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THE RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 11, 2017
JULIUS MASON: I'm The PGA of America's Julius Mason, and I'd like to thank you very much for joining us today at The PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for the 2018 United States Ryder Cup Captain announcement.
I would also like to welcome those who are watching us on Golf Channel and live on Facebook.
We have some guests in attendance that I'd like to introduce: Beginning with PGA Ryder Cup committee members, Suzy Whaley, The PGA of America vice president; and Pete Bevacqua, The PGA of America's CEO; from the South Florida PGA Section, Executive Director, Geoff Lofstead.
How about past The PGA of America president, Mickey Powell; two-time Ryder Cup Team member, Brad Faxon; and from right across the street from The Honda Classic, Ken Kennerly.
And now, please welcome the CEO and general manager of Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, California, the president of The PGA of America, Mr. Paul Levy.
PAUL LEVY: Thank you, Julius. As we gather here today and look ahead, I can't help but reflect back on the unforgettable events that took place in Minneapolis last year at The Ryder Cup.
We won, and yes, we did win, but we won because of incredible play by our team, and a dedication by our captain, and a performance in an electric atmosphere. We won because of our captain, Davis Love. He governed and led that team with a steady hand, and his unmistakable passion was a trademark for that Ryder Cup.
Here at The PGA of America in late 2014, we began working with several players and past captains to putt a program together that empowered the players and tapped into our veteran Ryder Cup leadership.
What emerged was a new spirit of partnership amongst The Ryder Cup players, our captains, our vice captains, our past captains and The PGA of America, and we wanted the players to have an emotional ownership of The Ryder Cup.
This new process for continuity and team work created for the long haul, it was about giving players, past, present and future, captains, emotional ownership in building a strong Ryder Cup family.
We are optimistic and very excited about the future in part because of the person we've selected to lead the 2018 Ryder Cup Team.
On behalf of The PGA of America and the PGA Ryder Cup committee, it is my honor today to introduce to you the person who will lead this team into France. He's played in nine Ryder Cups and was one of Davis Love's vice captains last year in Minneapolis.
He is among one of the most respected players on the PGA TOUR for over 20 years. He's a natural leader and a great communicator, and has an unbelievable passion for The Ryder Cup.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, our 2018 United States Ryder Cup Captain, Jim Furyk.
JULIUS MASON: Well, Jim, it certainly appears as though you're having a pretty good week. Your Pittsburgh Steelers went down to our Miami Dolphins and destroyed them last Sunday, and today, you're named the United States Ryder Cup Captain.
JIM FURYK: Paul, thank you. Julius, thanks. This is such an honor. Actually a little overwhelmed now. I didn't think it would be that way.
My wife and I have enjoyed this event. It's no secret; it's been my favorite event my entire career. In my opinion, The Ryder Cup embodies everything special about golf. It was an event that was started years ago to bring two sides of the pond together.
It was all about camaraderie, and using golf as the vehicle to join two sides. It has the team work, the camaraderie, the competition, the passion; it brings fans together from worldwide, and I just -- I get chills thinking about all the events that I've been able to participate in and how fortunate I've been, and now to stand here as the 2018 captain, or sit here as the 2018 captain, for 2018, is such an honor.
I want to first thank my family. I mentioned Tabitha. My daughter, Caleigh; my son, Tanner. Tabitha, you're around somewhere -- I love you dearly. I appreciate all the support. And I look so forward to the next two years, spending it with you together, working to make this the best team possible and give these guys and these gals the most wonderful experience they could have and put them in positions to succeed. I look forward to it and thanks for the help.
I want to thank my mother and father. My dad was a PGA professional. He's been in this business now for over 45 years, and two very special people. We have a very close-knit family, and he made a lot of sacrifices, and always made sure to putt their son first. Gave me the opportunities to succeed, to be successful, the tools needed, and I appreciate that very much. So thank you.
Paul, as president, want to thank The PGA of America, the 28,000 members; I'm one of those. I'm proud to be part of this organization, what it stands for in the game. Trying to grow the game and make it better for everyone and I want to thank you for that.
Coming back to this facility is, for me, is a great memory. The last two days, I've sat in the same conference room that we met with The Ryder Cup Task Force, now The Ryder Cup Committee meets.
To sit here a little over two years ago, and all of us kind of binding together: The PGA of America, the players, joining kind of our heads together to try to come up with the best possible way to not only grow our team every two years, but to try to look to the future: How can we improve; how can we get better.
I just want to thank you all for your time, for your thought, in bringing everyone together; to the committee, to Davis, Tiger, Phil, now Paul, Suzy and Pete. I have a lot of support and a lot of access and resources behind me, and I plan on using all those to their fullest.
The committee set a nice system in place. It's comforting for me as a captain, and we picked the right person. I remember sitting in the room and knowing in my heart that Davis Love was the best person to lead this team in 2016. And Davis, he's going to be a very tough act to follow. He put a system in place, got the players behind it, and definitely won't make my task easy. But it makes it more comforting knowing there is a system in place and there is support.
So as the first order of my presidency, I want to make sure that everybody knows that Davis Love III will be my vice captain for 2018. He's a good friend, someone I've looked up to and admired throughout the years, and someone that every young professional could model themselves after.
To have him by my side and his advice and his experience, two captaincies, and I think one vice captaincy, is going to be priceless for me. So I'm thankful to have him by my side.
The European captain was named before the holidays, Thomas Bj√∂rn, is a friend of mine. We had one match when we were both vice captains in this past Ryder Cup at Hazeltine where we walked for about six or seven holes side-by-side, chatted a lot about the matches, about the future.
He asked me if I would be the next captain. He was hoping to get the nod on his side. I think we were both hoping for that. Thomas is a friend; someone I look forward to sharing this process with, against, but in a friendly manner and done well and done right.
Thomas will be a great leader. I know the team is going to be strong. They are not going to be happy about the results at Hazeltine, and as always, the European crowd will be at full force. They are loud, boisterous. They are great fans. That whole atmosphere is going to provide a very difficult challenge for Team USA.
We haven't won on foreign soil since 1993, but I look forward to working with my wife, my family, with Davis, with the other vice captains, The Ryder Cup Committee, The PGA of America. We've got our work cut out for us, but I'm really excited about rolling up my sleeves and getting started. Can't wait to start this process, so thank you.
JULIUS MASON: Jim, it's okay to go ahead and take a deep breath right now, feel free.
Interesting fact. In the history of The Ryder Cup, and that's nearly 90 years we're talking about, there has never been a United States Ryder Cup Captain who has played in more Ryder Cups than you. Serious fact.
Did it ever cross your mind that you potentially could be the most experienced Ryder Cup Captain leading a team?
JIM FURYK: Well, not until you mentioned it (laughter) but Julius, you always provide me a couple good surprises.
I haven't. As I said, I've been blessed. I feel fortunate to have played on nine teams. So happy for Davis to ask me to be involved as a vice captain in 16. I will draw on those experiences from each and every captain. I've learned a lot from those folks. I think there was so much positive in every event. Every captain ran the team a touch differently, because you have to do it in your own personality, your own style.
But I look forward to it, each and every moment. You know, I'll try to use that experience, and both good and bad; I think you can learn a lot from your mistakes. If you look at my record, I've learned a lot; if you look at it that way (chuckling). I've had a few mistakes along the way.
But as I said, a lot of it for me is preparation, and I've got two years now to kind of form the best way to run this team. I'm looking forward to it.
JULIUS MASON: Speaking of captains, what do you take away from all nine of the captains that you played for?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've been fortunate. I'm looking at list in front of me: Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Tom Lehman, Paul Azinger, Corey Pavin, Davis Love and Tom Watson. What an amazing group of gentlemen to join.
But you know, it started as kind of my boyhood idols: Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange. And it ended up being a lot of the folks I played golf against and my peers later in my career.
What I think I learned the most about a captaincy, is we each have our own style, our own flair, our own personality, and that can't change. I think for me, I'm a little bit more of a quiet leader, one that -- lead my example, we'll say. For me to get into the room and get rah-rah and start yelling and chanting isn't going to work. Each and every one of these captains that I played for used their personality to an advantage and provided -- poured their heart into making the team room, the team itself, a place where we could try to succeed.
So I think for me, it's going to be really learning from each and every one of them. I will probably -- I would like to bounce back and talk to each and every one of them, have a dinner, spend some time with them and really tap into the resources that I have. I guess I have more resources; I've played for more captains.
JULIUS MASON: What is your most pleasant Ryder Cup memory, and what is your most painful?
JIM FURYK: I think that's going to, very similar situations. I guess my best memory as a player, might be Brookline in '99. A team that was kind of left for dead: Four points down, can't come back, and Ben Crenshaw wagging his finger and everybody thought he was maybe a little -- a little loopy at the time; that, you know, "I've got a good feeling about this."
Just the way that day transformed with the first six matches winning; going from four points down to two points up and having the biggest come back at that time in Ryder Cup history. It was an amazing day amongst Boston sport fans. It just -- this event has so much emotion. You see guys pumping fists and screaming at the top of their lungs that you usually don't see a lot of emotion from. And that's what that entire day was full of, and the excitement and how happy we were afterwards.
You know, the most painful memory was the exact flipside of that in 2012 at Medinah. It was, again, four points up, but having the tables turned on us at Chicago and losing that. So going into Sunday with such a positive feel and yet coming out of that event with a loss was painful for me.
JULIUS MASON: We'd like to open the floor now to questions from the media.
Q. You already referenced this, it will be 25 years, a quarter century since you guys have won on the road. What is the biggest challenge you face of trying to win a Ryder Cup match on the road?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think there's definitely a home-field advantage. And so when I think of that, although I know the leadership is going to be strong; I know Thomas has played in two or three Ryder Cups. I think he's been a vice captain four times. He understands the ins and outs and what's worked for them in the past. I know the team will be strong; it always is.
But their fans provide an atmosphere that's electric. The first tee at Gleneagles was absolutely amazing for both sides, to be honest with you. But obviously their side is loud. They are cheering for their team, and you wrap the three of those together, it provides a very tough atmosphere to win in. It's much like any other sport.
So we'll have our work cut out for us. But you know, it's been a long time but I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Davis Love has spoken about the influence about both you and Tabitha in the team room, being like that of Raymond and Maria Floyd. Can you talk about what kind of a compliment that is to you? And then I'm also wondering with all of the responsibilities that come with being captain, is that going to hinder your ability to keep shooting rounds in the 50s?
JIM FURYK: It's the ultimate compliment. But I think as you -- you know, I remember my first Ryder Cup and I couldn't tell you which side was up; the week was a blur. I felt unprepared. Didn't know what to expect. I was on foreign soil. I mean, it was exciting, but it happened so fast.
And as you grow and as we've been in more team rooms, you realize that your role becomes that of letting the young guys know what to expect, trying to harvest that talent.
And if you look at the past few Ryder Cups, we've had some young players, the Patrick Reeds, the Jordan Spieths; they have been some of the leaders on the golf course for us. And I believe that's because we've had strong leadership from Phil Mickelson and from Steve Stricker and folks that have been in that position before.
And so it's a compliment from Davis, but I know I'll surround the team with very capable, very experienced vice captains. We're going to have a good mix, I'm sure, of some veteran players and some young players, and there will be some great guys in the team room to take over that role for, say, Tabitha and I when we played in those teams.
As far as the 50s, you know, I'd have never imagined that a 59 or a 58 would have been possible, so I just won't be greedy and I'll stick with that. I'm pretty good right now (smiling).
Q. How much did being a vice captain under Davis Love this past year prepare you for the role that you're about to be in?
JIM FURYK: I'd say it's pretty priceless. Steve Stricker put it best I think at Gleneagles, in that it was the first time he had ever approached a team from a captain side.
I asked him that week and wanted to talk about it. He said as a player, you look at things from a different perspective. As a captain, it has to be a little bit more all-inclusive. You have to figure out who is playing well and not well and make those tough decisions. He said it's just a totally different outlook.
I was also very fortunate Davis brought me along for the ride a lot. I was at Hazeltine with him twice before the Matches. I helped with he and Tom Lehman in the team room with the picks after the BMW, the first three. We were all with him the weekend before, trying to make the last choice, which was Ryan Moore.
Those moments were priceless. I went through his media training at Hazeltine with him in the morning, so I got to see sides of it that I had not before as a player. It would be a good experience.
You know, going forward, the idea, Europe's been doing it for a long time. Going forward, our future captains will have served as a vice captain, and probably more than likely, more than once. I served as -- did it once. I think Davis and Corey Pavin had done it once as a vice captain.
But in the future, you're going to see our next captains probably even more prepared, being vice captains multiple times. Those experiences, always make mental notes. Here is maybe where we could have been letter, and here's little things I saw. And that's the process. I'll sit down with Davis, and with the guys, Tiger, Strick, some of the players in the room, and really try and get an idea, an overall picture.
We're definitely not reinventing the wheel. We have a good system in place but we're always going to try to make improvements and try to get better.
Q. As you went through the process with the committee, was it discussed about the possibility of being a playing captain? Obviously you're still very competitive. Did you in your heart think that maybe you wanted it deferred a couple years down the road, and what made you decide to take it right now?
JIM FURYK: Well, you're going to have to remind me all of the parts. There was about five parts to the question.
The first part was -- I was asked this question a lot at Davis's event at RSM, whether or not I felt -- was I too young, did I still want to make some teams. One of the things Tabitha and I have talked about for years is I wanted to be relevant on the PGA TOUR. I still wanted to be competing on the PGA TOUR regularly. I wanted to know the guys and I wanted to know young players well. I feel like I have a good relationship with a lot of the young players that have played on these teams. I really did feel and hoped that this was the right time.
Now the committee needed to make that decision, to make the best decision for Team USA, and I was glad to get the call from Paul.
Forgive me, but there was a couple other parts to that.
Q. Just a quick follow up. Do you feel like you could still, in this day and age, be a playing captain with the scope of this event becoming so big?
JIM FURYK: I don't want to say no. But also, my main focus and what I'm really interested in right now is being a captain. I mean, worrying about points and where my game is really putting the cart before the horse in my opinion.
My main goal is to focus on being the best possible captain I can, to try to get the best 12 players possible on this USA team and to provide that atmosphere to let them succeed; to basically carry out the plan that the Ryder Cup Committee set up and that Davis so skillfully did.
Does that answer your question well enough?
Q. Every one of them.
JIM FURYK: All right. Thanks.
Q. What do you know about the venue, and how important have you found the venue to be in the outcome of the Matches you've played in?
JIM FURYK: I think it will be important. I think a lot of your captain's picks could be chosen, could be chosen, around style of golf course.
I've never played at the venue. I've heard so much positive about it, for years; from the time that it was named as the '18 site years and years ago. A lot of the European players talked very positively about the golf course. Said they felt it was one of the better golf courses they play on their tour.
I can't think of a better venue than the City of Paris, to start with, and it's a place that Tabitha and I and the kids have been to a number of different times.
So I'm looking forward to getting back to Paris, especially the first time, as now named the captain to take the family there, but also to visit the golf course, to play it and to get an idea of what to expect. I've seen some of it online. I've got an idea about the holes a little bit, but until I get there and really get my hands on it, I'd like to do that this summer.
JULIUS MASON: Looks like we have a question from someone watching us live on Facebook. Tyler Price wants to know: Will you be bringing your Terrible Towel to Paris?
JIM FURYK: I would say Tyler is from Pittsburgh. I took it to Pittsburgh last week. Had a number of different times I could wave it. That's a good question. Maybe. We'll see. We'll see. I hadn't thought of it yet.
Yeah, it's provided some luck on the road for me at Steeler games. Maybe I'll have to pack it away.
JULIUS MASON: Landon Peterson, also watching us on Facebook, wants to know: Where does this moment in your life today, compare to all the other accomplishments you've had throughout your career?
JIM FURYK: It's a very proud moment. I think that as a player, we all look at things we've accomplished, scores we've shot, tournaments we've won.
But to have the confidence of your peers; to have The Ryder Cup Committee, both The PGA of America and my peers as players, to kind of give you the tap on the shoulder and the nod and supply that confidence that we want you to lead the next team, it's very special.
So I guess for me and deep in my heart, to have that trust or to have someone choose you is very important to me.
Q. Did you have any counsel with any players before you made this decision when you were given the opportunity by The PGA of America?
JIM FURYK: When you say "counsel with other players" -- talk to them about the idea?
JIM FURYK: Well, how long did it take me to say yes when you called?
PAUL LEVY: Less than a second.
JIM FURYK: Less than a second.
Q. That would be no.
JIM FURYK: Not a lot of counsel I guess (laughter). Obviously Tiger and Phil and Davis being on that committee knew that that was the call. I've spoken to each and every one of them and had -- before, during and now after the holidays.
So I have a lot of resources, as I said. I have some great veteran players that are on that committee, Davis as a vice captain, The PGA of America. I've got -- my style of leading is to really gather information, to surround myself with the best, the brightest, the people that I respect the most to get their opinions, and then ultimately, it's my job to make that difficult decision. But you know, I didn't consult with anyone about taking the job. But I will use all those resources and consult as much as possible within the job.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
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