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December 4, 2010

Tim Finchem

Jim Furyk

MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Mr. Jim Furyk. Mr. Commissioner, if you'd start off, you have an announcement and then we'll take some questions.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Okay. I'm going to do this in reverse order, if I could, by announcing the Rookie of the Year first, who is not in the field this week. Rickie Fowler was voted by his peers as Rookie of the Year. Rickie, I think, had seven Top 10s this year. He finished the highest rookie finish on the Money List, PGA TOUR Money List. He also finished highest rookie in the FedExCup points and was selected for and finished well at the Ryder Cup. So congratulations to Rickie. I think Rickie is available for a telephone interview here a little bit later for those of you who want to participate in that.
But right now I want to introduce our Player of the Year. Jim Furyk had a phenomenal season punctuated by his win at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. He has been an incredibly consistent player over the years, I think evidenced by two things in particular. He played in his seventh Ryder Cup this year, which tells you how consistent he's been over those 14 years, and in the FedExCup he's finished 11th, 5th, 4th and now 1st this year. He had three wins. In addition to Atlanta, he won at Transitions at Tampa and also the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head.
On a personal note, I'll just comment on behalf of all of us who work at Ponte Vedra, Jim lives there, he for many, many years has worked so hard on his game. It's always nice to see an individual get repaid for their hard work and dedication, and also Jim and his wife Tabatha are enormous contributors to the community in northeast Florida in their charitable efforts.
Jim, congratulations to you. I think any time you get voted by your peers for an award like this it's very, very special, and he's recognized along with the great players in the game.
JIM FURYK: Thanks, Tim, I appreciate it, and appreciate you coming out to be a part of it. That's very nice.
The year just keeps kind of getting better is all I can say. I'm not sure I want 2010 to end at this point. You know, Tim said something that was really important and important to me in that I was given the PGA Player of the Year earlier on, on a points race, and it was a great honor. This one is very meaningful being the PGA TOUR Player of the Year and having all my peers and colleagues, basically the guys I play against week in and week out, and to have them vote for me as Player of the Year is what's special.
You know, it's been -- this is finishing up my 17th year on the PGA TOUR, so a lot of hard work as Tim has mentioned. I guess my game, I've always been known as a hard worker and someone that's grounded it out. So after 17 years to think back what I've accomplished and what I've done over my career, and basically the projections for my career 17 years ago weren't this nice, so it's a proud moment for me.
As I said, it's special, but it's special because my peers voted for me. It's special because of the year, because it's 17 years of hard work. But it's just been a very, very wonderful year for both myself and my family and everyone that's part of my team that helped me play better. In fact, my manager is in the back, back there, Andrew Whitley, who's been with me for 16 of the 17 years. He flew out, and Tabatha was trying to get out here and be a part of it, but I've got a very small team of people, not a big entourage, but a small team of people that really -- my family, my wife, my mother and father, Andrew and a few people at home that kind of keep me in relatively decent shape as far as patching me together. I appreciate everything they've done to help me out to do this.
MARK STEVENS: Congratulations. As the commissioner said, there will be a conference call at 4:30 with Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark. Also, next week, Mr. Finchem will have a year-end conference call, so we'd like to kind of keep these questions Player of the Year related.

Q. Is it even more special because you had a little bit of a down period and then came back up this year and just played so great? And I'm trying to picture you walking through the airport with that thing. Is it going to fit under your arm?
JIM FURYK: I'm sure one of our partners will send that for us. '08 and '09 were really solid, really consistent years. In fact, I probably played more consistently last year, in '09, than I did in '10. But it's a lot about timing. In '08 and '09, I let a lot of opportunities slip through my fingers or someone stepped up and just out played me on the last day. I forget who I was talking to, but someone mentioned my stats. They said my stats in '09 across the board were pretty much better than my stats in '10, and the one key stat was I was three Top 3 finishes in '09, and I had three Top 3 finishes in '10, and they were all three wins. So a lot of it has to do with timing and taking advantage of opportunities. And when I had an opportunity this year, I seemed to take advantage of it and close the door.
'08 and '09 were disappointing because I didn't win, and at this point in my career what's most important really is trying to win golf tournaments, trying to win major championships, and to not be able to do that in '08 and '09 but then turn around and kind of ran the tables for me this year, winning three events, winning the FedExCup, Player of the Year, I definitely -- timing is everything, and I took advantage of it and hopefully can grow on that for the future.

Q. At age 40 have you played -- did you play the best golf of your career in year? Would you say you've never played better than this?
JIM FURYK: I've played more consistently than I played as far as maybe from January to October, but I've never played -- I've never won three times in a year. I've never played -- to me what's most important, like when you look down the list for Player of the Year and for Rookie of the Year, I really value winning as really high on our list, and for the exemptions that we get, a two-year exemption for a player that wins, I value that very hard on my list. So I would say that absolutely this was the best year, and it's because I won and I took advantage of those opportunities. And not only did I win the tournaments, but the FedExCup along with it, and some other awards that went along. So yeah, absolutely by far my best year to date. And I would give up all that consistency to win two more times next year, trust me.

Q. Of all the things you've done, all the Ryder Cups and the majors, where does this one rank? You pointed out it's a vote of your peers. Does that put it higher on the pecking order?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's -- I guess the trouble is -- the good news is I've got a few things I can choose from that are really good. That's the good news. Winning your first tournament is always special. I'll always remember winning at Las Vegas; winning your first major is special. I've had some great Ryder Cup moments and Presidents Cup moments with my teammates. But winning the FedExCup and Player of the Year definitely rates up there with everything else and anything else.

Q. As a follow-on to that, would you say this is not the most spectacular or is this the most important or most memorable memory that you have to date?
JIM FURYK: Award? Yeah, I'm having a hard time ordering everything. What I was trying to say is they all have a special place in your memory and in your heart for many different reasons. So I have a hard time ordering them all, but I'm very, very proud of being able to win this trophy, and actually one of my heroes right here. Jack Nicklaus really is someone I've looked up to my whole life, and I was able to play for him for, I think, four Presidents Cup teams. I've gotten to know him pretty well over the years with the Memorial event and was able to win his event, and he's been wonderful to Tabs and I, he and his wife. So I think having a trophy that basically represents the person that played the best on the PGA TOUR this year and then having it be Jack Nicklaus on the trophy is pretty cool.

Q. Was there a point where you felt like your best golf was behind you or you felt like you'd reached the pinnacle of your game? And if you ever had that thought, when was that?
JIM FURYK: No, I never did. I never really felt like my game was -- I didn't take advantage of opportunities in '08 and '09, but like I said, I played very, very well. I was still a Top 5 guy on the Money List the last couple years; I still was Top 5 in the FedExCup the last couple years. I really felt -- I didn't feel like my best years were behind me.
Looking at the overall picture, I'm not going to play on the PGA TOUR for 17 more years, so I realize that I'm moving along towards the -- maybe the middle of the second part of my career. I don't think the fourth quarter has started quite yet, put it that way.
But no, I never really doubted. I was just upset and probably frustrated and disappointed and I put a lot of pressure on myself to win. My emotions at Tampa originally for the first hour or two was relief. It was definitely getting a monkey off my back, and if you look at me after I win, I'm probably not as excited or fist pumping, but I think it's just more of a, whew, kind of got of got it all out, and then it was relief. And then afterwards, a couple hours later, I was very happy, had some fun with some friends.

Q. Do you have a spot in the house where you're going to put the trophy?
JIM FURYK: We'll find somewhere, I promise you. But I don't think it's got a location just yet. Maybe the dining room table for a little while.

Q. A follow-up on the Jack Nicklaus part of it, tell the average fan out there what it's like to be -- to be an admirer of him growing up and then getting to know him and then winning this trophy, for example. That's a fascinating road, isn't it?
JIM FURYK: I've always looked up to -- I was born in 1970, so when you look at that, the two players that you would look up to immediately would be Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and they -- basically, history tells us that they were on the front end of starting the PGA TOUR, and also bringing the game to even greater popularity.
Now that Mr. Nelson, Byron Nelson, after I got to meet him at his event, I would definitely throw him in there as one of my heroes, as well. But I can still remember -- every one of us probably remembers where we were the day he won The Masters in 1986 and what we were doing. I was 16 years old at the time. So to then move on -- and I knew his son Gary a little bit; I played against him in college and amateur golf.
Once I got out on TOUR, I actually played a practice round with him one day and got to know him but really got to know him through The Presidents Cups and at the Memorial tournament. He's always had a special place for me because of my wife being a Buckeye. That was my in. He liked me because my wife was from Ohio State. But he's always treated us great.
I think they're very special people. I love Barbara, as well, and always looked up to him and admired him, and he was a great family man, which I really enjoy, and to this date the best there ever was. That's why that trophy is there. There's many things that make the whole thing special for me, but obviously with him being on the trophy, him being the trophy, is pretty cool for me.

Q. I just want to ask you real quick, on the rookie vote, you have a case here where the guy won against one of the stronger fields of the year and finished third in two majors and didn't win against a guy who didn't win at all. Do you think that'll be a reflection of, or perceived as a reflection, given Rory's decision not to take a membership next year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Is that question to me?

Q. Yeah.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I don't think so. A guy finishes as strong as Rickie did on the FedExCup and the Money List, players vote for different reasons. I think you've got to talk to the players about that. But certainly both guys had great years. Personally, I like to have a little controversy. So if you guys want to write that it's a controversy, that's good, because it brings more attention to who won.
But no, I think the players -- if you go back over the last ten years, they make good decisions in these areas, and I think this is a good vote on their part, although Rory is a terrific young player, obviously going to be around a long time.
JIM FURYK: I would never not vote for that reason, or I wouldn't -- I never even thought of that actually, so it's interesting. It was a unique angle to take, I thought. But I would have never thought of it that way. I would have never have said he's not going to make membership next year on the PGA TOUR, so I'm not going to vote for him. I wouldn't.

Q. (No microphone.)
JIM FURYK: I think if anything -- Ricky was 32 and Rory was 36. If anything it doesn't really seem like Rory is a rookie, if that makes sense. The rules are unique. But yeah, it's -- he had a heck of a year. He's a heck of a player. Rory, I admire his game.

Q. Who got your vote for this award and why?
JIM FURYK: Which award are we talking about?

Q. The one you're holding.
JIM FURYK: You know what, you all have asked me that all week and I still haven't answered, so pretty much -- I still feel like I'm getting out of here without telling you. I wouldn't even really want to tell you who I voted for -- you wouldn't guess, you probably couldn't guess, but I wouldn't tell you who I voted for for Rookie of the Year, either. That's why it's a concealed ballot, right?
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, best of luck to you, Jim.

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