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April 28, 2015

Jim Furyk


DOUG MILNE:  Like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room here at the Cadillac Match Play Championship.  Looks like you're making your 15th start in the event, had a good finish last year.  With that said, congratulations on your recent win, your first start back since then.  Comments on being here this week.
JIM FURYK:  I guess it's nice to be in San Francisco.  All the holes are the same.  Once again, they're in a different order, but we play the same ones.  I enjoy being here, it's a wonderful city.  I could deal with maybe a little warmer weather, but past that it's a good golf course and I think it will be a good venue for the week.

Q.  Dove Mountain to here, a big change, just your reaction?
JIM FURYK:  Huge, huge change.  You know, I guess for me it's a little bittersweet.  I wasn't a giant fan of Dove Mountain.  It didn't really look all that‑‑ suit my eye that way or maybe favor my style.  But going to school in Tucson, I got a lot of support there.  So it was always fun to be back in Wildcat country.  So I'll miss that part of it.
It's a totally different style of golf course.  Jack had claimed that he had kind of built that for match play.  There was a lot going on in the greens, trying to set up and create angles.
Here it's kind of more right in front of you, old traditional style golf course.  There's not a lot going on in the greens.  Actually, I've found them very difficult to read the last few days, just because there's so many subtle little breaks, where I can't decide if it's breaking left or breaking right or straight from 20 feet.  So there really hasn't been‑‑ it's just a different style.  But I'm definitely more comfortable on a golf course like this where it's kind of right straight in front of you.

Q.  How do you decide when and where to concede putts?
JIM FURYK:  I think it's just more the flow of the match.  It's just part of the moment, really.  Kind of what you're feeling.  But really you also look to see how that player has been putting.  If they've been a little shaky on a couple three footers that have limped in.  You might make them putt a two footer.  It's really‑‑ it is really for me just a spur of the moment.  It has a lot to do with the ebb and flow of the match, if that makes sense.  But there's no real rule for it to me, I just kind of decide on the spot.

Q.  In those 14 other starts here, can you remember a time where you either conceded or you did not concede a putt that made your opponent really mad or your opponent made you putt out and it kind of irritated you?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I wouldn't know if I irritated the player that I was with.  That's rare‑‑ if I felt like somebody irritated me, I wouldn't like stare at them and try to make them understand that, well, I don't like that.  You wouldn't know if you irritated someone.
A couple of guys made me putt ones that were relatively short that I kind of chuckled, where I didn't even read them.  I just set them down and knocked them in.  That was my way of saying that was pretty good.  But I really have never been upset by that.  That's part of the game.  That's never going to happen when you're 3‑down, if only happens when you're 3‑up.

Q.  Maybe you just answered it or you can't answer it.  I was curious along those lines.  We've seen it a number of times in match play, when someone hasn't conceded a two‑foot putt and the guy shoots him a look, and I'm sure you've seen it, too.  Why would they be offended, a lack of respect or the guy stinks at putting or what do you think?
JIM FURYK:  Again, I would have to be very situational there.  If I had given a guy five two‑footers during the round and we're on the 12th hole and all of a sudden I'm putting a two‑footer, I'd be scratching my head a little bit.  All right.  Those aren't good the rest of the day, I don't care how long they are.  That would be what's going through my mind.
But shooting them a look, I wouldn't.  I'll stick up for myself if I feel it's needed.  But the idea of ‑‑ putting is putting.  If the guy wants you to putt, that's his right.  If you get angry because of that, maybe that's what he was looking for, if that makes sense, I don't know.

Q.  In the finals, if you're not there Sunday, how good would it be for the game if it came down to Jordan and Rory, is that the next putting rivalry, you think?
JIM FURYK:  It is if you say it is, I guess.  I don't look at rivalries.  Did Phil and Tiger have the rivalry when they were the best?  I don't know if there's been a rivalry in golf since Arnie and Jack.  That was probably short lived, because Jack pretty much whipped him.  It was more a buildup.  I think if you all build that scenario up, and they both continue to play as well as they are, it's great for the game, because there's a buzz and people are talking about it.
Rory and Jordan aren't going to the golf course thinking there's my rivalry.  It's not like the Cowboys or the Red Sox and the Yankees, where they have this 40‑year history, or the 80‑year history where they hate each other.  I don't think it's as much with the players as it is with the fans.  I think it's great for the game if it's built up that way, but I don't think the players will view it that way.

Q.  How much different does the course play on a sunny afternoon, versus today with this thick stuff?
JIM FURYK:  My hands weren't blue yesterday, I know that.  They were this morning.  It plays quite a bit longer.  I knocked it on the first hole in 2 pretty easy yesterday, and there wasn't even a chance this morning.  It plays a little different.  It plays a little longer, but the ball is still chasing little bit.  Even as damp‑‑ that's probably‑‑ this morning it was pretty wet out without it raining.  But the ball is still releasing on the greens.
They're firmer today than they were yesterday.  They're firmer this morning than they were yesterday afternoon.  So there must have been a concerted effort to keep‑‑ I saw yesterday when I was playing, for about six greens in a row, they had those little meters out measuring the moisture on the greens, they were quite a bit slower yesterday than they were today as well, so it seems like they probably dried them out and got them a little quicker.

Q.  On the design, are there any similarities with Olympic?
JIM FURYK:  Other than it being an old style golf course, not really.  This is a relatively‑‑ it's not an easy walk, as far as a flat golf course.  But when you look across the lake at Olympic, it's built on the side of a hill.  So you're always trying to wrap shots into the hill to hold the fairways.  For being so close, I would say there is a big difference just because of the plot of land it's on.  But they're both beautiful pieces of land.

Q.  A few weeks ago you were in Tampa, when Adam Scott was asked who the best ball‑striker was, he mentioned about you.  The question is, the PGA Tour is getting a lot of power hitters that are doing so well.  At what point in your career did you really decide that you wanted to control your ball distance and not to be a big hitter on the Tour?
JIM FURYK:  I was never a big hitter on the Tour.  I would say it was probably my senior year in college, where I went to college pretty long and wild and came out of school relatively average length and much straighter.  And it was really just found‑‑ it's not something I tried to do, it just happened.  In order to play better, in order to hit more fairways my game kind of mellowed out and my swing got a little shorter, a little tighter, hit the ball a little more solid but not nearly as far.
It took me, I would say, about '94‑‑ it probably took me a good five years on Tour until I felt like I had become a pretty good ball‑striker, if that makes sense, where my swing matured and grew before I had a lot of confidence in the ability to hit the ball both ways and where I felt like I could hit a lot of different shots.  It was about five years on Tour before I got a lot of confidence on Tour.

Q.  Is that advice from your father, was that like lifting weights and trying to seek more distance?
JIM FURYK:  No, we've tinkered.  What I find is in seeking distance, there's a number of different things.  One could be strength and conditioning, which the last five to seven years I feel like I've been doing my best at that for the way I want to do it.  You can do equipment.
I've made some mistakes and been very forward about that, and trying to hit some products that I can hit them farther, but they were in expense to my strengths, which in the long run hurt my game.
Then the other thing could be your swing, we've always been adamant, my dad and I, that my swing is never going to change.  And it's not one that generates a ton of power.  I don't have a lot of rotation of the club in my swing.  I give away some power with it, but I probably gain a little squarer club face and a little accuracy with it.  It's the way it's evolved.  It took me probably half my career to kind of realize that I really was‑‑ I realized I never was going to be long, but I kind of quit chasing that ten yards or that extra eight yards off the tee and kind of fell back into it in 2011, and realized that it was detrimental to my game, and went back to hitting normal distance and trying to hit some fairways.

Q.  Does the nature of match play have a way of turning even the most mild‑mannered players a little chippy?
JIM FURYK:  Only when they're losing.

Q.  How much of a‑‑
JIM FURYK:  But never on the first tee.

Q.  How much of the game‑‑ how much of the match is psychological versus just the playing of the shots?
JIM FURYK:  When you say psychological, do you mean‑‑

Q.  Not just yourself, but being aware of what the other person is doing, feeling, reacting?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I think there's a lot to that.  I thought you meant like guys trying to do things psychologically to bother you.

Q.  That's part of it.
JIM FURYK:  That would make me very chippy, if that makes sense.  I would have‑‑ I've rarely in all the times I've played in this event, Presidents Cups, Ryder Cups, I've rarely witnessed stuff like that.  And I think there'susually a common respect that if you start‑‑ you create a name for yourself and a reputation for yourself that's not very‑‑ it's something no one wants.  I'm not saying it's on the lines of cheating, but it's a step below that that most people won't respect you and you won't see a lot of that.

Q.  What's the worst thing you've seen in that respect?
JIM FURYK:  You know, creating a little noise here and there, taking extra time to move out of the way and let your other player play.  Had a captain drive a cart in front of me when I was playing a wedge shot, and then apologized profusely afterwards.  And I thought I stuffed it and it skipped over the green, and I was more mad that he probably thought he got the better of me.  But that probably was the one that pissed me off the most ever.
But rarely.  And we all know, you all know the history of match play and the history of Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, when guys were all upset, you all could name two or three guys that have a history of that behavior, and they're not very well respected by their peers because of it.  It doesn't happen very often, it takes a certain personality.

Q.  When you hear or read about the so‑called bomber's advantage, do you think it's been overstated?  I know you made an individual choice, but in terms of a trend, I mean is it that big an advantage where those guys arepercentage‑wise‑‑
JIM FURYK:  I think equipment today lends itself‑‑ equipment 40 years ago didn't lend itself to guys all trying to bomb the golf ball.  Balls launched low, spun a lot, playing persimmon woods, wound balls.
Now we have equipment thatyou exponentially hit longer, if that makes sense.  And it lends itself to young guys that are strong and fit and athletic to hitting it a long way.  Is there an advantage to hitting it long?  Absolutely.  But you still need to play the game and get the ball in the fairway.
I mean, if my kids wanted to play the game, I would teach them to hit it hard, first and foremost.  I usually hit it hard.  We can always tone it back.  We can always be Davis Love and tone it back and hit it easy to learn how to play the game better.  But you're never going to be short and in control when you're a kid and then somehow find a way to get long when you're older, that will never happen.
If my kids wants to play‑‑ I didn't know Davis' father, but you can swing as hard as you want to as long as you stay on balance.  And they created power and distance.  That's what I did, I hit the ball really hard as a kid.  I'd do the same with mine.  Hit it as far as you can, and go find it again.  Get a good short game, and you'll be fine.  Then we can take the scope and put it here to fine tune it.

Q.  Is the pursuit of length, does it tend to keep guys from developing the rest of their game?
JIM FURYK:  I don't think so, not the good ones.  What we see today is go back and look at the stats in 1970s and look who were the longest players on the Tour, and most of them weren't the best players on Tour.  I saw today it was Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, J.D. Holmes, one, two, three, all pretty good players the last I looked.  They developed the other parts of their game, and then they used the advantage of their length to help out, which is the perfect way to do it.
But what I realized the greatest thing of playing on those Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams, the camaraderie, being together, being on the team, but the ground play practice rounds with the other 11 guys and you'd see certain people were really good at certain things.  This guy had power.  This guy hit wedges like no one else.  This guy could hit irons better than anyone else.  And everyone could do something really good, better than most guys on the team, if that makes sense.  And it was really fun to kind of watch and pick up things from each other and kind of have your game grow.  But you also realized that nobody had everything.  There was always something that was average, where you go, wow, I'm better at that.  But you kind of wrap it all up in a package and see who's got the best.

Q.  In the four and a half years or so that you went without winning, what was eating at you the most during that drought and how much more did it eat at you as each year went by?
JIM FURYK:  Well, these last two weeks have been killing me.  It's been two weeks now (laughter).
I think the getting so close, you know.  It wasn't like I was playing poorly.  I didn't play well in '11, but '12, '13 and '14 were solid years.
You know, the events like Bridgestone eat at you, that I played well enough for 71 holes to win that tournament, and probably win it by five shots and then to give it away on the last hole, events like that eat at you.  But then I had events where I played pretty darned well and someone just played better, if that makes sense.
And I guess what bothered me the most?  Probably walking off the 72nd hole nine times, I guess it was, where I had the lead and I walked off the green with that feeling of, you know, kind of shit, here we go again kind of deal.
I woke up this morning, really in my mind I was going to win the golf tournament.  You walk off that first five minutes, where it's just a blank stare and you're trying to gather your thoughts and figure out what happened.  Now you've got to face a camera and try to make it sound somewhat intelligent, I guess would be a good word.  It's just not easy.
So that five minutes was probably the worst part of it, if that made sense.  But just getting close.  I mean just getting that little taste and being right there and not doing it is difficult.  And knowing that I played well enough and that I was good enough and wasn't doing it bothered me the most.

Q.  Kind of along the same lines of Doug's question, you had a great quote after you won the Heritage about how winning was getting tougher or wasn't feeling as good as losing was hurting or something?
JIM FURYK:  The quote that I read before, from other people is winning is never‑‑ losing is always‑‑ losing hurts more than winning feels good.  And I was kind of starting to buy into that, to be honest with you.  I was beating my head against the wall and working hard and coming up short and that empty feeling that we talked about at the end of the round was difficult.
And I kept thinking to myself, you know, I remember winning, and I remember this hurts a lot more than I remember how good that felt.  But it sure felt good when I won.  I said I'll go back on my word there, that winning is still a lot more fun.
DOUG MILNE:  Jim, we appreciate your time, as always.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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