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September 10, 2014

Jim Furyk


THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room.  Jim, you've won this tournament.  You've won the FedExCup.  Maybe talk to us about your expectations heading into this year's event ranked No.7 in the FedExCup.
JIM FURYK:  I look at it as a good opportunity.  I've been playing well this year.  I love the golf course.  I always have.  It's a little different this year.
It's very wet.  Obviously a lot of rain.  And the golf course is playing as soft and as long as I've seen it in a long time.  But looks like it's in great shape.  The greens are perfect.  I would expect scoring to be pretty good unless we got some rough weather.  I know there's some rain in the forecast for the future.
So we'll see what happens as far as the wind and such.  But I expect scoring to be pretty good.  And I would like to continue to kind of stay on the roll that I've been, continue trying to do the same things.
Really not‑‑ I guess more importantly is just really haven't raised expectations so high that I couldn't meet them, if that makes sense.  I've done a good job of staying very patient and playing one day at a time and one shot at a time and just looking to the near future and kind of letting it build and grow and been able to build on some good weeks and get some momentum because of it.

Q.  There's been a lot of discussion about whether players are tired and playing too much golf.  You seem to have managed to maintain a very high level of consistency despite playing as often as you have.  What's your take on that whole argument about whether it's too much?
JIM FURYK:  I did take a month off before coming into the stretch.  So I'm now playing my eighth event in the last nine weeks.  I'm definitely a little tired.  I'm a little worn down.
I think that I have been playing well, and because of that I've limited amount of practice, I've limited the amount of practice rounds.  Played a lot of nine holes.
Last week, I spent about two or three hours at the course late Tuesday afternoon.  I played the Pro‑Am Wednesday, got out of there.
I've been limiting the amount of time really not for physical fatigue but more mental.  Just spend so much time with the game you get tired, worn down, you make silly mistakes.  I've been trying to keep those at a minimum and just play.
But I'm a little worn down, too, as well.  And it's two stretches of four tournaments in a row for me, if that makes sense.

Q.  A lot of players have been suggesting maybe the week off came at the wrong time; that you could have perhaps had this week off, played next week and gone straight to the Ryder Cup.  Do you think that might have been the solution?
JIM FURYK:  In years past, I think that we're going to be tired one way or the other, either way you look at it.
In years past, when asked by the TOUR, they would ask the players would you rather go two on, one off and play the last two playoffs or play three playoff events, one off and come here to the TOUR Championship, I was in years past always in favor for the three on, one off, kind of have the big buildup.
And after looking at it, looking at last year, I actually now probably prefer the two, one and two.  The four in a row I don't think anyone prefers.  But the two, one, two, is a nice format especially because of the Monday finish at Deutsche Bank.  It really takes a lot of pressure off the BMW.
And I think it makes that event, makes getting to the BMW and being fresh a lot easier than coming straight here.

Q.  I've talked to some players this morning about Player of the Year balloting coming up on Sunday, and Rory seems to be the foregone conclusion.  In your mind is there anything that could happen this week to keep you from voting for him Player of the Year?
JIM FURYK:  It would be difficult.  Off the top of my head, no, but...

Q.  Martin Kaymer, he would be 3, he would win the FedExCup, if he were to win this week in theory.
JIM FURYK:  You have Kaymer...

Q.  Jimmy Walker win four.
JIM FURYK:  Jimmy Walker win four.  Who else has won three events this year?

Q.  Chris Kirk.
JIM FURYK:  Chris Kirk has won three times this year?

Q.  (Off microphone.)
JIM FURYK:  If he won here.
I guess you'd have to look at Kaymer as probably the best opportunity with the major and THE PLAYERS, two majors for Rory and the World of Golf Championship, if I'm correct.  I guess you would look at Kaymer at that point if he went ahead and won here and won the FedExCup and that might rival what Rory's done.
But it's hard to, I'm not looking at it on paper, but, yeah, if you just ask me right now who is Player of the Year, winning two major championships, it's pretty tough not to pick Rory.

Q.  Arnold Palmer turning 85 today.  Happy birthday, Mr.Palmer.  Can you just talk about the impact he's had on the game over the years and also the effect as well he's had on prize money over the years as well?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I'd say it's probably easier for me to say how Tiger has affected prize money because the leaps and bounds and the jumps were so great in Tiger's era.  It has a lot to do with Commissioner Finchem as well and Tiger.
As far as the popularity of the game, it's a wonderful game.  But Arnie not only being a dominant player in his time but also a fan favorite and someone that I think handled that fame very well as far as his relationship with the fans, always having time for them, looking them in the eye.
I look back and really respect what, say, he and Jack did for our TOUR and for the game of golf professionally, in that you've got two of the best players in the world, the PGA TOUR split from the PGA of America.  I know Arnie and Jack were on the front end of that.
Here you had two guys that probably could have taken advantage of the situation, but I feel like always for the love of the game and for our TOUR and for golf in general, I always feel like they took the high road, they made the right decisions for the game of golf for everyone, for our TOUR in general, and made it much better for everyone.
Where they probably would have had the ability to do things for their own good, their own advantage, they did not.  And Mr.Palmer was on the front end of that.  He was the fan favorite and good‑looking, great playing and everyone's hero at the time.  But handled it with such grace.

Q.  I guess this is going to be your ninth Ryder Cup coming up.  And just wondering if you can recall it being different now given that you seem to play with the European players a lot on the PGA TOUR.  You know them better.  There's not as many guys you don't know.  Has that dynamic changed over the years in your mind?
JIM FURYK:  A little bit, yeah.  I know it's changed maybe not as much in my time as it did from look back in the'70s and'80s you had very few guys coming over and playing that were successful from the European Tour.  Seve was on the front end of that.
And then it started to become more and more.  I would say in my first Ryder Cup I didn't know Darren Clarke or Lee Westwood very well, but they very quickly became friends of mine on TOUR and guys I knew from Europe very well.  And now that list is increasing and growing each and every year.
So because most of their players are members of our TOUR, it's changed the dynamic some, but it's still‑‑ the difference between, say, like a Presidents Cup and a Ryder Cup, there's still a line in there.
The Presidents Cup is different because the TOUR, the PGA TOUR runs the event and has both sides, both the U.S. and the international side.
And most of the international team is members of our TOUR as well.  But when you look at a Ryder Cup you're looking at our PGA of America running the U.S. team and the European Tour and the European PGA running that team.  So it really becomes this side of the pond versus that side of the pond, where at the Presidents Cup you don't get that as much because one entity, the PGA TOUR has both sides.
So I look at their liaisons and the people in their team room and their locker room and I see them on a daily basis on the PGA TOUR.  So it doesn't have that us versus them maybe clash that the Ryder Cup can get at times.

Q.  Knowing them better than you might have, does it make it any easier to play against them in the Ryder Cup, or is it harder because you do maybe have a relationship with some of those guys, they're friends of yours‑‑
JIM FURYK:  I don't think it really matters.  The Ryder Cup all in all was supposed to be a friendly match.  It was supposed to be a match between two sides of the pond to get the European countries and U.S. together, have a friendly match determine who is going to win it.  They get to keep the trophy for two years we'll do it in two years from now.  It's all supposed to be in good nature, good sport, just like this game is.
And I think that that probably becomes a little easier when you know the people on the other side better, that afterwards you shake hands, you congratulate the winner and you move on.  And so knowing them and being friendly with them probably helps the spirit of what the Ryder Cup is supposed to be about.

Q.  On a similar subject, you and Lee have been on every Ryder Cup team since 1997.  Any particular stories or anecdotes you could share about your relationship with Lee during that time?
JIM FURYK:  I've definitely had to play against him a few times.  He was paired with Darren most of those.
But I've enjoyed the company of quite a few of the European players over the years and get on fine with them and enjoy it.  I guess that event, I can remember playing‑‑ I think Tiger and I were playing Darren and Lee, and I had a putt and someone said pick it up and I wasn't quite sure what they said, and Darren kind of gave me the look like:  Come on, you know better than that.  There's nothing goofy that's going to happen in this group, we're all buddies here.
So I feel like it's always done in the proper fashion and had some good matches obviously.  We've been on the losing side a little more than I would like to be.  But nothing that really I guess sticks out in my mind exactly right now.

Q.  You spoke earlier of having to limit length of practice rounds, the amount of time on the range because of this busy stretch of golf.  Despite that, to stay mentally fresh, can you pinpoint any moments where you might have made an error in recent weeks because of mental fatigue?
JIM FURYK:  I don't think so.  I mean, we're not like‑‑ we're not playing an NFL game and running into car wrecks 40 times a game.  We're not‑‑ it really is golf.  They let us walk around.  We don't have to sprint or run.
I think it's more the being away from home.  It's more the mental aspect, being away from home.  I've been on the road now eight out of nine weeks.  I haven't seen my bed very often.  I went home for two weeks after Denver just to kind of get away a little bit so I could come today and prepare.
But I don't know.  I've read and heard stuff now that they're blaming some of the injuries on the players on playing events, instead of looking at all the guys that played so good in the top 30, ask some of those journeymen that are playing 33 events each and every year trying to scrap it out to get in the top 125 and keep their job and see how bad they feel for us that we have to play four tournaments in a row this week.  Probably no one worrying about it too much.

Q.  Last night on Golf Central John Feinstein commented on the point system, about how he thinks ‑‑
JIM FURYK:  Which point system are we talking about?

Q.  The FedExCup point system.  After the regular season, how it should be totally wiped clean just to kind of clear the slate for everybody and then again before the TOUR Championship so that eliminates the crazy circumstances for, say, No.25 to win the FedExCup.  If you could just give me your thoughts on that and any comments?
JIM FURYK:  Wiping the slate clean and starting over?

Q.  Yes.
JIM FURYK:  I think you should talk to Rory McIlroy about it see how he feels after winning two majors and World Golf Championship and kicking everyone's ass for the entire year, he'd probably love it.
I feel like I guess in the NFL you get home field advantage by having the best season.  Since there's no such thing as home field advantage in golf, I like the idea that you get weighted higher.  If you had a good year you should gain some sort of advantage.
But I think you're going to end up with some of your best players who had the greatest years.  In theory‑‑ let's think about this.  In theory, you could win all four majors, THE PLAYERS, three World Golf Championships, three playoff events, come to this event, finish second, and not win the FedExCup.
So, I don't know, to have us all start over even I guess I would totally disagree with that.  But I like the idea of the fact that you had a good year, you get rewarded somewhat for it.  If anything, I'd go the other way.  I think the playoffs a little too volatile in my opinion.  But I like him, but I would disagree with that.
John and I are friends.  And I like him.  But I would disagree with‑‑ I would love to have the argument with him because he likes to argue.

Q.  And he never loses, you know that, right, Jim?
JIM FURYK:  Not in his mind.  But mine, he does.

Q.  Understanding you're just playing by the rules and bylaws thereof, you could finish second this week and win the FedExCup without ever having won a tournament this‑‑
JIM FURYK:  Is that right?

Q.  How would you explain that?
JIM FURYK:  Unfortunately I had that same situation happen a few years ago and‑‑

Q.  Why is that unfortunate?
JIM FURYK:  Because I didn't win this year, that's the unfortunate part.  For me at least.  No, I think the scenario should work out that you should have to win.  It would be a little egg on our face as a PGA TOUR if you had a player that didn't win anything all year tournament‑wise win the FedExCup.  That just doesn't sound right.  Just my opinion.
I said that however many years ago it was, too, when I came in here pretty good shape, too.  I was ‑‑ I'm seventh now.  I was in the top 5 then.  And it was even more realistic that if I played really well it could happen.  I don't think I played very well if, I remember.  But, no, I think you should win.
I wouldn't feel guilty if I won this tournament at all.

Q.  The other question I had, coming up it's 15years since the PGA of America generously agreed to have each of you donate $200,000 to charity from the Ryder Cup proceeds.  I'm curious what you remember of that time in'99.  And, secondly, I think last time, if not the last two times, $50,000 of your charity went to the Junior Ryder Cup Academy.  I'm curious if you had a vote on that or if that's what you were told that's who you were giving it to?
JIM FURYK:  What's happening this year you said or it happened last time?

Q.  50,000 went to Junior Ryder Cup.
JIM FURYK:  Used to be we donated‑‑ I thought it was 100‑, $125,000.  It started out to a charity of our choice.  And then so much money, whether it was 50,000 or another $100,000, I think went to a PGA program at a university of your choice.  And so I used to donate it to University of Arizona.
Now it sounds like that second one has changed and gone too.  So I think 100 of it goes to a charity of our choice, another 100 goes to benefit a PGA program that we earmark that we get to choose.  Is that it, or no?

Q.  I don't know.  I'm curious if you know you gave 50,000 to the Junior Ryder Cup Academy.
JIM FURYK:  I guess I didn't.  I probably did back then, but I probably forgot.  We've always had 100 to earmark where we wanted to go, and then there was other money, and sometimes we had the choice.  Like I said, University of Arizona had programs there, I've had students write me letters and thank me for the opportunity.  I'm totally fine with that.
I think what I remember from'97 to'99, I think that buzz started in'97 a little bit and I remember showing up to New York and putting on a suit and hopping in a limo, being in a limo to meet President Clinton and having players complain we should get paid.  I remember my head spinning because I was just so excited to be playing in the Ryder Cup at 27years old and first one.  And I would have paid them 50 grand to go play.  So obviously it wasn't in my mind.
And then'99 there was a storm that kind of started brewing before that, and at the PGA Crenshaw and the team had a talk.  I remember a lot of the media sitting outside waiting to hear what happened and how it went.
I think that most of the players that raised any concerns back then have definitely changed their tune, and I think it pretty quickly went away after'99, to be honest with you.  I think by the time we got to'01,'02, that was gone and old news and I haven't heard really any complaints since.

Q.  Do you know what the Junior Ryder Cup Academy is?
JIM FURYK:  No, sir.  Can you help me?

Q.  No, I can't.
JIM FURYK:  No, but I will‑‑ if that's where our money is going, I'll make sure that I ask the PGA of America explain it to me so I understand.  I should.  I should know.  I do.  I do.  It's something to benefit Junior Golf and grow the game.
I give the PGA of America a lot of credit because it seems like when I speak to their officers their big concern is obviously the game in itself, is it growing, we're losing golfers, and it seems like that junior programs and‑‑ and my kids even play at our local club in the PGA Junior league that they have where they each get a shirt, number on their back, they go out, play scrambles.  It's for kind of a beginning level player.  And that's where my kids are at right now.
I give them a lot of credit because they seem to be going back to that grassroots and getting kids involved and trying to grow the game for the future instead of right now.

Q.  Going back to the Ryder Cup, you talk about how in its ideal form it's a friendly competition‑‑
JIM FURYK:  I thought it was supposed to be a friendly competition.  Right?  That's what it was supposed to be.  I didn't say it always was.

Q.  But that's how you would like it to be, is that fair?
JIM FURYK:  I think that's the way it's supposed to be.  I'm sorry I misunderstood what you said.

Q.  I said in its ideal form.  Like the perfect version of the Ryder Cup would be a friendly‑‑
JIM FURYK:  But the Ryder Cup only plays out perfectly if those emotions are high.  If you see us‑‑ if it's a friendly ho‑hum, who cares, then it's great.  But the fist pumping and excitement, and eventually because of all that, because of all that excitement, because of all that emotion, someone's feelings gets hurt along the way and someone's always upset at the end and we shake hands.
What I'm saying is afterwards you should have a pint in your hand, you should shake the other guy's hands and say "Congrats, you played well," and leave it all out on the golf course and realize what we're out there for and why and it should be friendly.

Q.  My question was going to be do you find that certain players are not friendly enough?  Because I think if you asked Ian Poulter or going back, Colin Montgomerie, they would come in saying, hey, it's going to be a friendly weekend‑‑
JIM FURYK:  I didn't say that either.  But I think you are changing my words around somehow in there.  I said ideally it was supposed to be a friendly match.
But that doesn't mean it can't be played in the fiercest of competition and done in the right fashion, I guess.

Q.  So not changing your words, just asking the question, do you think there are players sometimes who violate the spirit of what the Ryder Cup should be?
JIM FURYK:  Has that happened in the past?  Absolutely.

Q.  Do you have an example?
JIM FURYK:  No, sir.  But everyone knows a couple of examples.  (Laughter.)  So everyone knows a couple of examples.

Q.  On that theme, Jim, what's it like having a beer after you've lost, what's it like trying to socialize with the team?
JIM FURYK:  When I first started playing, we tried to get the teams together afterwards for like a toast and raising the glass, and it was very awkward.  I remember at one of the last times we did it was at the Belfry in'02 and I think we did it in'97 and'99 and'02 and it was awkward because one team is pretty down in the dumps and obviously doesn't want to be there.  And the other team is really excited.  They want to party.  They want to be excited, but then they also don't want to make it look like they're rubbing it in the other team's face.
So the one team can't celebrate and the other one doesn't want to be there to start with, so they kind of did away with that.  Right now it's kind of more when we've won or lost I've still made it a point to‑‑ we're going to bump into those guys in closing ceremonies, you go over, shake their hands, wish them well.  If they've won the match, you let them know they've played well.
You're always going to have those battles.  I had great matches with Kenny Perry and I had a great match with Poulter and McDowell, where McDowell, Ian and Kenny played great on the front nine and McDowell and I birdied five or six holes on the back nine.
And I kept making birdie and that little son of a gun kept making birdie on top of me.  At the end I gave him a hug and I said:  I'm mad we lost, we lost one down, but that's the best match I've been involved with.  But you were tough.
I think those kind of things, Graeme and I have always been very good friends.  I respect him not only as a player but as a person.  Those are the kind of things‑‑ that was as fierce as competition as it was.  There was nothing‑‑ Ian's known‑‑ like you said, he has that way to ignite his team.
But I played against him.  He didn't do anything in that match that I deemed over the line or wrong.  He's just an excitable person.  It's his personality.  And I think it's great for their team.
And we've had guys like that on our side as well that get everyone else stirred up and pumped up and it's fun to have.  So I think you can play the fiercest of competition.  I'm still sold on the fact that you can do it in the right way that people respect, win or lose, on the other side.

Q.  Yesterday, when the commissioner was in, he was caught a little flatfooted by the fact‑‑
JIM FURYK:  Shocking there, because that doesn't happen very often.  Congrats.

Q.  It wasn't me.  It wasn't me.
JIM FURYK:  Whoever it was, congrats.

Q.  ‑‑ about the fact that one player didn't play in three of the playoff events and still qualified for the TOUR Championship.  You were talking about the format of the TOUR Championship.  Is that something that you think should be addressed as well?
JIM FURYK:  Possibly.  Possibly.  I think he had a little help from Keegan and some folks that ended up unfortunately I guess not disqualified but withdrawing, however you want to look at it last week.  Otherwise Dustin would have finished outside the top 30.
It's hard to imagine you can miss all three and still stay in.  As much as the‑‑ it shows you how well I guess he played for most of the year and how high he started.
It's probably something that the TOUR's not happy about or it looks awkward that we're playing 30 guys this year‑‑ 29 guys this year instead of 30.  What was the question, is it something that I think should be addressed?  I think it's something we can look at.  But I don't know‑‑ I'm not going to make the knee‑jerk that that's awful or it shouldn't happen.  He had a great year.  Something we can look at, but I'm not bothered by it by any means.
Does that help or no?  You have a confused look on your face like I didn't answer your question.

Q.  I am not sure how you can't be bothered by the guy isn't in the playoffs and then he gets to the World Series.
JIM FURYK:  I guess I would say I never liked the word "playoff."  When there's 32 teams in the NFL, 32 don't make the playoffs.  Everyone has got a job here to make the playoffs.  I never liked the word "playoff."  I'd like something else used if it were me personally.

Q.  Just look behind you.  The word is everywhere.
JIM FURYK:  I realize it's up there.  But if I'm going to call it a playoff and 125 guys keep their card, I'd say 62 max should make the playoffs.  Half the league is too much in the NBA.  Half is too much in hockey.  Does anyone disagree?  They do it for money.  But football and baseball you've got to earn it to get in the Playoffs.

Q.  You were on the board.  Did you bring that up at that time, that there's too many guys in the playoffs?
JIM FURYK:  Every year I've been on the board I've addressed or asked about the way the point system works.  So every year I've brought it back and some years we talk about it, some years we don't.

Q.  How has that been going?  How are those arguments going?
JIM FURYK:  It hasn't changed in seven years.  So probably not‑‑ I don't think it's a bad system by any means but I think it can be addressed.  I'm definitely not criticizing the system.  I think it could always be better.  I'm not exactly sure how to do that.  I think it serves‑‑ the system serves the purpose that it was meant to serve if that makes sense.  It gets us all together for an extra month.
We've got another month of television for our fans enjoy it, exciting, the sponsors love it.  The tournaments love it.  We've got a great culmination at the end of the year that we never used to have before the system.
I like it.  I get to take four months off now go home and be a father again.  I get to play in the same events I used to play and quite honestly they're worth more money than they used to be.
So I get to play in the exact same events and the purses are higher than they were 10 years ago.  So what do I have to complain about?  And I guess I have to play four in a row but no one's going to feel that bad for me.  So I think really you look around, you got a lot of different entities that are very happy with the way the system works.
Could the point system be better, yeah.  Is what you're saying something to look at?  Yes.  But in the overall picture, I think the system works.  It's not broken.  But maybe it could be tweaked to get better.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you so much for your time.

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