to make a lot of birdies.

So I think Paul shooting 59 this afternoon gave guys, or forced guys to have a totally different mindset out there, I think. It would be interesting to know if the scoring average was better this afternoon than this morning. You know what I mean? After you see a 59 on the board, and if that changes the -- you know what I'm trying to say, if that changes the mindset of all the players to be a little bit more aggressive, knowing that there is such a great score out there. And there was a bunch of 7s and 6s in there, 5s, all that, too. So everybody knows there's good scores out there. So it would be interesting to know if the scoring average is lower this afternoon.

Q. (Indiscernible)?

STEVE STRICKER: I've never shot in the 50s, no. I think this is my lowest -- I think 61 was my lowest tournament round. I think I shot that at the Phoenix Open, I think. And that was 9-under, so this in relation to par, 11 under is my lowest, for sure.

Q. You shot it in the second round here last year.

STEVE STRICKER: Oh, yeah. That's right. 10-under. Yeah, duh.

Q. Two things. As defending champ coming back, some players find it hard to follow up a championship with all their commitments, to find a good rhythm for their golf game. How key was this for you today to get this good round under and get your feet back under and get back to a normal routine now?

STEVE STRICKER: Well, Clair had me doing so many things at the beginning of the week. (Laughs). No, there really wasn't any added extra time on things I had to do here. I was pretty much into my routine from the start when I got here. So there really wasn't -- you know, the expectations are there, I think, for me since playing well here last year, and I've had some other good tournaments here. Coming to a course where you've had success, there's higher expectations, I think. And I think you gotta try to downplay those and just try to go out and do your own thing and do the things that you're doing well through that given time, because what I did well last year are probably totally different things that I'm doing well this year. So you know, you just gotta stay in the moment, I guess.

Q. Is this scoring pace going to continue the next three days?

STEVE STRICKER: I would imagine. You know, I don't know if it can firm up, you know, unless the wind blows, which I kind of did the forecast for the next three days, and it doesn't look like the wind is going to blow either. I think scoring is going to continue to be good. You know, the conditions are still -- you know, like I said, the greens held up fairly well today for being as soft as they were, and you could still get the ball rolling on line and make some putts.

Q. Were you surprised that the greens held up as well as they did for the afternoon round?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you're always a little worried when you have soft conditions and you have half the field on before you, and they mark up a lot easier, but you know what, they held up well for me. I enjoyed the way they putted. I don't know if everybody agrees with me, but yeah, I thought they were very good.

MODERATOR: Steve, can you go through your birdies real quick?

STEVE STRICKER: Birdied 1, hit a 9-iron to about 18 feet. Two-putted from about 20 feet at No. 2 for birdie. No. 5, hit a driver and sand wedge to about six feet. 7, I hit a 3-iron. I bet that putt had to be 40, 45 feet. Birdied 8, hit a driver and an 8-iron, and that putt had to be 30 feet. Birdied 10, hit a sand wedge to about four feet. 7 was 40 feet and 8 was 27. So it was pretty close. 10 was a sand wedge to about -- they're all already on here -- five feet. 11, hit an 8-iron to 25 feet, made that. 13, hit an 8-iron to 15 feet. 16, I hit an 8-iron in there to 15 feet. 17, I hit it on the front of the green, chipped over the corner of it and chipped it to about three feet. And then 18 was about -- you know, it wasn't two feet. It was probably about a foot and a half. I hit an 8-iron into the green on 18.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.

STEVE STRICKER: Thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


CBS Sports Official Partner