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September 23, 2014

Jim Furyk


PAUL SYMES: Welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room. Are you still feeling confident about your form this week?

JIM FURYK: I feel good about my game. I've had a good stretch since the British Open, and I've some good results. I've had a lot of confidence in my game. Now it's having a good time with my team, trying to get over the jet-lag. Felt a lot better with a golf club in my hand today than I did yesterday and really just trying to get ready. It's fun to be -- I'm your first victim here, right? I rarely have the speed for lead-off hitter, I was telling them, so this is a nice change.

PAUL SYMES: I believe this week you've become only the second American after Phil to play in nine Ryder Cups, so that's a nice feather in your cap.

JIM FURYK: It's been an honour. When you look at all the players that have represented our country and played for the United States, to have played in nine of them now is something I'm very proud of. There's been a lot of players that have won a lot more than Phil and I have won, and I think that's the one part we're disappointed about, but it will be nice to change that this week.

Q. Over the years, there's been talk of what part chemistry plays in the makeup of a team, and picking different guys, either the captains' picks or matching them up in the pairings. As you mentioned, you're a veteran. What do you think, how important is it, chemistry?
JIM FURYK: I think chemistry is extremely important. I think not only how the players, I think, mix together as 12, but probably more importantly how we play together as a team, how the pairings are put together and how those personalities and how those styles match up with each other, and probably for different formats, as well. I think it's a large part of how we play, and you know, I think Tom will do a wonderful job. But I think that provides the players the best opportunity to compete and do well.

Q. Obviously you've been out playing the course today. You'll have seen the great amphitheatre at the first tee and around the 18th green. What kind of atmosphere are you expecting when the action starts here at Gleneagles on Friday?
JIM FURYK: Well, it's always the same. I think any Ryder Cup, you're expecting a very rowdy, very boisterous, very loud crowd. I think that first tee amphitheatre is something that's been added probably the last two, three, four Ryder Cups. It's always an anticipation and it's fun for players to get there and see so many people and they're cheering. It's fun to have a home crowd. It's fun to have 40,000 fans out there and have 37,000 of them be cheering for the USA. But an away game once in awhile never hurt, either. It definitely tests your moxie a little bit. It gives you a little bit of a chip on your shoulder that it's us versus everyone else here, so it's fun, as well.

Q. Graeme McDowell was in here this morning with a theory that with the United States having to play a Presidents Cup and a Ryder Cup every year, that perhaps it's taken a toll on you guys, and then he suggested that maybe we could do this every three years. How do you feel about each of those points?
JIM FURYK: Well, doesn't seem to have bothered us too much in The Presidents Cup. I don't know. Let's put it this way; I'm not disappointed that I have to play every year. I would see it as an honour if I got to qualify. And, in fact, I didn't qualify last year. I got picked for The Presidents Cup, and I dearly missed it. So I'm happy to be back and happy to be playing in the team format and trying to provide some leadership. You know, it's been every other year since the '30s, I believe, is that correct? So I'm quite happy with the way it is and enjoy it. I'm not making any excuses for the way we've played. But it's not difficult to get up for The Ryder Cup or to be excited or to feel rejuvenated. I just played eight out of the last ten weeks, and I couldn't be more excited about being here on a Tuesday, which is a day that this is usually my least favourite day of a PGA TOUR event. I would rather just avoid Tuesdays all together to be honest with you. Wednesday Pro-Ams are much more fun. I love the fact we play every other year and if we could do this every year, I would be excited.

Q. I'm curious what your interactions have been like with Patrick Reed, today and throughout your career, and are you looking forward to playing with him Friday?
JIM FURYK: I have played with Patrick a couple of times. We were paired together last year at The Barclays and we were paired together at the Bridgestone this year. I've always gotten along with Patrick well. I think the mark of that is when we played at The Barclays last year, he didn't play very well for two days and it was pretty apparent by about the turn on Friday that he was going to miss the cut, and I still felt like he was a pretty easy guy to play with. He was a gentleman and handled himself professionally. I enjoyed that. I think there could be a scenario where we play together this week. You were mentioning Friday. But we really haven't made our final pairings. I played in a group today with Patrick, Zach and Hunter, but I wouldn't rule out actually other partners, as well, from what I'm hearing. So again, I'm one of those wheelmen and I could end up with a bunch of different partners. It's kind of the blessing and a curse I've had for my career.

Q. What characteristics make for a good match-play player and what are some of the dodgiest tactics you've ever had an opponent put on you, not necessarily in a Ryder Cup, but in all your rounds of golf to try to throw you off?
JIM FURYK: What was the first part of the question?

Q. What characteristics make a good match-play player?
JIM FURYK: I think an experienced one. I think someone that's played it a bunch, it helps. Anyone that's got a good short game, that can knock in some putts is dangerous. It's a tough blow when it looks like you're going to win a hole and you end up halving it or actually even losing it. So a guy that can do some things around the greens. Seeing a Seve Ballesteros who looked like he was in jail and could end up winning the hole or get out of that bind pretty well. As far as dodgy stuff that's happened to me, I really don't feel like I've had -- I've had a couple of run-ins in match-play events and been disappointed with someone I was competing against only maybe once or twice in my career. Considering I've probably done it a hundred, that's pretty good. But it usually deals with one of those people intentionally gotten away, intentionally made sure that I had to back off of a shot. Yeah, I thought one person was pouting over their missed shot for a little too long once. But, you know, I usually -- in one instance, I actually attacked that situation, and the other situation, that was almost impossible to do so. But definitely memories I won't forget. I feel like I've handled myself in a pretty professional manner, and I have a lot of very good friends on that European side. Graeme McDowell was mentioned before; Darren Clarke, Thomas Björn. There's a lot of classy people, and I don't really foresee in this event ever getting in any situations. I always felt like it's been pretty much contested with the utmost respect and grace.

Q. In the years that Tiger played here and was in these matches and was on top of his game, he was always very much of a polarising figure for the European side. If they could take him out, they almost felt like maybe a point and a half. This year, you guys are going up against Rory, who has obviously been very dominant this year and Ian Poulter has obviously been highly productive in these matches. There's been a lot of talk about maybe these guys kind of targeted by you guys. Can you guys -- taking these guys out, be a little bit of a psychological boost for you guys beyond just gaining a point?
JIM FURYK: I think we all know, it's not hard to pick out the best player in the world right now. It's Rory McIlroy and Ian has obviously had a great record in this. It would be a lot like playing Colin Montgomerie or Nick Faldo if that makes sense, or guys like Seve Ballesteros and José Maria in their day. You're always going to have the hot players and the guys that we all know have competed well and done very well in this format. But still, it's a team effort. They are only playing one match, if that makes sense, out of four. But it is a nice boost if the guys that get paired up -- I played two team matches in Chicago and both of them were against Rory and Graeme, and it was Sneds and I both times. We made it out of one of them 1-up and we lost won 1-down, but we had two really good matches that went to 18. I guess I never really looked at it as I'm playing against, at that time, possibly the best player in the world. I wouldn't look at it that way now. It's about going out there and getting a point. But it's a big step for either team when you play against a player of that calibre. I remember going out and playing Faldo my first singles match and I had a couple of the veterans look at me and say, you know, he's had our number a lot it, would be great to see you go out there and beat him. I had a couple guys give me a big hug after that match. Still wasn't over. We still hadn't lost. They were excited we had such a good record and I was able to go ahead and get a point for us that day.

Q. In your opinion, which three players on The European Team bring the biggest intimidation factor when you face them on the first tee, knowing you're going to play them?
JIM FURYK: Which ones bring the intimidation -- you don't expect me to actually answer that question, do you? You know I'm going to dodge it, correct? I almost have to dodge that question. You know, you're dealing with 24 of the best players in the world, and you've got the international squad, The Presidents Cup, with some wonderful players, as well. But you're dealing with 24 great players, and at any moment, anyone in this event can beat someone else. So I don't think there's really a lot. If there was a huge intimidation factor or a big intimidation factor in this event, I don't think these guys would have qualified or made the team if that makes sense. The underdog role is one that's kind of fun to be honest with you. When I went up against Nick Faldo in my first Ryder Cup, there wasn't one person that expected me to beat Nick Faldo that day. The underdog role is great. You have everything to win and nothing to lose. I never really looked at it as an intimidation. I looked at it as a great opportunity, and I think everyone else would look at it that way, as well.

Q. And Henrik Stenson in that sense, what would you say he brings?
JIM FURYK: Actually another very good friend of mine. He loves to poke fun at me to be honest with you. He gives me more crap than anyone on the other side. I enjoy his -- he has a different sense of humor. He's Swedish; they all do. But he's quite funny and I enjoy being around him. What's intimidating about him is he's so damn big and strong. But other than that, he likes to muscle up against me and make me feel small is what he likes to do.

Q. Could I get your thoughts on the golf course and does it favour either team?
JIM FURYK: You know, I haven't spent -- again, I'm not dodging you. I haven't spent any time deciding whether I thought it favoured one side or the other or a certain player or another. I'm just trying to figure it out right now and prepare myself best for it. I kind of like the golf course to be honest with you. I feel like it's relatively straightforward. It's in front of you. I'm a little surprised by the setup. I didn't expect to see eight-inch rough in spots out there, and it is overly thick and overly long in spots. Being a guy that hits the ball relatively accurate when I'm playing well, it doesn't really drive me nuts or anything, but it has a different feel. Usually you see in a setup for match play, they usually tend to let us get a little bit more aggressive and wild, and you see recoveries, and you're not going to see a lot of recovery shots here when guys get in that hay. It's going to be very fortunate if you can get the ball on the green from 160, 170 or 180 yards. You're going to have to get an extremely fortunate lie. I was surprised to see how thick the rough was, and it's all -- especially in the low-lying areas. You get something on top of a mound, it's a little bit more sparse. But you get those low-lying areas around greens, they had to have put some fertilizer or something on. But if there's any place where water collects, it's really thick and long. I would venture to say there are spots on the course where the rough is that long. I'm a little surprised by it but not sure if it favours one side or the other. It's just the golf course and we'll go play it.

Q. Does the manner of the defeat a couple years ago, has that fired up the American Team?
JIM FURYK: I don't think -- I think you should ask each and every guy. I think it's probably going to be in the back of a few guys' minds whether they were there or not. Some watched on television. But also, I think it was a learning experience. I've been on both sides of that four points at Brookline and at Chicago. So I've been on the comeback side of that and I've been on the not-so-good side of it, and it's a learning experience. It's two totally different squads, two totally different sets of players. I'm not sure, I guess the best way I could say that is I really don't think the 24 guys need any more inspiration than the fact that we're in a Ryder Cup. I mean, there's nothing that one of those guys could say over there to get me anymore excited about the event. There's nothing that happened in the past. I'm about as excited as you can get to play, and I'm sure I look it up here with my usual personality (smiling).

Q. On the trip over and the team room, has there been much discussion of what has happened there?
JIM FURYK: I would say that it's been mentioned but I wouldn't say there's been really any discussion about it, if that makes sense. I would go with, has there been much discussion, with that sentence, I would say no. Has it been mentioned? Yes. But I don't think I've heard more than about 20 to 30 seconds on it.

Q. Can you compare some of those tough team defeats to anything you've endured individually? Is it harder to deal with? Easier?
JIM FURYK: I think it's both. I think that emotionally, the highs in a Ryder Cup are probably higher than what we do as an individual. But I think the lows, when we've lost some of the tough ones in Chicago and some of the other events, I think the lows are even lower, if that makes sense. But as far as the recovery, I think you have -- it might be a little bit harder at times when you're doing it as an individual. You really have no one to turn to as much or other players to talk to about it. To be able to sit in a team room afterward and spend that time with the team might actually make it a touch easier than doing that by yourself, but the lows are certainly lower if that makes sense.

Q. The captains talk about pairing players whose games complement each other. Can you explain a little bit what that means, specifically? Is it temperament? Is it a certain type of ball flight? Specifically, what does that mean?
JIM FURYK: Well, when they say games that complement each other, I think a physical, by the comment. But I think it's wise to pair guys not only by how their games are physically together but also by their temperament, as well. I mean, you might want to get two guys that play a similar style of game to play in a foursome match together, so you feel like you're playing the same ball. You might want to get two guys that are playing totally opposite so you can attack certain holes different ways. I know the Europeans in the past, Sergio and Luke Donald makes a lot of sense. Sergio has high emotion and Luke Donald is low emotion. So together, they are relatively right in the middle, if that makes sense. There's lots of ways you can do it. But you know, you can complement players by a number of different things, and that could be an hour-long discussion, if that makes sense.

Q. On the other side of that, what would be an example, have you ever had of kind of a bad pairing, of something that doesn't work, just generally or specifically.
JIM FURYK: Well, I think there's pairings that in hindsight, you look back and say, that probably wasn't the wisest. You don't put two guys like me and Zach Johnson out in a fourball match on a long, wide-open golf course. Here you've got two guys that hit it pretty short and pretty straight and we could be playing against two guys that bomb it and they have a significant advantage. In that case, on that type of golf course, I'd rather have Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, guys that can launch it. Then you get me on a real tight, short golf course, I'm dying to have Zach Johnson as a partner if that makes sense. A lot of it could be situational, if that makes sense. "If that makes sense," I said that like eight times.

Q. Along those lines, I think you've had 14 partners in eight years. Does that make you really versatile or do they just have a hard time finding somebody to play with you?
JIM FURYK: I like to look at the positive side of that. I'm like the utility infielder that leads off now. Half these people have no idea what I'm talking about. These are all baseball references, by the way. (Laughter). Yeah, I take it as a compliment, and when I said that it's a blessing and it can go the other way, I take it as a blessing. I feel like if you get on a roll and you win a bunch of matches, it's tough to change partners, and I haven't been able to do that here, but I haven't done that -- I have done that in The Presidents Cup and I've changed a bunch, as well. I just think my temperament, being a veteran in these allows me to kind of move around and be a bit of a chameleon and fit into some different situations, and I have taken that as a compliment by most captains. It really is a blessing. I've had the opportunity to play with a bunch of different guys out here, and I should have looked forward to that at times.

PAUL SYMES: Thank you very much. Have a great week.
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