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March 17, 2019

Jim Furyk

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

MARK WILLIAMS: Jim Furyk, thanks for joining us. Under the circumstances, you must be awfully proud of the way you played this week.

JIM FURYK: I am. I mean, to go back to a week ago today, I wasn't even sure if I was going to be in the field, so found out kind of late Sunday that I was definitely in, last guy in the field. I really liked the state of my game, the way I was playing. I played a great event at Honda, and just was excited. I mean, I knew how well I was playing and wanted some opportunities to get out there on the golf course.

That's the way I treated the whole week, really just an opportunity. You know, I feel like -- a shot here, a shot there maybe could have been a little different, but ultimately left it all out there, and it was nice to -- I really have felt like to this point my game was in good shape. I felt like I trusted it, but it was also nice to get in contention to get under the heat, to have to hit shots under a lot of pressure, and then to respond well to that and hit some good golf shots, it'll be a confidence boost going forward. Haven't been in that position in a while.

Q. At the end there when you were -- after you finished out, you appeared to be very emotional. Could you share with us what was going through your mind?
JIM FURYK: It's fun to be home. It's fun to be in front of the home crowd. I've got my family here, a lot of friends. I haven't been healthy in a lot of years. I haven't put myself in the heat with really a good opportunity to win a golf tournament in a while, and I missed it. I missed the nerves, I missed the excitement, the cheers, and I think the emotion you saw on 18 was just I was proud of the way I played.

Q. How is it that all these guys, Rory, Dustin, they're hitting it 300 plus, all these beautiful swings. How is it that a guy with your swing at 48 can still contend out here?
JIM FURYK: I think there's going to be golf courses that are going to make that a lot more difficult, a long-wide-open golf course is going to be difficult for me to compete on. Not that I can't, but my opportunities and my percentage goes way down. But you put a golf course like this where it's really important to hit fairways -- I'm sure, I was in the top-5 in fairways hit this week. It's about position. I have said that I'm uncomfortable on this golf course, but I don't know very many people that are comfortable on this golf course. It's designed to be that way, and you have to challenge it off the tee and you have to take aggressive lines. And I was able to do that this week with the driver and put myself in a lot -- like 18 today, taking it down the left side and setting up a much better angle into that pin, especially for a guy that doesn't hit it very far. Yeah, I just have to pick and choose my spots on TOUR and the golf courses that lend themselves to more shot making and not as much just bomb it and find it.

Q. Could you just talk us through the iron shots at 17 and 18, and like you alluded to earlier, you really put it all on the line on those two shots, and to be able to pull them off in the moment, what does that tell you?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's a big confidence boost. Obviously the nerves were kicking, and I settled myself and made two good swings. Seeing Joel actually hit first on 17 was a big help. I kind of misread the wind a little bit, and I got to see the flight of his ball and to see it get hit a little bit, it gave me a lot more confidence. I was kind of in between 8- and 9-iron there, and gave me confidence that I could hit like a three-quarter 8 and hold it up against that wind. And 18 was kind of the opposite. It was -- I had to hit that 7-iron pretty hard, and so I was aiming out there 15, 20 feet right of the pin and trying to hammer it. It was going to try to hold it for a while, but I knew as hard as I was hitting it, it wasn't going to land, the wind was getting it, and it came off exactly how I planned.

Q. Can you explain the follow-through on 18? What made you follow through like that?
JIM FURYK: Probably the right-to-left wind and hitting it hard and knowing that the tendency there is to get it riding with the wind, and that's trouble. So probably just trying to make sure I got through the ball real well, and also I think the excitement of it. You know, hit it, loved the way it felt and looked up and saw it right on line.

I kind of walked early on 17, too. It's not something I usually do, but I think I was just really excited to be in the moment.

Q. Does the pride that you feel over how you performed this week, especially getting in at the last second the way you did, is that at all diminished by coming so close and not winning? And as a follow-up, does it take any sting out of the fact that you forced one of the world's greatest players to have to beat you?
JIM FURYK: I don't feel any less pride on the way I played because I lost or didn't win, I guess would be the best way to say it. I really left -- I missed a little one on 15. I can look back at that. I didn't feel comfortable over it. I should have backed off. I putted great all week. My putting stats were phenomenal this week. I putted beautiful today. I made everything that was makeable for the most part. I missed that little one.

So as far as -- I don't feel any less pride for the way I played because I didn't win. And because it was Rory, I mean, probably doesn't take any sting out of it. I have a lot of respect for his game. I have a lot of respect for him as a person. But it still stings. I mean, I'm a competitor, and I want to win, and it pisses me off I didn't.

Q. Did you think that putt was curling in at 17?
JIM FURYK: Yes. I still can't believe it didn't go in. That might be the best putt I hit all day, to be honest with you, and that's why I was backpedaling it. Halfway there, it looked like it was in.

Q. Following up on that, as well as you played, are there any shots that, when you sit around tonight thinking, that's the one I should have had or wish I had over?
JIM FURYK: I'll try not to beat myself up too much. It's hard. I won't sleep much tonight because I never really do on Sunday nights. I'll tell you where I really made my round and no one will ever see it, but I hit some really bad golf shots through 5, 6, 7, 8 -- 5, 6, 7, 8, I hit just some horrific golf shots, and I kind of lost my tempo, I lost some confidence back there, made some bad swings, and I was able to get the ball up-and-down. I chipped in on 5, two-putted 6, got up-and-down from the bunker at 7, got up-and-down from short of the green on 8. So I played four holes where I really felt lost with my setup and my golf swing, and I played them 1-under par. That saved my round. I could have easily played those holes 2- or 3-over, and now it's a different ballgame. I have no opportunity on the back nine.

I kind of on the fly made a little adjustment in my setup, went to No. 9, hit a couple shots, and I told Fluff going to the back nine, I've got to kind of build some confidence. I think I know what I'm doing wrong, and if I can just get it going and hit a couple good shots at like 10, 11, 12, I think we can get through -- and I said this to him, if we shoot 3-under on this back nine in these conditions, it might be enough. And I hit it stiff at 10 and got it up-and-down -- I made birdie, birdie at 10 and 11. I have a couple bad habits I always fall back on, and I think in the heat of the moment and the pressure, I fell back on a couple bad habits in there for those holes and lost a little confidence. But to be able to gain it on Sunday and get it back and then come down the stretch at 17 and 18 and hit it tight when I needed to was a good turnaround.

Q. Did the second shot on 10 get it back for you at that point?
JIM FURYK: For me it's more than one shot. I always feel like one is lucky, two you've got a streak working. You hit three or four in a row then I've got my confidence back. But I hit it good and solid at 9, two good shots at 10, two good shots at 11, I felt pretty confident with my game.

Q. Will this cause you to increase your schedule at all? Do you have that kind of confidence to go out and play a little more?
JIM FURYK: You know, my goal was to play 18 to 20 events this year. That was my goal the last few years, but I just wasn't healthy enough to always do it. I'm not going to change the number of events I'm going to play. I've still said that for me a nice balance is to be home and to be a father and a husband right now, and I've played a long stretch where I played 28 events a year and then I went to 26, and my number right now is 18 to 20, and that's what keeps me sharp enough, I think, to compete, but also keeps me happy and at home and keeps me balanced.

An event and a finish like this, I'm playing out of the 126 to 150 category, so a finish like this probably gets me in Colonial, Memorial for sure, top-70, top-80, almost got myself in the Masters. It jumps me up probably high enough to be in the top-70 in the PGA points. It definitely does. Might have just got me in the PGA Championship. So it's going to change my schedule a little bit, maybe change where I play but not the number of events.

Q. You talked about the emotion, of course, but did you have a chance to soak up 17 and 18 as the hometown guy at all and how loud it was and people pulling for you?
JIM FURYK: You know, I did all day probably until 17 and 18 and then hitting the iron shots and just being so jacked up, it was kind of a blur, to be honest with you. I've got that look kind of probably walking to both greens where I'm dialed in and focused, and in my mind I'm just running through what I need to do to kind of calm everything down and going through my process of what it's going to take to hit some good shots.

Q. With the physical challenge you spoke of, with the time away for the Ryder Cup, with your age, how much were you struggling with where your career was at and maybe that you were coming to an end as a PGA TOUR factor?
JIM FURYK: I wasn't really struggling with any of that at all. You know, as a matter of fact I turn 49 in May. Everyone in the world is well aware of it. I'm pretty sure my first name is now 48-year-old, my middle name is Jim and my last name is Furyk because every time I heard that on TV for the last two days that's all I heard, which made me laugh. I don't take it offensively, I am 48.

But I guess my whole goal was I knew this year that I was healthy. I kind of got it back in the fall, and going to Mayakoba -- I was rusty at Vegas, I went to Mayakoba and finished sixth, felt really good about my game, I sent to Sea Island, I missed the cut, but I was putting horrendous. That's a little bit why you see me on that arm lock right now. Played well at Pebble, played well at Honda. I'm healthy. This is the first time I've been healthy starting a season since '15. '16 I had a surgery early in the year, '17 I hurt myself at the U.S. Open. I haven't just been right. My whole goal was to see how competitive I could be. If I could go out and be competitive out here on the PGA TOUR and give myself opportunities to win, that's what I consider competitive, I want to try to win golf tournaments. And if I could do that, then I'll play some on the PGA TOUR, and if I can't, well, I turn 50 pretty soon and I'll go hang with my buddies out there and see if I can be competitive out there.

It was really -- I was definitely at peace with whatever happened. I was just excited about the fact that I was healthy, and I wanted to really kind of see what I could do. So this tournament showed me.

Q. My question is about the arm lock putter that you just touched on. The question would be what was the deciding point to switch? And also --
JIM FURYK: Well, it wasn't because I was putting great. I'll say that. (Laughter.)

Q. For those who never tried it, what are the benefits, advantages of that particular putter, let's say short-length-wise, and also where are you at as far as comfort level?
JIM FURYK: You know, I would say my putting stats probably, if you looked at them the last five years, they're not awful but they're not good. In other words, I felt like I was pretty solid from five feet and in. It wasn't like I was missing a bunch of short putts. But I wasn't making a lot of 8- to 20-footers for birdie, or even better yet, I didn't think I was hitting quality putts and giving enough of those putts a chance to go in. I messed around with the arm lock a little bit in the off-season, especially after that Sea Island event, because I did putt very poorly there. And I had a hard time picking it up. I wasn't comfortable with it, although I was kind of turning a regular putter, lengthening it and trying to make like one of my normal putters at home and then adding a lot of loft and it looked hooked, and it looked bad. I couldn't pick it up. I decided to go back to the short putter. And then I went to Honda really -- in my mind, didn't really love the way I putted in LA -- and I went to Honda, in my mind I was going to putt with a short putter but I was going to have a couple weeks off, it was going to be Bay Hill and here, and I was going to focus on working on that arm lock and see if I could get it.

I really wanted to work with our putter up at Odyssey and work on the length of where I wanted it and work with the loft, and I picked his brain, probably drove him crazy that morning just asking him a lot of questions on what do you see from guys, what do you know about it, and I'll be honest, I got somewhat comfortable with it but still wasn't planning on doing it, and Webb Simpson walked by me on the putting green that day, and I've told him like six times since how much I appreciate his help. He spent 60 seconds with me, and in 60 seconds he gave me two tips, and one of them has changed my focus on how I putt with that putter. And it was the way he grips it. He said, there's two ways to grip it with your left arm, Bryson and Stewart do it one way, he and Kuch maybe do it another. I struggled to get in the same position say like Bryson and Stewart Cink and some of the guys get, but I could do it like Webb did it, and it felt really comfortable immediately, like he grabbed it and -- he can actually hit putts one-handed really well. He can grab it with his left hand and he just hits these like 30- and 40-footers, and he just showed me a little tip and it helped, and I started hitting putts with it and thought immediately I was like, well, I'm going to give it a try. So I got to Honda and the first week finished ninth with it.

I realize it's not going to always be that good, but I've given a lot of those putts, like the birdie putt at 17, and I made my fair share of 15-footers this week. I've given a lot more of those makeable birdie putts a chance to go in, and I think because of it, made -- I've made a couple more birdies, and that's a big difference.

Q. Fluff looked like he was really on his game today. Was there any particular moment that you'll remember and can share with us?
JIM FURYK: You know, he's pretty amazing. Fluff -- how about we just call him 71-year-old Mike Cowan. He's pretty amazing. He doesn't change much out there. I probably don't look like I change, but I can tell inside what I'm feeling. I can feel my heartbeat. I know when I'm jacked up and excited. Fluff just -- he's a guy that loves -- I've always said this: He loves what he does for a living, he likes coming to work, everyone likes Mike, and he never changes, whether I'm shooting 80 or shooting 65, he was the same person on the bag, and you can't ask for any more than that.

I was so jacked up on 17, I actually got a yardage from the wrong head. There's two heads over there to the right of the tee and I grabbed the wrong one, and I had them twisted for about 10 seconds, but I went back and forth in circles over there on that tee because he told me I had the wrong head, I had the wrong yardage by about five yards, so he settled me down there.

MARK WILLIAMS: Jim, thanks for your time, and well done at home.

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