Sept. 8, 2008
Urbana, Ill. -
Illinois legend Steve Stricker, ranked no. 8 in the world rankings, was in town this week for the annual Steve Stricker Golf Outing presented by First Federal Savings Bank and GTPS Insurance, which benefits the Illini golf program. He hosted a reception at the newly renovated Memorial Stadium Sunday night and gave a 30-minute clinic to the players at Stone Creek Golf Club on Monday.
Corporate sponsors for the event included Orange & Blue Distributing and R & S RV Sales - Tin Cup RV Park.
Stricker took a few minutes to answer the media's questions, which ranged from his pride in Illini golf to the upcoming Ryder Cup. Here is a transcript of the interview.
Q: What is your mindset going into the Ryder Cup?
SS: I'm very excited. Obviously it's a great honor to be picked for that team. I've got a week off. I have four or five days where I can get away a couple of days without playing and then get back working hard trying to get ready for next week. I'll probably sneak down to Valhalla later this week and get a lay of the land and take a look at the course. I'm very much looking forward to next week.
Q: With this being your first Ryder Cup and with the United States having not fared well of late, any extra pressure?
SS: It is just another golf event, but it's on a bigger stage. I figured if I can get my game ready and feel good about it, that will alleviate some of the pressure. That's what I want to try to do. When we get there and feel the hype with all of big crowd, it will tough, but it should be a lot of fun at the same time.
Q: How special is it for you to come back and be part of this golf outing, especially with the way this program has evolved?
SS: I'm giving back in a small way. I'm taking a day and a half out of my year to help out a good friend of mine, Mike Small. To come back and just to relive some of the great memories we had here as a team, is neat. It continues to be a big part of who I am. I get to see a lot of familiar faces and helps Mike out in a big way. To see the kids and put a face with a name is also a lot of fun?
Q: Do you keep tabs on the success of the program?
SS: I do. I talk to Mike probably two or three times a month and find out how the season is going and how the kids are playing. We caught up yesterday a little bit. He told me about the qualifying and how that shaped up. I'm very much interested in how they perform.
Q: Does this team remind you of the `hey day' when you and Coach Small were playing together?
SS: It does. We keep living it. I guess the nice part is we keep that alive. Smally's doing a great job here. I couldn't be happier for him. He's a hometown boy basically. He has a young team and the future looks promising. To be able to help out in a small way is very rewarding?
Q: What is your schedule like after the Ryder Cup?
SS: I'll be playing the Tour Championship the week after and packing it in the rest of the year. I'm very much looking forward to that. It's a long year and the ending is long. We play a lot of weeks in a row and there are a lot of pressure events. You want to play well in the playoffs, then the Ryder Cup. To end it with the Tour Championship is a bonus. It shows what kind of year you've had. After that I'll be able to set the clubs aside for a couple of months and get back at it in December.