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July 29, 2014

Jim Furyk


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Jim Furyk, thanks for joining us here back at the Bridgestone Invitational.  A very good track record, nine top 10s and 14 starts.  Your 15th start here at Firestone Country Club.  Some opening comments, please.
JIM FURYK:  Obviously, I didn't realize my track record was that solid.  It's nice to know.
I've always enjoyed this golf course.  I've said this a billion times here.  It's kind of where I grew up in Pennsylvania, back and forth type of holes, old school, old style.
I've just always been comfortable on this style of course and have liked it.  Disappointed that I haven't won here.  I've had a couple of really good opportunities, but it's one of those that I definitely would like to win before my career's over.

Q.  Welcome back to Akron.  To sort of piggyback on what you were just saying, you've made no secret of the fact that you enjoy this course.  I want to ask you about something a writer from Sports Illustrated wrote a few months ago.  He said those World Golf Championships in Tucson and Akron are stuck in such uninspired venues.  I'd move them to places that are more dynamic.  What would be your response to that?
JIM FURYK:  I just think it's a wonderful golf course.  I guess that would be part of the reason I don't read Sports Illustrated.  That would be my best quote.
Wow, I actually said that out loud.  I feel like we as a tour have always done well.  Next week we're going to Louisville.  It's not a huge city, but the PGA Championship does phenomenal there.  The support we get from the people is second to none.
We go to big cities like L.A., it's very difficult to‑‑ they can't sell out a PGA at Riviera, which is mind boggling.  New York is a big city.  We get a lot of‑‑ it's great for sponsorship.  It's great for our fans.  They get people that show up and come in droves.
But that kind of mid‑level city, we've always seemed to do really well in.  Here we've got Akron, which is a little smaller, but the support here has always been great.  I think that the town's actually quite fun.  Everyone‑‑ I hear players a lot of times say there's not a lot to do here, is there?  After 15 to 20 years, I felt like I've found a few fun things to do.
My kids actually do enjoy coming here.  It's a place that has definitely grown on me over the years.  But I think, if you show up here Thursday and you look at the people that are here and the autographs we sign, it definitely has a nice feel to it.
So I think that the idea that it's in Akron and not New York City, we're not‑‑ it's also one of the positives, I would say, of Akron, if that makes sense.  It is a smaller community and has that smaller town feel.  But I would put this golf course against‑‑ it's one of my top five on tour every year.
I'd put this‑‑ I can't say how you couldn't rank this one of the top ten courses we play every year.  So the quote, not to pick on Sports Illustrated itself, but I don't read a lot‑‑ I don't read any magazines, to be honest with you.  I don't really have anything against any of them.
When I would read stuff like that, I probably‑‑ I'm sure it irks a lot of people in Akron.  It would irk me as well because, being a player, I definitely like the course.

Q.  Now that I know you didn't read my story a couple of weeks ago at The Open Championship.
JIM FURYK:  You know I didn't.  We've talked about that for years.  That's why we get along so good, right?

Q.  Probably one of the reasons, yeah.  We did talk a few weeks ago about your positive attitude and the good finishes you've had and so forth and how your game is really quite good right now.  I'm wondering, though, if you just feel a little bit unlucky right now, like a win hasn't snuck in there or snake bit or something.
JIM FURYK:  I'm not the kind of person to feel sorry for myself.  So say unlucky‑‑ I realize Tim shot 30 on the back.  I realize he had ten putts on the back nine.  When you're leading by three, it's a nightmare scenario, but I still controlled the destiny of that golf tournament, and I had a three‑shot lead going into the last day.
69 is nothing to hang my head over, but I played way better than 69.  I hit the ball like 65 and somehow managed to shoot 69.  No one hit it better than me in that tournament, I'll promise you that, from tee to green.  I should have won that golf tournament, and I did not.  My hat's off to him because he did everything he needed to to win and I did not.
For me to just say I'm unlucky, that's like pointing the finger the other way.  But my attitude is still positive, I guess is where you started with that.  Getting so close and not getting over the hump is definitely testing my patience level and testing the commitment I have to that attitude, but I'm still pretty steadfast on that.

Q.  What's it like for a tour player this time of year?  You come in, obviously, you have the PGA Championship coming up.  You have one of the best fields of the year here.  How do you go about getting yourself into the right frame of mind and feeling pretty good obviously after last week too?
JIM FURYK:  Right now everyone's spinning a little bit from trying to pace themselves, if that makes sense.  What I mean by that, it's a really long stretch.  Guys come through the summer.  I took a month off in the summer, which is the first time I've ever done it between the U.S. Open and the British Open.
I'm going to be playing 8 of 9 weeks in a row through the TOUR Championship, and then with the Ryder Cup, 9 of 11 weeks.  This is only week 3.
That being said, I think I see what's ahead of me, and I realize this is a big event, one I like, and we've got the PGA Championship and the playoffs and the TOUR Championship, and the Ryder Cup is already really the grand daddy.
It's a long, long season, and this is kind of the bulk of the stretch for me.  So right now it's really kind of pacing myself as far as‑‑ at the end of it, I'll be mentally worn down, but I don't want to be physically worn down, if that makes sense.  I'll play nine holes today.  I'll get in, get out, get my work done.  I'll be very focused on what I'm doing but do it in a shorter period of time than if it was March or April, and I'd be spending a little more time at the golf course.

Q.  Jim, more than 20 of the players in this field for this tournament played in the Western Amateur at Point O'Woods.  You played there a few times.
JIM FURYK:  Ten, to be exact.

Q.  Michigan golfers are pretty excited it's returning to Point O'Woods in a few years.
JIM FURYK:  It's a great golf course.  I enjoyed going there.  Those ground squirrels all over the place.  My best memory ‑‑ I didn't play that well ‑‑ was catching one of those.  There was a theory, if you took a gallon of water, jug of water, and turned it upside down in one of the holes, they would swim upstream into the gallon of water.  And believe it or not, that actually works.  We released him back into the wild.  He was fine.
I enjoyed playing that golf course.  It was fun.  I never made sweet 16.  I never made match play.  I did like it.  I was kind of sad to hear it wouldn't be at Point O'Woods anymore.  It's nice to know it's coming back.

Q.  Jim, after missing out at Muirfield Village, how big of a goal was it to come back and make this Ryder Cup team?
JIM FURYK:  It's always a goal.  I played on a lot of teams in a row.  I think it was 15 teams in a row.  I was definitely disappointed to miss last year.
I had three years in a row where the Presidents Cup, when we went to Australia, I think I was 10th in points after Chicago.  I relied on a sponsor invite to the last‑‑ not a sponsor, captain's pick for the last Ryder Cup, and then last year I was right on that edge again.  I think I finished 13th or 14th in the points for the Presidents Cup last year.
So I've had three years in a row where I've gone to those playoffs with a lot on my mind as far as not only just playoff scenarios, but also trying to make a Presidents Cup, a Ryder Cup team.  It definitely is a more peaceful feeling this year being second in points, knowing that I'm going to be on that team.  I won't be one of the guys sweating it out this year, which definitely feels good.
But as far as‑‑ it's always a goal, and I don't need any more motivation to make a team.  I start out every year wanting to make the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup team.  I realize I didn't play last year, but it's really not any more motivation.  I know I'm capable.  I know that my game's solid enough.
It's just a matter of I've had a very good successful season, and I'm really more focused on that.  But as far as like I was extra motivated this year, I mean, I've played on eight Ryder Cup teams.  I know how much fun it is.  I know how exciting it is.  I know how much pressure there is.  I know how much I enjoyed playing in all of those.
After I didn't know if the last one would be the last, and I'm glad it's not.  I'm excited as anyone to be on that team.

Q.  Jim, when you look at Rory and who he is and where he's at at 25, is it at all relatable to you?  Or does it seem like he's cut from a completely different cloth than yourself?
JIM FURYK:  I wasn't half that‑‑ I wasn't a tenth that successful at 25.  So it's a different‑‑ it's a totally different animal.
He had a phenomenal amateur career early at the age of 19, turned pro early, had a lot of success immediately as a golf professional.  I think he's won three Majors now at the age of 25.  I would say, no, that's‑‑ I had pretty early success.  I judge those goals by I played one year on the Web.com tour.  I didn't go to play the Canadian tour or the Asian tour around the world like 99.9 percent of my friends.
I won in my second year on tour.  I made my first Ryder Cup team my fourth year on tour.  That was pretty immediate success for that time.  I mean, the only‑‑ you had David Duval, Justin Leonard, myself.  Phil Mickelson was head and shoulders above the rest, but you could probably compare more Rory's success to Phil's maybe from my era.  Rory's obviously had more major championship success early.
So there aren't too many careers‑‑ you could probably pick maybe ten people in the world of golf that you could maybe compare to Rory and how much success he's had at the age of 25.  I would still say you're now comparing him against Tiger and Jack probably for anyone that's really where it actually gets close.

Q.  Could you see that from the beginning when he first came out here, that there was something that separated him from other phenoms?
JIM FURYK:  I think you're going to find my next comment humorous.  I probably didn't see it because I wasn't looking, if that makes sense.  I wasn't paying attention.  That's your job.  That's not mine.
I really haven't played a lot of golf with him, but when I have, his ability with a driver is stunning, if that makes sense.  He drives it‑‑ when he's on‑‑ and actually, even when he's not at times.  When he's on, he hits it so far and so straight with a driver that I think a lot of the other players look and marvel and say, geez, it can't be that hard from way up there.
I think he's got a lot of guts.  He's got a lot of confidence in himself, a lot of ability.  He doesn't back down.  And he seems to‑‑ he's aggressive.  He's got a lot bundled up.
So he's impressive, but when Tiger came out, I wasn't really paying attention.  I've got enough stuff to worry about, man.  So I was really more worried about myself.

Q.  Back to the Ryder Cup and motivation.  Obviously, the last Ryder Cup didn't end the way that the U.S. wanted or the way most people expected after the first two days.  I'm just wondering, how will you use that as more motivation perhaps than normal?  You're always motivated to win a Ryder Cup, but can you turn that into extra motivation?  Can you turn that into something?
JIM FURYK:  It definitely left a sour taste, but it's not like something with the Yankees and the Red Sox and we were playing a four‑day series and we lost yesterday.  So the same team's coming out the next night to play again.  It's 12 totally different guys and captains and different set of scenarios, just a different scenario.
Yeah, it definitely‑‑ to do that‑‑ I mean, basically have that happen where we came from four points down at Brookline and have that flip back on us last year, after the heartbreak we'd had and the amount of losses we'd had, to lose in that fashion last time was just a touch worse, if that makes sense.  I felt like we were in control of that event from the start and were up all week.
Then to have it kind of flip back at us late Saturday night, and then Sunday was definitely heartbreaking.

Q.  Will you be able to use that in some way?  Will you find a way to use that as motivation?
JIM FURYK:  I think it's a learning experience any way you look at it.  I definitely learned about myself and about my game from mistakes that I made, and I did a lot good on Sunday.  I did a lot good during the week.  I also made some mistakes and probably learned some from it.  We'll have to see what situation we're in there.
Yeah, we could possibly take something from it and apply it, those of us that were there, but, hey, maybe we're two points down going into Sunday this time.  It's a totally different scenario.  Maybe we're up six, I don't know.  Maybe we're down.  Don't know where we'll be.
Again, I don't need any extra motivation for the Ryder Cup.  I've played in eight, and my teams are 2‑6.  That's about as much motivation as I need.

Q.  Jim, another Ryder Cup question.  When you look at your record there versus the Presidents Cup, they're basically mirror images of each other, and it's one of those stats on paper that's hard to explain because they're both team events with high pressure against really strong competition.  Do you have a way to explain it?  Or do you have a theory or anything like that?
JIM FURYK:  I think, if you're looking at pure statistics, it's one of my‑‑ one of the things I did actually like in school.  Two A's, as a matter of fact, of the very few that I got in college.
You look at Presidents Cups‑‑ someone help me out.  I played on seven Presidents Cup teams.  We were 5‑1‑1.  If the team was 5‑1‑1 and we won most of those events in pretty dominant fashion, it's only fitting that those individual records are going to be pretty good if you played on seven of those teams.
If you go 2‑6 and the teams have lost sometimes in dominant fashion‑‑ I can think of the K Club and Detroit and a couple of places where‑‑ it only makes sense that those individual records are going to be somewhat on the poor side, if that makes sense.
I would be willing to bet my Presidents Cup record is better than my Ryder Cup record is poor would be my guess, but you might know better.

Q.  I think it was almost really, really close.  The percentage‑‑
JIM FURYK:  Almost like really, really close.  I like that.  It's like talking to my daughter.

Q.  If you reverse the numbers or something, it's really close.
JIM FURYK:  I promise you if we were 6‑2 in those eight Ryder Cups, instead of 2‑6, my record would look a lot better.

Q.  It almost allows there's an influence of the team on the individual.  In other words, you're saying there's some kind of team aura or something that makes the individuals‑‑
JIM FURYK:  What I'm saying is there aren't many individuals from the American team, because we've lost the Ryder Cups in dominant fashion, that have very good records.  Is that probably‑‑
Q.It makes sense.
JIM FURYK:  Is Tiger's record good in the Ryder Cup?

Q.  My response would be the records are bad because the individual performances, statistically the records are bad.
JIM FURYK:  I don't understand.  I'm not following you.

Q.  It's all right.
JIM FURYK:  What I'm saying is Tiger's record in the Ryder Cup isn't very good.  Even his individual record isn't very good.  So my argument for that would be, well, the teams are down.  If you're going to lose‑‑ there's 28 points in Ryder Cup.  If you're going to lose 18‑10, well, there weren't that many wins.  There's only 10 wins and there's 12 guys.  So there isn't going to be a lot of checks in the win column.  There's going to be a lot more checks in the loss column.
I'm not blaming it on like our team was bad, that's why my record's bad.  I'm blaming it on, you know, if my record in the Ryder Cup were‑‑ if I played in 30 matches and my record was 22‑8, we probably would have won more of those damn things, which is what I'm trying to say.
But because it's flipped the other way, we didn't do quite as well.  I think it's a product of‑‑ rarely, I don't think you're going to see a lot of guys on those Presidents Cup teams that have bad Presidents Cup records.  We're all going to have winning records.  And you're not going to see a lot of guys on the Ryder Cup teams I was on that have winning Ryder Cup records.  They're all going to be losing just because more of us lost than won.  That's why we lost the thing, if that makes sense.
I don't think that‑‑ I don't know if there's any more to it than that.  Like I said, if we were sitting here and I had been on eight teams and we won six and lost two, I think my Ryder Cup record would be winning because almost all of us would be, if that makes sense.
It would be rare you'd find one guy that was like 10‑20 and been on a whole bunch of winning teams, if that makes sense.

Q.  Having been on both sides of it now, I'm curious if you could explain what exactly it's like to sit and wait to find out if you're a captain's pick or not, what's going through your head, how you spend the time, that kind of thing?
JIM FURYK:  It's not a fun experience.  I think you're nervous.  You don't know, even as a veteran player and a guy that played on a lot of teams, you're not sure what's going through the captain's mind.
I'm definitely pretty good friends with Davis.  So I felt comfortable‑‑ I wasn't saying he was going to pick me, but I felt a little bit more comfortable with the situation.  I know Fred and I'm friends with him, but I don't know Fred well.  I haven't spent time at his house or get together for dinner with him, where I felt more comfortable when Davis was the captain just because I know him better.
But it was definitely nice to get the call and know that I was on the team, and also with Fred, it's disappointing when you find out the news that, hey, it came down to a few guys, and you're out type deal.
It's not fun.  I think it leaves guys very anxious.  I know why the captains want those two more playoff events.  You put guys under stress.  You see how they react to it, how they're playing.  If a guy goes out and plays really well at New York or plays really well in Boston, does that mean he's going to really play that much better at the Ryder Cup?  Probably not.
But I understand why the captain wants those extra two weeks, but I also understand, being in a player's position, it freaks some guys out and they have a bad playoff run because they're putting so much pressure on themselves to perform and there's so much more than just the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup involved.
I see some guys that really play poorly, and it's they just don't‑‑ they haven't handled the situation really that well.  It's a tough spot to be in.  It seems like the same guys for a while.  I remember Hunter Mahan was in that position for six years running, and I felt bad for H, and he ended up making the team or being a pick for a couple of years, but it kind of put him through the ringer for a couple of years.

Q.  When you got the call, do you remember what you were doing?
JIM FURYK:  I was in the airport after Boston trying to get to the BMW.  He let us know that he was going to‑‑ he made some calls pretty quick.  So I had a good idea that he'd be calling and was anxious to hear from him.
With Fred, I actually screwed up.  I thought he had to make the call on a Monday night, and I think he made it on a Tuesday.  He had to make it on a Monday, and he made it on Tuesday.  The press conference was even a day later.  I actually thought he had to call by Monday, and there was no call.  So I realized‑‑ or he had to call by Sunday night, and there was no call.  And I realized‑‑ I thought it was on Monday like it had always been, but they pushed it back to Tuesday.
And then I waited and got the notification real late on Monday night.  So it was a long two days.

Q.  Jim, to continue the conversation about captain's picks, since the late '90s you and Phil and Tiger have been on national teams together a lot.  If Tiger does not automatically qualify for the team and he is healthy, would you be surprised that he is not chosen as a teammate of yours at Gleneagles?
JIM FURYK:  This is a great time to be on the team and not be a captain, I guess, is what I could say.
Would I be surprised if he wasn't chosen?  I'm trying to figure the best way to dance out of the question is what I'm trying to do because you've pigeonholed me into a yes/no answer.
I think what it's going to boil down to, would be my guess, is how healthy Tiger is and how he feels like his game is, but it's hard to imagine not having a healthy Tiger Woods on the team, if that makes sense.  He's, I don't know, arguably the best player ever.  So I would‑‑ if he's healthy and he's been playing, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't be on the team.
But that's not my call.

Q.  You said earlier that these close calls are testing your ability to stay positive to a certain extent.  Do you ever wake up and just wonder, what do I have to do to win one of these things again?  Does that ever go through your mind?
JIM FURYK:  I'd be more apt to go to bed thinking that, not waking up.  But, again, I'm not‑‑ I'm really not a feel sorry for myself type of person, and the reason I say that is I get to do what I love to do for a living.  I play a game.  I get to make a pretty darn good living doing it.
So for me to feel bad for myself, I would venture that close to 100 percent of the world's not going to feel too bad for me, and I don't think they should.  I don't really have‑‑ like I said, in some of those instances, I got outplayed.  Jason Dufner outplayed me at the PGA last year.  I played a pretty good last round of golf, and he just played better.  I got no bones with that.
I lost the tournament here to Keegan, and I have no one to blame but myself.  So some of the instances have been my fault.  Some guys just outplayed me and played a phenomenal round.
I was asked immediately when I walked off the golf course on Sunday which one I thought this was, and I really felt like it was a little of both.  I mean, the guy shot 30 on the back nine and had 10 putts.  But you know what, I had all those same opportunities and just didn't knock the putts in.
So it's a little of both.  If I play a little bit better, I win.  If he doesn't play great, I win.  It just didn't work out that way.  It was a little bit my fault, but I also didn't want to take it away from him.  He played great.
But I definitely‑‑ each time I finish second, it definitely is testing my ability to be positive and testing‑‑ it's a mental grind, if that makes sense, more than anything.  Physically, I honestly couldn't have played any better last week.  As far as, like I said, tee to green, that's probably the best ball striking tournament I've had in my career, and that's saying a lot over 21 years.  So to not win, it definitely left a bitter taste, but also there's a lot of positive I can take out of it.
It definitely tests my ability to stay positive, and the next time I get in that situation and I get in the hunt, I'm going to have confidence, and I'm going to have a belief in myself that I'm going to win the golf tournament.
What's the damn worst thing that's going to happen?  I finish second again.  So it's not the end of the world.  I'll be firing at the pin again, and I'll be trying to bury the last hole.  It will happen eventually.

Q.  Jim, one more captain's pick question.  Given your friendship with Davis, did it make it at all awkward just having conversations with him?  Was it something that you studiously avoided?
JIM FURYK:  It's different.  I'm in a situation now, if Tom Watson were to talk to me now, he may ask opinions on players, but he also knows I'm on that team.  I think Davis isn't going to ask about captain's picks when you're on the outside looking in, if that makes sense, because that would make it awkward.
No, I have so much respect for him as a person, before him as a player, that it really wasn't that awkward because, no matter what Davis would have said, he would have done it in the proper way and been a gentleman about it, and I would have tried to handle it the same way, yes or no.
If he would have called and said, hey, I've got to go another route, I would have wished him well, and I honestly would have asked if there was anything I could do to help because I really think that much of Davis.
So it really didn't‑‑ I don't think it made it awkward.  It probably made it a little easier, to be honest with you.

Q.  Do you feel at all like, if you're with friends, you can say I really feel like I belong on that Ryder Cup, but if your friend is the captain, do you almost feel that you can't talk about it?  Or would you feel like anything I say is going to be promoting myself?
JIM FURYK:  No, I think our culture is‑‑ you know, I would never stand in front of you and say, I should be a pick, or I should be on that team.  That is not my personality.
I think other parts of the world that's socially accepted because you want to show people that you have confidence in yourself rather than be timid.  I feel like here that's just‑‑ that's probably not as accepted.  You come across more cocky rather than confident.
That wouldn't be‑‑ my answer would be more I have a lot of confidence in my game.  I feel like I'm playing really well right now.  I feel like I'd be a good pick, but it's not my decision.  I'll respect either way that the captain goes.  I always would take the high road and go out.
Did I answer your question right?

Q.  More I think it might be awkward for people because where in personal conversations do you promote yourself?  And you might do that just without even meaning to around friends because you're among friends.  There's a sense of comfort there.  But when that friend is making a decision, do you feel like you have to trumpet your abilities?
JIM FURYK:  No.  Early in my career, I would have felt like, if I was trying to trumpet my abilities, I would have been kind of non‑respecting as a young player.  As a veteran player and a guy that's been on tour for 20 years, I feel like my body of work speaks for itself, and I wouldn't want to trumpet either.  It's either good enough or it's not.
Again, it's not really my decision, and influencing it wouldn't‑‑ I don't think you could influence it, but if you could, that's not the way I would want to get on the team anyway.  I'd want the stamp of approval and the guy saying, I want you to be on this team because I believe in your ability, and that would give me that much more confidence that I was the right pick anyway.

Q.  Jim, someday do you want to be a captain?
JIM FURYK:  I do.  That's a simple yes or no question.  Yes.  Although after this line of questioning, I'm not sure.  It only gets a lot worse.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Jim Furyk, thank you.

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