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August 8, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Jim Furyk to Bellerive Country Club. Before we jump straight in to Ryder Cup, how about we talk a little bit about your state of the game as you prepare to play in your 24th PGA Championship?
JIM FURYK: 24th, wow.
THE MODERATOR: 24.
JIM FURYK: I missed one, I guess. Yeah, I'm excited to be here. Last time I was here ten years ago in '08 for the BMW, I had a good, solid tournament. Game's in a little different place right now than it was ten years ago, but coming off some injuries still. But I feel better about my game. I feel like it's improving. When I've had the opportunity at home, I've been working pretty hard on it.
A couple troublesome spots I need to work on. Putting has been very average this year. I've driven the ball pretty average this year. And those are two of the strengths of my game when I'm playing well and two very important parts of the game. So I guess no secret, if I could fix those, I'd be playing a lot better.
But I'm interested and excited to, this off-season, work on some weaknesses, get better, and my health feels good now. Hopefully come out in '19 firing and looking forward to having a good season next year.
THE MODERATOR: We're only 51 days away from the start of the Ryder Cup.
JIM FURYK: That's exciting.
THE MODERATOR: Your team is starting to take shape. Are you happy with the way it looks?
JIM FURYK: Absolutely. This year has flown by, but I think Thomas and I both talked about that. We've got to registration at the same time this year, and he said, man, it's gone fast, hasn't it? It has. I think in February I was wishing the time went quicker. Excited for the event, wanting to get there, and now I look back, and it seems like the time has flown.
But the team is shaping up nicely. It's an exciting week for us. Obviously, our last week for points for our top eight to qualify. I'd love to be playing late Sunday, but if not, I know I'll be glued to the television and trying to figure out points and what could happen to our top eight. So I'm excited to watch. You know, you look down that list, excited about the players that have already secured their spot.
THE MODERATOR: You spent some quality time at Le Golf National before The Open Championship. Can you give us a quick little peek inside what you learned, what you saw.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I saw it last summer, but I wanted to go back this year and play the golf course. I wanted to invite some guys to come in. We had some folks at the Scottish Open. We had some guys at the John Deere. But I did get quite a few guys coming in. J.T. playing the French Open was huge. Got to pick his brain. Phil Mickelson came in and played a round. And I had five guys with me for a round on the weekend. It was Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Brian Harmon, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau. I played a couple days. I watched them play one.
So really enjoyed it. Got to see a mix of different players, different styles. You've got Finau and Watson, who bomb it. You got Kisner and Harmon, who are more accurate players. You've got Jordan kind of in the middle. So I got to see a lot of different styles. Got to learn more about the golf course. I love the golf course. I understand why Europeans like it so much, why they've been so fond of the golf course and talk so highly about it.
I think the players enjoyed it. I think the camaraderie was good. But for me, really, just learning more about the golf course, what it will take, what type of player I think will be successful there, and it's a golf course that I think, in my hey day, would have been perfect for me to play. So I generally really like the golf course, and I'm excited about that.
THE MODERATOR: Let's take a look at the current standings on the European team. Your thought process as you look at this slide.
JIM FURYK: I think you've got a battle of two giants. I mean, you look at the World Rankings right now, you look at the top 20 players, they're dominated by Europeans and Americans. So you've got two very, very solid teams, and we have our hands full. We have guys that, you know, some -- you look at guys with experience -- Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Molinari, who just won The Open Championship, Justin Rose. And you look at the guys that we're calling rookies even on both sides, you look at Hatton, Fleetwood, Rahm, Noren, and those are four of their hottest players. So it's tough to even call those guys rookies with the record they've had, with as well as they've played.
So we've talked about this all year. They're going to have a really strong team. In theory, possibly, the strongest team Europe's ever fielded. We have our hands full. Partisan crowd, a golf course that they know and love very well. They have the home course advantage. You know, we have our hands full. Obviously, we -- I like the players we have, but we'll be looking to fill that in. I'm looking for 12 guys that will really accept the challenge ahead of us because it's been 25 years. They've had a lot of success, not only in the Ryder Cup, but a ton of success at home. And we'll be looking to try to break that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, captain. Questions, ladies and gentlemen?
Q. Jim, could you speak to the challenge just of getting it done on the road as opposed to winning one of these things at home. And is it the crowd? Is it everything, the course? What is the most challenging part of this?
JIM FURYK: I think it's a mixture of a number of different things. Surely, one of Ryder Cup Europe's strengths, one of the things they've done very, very well is picking venues where they play golf tournaments at. And if they -- you know, I think the next Ryder Cup in Europe is in Rome. They're going to hold an Italian Open, they're going to hold a golf tournament there on that golf course before we play a Ryder Cup. I think that's one of their strengths. I think it's been very wise. The players have a very genuine knowledge of the golf course, a history of the way putts break, a history of the golf course and how it's set up and what to expect going in.
A lot of times in the past, we've gone in there the first couple days, we're trying to get our bearings, what club we're hitting off the tee, par 4, par 5, how we're trying to attack the golf course, and we've been behind the eight ball to start. Their crowd's been huge. Even when 3,000 Europeans come to an American Ryder Cup, they're organized -- the chants, the songs. They're a big boost for their team, and it's always great to play in front of a home crowd.
So it's a number of different things, but I think that intimate knowledge of the golf course and its setup and what to expect going in has been very key for them, and I think it's helped them play better golf than we have.
Q. Jim, you spoke about how it's kind of a different animal to play on the road in the Ryder Cup. Because of that, would it be more difficult for you to pick rookies to put them in that very difficult situation?
JIM FURYK: I think I would go with no just as a basic answer.
I think you want a good mix of both veterans and rookies on your team for what they bring, what they provide, but when you just mention a rookie, it's -- you know, it's a spark. For a veteran player that's played in five, six, seven, eight, nine, I loved having the rookies on the team, seeing the fire in their eyes, seeing the spark they provided to the team. But what's most important for this is rounding out -- when you're looking at captain's picks, really rounding out your team, looking for what you have for your top eight, what you'd like to add, what you'd like to sprinkle in. But it's no secret. We're trying to provide the best 12 players we possibly can and who's going to help us be most successful. And that can come from both veterans, that can come from rookies as well.
I think the task we have and with the crowd, with what goes on at a Ryder Cup, I mean, it's like basically a football game breaks out in the middle of a golf tournament. You definitely want to identify people that you think will really enjoy that type of atmosphere. It was very clear early on, I think to everyone, that Patrick Reed really enjoyed that atmosphere at Gleneagles. You want guys that have that fire and have that passion and that you believe will thrive in that type of atmosphere.
Q. Jim, obviously, you still have a few weeks before you have to think about the captain's picks. I just want to know, have you narrowed down that list of contenders yet? Or is it still wide open? And if you have narrowed it down, how many players are kind of on that short list?
JIM FURYK: Well, I -- there's really not a number. I think -- has it narrowed down some? I mean, it has. We've had a whole season to watch these guys play. I think you want guys that are in good form, say, from the summertime on. You want guys that have had a good solid season. You want the very best players that you have the trust in as well.
Now, that doesn't mean to say that a guy could have had a relatively average summer, and he goes on a tear, plays well here at the PGA, goes to New York, goes to Boston and plays well. I mean, he becomes a contender. So I think the list has been narrowed, but it's still open, if that makes sense.
Q. Jim, you've probably been in this spot yourself a few times. What's the dynamic of kind of a tournament within a tournament? If you go to the Major, the last qualifying event, and you've got guys trying to win the PGA but also play their way onto the team?
JIM FURYK: It's stressful. It's stressful. I think you're already on edge going into a Major championship with an opportunity. We put a lot of pressure on players. It's like there's two scoreboards, one for playing, and one you're getting at home checking out the guys around you. I've been to that -- I think I came to the PGA in the seventh or eighth spot a couple times. You're trying to figure out how No. 9, 10, and 11 played. You know, it definitely becomes that tournament within a tournament as you mentioned.
But really what you have to keep reminding yourself as a player is you really have a job to do this week. If you focus on that task, focus on the process of playing well, you'll let everything else kind of shake out, if it makes sense. And worrying too much -- I was always a guy that watched the points that, every week I wanted to see where I stood and how I moved up. It's empowering. Like when you're playing well and you have a bunch of good finishes in a row and you start climbing up that Ryder Cup list, it's fun to watch. Again, you start having a weak month or two and you start sliding down that list, it's an empty feeling. So at times I wished I probably hadn't watched it as much, but you really need to go out there and do your job and just play well. If asked, that's what I would remind players.
Q. Jim, Paul Azinger always said the one thing he admired about the Europeans was the singing. You have just referred to it now, the chanting on the tee. Do you have any plans to, as it were, develop an American equivalent, or how are you going to deal with that? You know it's coming. How are you going to deal with it?
JIM FURYK: I think we've already done that. We had our counterparts at -- did they start at Medinah, or did they start at -- it wasn't Hazeltine?
THE MODERATOR: They've been around a long time. They are the American Marshals, and I believe you're talking about the Guardians of the Cup, the two groups from Europe and America that are on the tee chanting.
JIM FURYK: We have the American Marshals. They will be with us over in Paris. They're starting to organize. I think the American fans will start to learn the songs even better, but it's great to have their support. I think what's most important really is you're not going to combat -- I was told we're looking at 51,000 fans coming to these events each day, or the rounds each day. You're not going to combat 48,000 Europeans excited about their team. 3,000 Americans aren't going to make that much noise. But we appreciate -- I've had so many people reach out and tell me they're going to be there. They can't wait to support the team. And we appreciate -- I mean, every American that travels across the pond or the ex-pats in Europe now that will come watch and support us, we appreciate it very much.
But you know going in that that European crowd is incredible and they're going to make a lot of noise and they're going to provide an unbelievable atmosphere for both sides in this event.
Q. Jim, when you study and analyze this generation of younger American players, what's unique or special about this group of guys?
JIM FURYK: I just think that, on both sides of the pond, I think we have players that are more capable mentally and physically. They're more prepared to compete and win and challenge and be the best players in the world at such an early age. I mean, from -- you look down our list, and Dustin Johnson, Koepka, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, all guys, I believe, under 30, Xander Schauffele. We have a bunch of young players that are prepared and mentally ready early. I also remember Jon Rahm coming out of ASU last year and looking up at the leaderboard, and I swear the guy was on the leaderboard every week for like eight weeks.
You just didn't see that 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago. You saw a few guys -- a Phil Mickelson, a Justin Leonard -- and then it started jumping up to more. But now it seems like you have a lot more guys maybe not even finishing college, but coming out of college early or on time, but more prepared to be top players in the world and win golf tournaments. It's fun to watch. I think we have more good athletes. We have more depth playing the sport and the game. As a veteran player, being 48, it wasn't the case -- you know, I was a young gun when I was 26 or 27. It seems like now you look at 26 or 27 as developing late, and I was an early developer for my generation.
So it's fun to watch and fun to be a part of, and it's actually kept me young, I think, as I've gotten older on tour.
Q. Jim, your pairing this week doesn't seem particularly normal. It seems like a coincidental thing or not.
JIM FURYK: I didn't ask for it.
Q. You did not ask for it?
JIM FURYK: I did not ask for my pairing this week, for Tony Finau and Xander. I haven't had the opportunity to compete with Xander on the golf course. Actually, I have yet to play with him. So I've played some golf with Tony and enjoyed it. But both great guys.
I think it's a great pairing for me. It probably isn't the best pairing for them.
I was in that situation paired with Davis looking for a spot in '16, and I remember I put a lot of pressure on myself at Congressional, playing Tiger's event there. So I know what they're going through. I hope that it doesn't faze them. I hope it doesn't bother them. I want them to enjoy the PGA Championship and worry about winning a major championship.
But I guess I'm kind of thankful for it, but I didn't -- you know, I had the opportunity on the TOUR this year and Thomas had the same, to pair guys together, if I wanted. I did not ask for that. I don't think -- I never ask to be paired with anyone on TOUR this year. I just didn't think that would be fair to the guys.
Q. Will you say anything to them, or have you said anything to them, just go about your business and don't worry?
JIM FURYK: I was trading some information with Xander, and I -- I just wrote a little text saying, boy, I saw you got the bad end of the stick on the pairings this week, and he just -- you know, a little smiley face came back on the text. So hopefully, they see the transcript, but I probably will let them both know I didn't ask for it and just go play golf and have fun.
Q. Hi, Jim. A lot on your plate right now with playing the Ryder Cup, but what's the most enjoyable, rewarding, or challenging part of the whole experience so far for you, would you say?
JIM FURYK: What's the most rewarding, challenging, or fun part about it?
Q. Or enjoyable, yeah.
JIM FURYK: I think rewarding is really just -- I think, as we get closer to the Ryder Cup, it's going to keep getting better. What I enjoy most about the Ryder Cup -- what I enjoyed most as a player was really the camaraderie, hanging out with the guys, putting together pairings, pulling for each other. You know, we've already started that process to a point, and it will just keep getting deeper and greater. So the most rewarding part really is, given the opportunity to lead the team, but to really spend -- to spend that time with the players. You know, putting together pairings, who they want to play with, how we see it all shake out, empowering those players and making them part of the team and part of that process, but really just spending the time with them and being together.
That's the most rewarding part of these events.
Q. Jim, a couple of things on Tiger. Has he done enough at this point, do you feel? Or are these next few weeks important to him? And also, does Tiger, the vice captain, have to recuse himself when it comes to talking about Tiger's potential as a player?
JIM FURYK: The recuse question is kind of fun because I went through the same process in '16 with Davis, and Davis handled the situation very well. I think that, you know, I sat in the room, and we talked a lot about captain's picks, who they may be. I saw the stats on everyone. I knew kind of where I fit into the mix, what we may have needed as captain's picks, and I did have to recuse myself when he and Tom Lehman and the other vice captains -- there was a time when the three of us were sitting in a conference room, and I went to the bathroom and came back ten minutes later to kind of give them some opportunity to speak.
It's an awkward situation, but being such good friends with the two of those folks and admiring them so much, I think it helped kind of ease that burden. I've known Tiger for a long time, and we're friends, and I respect him. It's not going to be a difficult process as far as him having to recuse himself, and we'll work through those situations and issues just like -- much like Davis and I did in the past.
As far as the captain's pick part, I mean, it's been fun watching him play this summer, and we had a conversation back in January about, you know, obviously being a vice captain, and I wanted to name him in that position. And we talked about him possibly playing. That's what he wanted to talk about, about -- he knew then, I think, that he was on the mend, that he was starting to feel better. He was probably -- you know, had a plan in place for this year and really felt like he could compete. And that was probably a sign that I should have picked up a lot quicker on. I know that Tiger always wanted to compete, but it became pretty -- you know, quickly by March I saw that his game was in a lot better shape and his health was in a lot better shape. So he's been challenging this year and moving up that points list, which has been fun to watch.
As far as where we sit right now, the good news is I'm excited about looking at these top eight. I'm excited about seeing what we have at the end of this week. And we have another press conference on Monday to talk about that. From that point on, I have three or four weeks before I have to make those picks. So trying to interpret whether he's done enough or not done enough really is -- I don't think the position that I really have not thought about -- I've obviously thought about it. But it's a position that I don't have to put myself in now. But I'm anxious -- you know, I guess he'd have to win this week, I believe, to make the team on his own, and if he doesn't, we still get to see weeks ahead in big tournaments both in New York and Boston.
But surely, it's fun to see him put himself in the mix, and being 20th on the points with very few events is a pretty good spot.
Q. If Bryson were to make the team, what would he bring to it? And also, what do you make of the recent criticism he's gotten and how he's responded to it?
JIM FURYK: Definitely bring -- he'd bring the IQ up significantly for most of us. We always say that you either have to be extremely bright or maybe not so bright to play this game. We know what side Bryson is on compared to the rest of us. What was the second part of that? What would he bring and what --
Q. The criticism.
JIM FURYK: Oh, the criticism he's gotten? You know, I know Bryson very well. We both have the same management company. He's a great kid. He really has a good heart. He's a good person. I think he's talked at depth -- and there's no reason for me to keep beating a dead horse and apologize for what had happened. I've been in that position, and I've given away golf tournaments and been frustrated. I know how he felt. It's a learning experience. He's a young player from a physical standpoint.
I think what we're trying to do is we're trying to identify the 12 players that are going to help us have the most success in the tournament, and realizing what we're going up against, realizing a partisan crowd, realizing how difficult it is to play in that atmosphere under that pressure, under this event. So we're trying to identify players that really enjoy, right, they enjoy the process. They enjoy playing at an away venue against a great team and that crowd, and I would identify, I think Bryson would enjoy that atmosphere. I think he's feisty. He's scrappy. I think he's a tough player. So I think he would enjoy that.
And surely, with the way he's played and sitting, I think, ninth on the points list right now, just to make sure I don't say anything wrong. Ninth on the points list would be in consideration obviously and good consideration for a pick.
Q. Jim, you've obviously thought a huge amount about every single aspect of this competition for the last however long it is. How much of your time has been spent thinking on the possibility that you might lose? How do you rationalize that if you have thought about it a lot? And if you haven't thought at all of losing, why not?
JIM FURYK: So I didn't quite -- the very first part of that sentence. What I got out of the question was have I thought much about losing the Ryder Cup? And if I haven't thought about losing the Ryder Cup, why not? That's kind of the question.
Q. All of the preceding stuff was waffle just to try to soften you up a bit.
JIM FURYK: I'm missing that one word. Waffled?
Q. It doesn't matter. It was irrelevant. I was trying to soften you up a bit.
JIM FURYK: I got you.
Q. You got the money part of the question.
JIM FURYK: I got the money part. I missed the soft part. I got you. You're going to have to speak American for me.
I mean, I guess, when I look at my career and I look at myself playing the game of golf, I guess the fear of losing and the fear of not succeeding probably always drove me to work hard and practice hard. So I guess you look ahead and you look to the possibility of winning the Ryder Cup, and I know how important it would be for us as a team, for the PGA of America and what we try to put in place. I get you look at the possibility that it's not going to go the way you want.
Why would -- you know, I focused a lot more on the process. When you discuss that, it's like trying to break 80 for the first time for an amateur golfer. You think so much about the number, 78, 79, I'm going to break my best score, and you start thinking about the end result. And you let it all go by, and you end up shooting 81, and you let it slip through your fingers with a couple of doubles on the end because you're so worried about the end result.
The reason I guess I wouldn't focus in on losing is because I've always been taught to really worry about the process at hand or the task at hand. What's going to get us to the point where we can be successful as a team? That's kind of my job and my role, and my goal as a leader is to really worry and keep us focused on the process. The end result comes, success comes from really focusing on the process and trying to get there. And when I was trying to break 70 for the first time, when I was trying to break 60 for the first time, that was running through my mind, to not get ahead of myself and to really worry about what got me there, and that's what I'll really try to instill in my team is that process to be successful.
Q. What if your process is successful but the team lose?
JIM FURYK: Then I guess we'll have to discuss that in a press conference on Sunday evening (laughter). You mean, what if my process is successful but the team loses? Well, I think we would go back as a team, as a group, as captains, and think about the process and what we could have done better and what we'll do better in 2020.
I'm always going to have regrets and things I wish I could have done better, but my goal is to turn over every rock and dot every I and cross every T, and empower these players to be successful.
But I would focus on the process and think about winning. I would think about trying to be successful and what's going to get us there. I wouldn't ever focus on -- I've never stood out in the middle of the fairway on 18 with a chance to win and thought about what if I lose. I've always thought about, let's focus on what we need to do to win this golf tournament. I've lost my share, and I've had to answer the questions afterwards, and that's part of playing, and that's part of being a captain.
Q. Will you keep a running points list after the cutoff ends Sunday to inform your captain's picks decisions?
JIM FURYK: I think we did that in the past. Obviously, I have a stats team in place that will run every number possible. I think we'll look at our points list now. We'll keep a running points list. We'll look at World Golf Rankings. We'll look at current form, who's played well from, say, possibly the U.S. Open on, the Masters on, who's playing well right now. I think we'll look at trying to break down the golf course. We'll look at what we believe is going to -- what type of player is going to be successful at the golf course. I think we'll look at what we have on our team right now, what we think could, A, could help our team, what pairings we have at that time, and guys we think that can help out in pairings. You know, if we have a few guys we need to move around and spot, who we could slide in to positions we need.
So I think there's a number of different ways. It's hard to really -- for me, it's really a moving target, but it's really clear too what type of players you want. I mean, you want the best players. You want the guys that are in good form. I think the golf course lends itself to a certain type of player. You want that as well. And honestly, you kind of have to look at some intangibles as well, and stuff you can't quantify, who has some guts, who really thrives in that atmosphere in a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. You know, there's some intangibles there. And as a captain, you rely on the eight qualifiers, and their opinion is really key. And obviously, the vice captains that I have, you really rely on that because there's a lot of experience.
Right now you're looking at a two-time captain in Davis Love, Stricker that went through this process last year as our Presidents Cup captain, and Tiger Woods, who's been a vice captain the last couple of years and he's our future Presidents Cup captain and best player ever. So there's a lot of experience on the side, and I will rely on those folks as well, and we'll make those decisions.
Q. Well, two of them, because aren't you supposed to name another vice captain? Two of them? Are you going to get around to that any time soon?
JIM FURYK: I was thinking it would be a good idea pretty soon. Probably need to do it before the end of September.
Q. I want to ask you, if you look back at the last Major, and I think there was at least five, maybe more, that could have moved into the top eight that week. At the end of the day, none of them did. If you get a situation like that this week, do you look at it as more of a positive of getting there with a chance or a negative that they didn't cross the line?
JIM FURYK: No, I think it's a positive. I think any time you go to a major championship, and even at The Open Championship, you'd say, well, they might not have got into the top eight, you could look at it as an opportunity slipped by, but you look at it, they also jumped up in the points list. They also put themselves in a better position to make it at Canada, Firestone, or here at the PGA Championship. So they put themselves in better position, and any time you play well under those severe conditions like in an Open, at a PGA, where there's a lot of pressure, I think it's a positive.
I would never -- as a player, in my mind, I'd be like, I let an opportunity slide. But as a captain, I would look at the body of work for the week and a solid week and good play, and that would only be a feather in their cap for looking for a future captain's pick as well.
THE MODERATOR: Captain, thanks for coming in today. Play well this week.
JIM FURYK: Thank you. I appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports