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August 9, 2017
Charlotte, North Carolina
JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Happy to welcome Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk to the 99th PGA Championship and back to Quail Hollow Club where he has had some success winning in 2006 along with a couple of runner-up finishes.
Jim, again, welcome back to Quail Hollow. Talk to us a little bit about your game and what you think out there about Quail Hollow. How many practice rounds have you had so far?
JIM FURYK: I've played 18 holes. I went five holes, four holes, nine holes, the last three days.
I'm actually, it's been a little bit of a tough season. Shouldn't surprise anyone with that statement in here. As of late, since the U.S. Open, I've been battling a little bit of an injury with my shoulder. I really haven't said much about it and kept quiet, but the more I keep playing, the more I'm struggling, and actually been in a little bit of pain here the last two to three weeks.
Been trying to kind of keep playing a little bit each day but not overdo it and hope to get through the event unscathed and well and be able to compete. It's been a frustrating year; I'll say that.
As far as the golf course, interesting. You never know what to expect. I always enjoy coming to Quail Hollow. I love Charlotte. It's a wonderful city and I have some great memories of playing here, from a win, from a loss in a playoff. I think three years ago now, I lost by one to J.B. Holmes after a good Sunday round. It's a place I'm comfortable.
You know, we're used to seeing it such different conditions: drier, firmer, faster. I look at the clubs I've hit into holes in the past, and a lot of times, it's maybe five clubs more this week. And I've heard a lot of longer players, even, amazed at how much club they are hitting into greens.
I heard someone on the putting green say that when Rory won here, he didn't have more an even a 7- or 8-iron into any par 4 during the week, and he's hitting a lot of mid- to long-irons into certain holes.
Golf course is playing totally different. Wet, but because it's wet, that makes the fairways play a little wider. Makes the greens maybe a little bit more accessible. I still think scoring will be okay. It's just a different golf course than we've seen. It's a different animal than we've seen in May for a very long time. And it looks like with the forecast, it's not going to get any shorter. It's probably going to continue to stay long and we'll have a lot of club in our hands.
The redo is interesting. 1, 4 and 5 are all new holes. 1 could be the toughest opening hole in golf. It actually looks like a really nice par 5 to me, but for some reason they put par 4 on the card.
No. 4 is a beautiful par 3. The green is very severe. I don't think you'll see that as much this week. It should be softer, should be somewhat receptive. But if it were firm and fast, I think it would be a very difficult green to hit.
The fifth hole is one of the prettiest holes on the golf course, one of the new redoes. I think it's phenomenal. It's one of my favorite holes on the golf course now.
It will be an exciting week. Quail Hollow has a soft spot in my heart. It's a bit different course and in a bit different condition as far as how wet it is, but it's always a great place to come to.
JULIUS MASON: Let's talk a little bit about Ryder Cup. You recently took a trip over to Paris.
JIM FURYK: That is impressive right there, putting the points list up in front of me just in case.
JULIUS MASON: We'll get to the team in a second. You looked at the golf course, some of the hotel facilities. What is your take? What did you like?
JIM FURYK: Well, the Trianon Palace is beautiful, the location where the teams will be staying.
Obviously, for me, I was really interested in seeing the golf course. I've heard so much about it from The European Tour players. Most of the folks I've talked to would consider that one of the top 5, even one of the top 3 courses they play on The European Tour every year.
I think one of the genius moves of all for Ryder Cup Europe is really having that event at a course where their players are comfortable. And of course, actually here, where their players really like. They've had the French Open there I think over 20 times in 25 years. The players know the golf course well and they like the golf course and they are used to the shots that it takes.
Looking at the champions on the wall at Le Golf National, you see a lot of guys that can control the golf ball, that are accurate hitters, that hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. It doesn't look like a place where you're going to be long and wild and bomb it all over the place and score. Depending on setup, of course, it looks like a place where you need to control the golf ball, hit a lot of greens. It will favor a good ball-striking team.
It's a golf course I really like. I took my dad over, my family was there, my in-laws. My dad and I drove around for two or three hours one day. Had a yardage book in my hand. Unfortunately, it was in meters but it was still nice to have. I had to do a whole lot of math during the day. So drove around and looked at the golf course, then I was able to take my father, my son and my father-in-law out to play a round of golf on it. Just really just enjoyed the golf course, enjoyed the family time. I really enjoy the golf course and looking forward to it. I think it will be a great venue for the event.
JULIUS MASON: As we take a look at the current point standings, my guess is that you probably like what you saw at the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
JIM FURYK: Well, we've had -- it's very early in the process. We identified early on, much as the in past, the events that were getting points this year were the major championships, the World Golf Championships, THE PLAYERS. We've had some Americans play very, very well. You've got two of the World Golf Championships won by Americans, two of the major championships won by Americans, but also some very high finishes.
It's early in the process, but I look down the list here with Brooks and Jordan and Dustin kind of right there at the top of the list, Kuch in there. So some great young players. Kuch provides obviously some stability, some veteran leadership, some humor, which is always needed.
Again, early in the process, but it's good to see guys playing well. Really, we made the points list, identify the guys that were playing well in the year of, and everyone has a great opportunity next year to play well in 2018. You know, we want to put the guys on the team that really are playing well and are in good form going into The Ryder Cup. With the way the points work, that will give everyone a great opportunity to make the team next year.
And hopefully some of the things we've had in the past, I felt like we had a bunch of guys playing very well at Hazeltine last year. As a vice captain, some of the hardest things for us to really identify was, God, we've got to sit four guys. It's difficult to figure out sometimes who those are going to be because we had a team that was playing very, very well.
So as a captain, that is definitely the problem you hope to have, trying to figure out who to sit.
Q. Can you just kind of take us through what your thoughts were of what Jordan was able to do in that final round at Birkdale last month?
JIM FURYK: I'm going by a little bit of what I've seen on tape and a lot by what I've heard from folks who watched it live.
I was playing in Alabama, so I was finishing up my fourth round. As soon as I got done, signed a few autographs and ran to the locker room. I was hoping to catch the finish, and Jordan had a trophy in his hand at the time. A lot was hearsay. I watched a lot on the Golf Channel that night.
Pretty amazing. Pretty amazing to be that young but that mature. I guess he's also, you know, been able to win major championships. He had a close call at Augusta where things got derailed on the back nine, so he's lived through some heartbreak, as well. I'm sure it's experiences like that that helped him along the way. Helped him realize that this event's not over. Took a long time from what I've heard, but was a great bogey, kept him in the golf tournament. But to finish, I believe the last six holes 5-under is amazing.
Imagine Kuch had a one- or two-shot lead, he plays those last holes in 1- or 2-under and still loses; that's pretty much unheard of in a major championship. Hats off to him. I don't think there's much you can do, but kind of shake your head.
Q. There's been some high-profile caddie changes here of late, Bones, and Rory parted his way with his caddie. You've obviously been with Fluff 18 years or close. Can you talk to how that relationship has lasted so long, and also, have you guys ever argued? Has there ever been any dark moments between you? Doesn't really seem that way from outside the ropes.
JIM FURYK: I think the secret really is Fluff has to put up with a lot of my crap, and he's really good at it, to be honest with you. There's always going to be an ebb and flow.
Obviously Phil and Bones, I think that one caught everyone by surprise for the most part. But they are both classy individuals. I have the utmost respect for both of them. I think the comments they made about each other and how much they appreciated that relationship and that friendship throughout the years is evident. Sometimes things are going to change.
I think the reason that Fluff and I have lasted so long, really, I give him a lot of credit for that, really, in that he loves what he does. And I mean that for anyone; for what I want to teach my children growing up. If you enjoy going to work every day and you enjoy what you do for a living; you're going to be that much better at it but you're going to be a happy person. I think Fluff really enjoys what he does for a living. He shows up for work and he's the same guy on the bag whether I shoot 58 or 88; 58 or 78, he's the same guy. His cadence doesn't change. His belief in me doesn't change. I guess I've just appreciated that over the years.
Have we ever argued? Of course. I think it's human nature. Really not that serious. You know, I've been a little grouchy the last couple weeks, but a lot of it's because I haven't been feeling that well. I'm probably quick to be demanding or that, and I think he accepts that. You know, I usually come back and say, man, I was a pain in the rear end yesterday, sorry about that, and he laughs it off. We have a long history together. And I hate to compare it to a marriage, but it has a lot of similarities in that I care a lot about Mike, and whether or not -- you know, he caddied for Peter Jacobsen for 19 and a half years, he's been on my bag for 18 years. No matter what Peter is always going to love Mike, he's always going to care a lot for him. He was part of Peter's family for a long time. His kids call him uncle. He's a good man.
So I have those feelings for Mike and no matter what. He's always going to be in my corner and he's always going to be on my side whether he's on the bag or not. Everyone always asks me how long he's going to last; I'm pretty sure now he's going to outlast me. Ten years ago, didn't seem it, but now my money's on Fluff.
Q. What's the thing you lean on him for the most?
JIM FURYK: Confidence, I guess. You know, I like to have a yardage book. I like to get the yardages. I like to make decisions. But he's there to back me up. He's there to play that round of golf as if he's in my skin. And so I may pick a yardage, pick a club, but I'm always going to ask him his opinion.
And I don't want a guy that's a yes-man that's all going to agree. But if he disagrees, I need a good reason why. He'll do that once in awhile but he's there, really, to kind of -- for confirmation to back me up and to give me a lot of confidence. But I really have to believe in that. I can't think he's going along with it and giving me a yes and not working his tail off during it.
So the fact that he agrees; the fact that he's working hard at it like I am, that gives me a lot of confidence.
Q. You mentioned a few minutes ago that you were able to take your dad, father-in-law and son out for a round of golf. I'm just wondering if you can kind of describe what maybe the pride was like for you as The Ryder Cup captain to be able to share that with them? And also, can you just give us the prognosis on the shoulder? Do you have to just get some rest?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure yet on the prognosis.
You know, they rolled out kind of the red carpet at Le Golf National. The red captain's cart was out. Kind of proud to ride around in that with dad. It was fun to have my son.
As far as the golf, we don't play a lot of golf together. My son doesn't play a lot of golf. So I can't remember the last time the four of us, if the four of us have ever played a round of golf. My dad and son and I have played a little bit here and there, but because Tanner doesn't play a lot, we don't tend to do that. It was just kind of fun to hang out. I'm not on vacation that often where I go play a round of golf and really don't care at all about how I play; it's more about the day. Golf has always been a lot more about work for me and trying to get better.
It was a special round just in that I think it's something we'll talk about at Christmas, years to come. It was a great bonding experience I think for the whole family.
As far as my shoulder, I had an MRI last week on Tuesday. I received a cortisone shot on Wednesday. I really don't have a lot of issues with my shoulder as far as pain from the shoulder. A lot of it has a lot to do with the muscles around the shoulder, the clavicle, end of the SC joint and the sternum.
I'm not sure we've pinpointed the issue yet. I've kind of followed some guidelines as far as treatment and rest and trying not to beat it up. See if I can get ready to play this week.
My goal in a perfect world, I would probably play this week and next, do the best I can, and then probably head home and really -- really need to figure out exactly what's wrong. You know, hopefully like six to eight weeks off where you can let the healing process go and be fine with that.
I wish I knew more. I think the biggest disappointment is that MRI showed -- they called it an irregularity in the shoulder. Wasn't a slap tear. They didn't think it was a labrum tear. It didn't seem that serious. But I've been in quite a bit of pain playing, so I need to figure out what it is and get healthy again.
This sport's difficult enough to play when you're healthy. And it's hard to play with the best guys in the world, with the best players in the world, when you're not 100 percent. My goal, really, after these two weeks is to get back to 100 percent and to get my health, work hard in the off-season and come out raring to go when I get a chance to have some starts in the future.
Q. You mentioned that you're not really putting a lot of stock into what the team looks like now, for obvious reasons, because there's so much time. I remember Davis Love saying the exact same thing a year before the matches. How much are you talking with the former captains and kind of trading ideas off of them? Is it a regular thing?
JIM FURYK: You know, I've seen a lot of Davis. We've played a lot together. We got paired together in Alabama. Played some practice rounds together. You know, the fact that I was one of his vice captains helps. I feel like I can bounce a lot of ideas off, and we had a working relationship at Hazeltine.
We'll all be together helping Strick out here soon. I can learn a lot from that process with Strick and Tiger and Davis and Freddie. There's a lot of experience in that room, and you know, the four of us are going to do whatever we can to help Strick out. That will be the process.
I think the best thing about looking at that points list, you know, right now, is it important that we've had Americans win the World Golf Championships, two World Golf Championships, two majors? In the whole scheme of things, it's over a year till the next Ryder Cup. But it sure is fun. If we sat here and we had to talk about how bad everyone was playing, it wouldn't be much fun. It's a nice feather in the cap. It makes my life a lot easier right now and for coming to this press conference.
But also, I root for those guys. I've played alongside of them on many a teams. I've now been their vice captain a couple times in The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. When I'm not playing, I want to see those guys do well, if that makes sense. It's fun to see them play well.
Hopefully we're having this same conversation next year about this time, but more importantly, I want to have this conversation about two weeks out, maybe during THE TOUR Championship next year as we're getting ready to get on a plane and head to Paris. That would be a nice time for everyone to be in great form.
Q. We've been asking guys all week, what it felt like when they were shooting their lowest round ever. As Mr. 58, can you describe what it felt like that day when you're on the course?
JIM FURYK: I guess just so unexpected. I really had played pretty well last summer and got in a funk at the PGA last year and left from the PGA to go to Hartford. Had about seven rounds in a row where I wasn't very comfortable with my swing and wasn't playing very well, scrapping it out to make two cuts.
And I'm in 70th place on Sunday morning at Hartford on a 29-day trip away from home. I was ready -- I had a flight booked as tight as I could. Bags packed, I was pretty much in the best mood of the week because I was going home, to be honest with you.
I just didn't expect. I had worked hard and I had practiced a lot during the week, even though really I was in 70th place. I went out to the range and worked for two hours Saturday night trying to get ready because I was disappointed in how I was playing.
I just didn't expect it. Now, you get in the moment, I think the round reminded me a lot of shooting 59 in Chicago. Had a lot of similarities on the front nine. I saw the crowd start to grow. I saw a few of you come out to the 10th tee from the media center after nine holes in the morning. Attention grew. Everything got bigger. I think every shot was taped on the back nine.
It kind of had -- it went from a routine round of -- where most guys mail it in, to it felt like I was trying to win a golf tournament on the back nine. It was a lot of fun, to be honest with you. Because I had done it once and because I had the same thing happen, I was able to slow that back nine a little bit where things didn't feel like they were in hyper speed and I was pretty much able to enjoy the process a lot, and maybe not get caught up in the emotion of it all.
Q. I'm sure you saw on the news yesterday about the PGA moving to May and THE PLAYERS moving back to March. It's not going to impact your captaincy next year, but going forward, can you imagine, will it have any kind of impact on the team, being that the last major being played now will be separated from The Ryder Cup a little bit more?
JIM FURYK: It will be something that our Ryder Cup committee will have to address as far as when the points list will end.
You know, Davis last time at Hazeltine, I think we had to switch it last year because of the Olympics. So it moved the points list back to I think maybe after Boston or after New York, I can't remember which one.
It's something that I mentioned to Julius last week as we talked. I'll be interested to see how much farther. So when is the TOUR Championship going to end; when is the last giant event that most of the guys on The Ryder Cup Team are going to play, when is that event, and how much time is between THE TOUR Championship and now The Ryder Cup. There will be two, three, four weeks in between? Two weeks might be good. Gives the guys maybe a chance to take a deep breath, get the season over with, and then have a week to prepare and go.
Four weeks, that might be a little far removed. How sharp are the guys going to stay; will they play some events in the fall leading up to stay sharp? There's a couple things in my mind. As you said, it won't affect this team but starting for 2020, it will have an impact.
But we have plenty of time as a Ryder Cup committee, and the captain, the next captain, will have plenty of time to kind of discuss those things and make a plan. And The Ryder Cup's going to be really important to the players on that team. So I don't see them getting -- you know, I don't see them taking four weeks off, not playing and not staying sharp. I see them kind of rallying and getting ready for The Ryder Cup and being ready to go. You're representing your country and playing one of -- my favorite event, arguably the biggest event in golf.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
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