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January 11, 2017

Jim Furyk

JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon or maybe morning to many people. We are getting a hold of you from PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where we've just announced Jim Furyk as our 2018 United States Ryder Cup captain. Jim, congratulations. Maybe an opening comment and we'll quickly go to Q & A.

JIM FURYK: Thanks, Julius. Is truly is an honor. I'm humbled today. It's nice to have Tabitha here with me. I talked at the press conference about her support and love, and this is going to be a great journey for the next couple of years, and I'm looking forward to it with her. I thank my daughter, my son, and of course mom and dad. Dad was a PGA professional, and everything they've done for me throughout my career to make sure I was able to succeed. I have a lot of thanks for them.

This is exciting. I'm sitting in the same conference room that I did over two years ago with the Ryder Cup task force. Now that's become the Ryder Cup committee. I really want to thank the committee, want to thank the PGA of America for all their support, all their help over the last two years, really over my 20-year here career with the Ryder Cups.

We had a vision a couple years ago. We hired the best captain we possibly could in Davis Love, and I also want to thank Davis, as well. As you know, I named him as my vice captain today. I'm going to need his support. I'm going to use his veteran leadership. I'm going to use all of his experience and resources.

But Davis did a wonderful job. We had a vision here over a couple of years ago. Davis did a wonderful job putting that vision into place, and it'll be my job now to kind of keep the ball rolling, keep the momentum going, and not really reinvent anything, but kind of nip, tuck, tweak, and try to improve on a successful campaign in 2016.

Also want to say hello to Thomas Björn, or mention Thomas. He's a friend of mine. Couldn't be happier to be captaining the U.S. Team against his European team, and we had a little conversation in the fairway at Hazeltine about who the next captains may be, and I think we both mentioned that we were hopeful it was the two of us.

He's a friendly guy, someone I've gotten along with very well. I think you saw a lot of positive between Darren and Davis being such close friends, and Thomas and I will carry that forward. Paris is -- Paris is a wonderful venue, I mean, a beautiful city, a place my family and I enjoy so much visiting, and I look forward to going back now for the first time as the Ryder Cup captain, and I can't wait to see the venue.

I guess we'll open it up to questions, and thank you for calling in.

Q. Jim, we know that one of the functions of the task force was to get all the moving parts on the same page, players, captains, PGA of America people, and to build on previous successes. You obviously have a blueprint for success here. That being said, do you anticipate or is it too early to think about what might be the Jim Furyk touch, what might be your unique take to a Ryder Cup captaincy?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure I have a unique tale to tell. I really enjoyed -- I was so happy that Davis asked me to be a vice captain. He let me tag along a lot to meetings throughout the year last year, enjoyed doing the picks with him. I went through media prep with him last year. I got to see a lot of things behind the scenes and learn a lot from a good friend, and so I was very thankful for that.

Again, it's not really reinventing the wheel. I think everyone is a little different. Everyone has their own personality. Each and every one of the nine captains I played for has a unique and totally different type of personality, and my goal is to try to lead this team through that. I mean, anything else will look phony, and these guys know I'm a quiet leader. I'm someone that leads by example. I want to be prepared such as Davis was. Again, I want to do a lot of the same things, provide an atmosphere for them to go out there and showcase their skills.

I don't think you're going to see any major changes, obviously. We have a good formula in place. It's just going to be trying to make improvements on what we saw, especially minor little details along the way to try to improve on what we did in '16, and hopefully '18 is bigger and better.

Q. Jordan just a minute ago made an interesting point that he thought you would really embrace having an away game, and I'm just curious if there is part of you that really relishes the chance to do what no captain has done in 25 years, that it's almost more of a hard-nosed way to go into it, the stiffer the challenge, et cetera, et cetera.
JIM FURYK: Absolutely. Some people look at the negative. It's been 25 years. It's tough to win on foreign soil, and I think there's a number of different reasons. They're going to have strong leadership, a great team. They have a familiarity with the golf course always. It's one of the things they do, I think, that is very smart, and it helps them a lot is they play on venues where they play regular Tour events, so the French Open has been at this for a number of years. The players know the course well, and they have a great, great home crowd.

Yeah, it's a challenge, but I also look at it as the opportunity. Our team hasn't won in 25 years, as you mentioned. I've been told that a lot today. I'm well aware. But I view it as an opportunity. It's exciting, and it's a new day and age for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. We have some momentum right now, and we have some success under our belt from last time. But we have some long-term goals, as well, and we want to compete and do well into the future, and part of that is going to be winning on foreign soil rather than only winning at home.

Q. And the fact that they've got -- that they're under the kind of pressure that you guys have been in the last couple times, having not held the Cup, can you use that to your advantage?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think if you look at it, going into 2016, I was also made well aware that we were 2-8 for the previous 20 years. I'm not sure they have that sort of pressure under their belts; how's that? But we do have -- like I said, I'm more worried about our team and not really as much about theirs. I'm worried about creating a great atmosphere for these folks to play in, to create an experience for these players, especially the young players, that they've remember for the rest of their life and just give them the opportunity to succeed.

I think every captain, every coach is focused a lot more on their team and providing that atmosphere for them rather than worrying about the 12 guys from Europe.

Q. I was hoping you could expand on something a little bit. You've had some -- you've endured some tough losses and tough setbacks in the Ryder Cup and it was a tough event for the U.S. Team a lot of years you were on that team, and yet you still call it your favorite event in golf. What's the balance there?
JIM FURYK: (Chuckling) Well, I think it embodies everything about the game of golf that I love. I mean, you look at why it was started. It was a camaraderie, a friendship, trying to get both sides of the pond to meet in a friendly match, and the vehicle was the game of golf. You look at the excitement, you look at the fans, you look at the emotion from the players, and then it's also -- it's just a tough, grueling competition. The stage is no bigger in golf.

I think because of the camaraderie, because you're playing for your country and you're wearing your flag, it means so much to us. That being said, you're right, I probably lived through the highest of highs, the comeback at Brookline, a dominant win in '08 at Valhalla, but also the lowest of lows in probably 2012 at Medinah, where we had the biggest comeback at Brookline from four points down, and they tied it. So I've lived both sides of that, and I think those wonderful moments and those maybe depressing moments all wrap up. It shows the emotion of the event, and that's why I love it so much.

Q. It's early days to look at players, but certainly given his World Ranking I would think Bubba Watson would be a guy somewhere on your radar. I'm just curious to get your take on what happened with him this fall where he didn't make the team, yet was able to make the contribution still on the team. What were your observations with that?
JIM FURYK: Well, there's a couple. One, I have a lot of respect for Bubba and his character. There aren't many people, and I really genuinely mean that, that would have been ranked seventh in the world, would have finished ninth in the points, he was passed up four times for four other guys two weeks apart. It was probably a pretty emotional time for him. To offer his services, to want to be there, to want to help in the team room just says so much about the guy's character and who he is. I think we all personally gave him a big hug. I mean, I know I told him just between me and him that he was a bigger man than me because I'm not sure I could have done that. So I really have a lot of respect.

I was also very impressed with -- he was good in the team room as far as he knows personalities pretty well. He read people well. He understood when people were excited, pumped up, down, what they may need. He gave us a lot of advice in that area, and I was very impressed with how he read folks.

That being said, I'd love to see him play. The guy has got more talent than most. He hits a wide array of shots. He bombs it. There's really no course that doesn't suit him. I'd love to see him playing on the team, as well.

Q. I heard you say earlier that with regards to making the team yourself, you'd kind of cross that bridge when you come to it, but I was just wondering, if the situation did arise, you surely wouldn't turn it down, it would be the chance to make history, the first playing captain in more than 50 years?
JIM FURYK: Well, the idea right now is I was named Ryder Cup captain today. My first and foremost thoughts right now are on the captaincy, of trying to do the best job I possibly can, and that's what I'm first and foremost worried about that. The idea that I'm told I'm ranked 37th in the world and I had some good events last year, is it possible that it could happen still, and I wanted to kind of -- we can bridge that gap next year.

I'm focused on being a good captain, and if I had a shot to finish in the top eight in points, you know, again, we'll bridge that gap. Is it possible? I guess it is, but it's not something I've spent a lot of time thinking about because, again, being a captain is most important.

Q. I guess I have two questions now after your last response. The captaincy is more important than you playing again?
JIM FURYK: I've been honored to be named captain, and yeah, I think there's a role. As much as the Ryder Cup means to me, I understand the job and the task at hand, and yes, I accepted that role with the thought that, yes, being a captain is very, very important to me. I was hoping to get that nod and hoping that the Ryder Cup committee would ask me to do this job before I turn 50. I wanted to be actively playing the PGA TOUR. I wanted to know our younger players. So yes, being the Ryder Cup captain is the most important to me right now.

Q. And then the question I wanted to ask is obviously you've had a lot of success in golf --
JIM FURYK: Can I expand real quick? Are you saying is being the captain more important than qualifying for the team? Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying being the captain --

Q. Yeah, I think so.
JIM FURYK: I mean, I think I can do both roles. I think I can be the captain and I can also play the Tour successfully. But if you're asking what's more important Ryder Cup-wise, I would say being the captain of the Ryder Cup team right now is most important to me rather than playing on the Ryder Cup team for sure.

Q. And then my second question was obviously you've had a lot of success in your career, but what do you think you have to do better than you've been able to do in the past to make sure that the U.S. keeps the Cup in '18?
JIM FURYK: When you say -- you're not saying me personally?

Q. You personally.
JIM FURYK: Me personally?

Q. Yeah, you personally as a manager or as a captain. Obviously you said you learned from all different captains different things that you would do differently or do better. What is it that you think you might have to add to your resumé or increase or make better in your resume to help you ensure that the Cup stays in the U.S.?
JIM FURYK: And I really think that's a good question. My answer would be simply we play an individual sport. I'm an independent contractor, and I usually worry about myself. Now, once or twice a year we come to these team events, and all of a sudden it becomes a much broader picture, and I start looking at all 12 team members and the vice captains and trying to fit the puzzle together from a team perspective, and I think in the next couple of years I'll try to grow a little bit and I'll try to pick the brain of past captains. I'll probably through friendships and other acquaintances try to pick the brain of coaches in other sports and really kind of try to learn that dynamic of a group and bringing a whole large group of people together as one. That's important to me. That's probably a place that I feel like I've really focused on in the last five to ten years of the Ryder Cup. But always a place that you can get stronger and a place that I think makes a big difference in the team room.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, is Fuzzy (sic) going to be over there, and also, would he have any role in terms of checking out those conditions? The American team seems to excel at fast greens and also shorter roughs. Now, it seems like each of the two teams kind of make the course better for their own team in their mind. That seems to be some kind of a trend that I have noticed. And also, parlez-vous Français?
JIM FURYK: I speak more Spanish than I do French, but it looks like I'm going to have to learn a little bit of French. As far as -- you want to know if I was bringing Fluff over to France with me; is that right?

Q. Yeah.
JIM FURYK: I would love to have him. He's been my confidant now for -- I think the Masters will make 18 years, so I'm used to having him right there by my side and on my bag. I would love to have him in Paris with me. It's another set of eyes. It's someone I trust and would love to have Fluff there, so that'll be a conversation here in the next couple days.

The third part of that was --

Q. Playing conditions.
JIM FURYK: Well, yeah, and if you stereotype, and it's not always true, but in the European Tour you're looking at maybe a touch slower greens, 10, 10 and a half versus 11 or 11 and a half in the U.S. it seems like when we go to a Ryder Cup the greens tend to be a little quicker in the U.S. than we would be in Europe. Usually that's what their players are used to in setup.

But each home Ryder Cup, it's in the captains' agreement or has been in the captains agreement now for the last couple of Ryder Cups, we're trying to get less and less into setting the courses up for our team. The week of, the captain, the respective home organization doesn't control course setup. Anything that you would like done to the golf course, whether you want wide or tight fairways or heavy or short rough or fast or slow greens kind of happened before the week of in preparation, and while we prepare and play practice rounds, the golf course is in the tournament as it should be in the practice rounds.

So our guys have three days to get used to conditions, three days to get used to the speed of the greens, and that should be plenty enough for any professional to prepare for a golf course, whether they've played a lot of rounds around it or not. Make no mistake, the European -- Ryder Cup Europe has done a great job of playing on host venues where they play European Tour events, so their players always are very familiar with the golf courses we play.

Q. However long your discussions were in accepting the job, have you talked about whether you'll do what they did last time and wait until the very last tournament on the captain's pick, or does the fact that it's in France maybe change that?
JIM FURYK: Well, we're still working through the particulars as far as captain's picks, as you mentioned. I think it's going to be a lot more difficult to try to wait until the end of the TOUR Championship, have someone win and then actually hop on a flight and go to Paris hours later, two hours later. I would guess that that's not going to happen.

But we're going to talk about it a little bit, myself and the Ryder Cup committee, and come up with a good plan.

I wouldn't suspect that you're going to see any major changes or much different from what we did in 2016. Maybe a tweak or a tuck just like you mentioned with that last pick.

Q. Jim, we talked to you at Sea Island, you really hadn't talked a whole lot at the time to the PGA of America. Just curious timetable wise when it really started to settle in with you post-Hazeltine that this one could be your time?
JIM FURYK: Well, I know we talked about it at RSM. It was on the back of my mind. I was curious when the committee was going to make a decision and choose a captain. I know they met sometime in December, I think, in mid-December-ish before the holidays. After that meeting I got a call from the president, Paul Levy, to let me know that the committee had selected me. It's been a hard secret to sit on. I had to sit on it through the holidays, obviously talking to Tab and the kids and my parents and just the immediate family, but I've had a lot of folks ask me about the Ryder Cup in the meantime, and all the while knowing that I was going to be captain. That's a tough secret to sit on. Obviously kind of seemed to get out of the bag at the end of last week, but for me it's kind of a load off my shoulders, and I'm glad we made the announcement, and looking forward to getting started.

JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us today. Jim, again, congratulations, and we look forward to seeing you all really soon in 2017.

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