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September 29, 2018
NEIL AHERN: Can you give us your thoughts on today's play?
JIM FURYK: You know, tough-fought day. Already have a hand up -- (laughter) what did I say wrong already, huh? Wow.
You know, tough-fought day I thought. Obviously my hat's off again to the Europeans. I thought they played a good, solid day of golf. Tough in the morning. Came out firing. We got behind in a bunch of matches quick in a session that we did very well in on Friday. We went out, instead of winning 3-1, we lost 1-3.
You know, same guys out on the golf course.
And you skip to the foursomes, and they put the same eight guys out that they played Friday afternoon, put the same guys out Saturday afternoon, got a 2-2 split, so we weren't able to reverse their power as well as they did ours. You know, started the day 2-down, finished up 4. Hoping to get a winning session. You know, 2 1/2-1 1/2, 3-1 in the afternoon cuts it to three points, cuts it to two points. But 2-2, that last match out there, Spieth and Thomas, both in the fourth match getting a point, held us in there strong and gave us at least an opportunity tomorrow to do something special.
NEIL AHERN: You're leading with Justin Thomas tomorrow. Can you tell us what took you into those decisions for singles.
JIM FURYK: It's difficult. I wanted to message the team a little bit. Had the six of us work on the pairings. Talked to the players a touch, but really relied on my vice captains for their opinion on what we saw. You know, we want to get out to a fast start tomorrow. That's key. It's imperative. Everyone knows it. Any time a team's come back, now twice in this event, from four points, it's been a fast start and a solid middle to late part of the lineup.
You know, I don't know if there is any one match more important than the other, right. You've got 12 of them out there, and we have to win eight points tomorrow to take the Cup back home. So we have 12 important matches tomorrow, but you'd like to get off to that fast start like you saw at Brookline, like you saw at Medinah, and when that momentum gets going one way, it puts a lot of pressure on those middle matches. We set up our lineup accordingly and put the guys out in the fashion that we felt like, you know, we're trying to make some magic tomorrow.
Q. I just wonder, Patrick's been such a firestarter for you the last two Ryder Cups, and he's been really kind of silenced the last two days. What's your assessment of his play and what's been going on?
JIM FURYK: I know he's feisty. I know he's tough. Patrick has led out in that opening match. Right now we've got a feisty guy in Justin Thomas leading us off. He's kind of a little sparkplug.
I'm sure Patrick is disappointed. The guy's got more heart, more will, loves The Ryder Cup as much as anyone I know, and you know, we put him in a position tomorrow where I feel like he's a very important player. If we get off to a fast start tomorrow, these matches will come right to that; if you look at history, it will come down to those matches, and I've got a guy that I can really trust and I believe in.
Q. You're such good friends with Phil. What was that conversation like, telling him he was sitting both sessions? Four years ago when that happened, it didn't end too well for the captain. I'm just wondering what your reasoning was, how he took it, and also what you think of him playing Molinari tomorrow?
JIM FURYK: Phil is, as you mentioned, a really good friend. Also in a position where we talked earlier this week about his play and how he was playing and his opportunities for play this week. He fully understood the role that he had today. Gave me a pat on the back and put his arm around me going up, following the Spieth/Thomas match this morning, and you know, we had a great conversation. He said he would be ready tomorrow, and I put him in a position where I hope -- I hope that our guys get off to a fast start and put him in that position.
Q. Just speak a little more about the play of Justin and Jordan. They have half your points right now, and I think it's obviously their play that at least gives you a chance.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'm sure they are ready to kick their feet up a little bit. Maybe get a little rest and recovery. You know, those guys went out for four matches, won three of them. Had some really hard-fought, tough matches. I've been in that position they were in this morning where you're the last match out on the golf course. The tide has turned. We lost 4-0 last night. They went out in the morning, and first three matches, you know, towards the end of that day, we're down and looked like they were going to lose and they were on an island a little bit.
You know, they gutted it out and got it done. That was a big point for us, to be honest with you. It was a huge point for us. You can't go 4-0, 4-0, back-to-back and expect to recover. So it was a nice spark for us and good for our team to see, and then they got one of the two points in the afternoon, as well.
Love their feistiness. They play very, very well together. They understand each other's games. Sometimes I'm not exactly sure what they are talking about; the language is a little different that they have. It's like mental telepathy or something, but worked out really good. It's fun to listen to. I'm starting to pick up on some gibberish.
Q. What do you think of Jordan's little Poulter pound to the chest there at the end, to maybe send a message, or just having fun, or whatever it was, it was a good gesture?
JIM FURYK: Well, I don't know, I guess the last time I saw that on a Saturday four points down it worked out pretty good for the other team, so hopefully it sparks us tomorrow.
Q. You talked about these pairings were about messaging. Can you talk about what you remember -- you wanted to send a message to your players, you said, in the pairings?
JIM FURYK: No, no, I wanted to talk to the players before. I just wanted to talk to the players. I wanted to give them an idea.
We're going to make the pairings, and that takes about an hour. We had about an hour to do so. Thomas got here to the press room, and so I knew -- those guys are going to get home, back to the course an hour and a half before I do. I just wanted to talk to the players. Give them some thoughts on the day and give them some things to think about before I get back to the team room.
So the messaging was just to talk to them, to get a feel for the room, give them my feelings for the day and my feelings on tomorrow and what the vice captains and I would be doing in the pairings, and then I kind of cut them loose.
The pairings weren't made for any messaging or to send a message to them. The pairings were made to try to get us in a position where we had an opportunity tomorrow.
Q. My original question was going to be about 1999. You were on that team. Can you remember much about Ben and what he said, and are you channelling any of that tonight?
JIM FURYK: I remember every damn word of it. We had a talk about it.
Does that answer your question, Alex? I remember every damn word of it. That sounds like a Tiger answer. I just repeated myself. There you go.
Q. Just the way some of the Europeans that know this course so well have performed so well over the last two days, particularly, is this a message for you guys that you can't really turn up with half your team not knowing a course like this and expect to catch up over just a few days of practise?
JIM FURYK: Well, I was actually excited that I had six of the 12 guys come over. The week that we had our practise was during John Deere. I had Bryson DeChambeau, he's the defending champ. I had Zach Johnson and a few guys playing over there. I had some guys playing The Scottish Open.
You know, it was Rickie Fowler. It was Matt Kuchar at the time that was in pretty good position -- I'm trying to think of more -- Phil Mickelson. Kiz came here -- he was in the Scottish. While we were playing practise rounds, I had guys playing other golf tournaments. I thought getting six of the twelve guys over here that actually made my team. We had more guys come for practise that ended up not being on the U.S. Team and I'm very appreciative of that. I felt we did a good job of getting the folks over here.
One of the things that Europe -- I've been saying it all week -- one of the things I think Ryder Cup Europe does so well is that they hold this event on a venue their team knows very well. They love this golf course. When I was named Ryder Cup Captain, I can't tell you how many European players said, "You're going to love this course," and they were correct.
It's a great venue for the event, and I think it's a great test. I also think their players know it very well and are very prepared for it, and you know, a world-class player -- we go play major championships all the time where we haven't seen the golf course before, and we prepare, and you see guys -- I won a major championship at the U.S. Open and I had never seen the golf course before. You should be able to prepare and get ready, but that little local course knowledge helps.
But I'm not going to, to this point, Saturday night, we've played 16 matches. We've been outplayed. I don't think there's a guy in my team room would argue with me. Right now, they have played better golf, and we have to be able to do just that tomorrow. We have to go out there and start out hot, put a little pressure on them, and we have to be the better team tomorrow. There's no other bones about it.
Q. You're saying you remember Brookline clearly, but could you get almost just as much revisiting memories of Medinah and when that seed of doubt started to creep in?
JIM FURYK: It sure sucked being on the other side, I will say that. That was one of the worst days of my career. I remember it probably even better, to be honest with you.
The feeling of the momentum switching; the feeling of hearing the European crowd, and knowing, looking up on the board and seeing blue, it's a tough feeling to stomach. It reminded me very much of '99, and unfortunately I lost the 17th and 18th hole to Sergio, and my match was one of the key ones. I remember it very well. It's probably in my list of top three worst nightmares in golf. So I remember it very, very vividly and very clearly.
Yeah, I learned a lot from that experience, absolutely, just as much in 2012 as I did in 1999.
Q. Does it make it all that more important to get off to an early start and plant that seed of doubt?
JIM FURYK: You know, there's always an ebb and flow. You get out and there could be three red scores up on the board, and you look up next time and there's four blue and one red, and then you look up again and there's -- there is a tide, but in the middle of the day, I hope we get some red on the board and get some momentum. Be a lot of fun.
I know it puts a lot of pressure on the other team, and it's not like there's a secret potion or, you know, we didn't set up our pairings any different probably than y'all expected. We put out the guys -- some guys early we thought could give us a spark, and you know, maybe had -- I'll just say, we put out some guys we thought could give us a spark.
Q. Ben Crenshaw is here this week?
JIM FURYK: Yes, sir.
Q. Will you have him come in, wave a finger at the team?
JIM FURYK: That's a good idea.
Q. Anybody going to come talk to them tonight, try to inspire them?
JIM FURYK: We've invited, you know -- if I were to be totally honest, the past captains that are here are invited to come visit and see us, and each and every one of them have taken us up on that. They have been around. I think it's good for our younger players that maybe didn't know Ben and Tom Kite and Tom Lehman and Dave Stockton and maybe haven't had the opportunity to be around them. They are such gentlemen. We have invited them to come hang out, have a drink. And they have chatted with the players some. I think it's great to have them around.
If he wants to wave a finger, he's more than invited.
Q. You got asked yesterday about Tiger and if you thought he might have been injured, and while that might not be the case --
JIM FURYK: Pretty sure he wasn't with 36 holes today.
Q. He clearly took a couple hard lashes at a few shots, as well, but he does seem a little off. Obviously last week was a big win. Can you say, is he ill? Is he under the weather at all? I mean, we haven't had a chance to talk to him really. He just looks a little bit not quite the way he's been.
JIM FURYK: I think early in the week, he looked a little tired. His pace looked a little bit slow walking; I think that's expected, you know, coming off a big win. You have to think emotionally what he put into his comeback to this season, the amount of golf he played leading up, trying to make The Ryder Cup Team, trying to, basically, almost win the FedExCup. I mean, he put a lot of work and effort into it and played a lot more golf than he's used to.
And physically, I think Tiger's pretty fit, but that takes a mental toll, and I think he was a little tired earlier this week. I think, you know, the idea to sit -- to rest him, basically, sit is a bad word -- to rest him on Friday afternoon was a good one. I think he was tired. It allowed him to maybe get some energy back, watch his teammates play a little bit, provide a spark as a veteran leader. And you know, we came out today and decided to play him 36. I think his style of game lends itself very well for foursomes. I think he can control the ball very well. That's what you need.
It didn't work out, but you know, I think he might be emotionally a little bit tired. You find a way in a Ryder Cup to gain some energy and some adrenaline, and you know, you work hard. I know he's going to be fit and ready to go tomorrow.
Q. When you look at Tiger's record in the team sessions in this event, not so much at the Presidents Cup, probably not what you would expect from Tiger Woods in his career. What do you attribute that to?
JIM FURYK: This week, I'd have to say Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood. Those guys played incredible golf, the scores that they shot in both formats were very impressive.
I think I heard that, in one of Tiger's interviews, he felt like he played some pretty good golf, and it wasn't good enough. And I think it's because of those two gentlemen, to be honest with you.
In the past, I honestly -- I'd have to think about that for a little while. You know, it's been a while since we've seen Tiger on one of these teams and healthy enough, but this week I would have to say it's due to the play of the folks he played against.
Q. In general, do you think that rookies to go outside US, it's a good idea, besides how good they are playing championship golf?
JIM FURYK: I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understand. It was about rookies on our team?
Q. Yeah. In general, I mean.
JIM FURYK: Rookies in general at The Ryder Cup?
Q. To go outside the U.S. in The Ryder Cup team.
JIM FURYK: Is it important for rookies if they have played outside the U.S.
Q. If it is a good idea to pick rookies that go outside the U.S. to play in The Ryder Cup team.
JIM FURYK: Oh, I see what you're saying. I see what you're saying.
So we picked two rookies as captain's picks, and do I think that's a good idea to bring them to Europe at an away match for The Ryder Cup -- is that the question?
Yeah, I feel like we had two guys that were in extremely good form. You know, Bryson won -- down the stretch, Bryson was really close to qualifying for the team on points itself, and then basically won two of the last three events before we made our picks. I mean, he was the hot player at the time and a guy that was playing some good golf. It was hard; it would have been impossible not to take him, and Tony Finau was the guy that was playing the next best. He finished second, fourth, and eighth in three events.
Honestly, it was hard not taking Tony the first week, if that makes sense, and I felt bad saving him for the second week.
I think what you'll see in this event is everyone responds to it differently. It's a partner event. You try to get some veteran players around the rookies. You try to give them an idea of what it's going to be like.
Here, it's interesting. We showed up on Tuesday and the stands were empty. I mean, actually, there was barely a crowd on Tuesday, so it was hard; you were telling the rookies about how loud it's going to be and how exciting it's going to be, and we showed up and there was nobody in the stands, and it was the most quiet Ryder Cup I've ever seen on a Tuesday in my 11 Ryder Cups.
And I just kept saying, "Just wait." Wednesday or Thursday I had them walk down the path to the first tee and I said, This entire stadium is going to be full and they are going to be chanting songs and singing, and they were booing, and they were having a great time, and it was an awesome atmosphere; I wanted the guys to imagine that.
I think Tony loved it. Bryson loved it. Tony was the first guy to hit a shot for us, and he loved that atmosphere. And Bryson was out on the tee, and I told Bryson, "There's a good thing and a bad thing you came out here to watch the first match."
He looked at me funny, "What's the good thing?"
I said, "Look at this atmosphere. Does it get better than this?"
"Absolutely not, Captain. What's the bad thing?"
I said, "You came out here to watch this, and now you're chomping at the bit and you can't wait to get out there either later today or tomorrow."
He started laughing. He said, "You're right, I can't wait."
You never know how those guys are going to respond. It's hard to call Justin Thomas a rookie. It's hard to call Tommy Fleetwood a rookie, and those guys played spectacular golf. You never know how they are going to respond and how they are going to play, but I felt -- I have a lot of confidence in both Tony and Bryson, and I love them as picks and I would do it all over again.
Q. Just to clarify, two things on Phil. Midway through the morning sessions, he was on the range hitting. At that point, did he think he might be playing this afternoon? At what point did you let him know he was not?
JIM FURYK: He was practising. He wanted to be ready. He wanted to have a few things -- working on his game. I let him know about the time we were putting pairings out that he would not be playing in the afternoon, and I got a chance to catch up with him. He was following Justin and Jordan, and we had that talk along 17. I had to leave him a message to tell him, which I don't like to do. I'd rather do it in person. But really need to be out there on the golf course, and I wanted to really kind of cheer on my team, and like I said, that last point was big for us. It was exciting and I was happy for the two of them.
Q. And you said he had accepted whatever role he would have?
JIM FURYK: Absolutely.
Q. Do you think he thought at the beginning of the week he would play two times this Ryder Cup?
JIM FURYK: I doubt it. That's not the Phil Mickelson I know. He's got a lot of confidence in himself. He's a Hall of Famer and he's added so much to these teams in the past, and this week, you know, I probably didn't -- I didn't envision him playing two matches, to be honest with you. I envisioned more, but that's the way it worked out and that's the way we thought we had to go. You get a guy like him in the team room, he had so much more than his play, if that makes sense.
Correct me if I'm wrong, he's played more matches than anyone in Ryder Cup history, right? Most experienced Ryder Cup player of all time, you've got him in your team room. He's funny, he's sarcastic, witty, likes to poke fun at people, and he's a great guy to have in the team room. I think the younger players had fun having a go at him as well this week which was fun to see. He provides a lot more than just play.
I'd be disappointed if he said he thought he was going to play two. I know Phil. He wants to be out there just like everyone else. That's part of being a team and part of this event. We have 12 amazing players, and they can't all play every match, and you accept what you get. And you know, my guys are happy to be a part of this and be a part of this event. I have no issues in the team room like that.
NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much and best of luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports