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September 26, 2018
BRIONY CARLYON: Jim, great to have you back here with us in the Media Centre.
You've just come out from practise. The guys have seen all 18 holes at Le Golf National. How is everyone feeling?
JIM FURYK: You know, I think everyone is still getting their feet under them. Yesterday is the first day after a long flight, a little jet-lag. Trying to hit some solid shots. I think, you know, anxious to see the golf course. I think the guys are very complimentary. The golf course is in impeccable condition. J.T. said he thought the golf course was in great shape in the French Open. He says, "I think it's even better now."
Everyone was very complimentary, enjoyed the course, and we know, it's a lot of work. Just saw it for one time, and they are out there right now on the back nine grinding, trying to learn more about the golf course. We have some of the pin locations. Tees are in the ground. You know, they are discussing how they want to try to attack the golf course.
Q. Phil was saying yesterday that him and Tiger would welcome the opportunity to reunite their pairing from 2004. How would you feel about dusting down Hal Sutton's 10-gallon hat?
JIM FURYK: Dusting down Hal Sutton's 10-gallon hat. Wow.
I guess nothing's out of the realm. They did play some golf yesterday. I think they both mentioned it would be a lot better pairing than it was in the past. I'm not really from Texas, so we don't wear a lot of 10-gallon hats in Pennsylvania.
You know, I won't ever say it wouldn't happen, but it's probably not too likely.
Q. You've got a lot of players who obviously have accomplished a lot of things individually and they work on their own to get ready for these tournaments, and now you come to a situation here where you all are working together and talking and whatnot. How do you balance how much information and how much input you're trying to give to them that allow them to play their best when ordinarily they are working on their own? Is it difficult for them to be getting input from other players and yourself and whatnot, trying to create a plan, compared to what they do on an every-week basis?
JIM FURYK: No, I don't think so. I think I always -- from a personal standpoint, I enjoy these practise rounds. I enjoy being surrounded by 11 of the best players in the United States, and I felt like I learned so much about the process and the sharing. It's not like you get overloaded by information. It's a trading of ideas and thoughts and how each and every one of us looks at things, and I felt by playing with -- whether it was technique on short shots or ways to play the golf course or how certain folks trained or learned the golf course versus others, I always felt like I picked up these little tidbits that I carried with me in the future.
I never liked Tuesday practise rounds on Tour. I seem to be my grouchiest on Tuesday. I always enjoyed the practise rounds and learning process and sharing of information. It's definitely not an overload for these guys. I think actually they have a lot of fun.
And you're starting to get used to your partners and your pairings, and you start talking about how you read putts, and are you very linear, do you see curve lines, are we going to talk about with our caddies, amongst ourselves. You start formulating all those plans and get a lot of that work in early.
What I've tried to do for them this week is provide them as much information about the golf course as I could before they arrived. You know, whatever I could get to them about this course, especially in their week off before The TOUR Championship for most of them, I wanted them to understand what they were going to face. There would be no surprises when they arrived. It's a tight golf course. Here's what you can expect.
I gave them as much info as I could, but they are all professionals and they are all going to learn the golf course and prepare for it in their own way, and I want them to do that, as well.
Q. You said you guys have hole locations and tee placements. Are those for the actual competition days?
JIM FURYK: Yes. I think it's been mentioned in one of the press conferences before. We were given yesterday a pin sheet with five hole locations on it. We don't know which days they will be used but we have -- and I guess it may not -- if it says 10 and 4, I guess it could be a yard off, but it's really, generally, in that area, unless there was some inclement weather, flooding, whether they needed to go to higher ground. Both teams, Ryder Cup Europe wanted to provide that information and felt it was important for the future, as well.
Q. What was the reaction of the guys to the rough, and those that came for the scouting trip, thinking that it might be a conservative approach? Is that since still the case?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, we had six guys that had played the golf course. We had guys here in July playing it. They have relayed some of the information. For some of the guys that had not played the golf course, I had a couple that walked up to me yesterday and said, "Wow, you said it was going to be tight, it sure it."
Generally, they were prepared. They knew what to expect, and it wasn't like it slapped them in the face all of a sudden where you show up sometimes to an event, you know, across the pond or to maybe an event when I've gone to foreign tours and played; you have no idea what you're getting into before you get there, and you go, oh, wow, this is hillier or this or that.
I remember the first time I went to Japan and played on korai I was definitely thrown back. I definitely didn't understand the surface and how to play it. They were prepared. They knew what to expect here, but it's always going to be different.
You try to paint a picture, and that's why we have these three days to prepare, and I'm still on the same plan that they are professionals, they prepare themselves on a weekly basis. They are the best we have to offer in the United States. They are going to prepare their games, and I prided myself in the heart of my career of being one of the most prepared players on Tour. I gave them as much information as I could, but I want them to have that freedom to prepare and do things their own way here.
Q. I know you said there's not going to be a "25" banner hanging in the team room, but having been a member of the teams that have tried to win over in Europe for the last 25 years, can you talk to the challenges of trying to do it?
JIM FURYK: Yes, I can. Again, I'll praise both The European Tour and the way they choose golf courses, venues where they have European Tour events. I'll praise their teams for how they have played and how organised they have been as a unit.
You know, we're coming into a golf course that they know a lot better than we do that will be set up in a fashion that they think suits their game. Those are obstacles we have to overcome.
Their crowd is phenomenal. They make a lot of noise. When we walk into that first tee and they announce both teams, they are going to say, "And from the United States," announce two guys, and there's going to be a nice applause. And when they announce the two folks from Europe, there's going to be a giant roar and those players are going to feel that presence, and you're going to hear those roars around the golf course.
When you're a player, you know exactly; a putt goes in and you hear a roar, you know. Every one of us knows whether it's from the U.S. or whether it's from Europe, right, and so their crowd plays into a big part of that, as well. We know that. We respect that. There's definitely some obstacles to overcome, but you know, that group out there is feisty and confident, and right now they are preparing. They are trying to do the best they can to brace themselves and get ready for the battle.
Q. That said, you went well last time. Fair to say you got some pretty self-confident guys on your team. Are you having to guard at any point against complacency in your team room?
JIM FURYK: I don't think there's -- I don't think there's any worry. I mean, we've discussed -- we sat down and had a great conversation with the players last night. The players spoke a lot. They are very well aware of the history of this event. They are very well aware of the talent and the pride on the other side. They love this event every bit as much as I do, so there's not a worry on my end of any overconfidence, complacency. No one is putting the cart before the horse here.
We realise the task at hand. I also think they will really embrace that challenge.
Q. The European players have made a lot of creating the right atmosphere in terms of they enjoy taking the mickey out of each other. They would say they are leaving their egos at the door, and they bring in a comedian and all that sort of stuff. How do you go about creating the right culture in your team room and what the atmosphere is like at the moment?
JIM FURYK: I think the atmosphere has been good. Guys are fun. Yesterday the question was asked about how you go about bringing this group together, and I guess we have a lot of the same core guys on this team that have played on these teams in the past.
I think we are bringing Bryson and Tony into a team room of guys that have already been here before; that have played for Davis Love, played for Steve Stricker last year. We kind of have a pretty good rhythm of how we run our team room and what guys can expect. I think it's my job to continue that atmosphere and continue what we've worked on the last four years.
We're always trying to add, trying to improve. And I guess if you're the No. 1 player in the world, you're never trying to hold still, right. You're trying to always improve and get better, and that's with Davis's help and Steve's help and Tiger's help and all the vice captains, we're trying to improve on our process we have had together.
This group of players has been fun. They have been unique. They have been extremely easy to work with, and you know, I'm taking basically a system in place and trying to continue and grow it.
Q. With regard to the pairings, can you discuss in your opinion how important it is putting certain guys together, and because all these guys are so accomplished already, do we make too much of a big deal out of that? Or do you feel like they are -- anybody can be with anybody?
JIM FURYK: You know, I wouldn't say that anybody could be with anybody, on both sides, and that could be -- you know, it's not that guys don't get along. I think that's always the look. Like, well, maybe these two don't get along. It could be personalities. Rarely do you see two really fiery guys paired together or two real complacent guys paired together -- complacent is a bad word -- two real stoned -- Bernhard Langer and Bernhard Langer, one of my favourite guys, but you might not pair him together with himself because they are just even keel. You pair him with a guy that's feisty, a Seve, and you kind of get the ham-and-egg effect of things.
I think that's important. I think one of the tasks for every captain, and the vice captains, is really trying to figure out not only your best pairing but how you get your best four or your best five, your best six. How do you work together and make a strength and depth of strength throughout your team so you feel like at each session you have four great groups out on the golf course. That's what both of us are trying to do.
Q. Do you rely personally more on feel, more analytic stuff?
JIM FURYK: I would say a combination. You know, ultimately, we have the analytics team in place, and they have opinions on why guys match up well together from a statistics standpoint. But we really need to, as a captain, understand the personality side and how guys mesh together and why that happens.
I think it's a combination of both, but I've got a lot of experience on my side with our vice captains, in Davis and Strick, that have done this with a lot of these same guys the last couple years. And you add Kuch and Zach, who have played in these, and David has watched these guys now and analysed their games from a television perspective.
So I've got a lot of guys that were world-class players themselves, played on a significant number of these teams and understand the inner workings, and there's a lot of feel that goes into it, as well and I really trust and believe in their opinions.
Q. A question about course setup?
JIM FURYK: You weren't even going to come up and now you're asking questions.
Q. I can't help myself.
JIM FURYK: All right.
Q. So the conventional wisdom had always been that the home team captain has the advantage with course setup. But I wonder, with all the international players from Europe playing in the United States, and players from the United States playing internationally, if you set up a course to, let's say, take the long ball away from Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, don't you do the same thing for Rory McIlroy? Is there really an advantage anymore that's team specific, and isn't it really just person specific?
JIM FURYK: You would have to break down team for team and how many players on each side. I mean, being a short, straight hitter, you know, I always liked when I got on a golf course like this and felt like, well, wow, it doesn't matter how far you hit it. We are all going to play from the same spot.
Could you break it down? Yeah, I'm imagining that you would want to figure out what you thought may suit your team the best. Again, I'll go back to in the States, we usually play major championship venues at The Ryder Cup, places that neither team has really seen that often, or if they have, a lot of them have seen it at a PGA Championship or U.S. Open or something to that aspect.
Here, you have the French Open. A number of these players have played this tournament and played it a lot, so there comes a home course advantage with that. I would imagine, and it seems rightfully so, it's not that far different from how they play the French Open, and I wouldn't have expected coming in it would be, because that's how these players know this golf course, and they have had a lot of success, some of them, on this golf course.
So I would expect it to be set up somewhat similar. Although we are at the end of September rather than July. The weather is different and the course will be slightly different. It's similar to what they have seen in the French Open and they know the golf course well because of it.
Q. This is the third straight year where you've been on a team with Brooks Koepka. As you've built a relationship with him, what have you learned about him and what makes him tick?
JIM FURYK: Brooks loves the team atmosphere. Loves being part of the group of guys. I felt like he's really thrived in that. He likes partners that bring some energy; that kind of mix up well with him. Brandt Snedeker was a wonderful partner two years ago.
You know, I guess what I've enjoyed is a guy that's gone out and won two majors this year; I felt bad for him earlier in the year. He started out the year injured, right at the top of The Ryder Cup points list and he started sliding down. He got all the way down to about seventh or eighth, and as soon as he came back out on Tour, didn't take long for him to get his legs under him and start playing solid and he goes on to win two major championships.
Honestly, you get a player like that, who is one of our most successful guys the last few years, and yet he's telling the captain, you know, he's a team player and he'll do whatever he wants; just a guy that really, you know -- fun for me to get to know -- you know, five years ago, I didn't know Brooks at all, and now I feel like I've got a nice relationship with him and talk to him about a lot of different things, whether it be a Ryder Cup or not. I've enjoyed that.
That's one of the great aspects of being 46, 47, 48, not making these teams anymore, but still being a part of it, and I hate saying it, but hanging out with these players that are a generation younger. The "generation" word is killing me, but it's true.
Q. I believe there was a suggestion on TV this morning that Tiger perhaps looked a little stiff on his way to the team photo shoot. Is there anything there to concern you, or is that just a chilly morning?
JIM FURYK: I don't think that there was any issues. I was a little stiff on the way to the range, too, this morning. It was about 42 degrees. I watched him play a few holes. He doesn't look stiff at all. So I think it's probably just some folks maybe guessing or, you know, he's probably stretching. Probably trying to stay loose.
There's been no issues reported out there or anything that I'm worried about. It's actually news to me right there to be honest with you.
Q. Much was made of Jordan missing The TOUR Championship. Curious what's your assessment of where he is now, and is there any sense he may benefit from a fresh partnership to give him a spark?
JIM FURYK: I love where Jordan is actually right now. We talked a little on his week off and during The TOUR Championship. One, he brings so much to the team room as a leader. For his age, he's very mature, and all those guys kind of his age group, when Jordan speaks, everyone seems to listen, and he's been a great guy in our team room. Helped out a lot.
We discussed it. I think having a week off, having some fresh legs, a fresh mind, I would guess he's, you know, a little -- he's probably chomping at the bit right now finishing 31 St. And being the first guy out, he's probably ready to go this week and I think it would be a real good week for him.
Q. How would you describe Tony's personality?
JIM FURYK: Infectious. He's got a smile, one of those guys that I think it doesn't matter who you are on the team, how well you know him, don't know him, he's just very approachable. A guy that -- you know, as a captain, when you're calling guys to say, you know, you're on The Ryder Cup Team, that was probably -- it happened solo, but man, it was a great call and it was a lot of fun. I hung up the phone and looked at my wife and I said, "That's a great phone call." He's just so excited to represent his country and be a part of this team, and you could hear it in the voice over the phone. He deserved it and played so well.
He's a guy that comes from team sports, as well, a basketball player and had the opportunity to play college basketball. Super talented and athletic, but I think he brings a lot. For a first-time player at The Ryder Cup, he brings a lot to the team room just with an infectious personality. I mean, it would be hard -- I can't imagine anyone saying a bad word about Tony Finau. Just a great guy.
Q. A person like that, does that expand the number of partnerships he could have?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, you probably don't usually see a guy that is playing in his first team event where you go, wow -- and also, kind of coming in late, as the last player picked, you wouldn't imagine a guy that would be so easy to pair up with a number of different people.
But I immediately saw that kind of shuffling pairings and looking around and trying to plan leading up to this event. He definitely has that ability, not only from a personality standpoint but also a style of play and his game.
Q. How much does analysis of stats and data come into deciding your pairings, or is it more done on feel and instinct?
JIM FURYK: Again, I think it's a little of both. I think that we do have a statistics-based look at things. We have a feel-based look at things, a personality-based look at things. I've got eyes on the golf course right now, five vice captains, just kind of getting a feel for everyone's mood, mannerisms, body language, what they see from a ball-striking perspective.
You know, I also let these guys know, they are not trying out in practise rounds. It's not like every time they hit a shot slightly off the centre of the face and hit one in the rough off the tee, it's like, all right, you're out, you're not going to play on Friday.
I want these guys to learn the golf course and kick off the dust from the jet-lag. We look at it from a number of different perspectives, and I think one of the strengths we've had, too, is originally, it was thought that maybe having the Presidents Cup in opposite years was a bad thing, like these guys were going to get tired.
They enjoy this event and they enjoy that event and they enjoy being together in the team room, but it's helped us navigate pairings and put our players together in an efficient way, and Europe kind of has the same thing in their off-years, as well. I think it's beneficial for both captains to have those events.
BRIONY CARLYON: Great. Jim, thank you for your time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports