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March 15, 2019

Jim Furyk

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Welcome, Jim, to the interview room. Amazing round today. You're at 9-under, an especially great place to be, considering you found out you were in the field on Sunday. Can you give us your thoughts on where you are now.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've been playing well the last month or so since the season started. I feel good about my game, and I'll be honest, when I went to Honda, I didn't realize I had an opportunity to play my way into this field, so was kind of planning my schedule with this as an off week. And until I finished Honda and I finished ninth there and moved up the FedEx list, I honestly didn't know that I had that opportunity. A couple players told me there in the locker room that I may get in the field, and I was excited, did my homework, and realized that there was a good chance. I prepared last week a lot like I was in, and thankful for that opportunity, was able to take advantage of it the last couple days.

Q. There was a conversation one time where you said that a lot of the holes on this course don't fit your eye and that you kind of struggled sometimes and everything. Do you think that's still the case? And of course it certainly wasn't the case today, was it?
JIM FURYK: Well, Pete Dye has a very good way of making things look awkward, intimidating. He makes fairways that have ample room look narrow and greens that have ample size look very small. That's his architectural style. And I think as I've grown on TOUR, I've kind of got used to it. I've maybe gotten a little bit more comfortable on this golf course knowing there's places where you have to attack, and I think early in my career here I played somewhat conservatively in spots, and you can't do that here. That's kind of the nature of his architecture.

So I think I've gotten used to it, but there's no bones about it, you still have to hit the shots around here. You're not going to fudge your way around this golf course for very long, if that makes sense. There's a lot of hard edges and hard lines and a very small window between what turns out really well at times and what ends up being a double bogey at times.

You know, it has the opportunity to bite you, and I've played it pretty aggressively off the tee for the first two days, and I've driven the ball very, very well, and I think that's what's given me the opportunity to play so well.

Q. Do you think the driving was the difference today, difference versus the times you've played in the past? Because I know you also told me that you didn't care for this course that much.
JIM FURYK: Boy, we're on a big negative day, aren't we. Did I say it that often? You know, it's not that I dislike the golf course, it's just I have a lot more that I like on TOUR, that I'm more comfortable on, that I've played a lot better at in the past. So if you asked me to rank it, is this one of your three, five favorite courses on TOUR, I'd say absolutely not because I've never won here and my track record. We're all selfish, my track record is not that great around this golf course. I had a chance to win back in, whatever, '14 or '15, and someone told me I finished third or fourth or something back in the '90s. So you figure out you're out here for 26 years and that's all we're talking about, there's no secret why there's probably -- we could talk about Tampa and Hilton Head and Vegas, a lot of other places that I've won and had a lot of opportunities on.

Q. Given this is your least favorite course -- I'm kidding. But we talked the other day, and I asked you was it going to play easier this time of year versus May, and you kind of withheld judgment until you got a look at it. Do you have an opinion on that now?
JIM FURYK: You know, I think the reason I'm sitting here right now is because of the way I played yesterday. The golf course was very difficult yesterday afternoon. It was a totally different golf course than what I played this morning, and I expected that. But it got crusty. Because of the way the greens were when guys stepped on the greens, you could see the prints. They were tough to chip to, tough to control iron shots into, and so it had a lot of teeth yesterday afternoon, and I kind of ground out the end of my round yesterday. I made a bad bogey at 6 but made some nice pars at 7, 8, was able to birdie 9 and get in the house at 1-under.

I thought yesterday played really tough, and then we get out there this morning, a little more moisture on the golf course, not as much wind, greens are a little more receptive and we could attack the golf course a little bit. I really look at that last two hours of yesterday as the key to the 36 holes because I really ground it out and gave myself an opportunity to go out there in a good frame of mind today.

Now, this morning we could attack. You've just got to wait for conditions. I mean, now we're going to have a north wind on Saturday and Sunday, maybe a spot of rain, and historically this golf course has changed significantly on Sunday afternoon.

I think I remember one player once saying he thought he could see his reflection in the green. (Laughter.)

You know, it usually transforms on the weekend, and all of a sudden how many times have we talked about there was like one under-par round in the last six groups on Sunday afternoon. So it can transform very quickly, and if it gets firmer and faster and the wind blows from the north like they say it's going to, it could be a really difficult test.

Q. Jim, with your foundation event being here just a few days ago at TPC Sawgrass with family and friends on the course, more so maybe than usual for THE PLAYERS, how special is it for you to be playing well today?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's always fun being here in Ponte Vedra and being home. For any of us, when you play well at your home event, you feel that love. We had our Furyk and Friends concert. PGA TOUR was nice enough to let us use that area behind the Benefactor on 17 tee. The new entrance here is gorgeous. It was a perfect place for a concert party, and our guests really enjoyed it. It'll be tough to outdo in the future.

And then we played a golf tournament on Monday at Sawgrass Country Club. Great facility over there, and I was able to have 24 golf professionals. For those folks to give up their time and help us out means a lot to us, and I know it's a big week, and this is a huge event on TOUR, and so to have so many guys give up a day of preparation and come over, I was really honored.

Q. Your putt on 17 was kind of the first high-profile example we've seen of a putt hitting the flagstick and not going in. Do you mind just taking us through kind of your philosophy on that, why you're leaving the flag in, and then why you let out such a big laugh about it after?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I saw -- I've seen it now on tape. I don't think the TV gives you quite a perspective on how fast that ball was moving. I'm probably being generous in saying that ball was going a good eight feet by, maybe more. It wasn't like water bound or anything, but it was humming. And so I think I was laughing just because of -- I thought it was a good break. I think it could be made out that that ball had a shot to go in and maybe the flagstick kept it out. In that instance, unless it might have hit just the right blade of grass and the exact center of the back of that Cup and popped up in the air and fell in, I don't think it had a chance to go in. I think it was going to kind of run by and I was going to have a tough putt on the way back for a 3.

The laugh was more just kind of like a little sheepish grin, a little embarrassed by how hard I hit it, but it was a good break.

Q. So it won't change your view on leaving the flagstick in on longer putts?
JIM FURYK: No, instead of having Fluff tend the pin, I've just kept it in. It's just easier. Gives you maybe a good depth perception on longer putts. There's not as much chaos and footprints and someone up there, shadows, maybe. So I've just kind of kept it in on long putts rather than having him tend it. Also when we've played in rain, we played in a lot of rain at Pebble and in LA, and Fluff needs like six hands and arms to get everything, and I've just said, you know what, just leave the darned thing in and don't worry about it. I've made a couple putts now with the flagstick in, which it's a strange deal. Once it already spit it out the first time, though, I wasn't going to tap it in with it in.

Q. To follow up on a question earlier, you noted that this was a tournament you were not initially planning to play. How much did it help that you were at home as opposed to had THE PLAYERS been not at home to help you prepare for this tournament?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, easier, knowing that I was kind of -- had a lot going on with our function on Sunday night and Monday and wasn't going to be here at the golf tournament, and Tuesday I didn't even play, I just came out and practiced a little bit because I was tired from the two previous days. I came out and played nine on Saturday, played nine on Sunday, got a feel for the golf course. It was a little different then. It was a little softer. Golf course played longer. Greens were receptive. I mean, I was thinking, uh-oh, we're going to see some extremely low scores.

But it's definitely changing as the week goes on, as I expected, as well. But it helps to be here and prepare kind of early and see the golf course a little bit, and then I was able to play nine on Wednesday and kind of get a feel for how the course was changing, which was good.

Q. What's the process been like for you refocusing on golf after Paris full-time, and do you feel at all different as a player than you did maybe the last few years?
JIM FURYK: I do. But I wouldn't blame it on the Ryder Cup captaincy. No lie, it takes a lot of time, and I hate to use the word work because no one ever really associates that as fun. It's a labor of love being the Ryder Cup captain. But it did take a lot of time and pulled me away from golf at times.

But I wasn't healthy, either, honestly. I haven't really had a healthy season since 2015 and I was playing great at that point. I got hurt at the end of that season, had surgery in '16, reinjured myself in '17 with an all new bundle of stuff and chest and collarbone, and honestly that carried through for almost over a year until kind of late last year I started to feel a lot better. That captaincy came at a great time in my playing career, and I really started to feel healthy in the fall and started to hit the ball really well again, and watching the Ryder Cup and being with the best players in the world on both sides really, I don't know, kind of reenergized me a little bit. I wanted to get out there, and I kind of had an open mind. Three or four years removed from really playing my best golf, and I kind of wanted to see what I was capable of, if that makes sense. So I'm still in that frame of mind, and it's been nice to put up a good tournament in the fall at Mayakoba and then came out with a 14th at Pebble, ninth place down at Honda. So I have a lot of confidence in my game right now but also still have -- I've got to put myself under the gun and in the heat and get myself in contention and see how things hold up and learn from that, just like a young player again, putting myself in those situations because I haven't been there in a while.

Q. This was your lowest score in 80 career rounds in this tournament. I'm curious how many rounds have you played here in non-competition rounds, and would you say that you've ever had a round in one of those events or rounds that you had today?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think I've shot 64 before out here. I used to play a lot of golf here. So I've lived here now for 23 years. I'd say the first 12 years of that I played predominantly at this golf course and played a lot of golf here, saw it in a lot of different conditions.

The last 12 years or so, I have played very little golf here, and there's a lot of years where I don't play the golf course in between THE PLAYERS, and I've played -- I think I've played six holes from last year's PLAYERS, since last May, and it was before going to either Mayakoba or before going to Vegas I came out here. I had a photo shoot or something going on, and I came out and played six holes, I played 10 through 15 on the back nine in the morning.

Q. So did you ever play as well in one of those rounds?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think I've shot 64 before. I'm not sure I've gotten any lower than that. Not by memory, put it that way. I think I'd remember a 62 if I shot it.

Q. With all the talented young players out here now, what's your take on players like yourself and Mickelson and even Vijay down at the Honda having big moments? Did you ever see yourself at this point being as competitive as you are right now?
JIM FURYK: I wanted to kind of keep an open mind. I'm 49 in May, I'm 50 in about 14 months, so if I'm competitive and I feel like I'm knocking on the door and having opportunities to win, I'd like to play some out here. If that's not the case, I'll go to the Champions Tour and see if I can be competitive out there, I guess, if that makes sense.

As far as Vijay is amazing. What is he, 56? To have an opportunity to win at Honda and I think he was going to be the oldest winner on the PGA TOUR, if that were the case, that's a pretty amazing feat. You start putting your name up there with the likes of Sam Snead, it's got to be pretty cool. I wouldn't hold it past him. I've seen how hard he's worked in his career and I know how talented he is.

As far as Phil, I really haven't seen that falloff yet, so no surprises there. He seems to be timeless, as well, and yeah, I don't know if he's had a bad season or a bad stretch or even -- someone asked me in the locker room if I could remember him having any injuries that really slowed him down, and it was maybe a ski accident kind of right out of college is the last time I can remember. He really -- I don't see that -- what it basically boils down to is if you have the will and these guys are putting the hours in as talented as Vijay and Phil are, I think they're going to last as long as they want to.

Q. What's your secret?
JIM FURYK: What's my secret? It wouldn't be a secret if I told you. (Laughter.)

Yeah, I pride myself on my work ethic and being consistent. I definitely don't hit it very far anymore, and I need to kind of pick and choose the golf courses that suit my style and my game. I think really for me, my secret the last -- being healthy is one. I really just haven't been healthy, so if I can do that, my secret would really be playing the right number of events and playing courses that I can compete on. I have a freshman and a junior in high school, and I love my family, and I want to be home, and I want to see them play ball. I'm missing three days of volleyball starting today in Orlando. I missed a game in Orlando last night for lacrosse. I love going and watching my kids play sports and being around and being at home.

Managing my schedule to a point where I can be competitive but also happy at home.

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