Steve Stricker shares insights during an afternoon clinic at Stone Creek Golf Club.
Aug. 24, 2009
Champaign, Ill. - Photo Gallery
Illinois alum Steve Stricker, the current sixth-rated player in the world, returned to campus this week for the 2009 Steve Stricker Golf Classic. A social event and silent auction on Sunday night and the golf outing and clinic on Monday helped raise money for the Fighting Illini golf program.
He answered questions for participants, media and fightingillini.com. Here are a sampling of his responses:
On the season: "I have had two wins and probably could have had a couple more somewhere along the line, but all in all a great year. I've been very excited to work on my game. It's been a busy year, but a good one.
On competing for the FedEx Cup:, "It's something that shows you played consistently all year to even have a shot. It would be a huge deal for a player of my stature. I'll give it my best college try and see what I can do."
On his approach to his game after his turnaround a few years ago: "I've taken a little more relaxed approach to the game. I've been easier on myself at times. I'm not beating myself up when I hit a bad shot. Everybody hits a bad shot. What matters is how you recover from those. I'm always working hard now trying to maintain or even get better."
On what he attributes his recent success: "It's just been a rededication and a little harder work ethic. It started with a vision to try to improve and take it a little easier on myself at times. I have been a little more passionate about the game over the last two or three years. It's been a lot of fun. I would have never dreamed some of the things I have done the last three or four years - to be a part of another President's Cup team and a Ryder Cup team. I'm looking to try to continue to improve and keep it moving in the direction I'm heading now."
On the improvement of his ball striking: "My short game and my putting have been pretty much the same, but I'm driving it in more fairways. This year I'm averaging about 65 percent of the fairways. That has been the highest of my career on tour. I've been a little more consistent. I'm hitting it on the greens a little bit more. That has led to my strong putting."
On why he comes back for the Steve Stricker Golf Classic: "Champaign and the University of Illinois have been great places for me. It was here that I learned a lot about the game and about myself. After getting my degree from here and having the kind of career I have had, to come back and support Mike and his program is a great thrill for me. I owe a lot to the university and the golf program here. That's why I try to come back and help out."
On what he gets back from the event: "I get a lot of satisfaction and pride. I get such a warm welcome when I come back here. I can't even describe the love I feel when I come back to Champaign. It makes me feel good that I can be a part of the golf program at the U of I. To see the support at this event is unbelievable. It brings back a lot of great memories from me being here. I'm just thrilled to be able to help out in this way."
On Mike Small and the Illini golf program: "We were teammates back in the late 80s. We were great friends back then and have continued the friendship through the years. He's got a great family and has done a nice job here. He's really put in the time and effort and worked hard at getting the type of players that he believes can work well here at the University of Illinois. He himself goes out and plays some great golf. That is an added bonus for the players -- to come to school where his coach is a solid player, really knows a lot about the game and spends a lot of time at his game and with the kids.
On what he learned from his playing days at Illinois: "When I first came here I had to learn to hit it low because of the windy conditions at the Orange and Blue Course at Savoy. Being four hours away from home enabled me to learn things on my own and grow up and learn the golf game through Coach Beard."
On the Illinois contingent following him in the gallery: "I see Illinois alumni and fans and hear the I-L-L-I-N-I chant all over the country. It's great knowing I have a lot of people pulling for me. Every time I come back, I feel I have a great fan club here in Champaign-Urbana."