After a dry spell of nearly seven years and 150 tournaments, Steve Stricker got back in the win column on the PGA Tour with style, as the American captured The Barclays - and vaulted to the top of the FedEx Cup title chase.
Stricker birdied four of his last five holes to turn a one-shot deficit behind K.J. Choi into a two-shot victory, his first since the 2001 season. Here's what Stricker and Choi said following the tournament;
Q. Your fourth win, first in six years, first Playoff event and you're now leading the FedEx Cup. Tell us how it feels.
STEVE STRICKER: It feels great. (Laughter) I don't know what else to say. But I tell what you, I've been waiting for this day for a long time. It feels really good.
Q. You must have thought you would wait another six-and-a-half years after watching K.J. pour in those putts one after another.
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt. I thought, here he goes. I was in contention there at AT&T and he holed it out of the bunker at 17. I thought, "Well, here he goes." He made a bomb and then he made one earlier, too.
You know, I just had to pay attention to myself and I didn't really worry about what he was doing. I just tried to stay focused on what I was doing and trying to do -- I knew I was playing well enough throughout the day. Even though I wasn't scoring that well, I thought I was hitting well enough to maybe make a few birdies coming in, not obviously four out of the last five holes.
But I tried to stay as positive and upbeat and just waiting for my time.
Q. Having what was on the line, have you ever had a more interesting stretch of holes in your entire golfing career?
STEVE STRICKER: No. Not considering what was on the line.
But I made birdie at 14, and that really gave me a huge lift there. I needed something positive to happen, and that was it. I drove it good at 15. I hit a good iron shot at 15, and even though K.J. made that long putt at 15, I just said, "I'm only down one." At that point, I felt like it was just between him and I.
So I just felt like, you know, just stick to my guns and just keep doing the things that I've been doing. He hit a good shot at 16, and at that point I felt like I needed to get a little more aggressive with things, and I took a little more dead aim at that pin and I pulled it off, and then made a good putt.
You know, from that point on, I felt like I had the momentum.
Q. Just talk about after all of the disappointments, just the emotions when that last putt went in and you knew that you had won.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that was pretty special. I was hoping that I didn't have to make that to win, because I was having a hard time taking it back.
But it was such a relief, to tell you the truth. I've worked -- I mean, every player out here wants to do this, wants to win. That's what we are all out here to do. You don't get in position that many times, and when you do, it's tough to pull it off.
So I was just happy that it worked out my way this time at the end, and I pulled one off.
Q. Is it more icing on the cake because of the FedEx points and all that to win this one?
STEVE STRICKER: I guess so. I wasn't out there thinking about the FedEx Cup points. I mean, obviously winning the tournament is foremost. Everything that comes after that is icing on the cake.
But yeah, I'm in a great position now. There's still a long ways to go, and we all know who is coming back next week. (Laughter) I've just got to keep focused and keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully get myself some more opportunities in the next three.
Q. Talk about your mano-a-mano battle with Steve Stricker today and your play today overall.
K.J. CHOI: Today I didn't start off very well but I got back into form on the back nine. I shot 3-under.
You know, just coming in in second place in the first FedEx Cup Playoff tournament is very meaningful for me. I'm going to take this as a good experience and then obviously try to do my best in the next three tournaments.
You know, playing with Steve Stricker today, he was just on a roll. He played so great today out there today. I learned a lot from him just watching him play today, so I think that's going to help me a lot for the Deutsche Bank Championship next week.
Q. What did you learn from him today watching him play?
K.J. CHOI: Just basically the short game, he had a great short game out there today. His putting was great. I just observed the way he putted, his motions, just little things like that. His overall plan, strategy for playing the course today was like a veteran out there. So those are the things that I learned.
Q. I know you're disappointed not to win the tournament; but are you disappointed to have left a couple thousand FedEx Cup points on the table? Does that sting, as well, leaving those points?
K.J. CHOI: You know, it's okay. I'm not really concerned about the points. The points will come. I'm just happy that, you know, I was able to get back, fight back the way I did.
In the beginning, my caddie, Andy, told me that my swing rhythm was a little bit too fast, so I kind of slowed it down. Just the way that I was down four strokes going into the back nine, I was able to catch up. So I'm very happy about the way I finished up, and I take it -- it was a very meaningful week for me. I studied how Steve played out there, and just his shots, just analyzing. He had a good rhythm out there and that's the important thing I was able to catch onto that.
Q. How does it feel to have more FedEx Cup points than Tiger right now?
K.J. CHOI: (Chuckling) yeah, I mean, obviously Tiger Woods wasn't here this week but I'm sure he's going to gain all of the points back.
I'm not really too concerned about the points. If you get too worried about the points or how many you're going to be earning, then you tend to lose focus. So I'm just going to focus on my next three tournaments and try to finish -- play well, and I think the rest will take care of itself.
Transcript provided by ASAP Sports.
August 27, 2007
Coming off his thrilling British Open victory over Sergio Garcia in 2007, Padraig Harrington sat down to discuss his game and his chances at the 2008 U.S. Open. "I have spent my last 10 years trying to adapt my swing to play U.S. Open golf," Harrington said. "I'd say the last two years, that and the Masters have attracted my attention more than anything else."
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