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July 8, 2003

Jim Furyk

JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to welcome all of our friends in the media for joining us this afternoon. We have Jim Furyk, our current US Open champion, joining us today. Jim is currently fourth on the PGA TOUR Money List with more than $3.6 million. He's recorded 12 Top 10 finishes in his first 17 events, including a tie for third last week at the Western Open. Based on his strong performance in the month of June, he was named PGA TOUR player of the month for June. Jim, we appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to join us this afternoon as you prepare for next week's British Open. Perhaps you can get our teleconference started by talking about your preparations as you prepare to go to Royal St. Georges next week.

JIM FURYK: Well, it's a little difficult actually to prepare in Jacksonville right now. It's about 40 degrees warmer than it's going to be there, playing on a different surface with Bermuda grass. It's fairly wet here right now. So really the conditions, from what I hear, it's pretty dry and firm there right now. They haven't had a lot of rain. It's also unseasonably warm, which is nice. I know the Americans will enjoy that. So what I usually do, when possible, I head over there a little bit early. I go somewhere in the UK and try to play some links golf. One, most important, it kind of gets me adjusted to the time zone, the time change. For me it's difficult going east. And, two, it gets you a little used to the elements: playing in the wind, playing links golf, and maybe getting used to what you're going to see over there. I'm heading over actually tomorrow afternoon. I arrive Thursday. I'm play a little golf Friday and Saturday with my father before heading down to the St. Georges area.

JAMES CRAMER: Great. We'd now like to open the lines for questions.

Q. I understand you were here in Chicago last week, that you were made an honorary member at Olympia Fields.


Q. Did you go down to the club? What was that like?

JIM FURYK: I did. They had a reception for me on Wednesday, so after my ProAm I headed down there. I wasn't really aware that that was going to happen. I just wanted to go down and kind of have a cocktail, speak with the members. Actually, the press slipped it to me about an hour before I headed down, one of the members of the press knew what was going on, not knowing that I didn't know yet. It was really nice actually. It was a very wonderful gesture. A lot of the members showed up. They thought there were about 300 people in attendance. It was quite nice, and quite warming. So it's always nice to go back to, you know, a place where you've played well. But then to receive an honorary membership and really see everyone come out like that was a lot of fun.

Q. Do you think you'll go back there?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'd like to. I do like Chicago, I just don't spend that much time there. I would probably like to go in a little bit early, before the event, or stay a little bit after, try to play some golf, absolutely.

Q. You didn't play Royal St. Georges in '93. What do you know about the course as far as how it sets up?

JIM FURYK: I really don't know that much about it. I hear it's a pretty good golf course. Again, I've heard that the weather's been unseasonably warm and dry, so the golf course should be very firm. I hear that it's a pretty good course. I hear it's a little quirky in spots, that it has some different holes and some very quirky holes that you have to get used to. Maybe an extra practice round or extra walk around the course to take a look at some spots might be helpful.

Q. How long does it take you to get used to a course you haven't played before? One practice round?

JIM FURYK: I think two. After two, I should feel pretty comfortable, unless it's just a real difficult course to get used to. If it plays like Augusta, you get a good feel for where you want to hit it after two days. But still to learn it, it's going to take time. You're not going to do that in just a Monday through Wednesday preparation. So I think most courses, Olympia Fields I felt very, very comfortable after two practice rounds. It was very straightforward. I knew exactly where I wanted to hit it. I was fortunate Monday and Tuesday the wind blew from opposite directions so I got to see the course in two different lights, how it could play. Most of the time two rounds is good. By the time I play three, I'm very, very comfortable.

Q. With the way you're playing now, would it really make a difference, playing so well?

JIM FURYK: What do you mean by, "Would it make a difference?" Practice rounds?

Q. Right.

JIM FURYK: If you're not prepared, it doesn't matter how well you're playing, you could hit a shot you think would turn out well, it may not. That happens a lot in links golf, a funny bounce or a ball rolling out a lot farther than you thought. I think you're better off being very well-prepared, and that's one of the things I work hard at out there. I work hard at my yardage book in preparation for golf courses. It's going to reflect on how you play for sure.

Q. Do you think you'll feel any different confidence-wise having now won a major when you tee it off in Europe or will it be pretty much the same as it has been?

JIM FURYK: Well, I mean, I've always felt like I was a pretty confident player and had confidence in my ability. It definitely won't hurt. I promise you that. Hopefully it's going to help some, and I think it will. I think a lot of it is, I've said this all along in a lot of interviews, I always thought I had the ability, and I thought I had the game to win a major championship, but now I know I do. I've always been fairly comfortable at the British Open. I've had a couple strong finishes there. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It would be tough to draw anything but a lot of positives from this past US Open and a lot of confidence for the future.

Q. You already said you don't know much about the course. You've done well over there in the past. Other than being a good player, any reason or any things you think it takes to do well over there that you may have in your game that you can be successful playing over there?

JIM FURYK: Well, being able to battle the elements. One, hitting the ball low, keeping the ball down, having some imagination, having a short game that allows you to hit some different shots. I think field players have an advantage over there in that you can create some different shots. It's not like playing a target-oriented golf course where you can hit a high, long, spinning shot over and over and over again and not have to work the ball and not have to hit it high, hit it low, bump-n-run, flip it over a bunker. You kind of have to use a lot of different aspects of your game. But you're going to usually run into some very rough conditions, whether it's wind or cold or rain, just being able to stay real patient and fight that, battle it out, and know some days you're going to go to the British Open and everyone is going to shoot 68, 67, be a good score, some days 72 or 73 is going to be a good score. Being able to identify that and being able to fight it out in bad conditions.

Q. Late in the year we've had a real heated battle for the TOUR Money List, Player of the Year. A lot of guys could throw their hat in the ring for that. How much is any of that your goal or something you're thinking about for the rest of the year?

JIM FURYK: Well, my goals are never that short-term oriented. I don't put goals in the next three or four months usually. My focus on the rest of this year isn't trying to win Money Title, become Player of the Year. I have an opportunity to do that with where I sit on the Money List right now, and with winning the US Open. I want to try to continue to put myself in position, give myself some opportunities to win golf tournaments. I have still two major championships left. More importantly, I want to win some more golf tournaments, try to do that. If I play real well the rest of the year, some of those other things might come along, might happen, they'll be icing on the cake. But as always, I mean, we're all trying to go out there and win golf tournaments. That's what I'm going to continue to do.

Q. You said at the tournament site that you really liked the golf course. You said that before you ever played a shot in competition. How often do you go to a major championship and quickly realize that this golf course fits you and you feel comfortable there?

JIM FURYK: Well, that happens quite a bit. We don't play too many poor golf courses on TOUR, major championships, where you say, "I just don't like this golf course." Sometimes they don't suit your eye. There will be some shots on the golf course. A guy that predominantly draws the ball will get to a course where it calls for a lot of fades off the tee, maybe not feel that comfortable. But I love the Bethpage golf course. I don't particularly think it was set up very well for me as far as like the 12th hole was difficult for me and a lot of other players to get to the fairway, the 10th hole with the tees back on Friday, you know, 75% of the field didn't get to the fairway. It was just a long, punishing golf course. Length was very much an issue there. On a course like that, although I think it's a wonderful golf course, I wasn't walking into that tournament feeling quite as great, one, about my game, but also about the way it was set up. Where when I played Olympia Fields, I looked at the golf course, I liked the course, I thought it set up well for me. I also had a lot of confidence in my game at the time. I just liked the look. I liked the look of the course when I walked onto it and felt like, again, probably because it suited my game. I was a player, I felt like I had a really good chance to win that golf tournament if I was playing well. That happens once in a while. It doesn't always mean you're going to play well at golf courses. It gives you a good feeling, that's for sure.

Q. Has it happened to you before in a major where you really liked a course, thought everything fit you, then it didn't work out to be a winner?

JIM FURYK: Oh, absolutely, considering I haven't won a major championship before (laughter). I played a lot of tournaments, have liked a lot of the golf courses we played. I usually don't look at the course and say, "This suits my game or this doesn't suit my game." I usually look at a course, I like the course or I don't like it. I love Riviera but I haven't had a lot of great finishes there. But I love the golf course. I would look at like Las Vegas and I would think the course is okay. It doesn't really stick out in your mind as a wonderful, great golf course, but I've won the tournament three times. You know, I think I'm fairly subjective about whether I think it's a good or bad golf course outside the fact of how I played there. You can bet that I'm going to play at all the courses that I like and all the courses I've played well on pretty much fill up my schedule. But it's happened a lot of times I've gone to an event, like last year, Muirfield is a wonderful golf course. I was playing bad when I went there. Really wasn't playing. I took six out of seven weeks off. Happened to be right in the middle. I think Muirfield is wonderful. I missed the cut there. I wasn't prepared. I wasn't ready for the tournament. That's part of it. Doesn't mean you're going to play well. I'd much rather step up on a tee on a golf course where I felt comfortable with the golf shots and liked the course than vice versa.

Q. Are you familiar with the course in Rochester where the PGA will be played?

JIM FURYK: I don't. I hear it's a great course, has a lot of history there. I'm looking forward to going to the PGA also.

Q. Someone we haven't talked about recently is David Duval. What do you know about where his game is? Do you think he'll be able to bounce back?

JIM FURYK: I don't actually know where his game's at right now. I know at the Kemper he played well. He struggled a little built at the US Open. Has he played since the US Open? I'm not sure.

Q. No, he hasn't. But apparently he's been working really hard and getting his act together.

JIM FURYK: Right. I don't know what state his game is in right at the second. I haven't seen David. We live in the same town, but I haven't seen him much recently. I would assume that he's working hard. He's too good a player. I played a lot of golf with him when he was at the peak of his game, ranked No. 1 in the world. He's too good, he's got too much talent, he's got too much drive. We all go through hour peaks and valleys. He's had a real high peak, now he's had his lowest valley. But he's going to climb out of it. I don't know exactly when that's going to be, but I think he'll be just fine and he's going to start winning golf tournaments again.

Q. You mentioned it's been warm in England, lack of rain. Does that change your thought process in any way? Do you expect it's not going to last very long, those conditions?

JIM FURYK: I'm packing sweaters, if that's what you mean (laughter). I looked on the Internet. Highs are in the 70s right now in London. I'm still going to pack some sweaters and turtlenecks and my thermal gear because anything can pretty much happen. No, I think it just gives you an idea that I think we're going to play a very brown, fast, firm golf course. We usually do. Some years it's faster than others. It really doesn't change the preparation. I still love going over there a little bit early, to really just get accustomed to the time zone and play links golf. There's nowhere in Florida that I can really practice and play and get ready for that style of golf. In fact, there's hardly anywhere in the United States where you can do that and really feel well-prepared. I like going over there early, getting used to the conditions, the time change, playing some links golf, getting used to hitting 7-irons to go 210, 3-irons to go 150, getting a feel for that game and getting your mind in that sort of mode.

Q. What are the worst conditions you can remember playing in The Open? Saturday at Birkdale?

JIM FURYK: Saturday at Birkdale was a good day. I actually played well that day and got myself in contention. Carnoustie, I don't know if the weather was as bad, but the conditions, just trying to score, it was a pretty tough wind. The golf course was set up extremely hard. The hardest I ever played over there was probably at Carnoustie over in the Scottish Open back in '96, the year that Lehman won at Lytham. That was probably the toughest conditions and also my first experience with links golf. I think either 1-over or 1-under won that tournament.

Q. When the conditions get tough, what's the key to kind of surviving?

JIM FURYK: Well, again, when it's playing that tough, in order to play a good round, you really have to be in control of your emotions and of your golf swing. Physically you have to be striking the ball solidly to control it in the wind, being able to cut the ball, draw the ball when you need to, holding it against the wind. The way the British Open is, if the wind is blowing hard in a crosswind, you can't hang the ball to the right and let it boil back in the fairway. It's so firm, it will hit in the fairway and still kick out. You have to kind of carve a ball and hold it against the wind and be in control of your golf swing. You also have to realize it's going to be tough on everyone in the golf tournament. Everyone else is going to make mistakes, too. You have to be in control emotionally.

Q. The last few weeks, what has it been like? Have you had any difficulty maybe not daydreaming, thinking back to the victory? Have you had to do any things you weren't expecting, gotten looks at the airport, autograph requests?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think your time definitely is more in demand. I've never done a teleconference two days -- the day before I left for the British Open so you all could talk to me to see what was going through my mind. Just little things along the way. I've definitely had to manage my time better because I've had more requests upon it and less time myself. I've had to say no sometimes. I'm going to have to say it in the future a little bit more in order for me to feel like I can practice as well as I want to on the golf course and still have enough time to spend with my family and just enough time to relax. So it's been a lesson more. I thought with the schedule, how my career and how my life was going for the first 10 years on TOUR, I learned to manage my time well, rest, relax, make sure I was ready for a golf tournament. Now this is even taking that to the next level. And really I just have to say no more often, which sometimes for me is difficult. I haven't had to do that too much. You feel like you're disappointing people or letting people down. But if you don't, in the long run you end up disappointing yourself, letting yourself down. You wear yourself down. Ultimately you're not going to be happy and you're not going to play real well.

Q. Was there any difficulty getting your mind straight for the tournaments you've played in since the Open?

JIM FURYK: No. I think I was in a pretty good frame of mind. Physically I'm hitting the ball well. Physically the tools are all there. Mentally I don't think my concentration was as good as it could have been or should have been at Westchester. The first day I played real well. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I didn't score well, didn't get the ball in the hole well. I think a lot of that was concentration, making some mistakes. I took a week off. You know, I played well in Chicago. I can't really -- mentally, physically I played well. I have nothing to complain about. The farther you get away from the US Open, the less -- I never really find myself daydreaming about the tournament, but that's still what everyone wants to talk about, and it brings up good memories, which is nice. I don't really find myself living in that moment as much. The motivation the next day after the US Open might be a little bit more difficult because you're still - I don't know how you want to say it - the US Open hangover that you're so happy that you finally accomplished your goal. After a little while, it's probably different for everyone, that wears off. You're ready to get back at it, work hard, try to win some more tournaments.

Q. Did you get any satisfaction from the statistic you have the most Top 10s of any player going into the British Open since Lee Trevino back in the early '70s?

JIM FURYK: It's a nice stat to have, I guess. I'd rather have the most wins going into the British Open. I've had a very consistent, very solid year. A month ago I was answering questions about how did I feel about having all those Top 10s but not winning a tournament. At least I'm not answering that question anymore. Ultimately it's nice. It's a sign I've been playing real well and also very consistently over time. Again, I would give up a few of those to put a few more marks in the W column and get a couple more.

Q. You mentioned liking links golf. How common is it for guys, especially Americans who don't like that type of game, to sort of psych themselves out of competing before the tournament even starts?

JIM FURYK: If you're not comfortable with it, you don't like that style, you've kind of lost the battle already. But it's going to be that much more difficult to play over there. I'm not sure. If you're a high-ball hitter who doesn't hit the ball down real low, if you're a guy that doesn't like playing in the wind, the British Open is going to be a tough place to play. I'm not sure it's as much psyching yourself out. The best players in the world, a guy like Tiger Woods, he can win on basically any golf course anywhere in the world because his game's very well-rounded. He can hit all different shots. He can keep the ball down. He can hit it high. He can work it both ways. He's got great imagination. He's got a great short game. I think the key to being able to play in all the major championships, the Masters, US Open, British Open, PGA, is having a well-rounded game and playing different styles. The best players can do that. Some of us, we're not all Tiger Woods, some of us are a little bit more one-dimensional. We have some weaknesses. We don't have all the tools. Some courses, some tournaments are going to favor certain players over others.

Q. Does this tournament require more patience even than a US Open in the sense you have to sort of deal with bad bounces?

JIM FURYK: At times. But the setup of the British Open is a little bit different than the US Open. I don't think the USGA has ever claimed that they want even par to be a good score, that they want the winner to be somewhere in the even par area. It's probably not a coincidence that that's always the case. Sometimes things have to be done to the golf course. Like the Olympic Club, the pin at 18 that Payne Stewart, when he had an 8-footer for birdie and 40-footer for par. Sometimes the setups have been extremely difficult and have required a ton of patience with the US Open. The British Open seems like, in my mind, outside of Carnoustie where the setup was very difficult, the setups are challenging, but if the weather is good, guys shoot 15-under par; if the weather's bad, we shoot even par. Seems like the weather dictates the score there rather than the setup of the golf course. Some years, yeah, you have to be very, very patient, maybe more so. Other years, maybe that's not the case. Guys attack the golf course more, make a lot more birdies, shoot a lot under par. It seems like at the British Open, the weather dictates the score, dictates how patient you have to be.

Q. Do you agree with the club testing plan that's probably going to take effect in January? Do you agree with Tiger, there might be some players who are unwittingly using illegal drivers?

JIM FURYK: I don't know of any players that are willingly using a club that is illegal. I was surprised, as everyone else was, by him claiming that. I'm not saying he's wrong. I'm very surprised by that. Our reputation is built so much -- basically if anyone found out you were cheating in golf, it wouldn't be worth cheating because you'd be pretty much banished, you'd lose all your respect. It just wouldn't be worth it. So I'm surprised that someone would take that chance. In talking to some players, some of the companies, it seems like some of the companies are pointing the finger at other companies, saying, "I think they've got clubs that are borderline, over the edge, we don't." That same other company will point the finger back and say, "We don't, but they do." I think two months ago I would have said, "You've got to be kidding me. We're going to test drivers?" If someone thinks we have a problem, okay. Now the question has been raised, some of Tiger's comments, equipment manufacturers, talking with other players on TOUR, it seems they really do think we have an issue on TOUR. Because of that, I think it is a good idea to test equipment. You know, basically that puts everyone's mind at ease, we're all playing on an even playing field. We can go out there on Thursday and get after it. I'm not sure about the whole mandatory or voluntary issue. Voluntary seems a little awkward to me, because then you're testing the guys -- basically that they're going to be voluntary, I'm going to hop in there. If there's a player that has an illegal club, he knows it, that's the one -- if there's one guy out there, that's the one person you want to catch. You're not going to do it in a voluntary manner. I'm not sure I understand the voluntary issue. As much question has been raised, it is an issue. Whether anyone gets tested or not... If anything, it's going to make the equipment companies probably become a little bit more particular because it's going to ruin their reputation, too, if they're putting a product out there that's not conforming. They're probably going to have to tighten down and make sure, which they already have and should have. But if there had been any questions before, there shouldn't be any now. They should make sure 100% everything they're giving us is perfect. I think they should have done that before. If they hadn't, they will be now.

JAMES CRAMER: Again, I'd like to thank Jim for taking time out of his busy schedule prior to leaving for England to join us this afternoon. Jim, thank you very much.

JIM FURYK: Thanks a lot.

JAMES CRAMER: Safe travels. We'll see you soon.

JIM FURYK: Sounds good. Thanks, guys.

JAMES CRAMER: Thanks to everybody.

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