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October 28, 1998

Jim Furyk


LEE PATTERSON: All right, sir, thank you for coming in and visiting with us. Maybe just some impressions of the golf course, then we'll entertain some questions.

JIM FURYK: I think it's a beautiful golf course. I really enjoy the setup, the layout. The golf course is in perfect condition. I really don't see anything wrong with it. I think it's a great tournament. I can't believe the weather we're getting right now. It's absolutely perfect. So the course I think is perfect for the year-end tournament. I don't see any problems at all.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. You had mentioned that the 10th hole was going to be one of the most difficult holes. Do you feel that way, the second shot?

JIM FURYK: I think it's a difficult second shot. It's one of the bigger fairways probably on the course, even though it's not huge. But some of the fairways are extremely tight. The second shot there is going to be very difficult. You can't see the putting surface. For me, I'm going to have a very long iron in there probably after a good drive, maybe even possibly a 5-wood in there. It's going to be a tough green to hit. You have to carry -- the front right is long, you have to carry the bunker, but then the back left of the green kind of shortens up on you a bit. Plus the green is very, very, very severe, slopes pretty much from back to front. Going to be hard to keep the ball under the pin. Long iron, keeping yourself some hard putts. Getting out of there with a four is going to be tough. I didn't play 5 last time I was here in May. Doing construction on the hole. We kind of walked down and hit some iron shots into the greens, a par 3. I didn't really see it. I think that's going to be an extremely difficult hole.

Q. Real narrow driving area.

JIM FURYK: I'm not sure there is a fairway out there. I haven't found it yet. I'm still looking; I think it's there, but I haven't found it (laughter). I walked across the fairway in one spot and got 21 yards at one spot that the ball had to roll through. It's also sloping. What's difficult is we're flying the ball. Like today it's a little down breeze. We're flying the ball near that second ridge. It lands short of the ridge; it kicks to the right. It lands over the ridge; it kicks to the left. The longer players, the ball is going to kick to the left. Average length guys, the ball is going to kick to the right. The guys in between, who knows? I guess it depends if they hit it good or not. It's a tough fairway to hit. The second shot is no bargain either off the downhill lie you have.

Q. Do you think that's fair to have a converted par 5 with a fairway that narrow?

JIM FURYK: I guess it's fair because everyone has to play it. I would say that that hole is definitely the one I hear the most grumbling about in the locker room, would be the best way to put it.

Q. You're the only guy in the field this week that has a chance to catch David on the money list.

JIM FURYK: I don't even think I do.

Q. Long shot as it may be --

JIM FURYK: I expect David to play a good tournament, have a solid week this week. I don't know. He would probably have to play a poor event. He's been playing great. I don't look for that to happen. I'm really -- that's the farthest thing from my mind this week.

Q. What do you think scoring-wise we're looking at here? What would you take right now and sit in the clubhouse with?

JIM FURYK: That all depends on how hard they want to set up the golf course. If they really want to tuck the pins and get the greens hard and fast, hide the pins, I mean even par would be a great score. If they want to give us a little chance to play and put the pins where they're accessible, where we can leave ourselves some uphill putts, I could see, you know, 8-, 9-under being a pretty good score. But, like I said, that's all dependent on the weather. Basically whoever is setting up the golf course can pretty much dictate the score they want to win.

Q. Speaking of the greens, I heard they were 12s. Are they that fast, some of the fastest you've played all year?

JIM FURYK: I think the toughest part about the greens is they are very quick, but they're very, very severe. The slopes, I mean, it's not like they -- they're undulating and very tough. I mean, they're pretty much back-to-front. You know you need to keep the ball under the hole. The problem is on some of the longer holes where you're hitting a 3-iron in your hand, like a shot into 10, a shot into 11 where I hit a long iron in there, if they put the pin up towards the front of the green, it's going -- it's not possible to keep it short of the green, or short of the pin, because I can't spin a 3-iron enough to keep it short of the pin. Where you have wedge and 8-iron, even 7-iron, 6-irons in your hand, you have the ability to keep it below the hole, I think that will come into play. No matter what, you're going to have some downhill putts. Not only are they fairly quick, I think they probably have -- they have to make sure they don't get away from them this week. I played on Monday, talking to some of the guys, asking if they were going to try to get them any quicker. They said no. I think they have to make sure that the greens don't get away from them. If they get too hard, too quick, there will be pin placement. Probably unplayable.

Q. How about 18, would you take three there all four days?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, that would be great actually. I wouldn't mind that. I think that's a green there, you pretty much take it -- if you could put the ball in the center, center of the green every day, center, down below or center up top, take your putt at it, you'd be real happy each day.

Q. What are you doing to 18?

JIM FURYK: It looks like -- I'm trying to think of what I place. I think I can stretch it out to about 240 something, low 240s if they want. The front of the green, I'm probably going to hit a 5-wood. Back of the green, I might have to cut a 3-wood or something up there. Depending. I know that 3-iron is probably out of play. I think the plate there is about 217 to the front. That takes 3-iron out of play for me right off the bat, unless they move the tees up. I don't know if they're planning on playing back all week. I could see on a hole like that maybe they move them up for a day or two.

Q. You like that as a closing hole?

JIM FURYK: Doesn't bother me at all. If it's a par 3, par 4, par 5. Actually, the finishing holes are great. Looking at 16, 17 and 18, they're all very good holes. You know, you're going to have to work to make birdie on one of those holes coming in, let alone make some pars.

Q. How severe is the Bermuda rough?

JIM FURYK: It's very difficult. I haven't had a lie yet this week when I've knocked it in the rough where I felt like I could get the ball on the green, from outside of, say, I've had a few that I couldn't fly the ball more than about 50 yards. I had one decent lie, hit a drive in the rough on 5, hit a couple drives down there, one ended up in the rough. I could have advanced the ball maybe 160 or 70 yards, but half of that would have been on the ground. I just kind of hit a hot heater coming out of there. You're not going to fly the ball on the green and spin the ball or anything like that out of the rough. Most of the time - I'd say the greater majority of the time - we're going to have sand wedge and pitching wedge in our hand, trying to get it back on the fairway and get a wedge or a short-iron in our hand going to the green.

Q. How does the ball behave differently at that Bermuda rough than, say, the kind of rough you saw at Olympic?

JIM FURYK: It's different altogether. I'm used to a bit of the bent rough. I grew up on bentgrass, not Bermuda. Now I live in Jacksonville. See Bermuda most of the time. At the length that it's at right now, really in both bent and Bermuda, it really matters on how thick the grass is. The length is one determining factor. If it's thick or not, and whether it's bentgrass or Bermuda, if it's thick and as long as it is right now, you just don't have a chance to get a club through it. It's going to wrap around the hosel and grab the club. Sometimes - like at the British Open at times - they can have some rough that is growing up to your knees. But it's thinned out. You have a chance to get a club through it, hack it out, plus the ball rolls so far there on the fairways that you have a chance to roll the ball on the green. You can get some lies in the British where the grass is very long, but it's not as thick. You can get it out. I think the factor out here is that the grass is very, very thick, and also long. I hear they've cut it down from a few weeks ago, which is scary.

Q. Your first driving range over water?

JIM FURYK: Well, I've had a couple driving ranges in water down in Florida where you're floating golf balls in that. It's interesting. I can't pull the sand wedge out for the first club of the day unless I want to lose about ten balls. First swing of the day, I'm not getting one over that lake.

Q. What is your schedule the rest of this year?

JIM FURYK: I'm going to play the Shark Shootout in a couple weeks, take a couple weeks off, then play Sun City and the Presidents Cup. Then I think I only have a couple weeks off before the year starts up again. Pretty amazing.

Q. When you're in a situation where you know you're playing well, you just don't kick one in to win it, do you say to yourself -- are you relaxed with the fact you're playing well, good things will happen eventually, or does it get frustrating?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think a little of both. You can look at it both -- when you're in a good mood, I think you take it in the positive. When you're in a bad mood, you look at the negative side. I went for a couple years, actually two and a half years, without winning before Vegas. I played great. I played my best golf that I played in my career throughout that time. I just hadn't broken through and won an event. Like 1997 was a great year for me. I played super golf. I was more consistent. I had more good tournaments, week-in and week-out. I rarely played poorly. You know, I couldn't call that a bad year. I really looked at it as a positive and really took a lot of good out of that year. Just because I didn't win, I didn't really beat myself up over it. Then again, '98 was the same thing. I was playing well. I would be lying if I was saying I wasn't a little frustrated that I didn't break through and win. You just have to keep beating on the door, keep working hard, keep playing well. Eventually if you keep putting yourself in that position, you know, you'll come through and win one.

Q. Tiger says he's playing much better golf this year than last year. He has one win. You say you've played probably your best golf, certainly the most consistent, you go two and a half years there. Can that be frightening to look back at your level of play and realize how hard it is to win out here sometimes?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think so. Not really. For me, obviously Tiger has won more tournaments than I have. I only have three official wins on tour. When I won in '95, I really had kind of a real up-and-down year, as far as when I was playing well, I obviously won a tournament. When I was playing poorly, I went through some really big peaks and valleys. I didn't think I was consistent enough. I wanted to eliminate some -- I just wanted to eliminate some of these poor events, and somehow find a way to become more consistent, improve my game. I did that, but in the meantime the peaks just weren't quite as high. I kept myself at an even keel, played really well, but where I might only have been in contention in '95 and really had a legitimate shot to win maybe four times, I'm not sure of the number, in '97 I had a legitimate chance probably eight or nine times. I gave myself more opportunities, but didn't break through and win one. I'd much rather give myself eight or nine, ten opportunities a year to win a golf tournament than just four. So I kind of look at it that way. I look at it as a positive.

Q. Did you meet with Jack last night?


Q. How did that go? Is that the first official meeting?

JIM FURYK: We met back at PLAYERS Championship. We had a brief meeting just, again, with a lot of guys. Still there's a lot of guys that have a chance to make the team because of the purse here. We've had a lot of guys, it's been pretty informal, just answering maybe some general questions that we might have. Jack has been pretty -- you know, like he said there, really isn't that much to talk about.

Q. Things are moving through?

JIM FURYK: Yeah. Just answering some questions about our clothing, the bags, travel plans, what day he wants us to be there, what the week schedule kind of looks like. Just basic, general stuff.

Q. Was there any kind of feeling, "We're starting to solidify as a team," a desire to win?

JIM FURYK: Well, we probably -- I think everyone has a desire to win. We probably had over 20 people probably there last night. Only half the guys are going to be on the team. We talked a little bit about team meetings, having dinner together, doing some different things. But really, not yet. I think maybe after this week, things will start to come together.

Q. What kind of captain do you think he's going to make?

JIM FURYK: Real well. I don't foresee him being a bad captain or anything like that. I figure the best player to ever play golf, with all the experience he's had in Ryder Cup matches - he's played the golf course before over there - so I think he'll be a great captain. It's an honor to play for him.

Q. He was saying the other night that he looks at matches, even the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup as goodwill, not so much this fierce competition, but more goodwill for the game of golf. In a way, whatever pressure the players put on themselves, his job is to maybe take some off of them, let them think that it's just that.

JIM FURYK: When I watched the Ryder Cup growing up, I always kind of think we had the war by the shore or whatever they were calling it, Kiawah. I think a lot of that was overplayed. When I watched the Ryder Cup back then, it was always us versus them, the United States. I looked at it that way from the outside. Inside, realistically, even at the Ryder Cup, we're friends with a lot of their players. You tee it up. A lot of their players play over here consistently, members of our Tour. Same things with the Presidents Cup. I think out of their 12 guys, at least eight have to be regular members of our Tour. These are guys we go to dinner with. I'm friends with. Our wives and girlfriends are all friends. It's not really -- I don't think there's going to be a lot of friction. There should be a lot of goodwill there. That's pretty much the way it should be. Although, I still think competitively, it's pretty fierce. We want to beat them as bad as they want to beat us. I think that can be done in a proper way to where it's not a war or a battle.

Q. Do you think as many years as you've probably watched the Ryder Cup growing up, then into the '90s, that the Presidents Cup may be at the level of intensity and sportsmanship that the Ryder Cup was prior to Muirfield, for example?

JIM FURYK: I think that would be real difficult for me to really talk about just because I've never been to the Presidents Cup. I didn't make the team the last two times. I'm not sure. The third week of December, I might have an answer to that. But I've only played one Ryder Cup. It's not like I have a lot of experience in that matter.

Q. How much are you looking forward to December, based on Valderrama?

JIM FURYK: I really enjoyed Valderrama. The only thing -- the week went so quick. It was like I couldn't wait for the week to start during the practice rounds, they drug on, drug on, drug on. Then, all of a sudden, three days and it's over. Through all the rain delays, trying to sleep-in if I had an afternoon match, it was just over. I really -- it just seemed like the week drug on for the first four days; then, all of a sudden, it was Sunday night. I think I want to -- I want to somehow figure out a way to maybe enjoy myself a little more here.

Q. Speed up the practice rounds?

JIM FURYK: I might actually -- I didn't wear myself out. I didn't practice too much. There's no need really -- I've actually played well in Melbourne. I know the course a little bit. I'm hoping it will be in similar shape and condition when I played it last time. I played the Holden there in '96, the first week of December. So the course should play almost identical. I should have a little knowledge that way. A couple practice rounds, maybe nine holes the day before, rest a little bit, I should be ready to go.

Q. What is your take on Player of the Year?

JIM FURYK: Damn, I thought I'd get out of here (laughter). I honestly think it's a really tough decision. It's going to depend on what guys think is more important, whether winning the two Majors that Mark won or winning the money list like David. To come to THE TOUR Championship like this, pretty much have the money title wrapped up, is kind of unheard of. It hasn't happened for a while, for a long while, especially with such a big purse here, having $720,000 for first place, him pretty much being that far ahead. I think that's pretty impressive. It's not like he's played 32 events. I think he's only played 23 events, which really isn't that much. I think that's pretty impressive. You have to weigh that against Mark's year, which is obviously very outstanding, winning two Majors, playing really well at the PGA. I'm not sure how he did at the US Open. You know, that's always fabulous. I still think it's up in the air. I don't know. I'd hate to say. I want to wait till the end of this week, that should really make a big difference on it. I'm still up in the air. I haven't made my decision. There should only be two nominees, that's for sure.

Q. Your schedule the rest of year, not too much off time. What are your plans? Is it starting to become more of a take time off when you can get it, no off-season?

JIM FURYK: You know, I used to always take the month of December off totally, maybe play the first week, have a whole month off before the year started. I like that because it got me fresh. By the time the west coast came along, I really wanted to play and be out there. This year is going to be a little strange for me.

Q. Two weeks, I think.

JIM FURYK: I'll really only have a couple weeks. One of those I'll be home in Pennsylvania. Ohio for Christmas. And one week really. Heck, I'll be preparing to go to Kapalua. Really only a couple weeks off. That's kind of a bummer for me, but then again, get the opportunity to go to the Presidents Cup, I'd rather be over there with USA on my bag, having a good time with the team. That's just part of it. I'm expecting to play a pretty full schedule on the west coast again.

Q. Knowing this is probably going to happen next year with things in December, are you going to revamp a schedule?

JIM FURYK: World Golf Championships is in December?

Q. I think it's in November.

JIM FURYK: I've always liked to take December off or play until like the first week of December, then take some time off. I'm hoping that I can probably go back to that. I've played probably a few too many events this year. I'm going to end up with 31 weeks. For me, if you have a good year, the better you play, the harder it is on you, and the more it takes out of you mentally and physically. I wish I could get that number down to maybe 25 official, two or three off-season events, and call it a year. Next year I might try to decrease my schedule a bit, maybe take a little more time off, maybe be a little bit more fresh for some tournaments. I was a little tired at the end of this year.

Q. It's not over yet.

JIM FURYK: I'm pacing myself now very nicely.

Q. The rise in prize money, the World Golf Championships, will they have any impact on your schedule?

JIM FURYK: As far as, you know, if I'm qualified to play, which I will be early next year, I'm definitely -- you're definitely going to play the World Golf Championships events. You mean as far as playing more events because they're more money to play for?

Q. You just got done saying you'll play less. The increase in prize money isn't necessarily going to make you play more, in other words?

JIM FURYK: Well, no, because if there's 40 $1 million dollars events or 40 $5 million events, your ultimate goal is to play well. There's probably a schedule out there. All of us, everyone is different. You need to play so many events to keep sharp and playing well. You probably can get to a point where you play too much where it starts hurting your game. You have to find an even keel in the middle. For Mark O'Meara, that might be 21, for Fred Funk, that might be 32. Everyone is different. I just need to find a number of events for me that I feel comfortable, to where I feel like I'm playing enough to keep my game really sharp, but not playing too much to really wear myself out. This year I felt like I might have slightly worn myself out, but not too bad.

Q. The World Golf Championships, if you play in Matchplay and the one in Akron, then the one in Valderrama, will they take the place on your schedule of Houston, Milwaukee, another tournament, where you just shift there?

JIM FURYK: I couldn't specifically say that I'm going to cancel out of a tournament. I really like to look at my schedule and pick tournaments in two- or three-segment blocks, then take a week off, then go two or three, take one off. Then when I get to a point where I know - like after the Masters in April, I get really tired, because I play a lot on the west coast, through Florida, up to the Masters - then I like to play two weeks off. I'll play two or three on, one off, normally till that gets me tired, which usually gets me through to the end of the summer. Then I take a lump off, like two or three. They won't hinder my schedule too much or change. I've played the same tournaments for the last three years. I assume I'll play those same tournaments for next year.

Q. Do you think that the world event at Valderrama will in any way detract or diminish this event in Houston next year?

JIM FURYK: As long as the event counts on our money list, which is the plan, yes. Just because this is kind of the season-ending event with a huge purse. The money list can change. Now all of a sudden if we go with a $4 million and $5 million purse to end the year, I guess one guy could actually win both and win too much money in two weeks. I don't know. I guess you could have a million dollars after the whole year, then win the last two, if that will even get you to the TOUR Championship next year, who knows. All of a sudden you could win 1.6 million in two weeks, something to that effect, 1.62, that's pretty amazing. Is it 900,000 and 720?


Q. 62.

LEE PATTERSON: Something like that.

JIM FURYK: $5 million purse, you should win -- that's pretty amazing.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. Appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts....

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