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March 20, 2019

Jim Furyk

Palm Harbor, Florida

DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room here at the 2019 Valspar Championship. He's our 2010 winner of the Valspar Championship. Thanks for joining us. You've had great success here, you're making your 11th start in the Valspar Championship, the 2010 win that I just mentioned.

JIM FURYK: How many starts here? That's it?

DOUG MILNE: 10 starts. Your 11th start here. Your only missed cut came in your first start here. Your win in 2010 was a big one in route to the FedExCup honors. So some thoughts on being back here and playing this week.

JIM FURYK: I always enjoyed playing here, I played a junior tournament here a long time ago, so I always enjoyed the golf course. It's a good test of golf, you can't fudge your way around it, you got to hit some good shots out here and I've always, I put it my easily in my top-5 for courses I like to come to play. That being said, you have to be playing well when you come here, got to hit some good golf shots. So I got some good memories here, a win in 2010 that there had been a bunch of times since I had won a golf tournament and kind of won this event, got the monkey off my back and then went on to win two more that year and win the FedExCup. So good memories and a golf course that I feel very comfortable on.

DOUG MILNE: Outside you said this kind of run up took sort of Honda two weeks ago, got you into THE PLAYERS, and then we know obviously what happened last week at THE PLAYERS. Just some thoughts on how you're feeling with your game coming into this week.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I kind of took an extra day, drove down last night, I guess I took an extra day to kind of take a deep breath and exhale and try to figure out my schedule a little bit and wanted an extra day at home with Tab and the kids and to talk a few things through. The last three weeks has been a bit of a whirlwind, I expected to have two weeks off after the Honda and the ninth place got me in THE PLAYERS and didn't even realize that was possible, which is probably a good thing. And then almost winning the PLAYERS and realize I'm in the Match Play and World Ranking moved up over a hundred points and there's, I got in the PGA for sure. So there's a number of different things, doors that could be opened, and so I'm in a different situation and so I think I had to take a step back and think about what got me to this position and why and I guess the goal would be to try to stay in that same mind frame. I guess it's real easy to worry about the outcome, but I didn't qualify for THE PLAYERS because I was worried about finishing T-9 or better and I didn't qualify for the Match Play because I knew I had to finish real high at THE PLAYERS. I really didn't even know it was an issue and I played well because I was focused on the right things. So right now I think the goal -- and the deep breath yesterday was to get back to focused on the right things and playing well and letting the rest of it fall as it may.

DOUG MILNE: Questions?

Q. Well now that you answered like three of the questions I had already --
JIM FURYK: I was trying to kind of jump to the point.

Q. We're done here.
JIM FURYK: I had four hours in the car to think about that, okay?

Q. If you go back to end of Ryder Cup back to being really full-time focused player, did you have any expectations on what you wanted to accomplish for the year if you think back to the start of the season?
JIM FURYK: After the Ryder Cup I took I don't know probably two or three weeks off, just getting organized, a lot of media, answering a lot of questions, and then slowly started, I didn't just jump right into golf, but slowly started kind of getting back into playing some and thinking about going to Vegas and Mayakoba and RSM and I guess I left going to Vegas with a pretty good frame of mind and in that I had no expectations, I really hadn't played a lot of golf, I was rusty, but I was kind of excited because I wasn't, I felt really healthy. I could practice and hit balls and nothing hurt which was good. I was rusty and missed the cut at Vegas, but the sixth place finish at Mayakoba kind of jump started things for me and I hit the great ball at RSM and putted really poorly and missed the cut. But my goal for those three weeks was really to just play, kind of get a state of the union, let's figure out where exactly my game is, and really decide what I want to do this off season and I think seeing that spark, seeing that sixth place at Mayakoba and looking at what won the golf tournament and I really wasn't that far out of it, I don't know I think it got me excited about things and it got me working hard this off season, I was working hard on my short game, working hard on my putting, been hitting the ball good now for quite some time and it just got me working on my game a lot more. So I spent a lot more time practicing and grinding this off season and getting ready to come out to Pebble Beach and what I'm really, I guess most proud of is I didn't go into Pebble like I got to play good right now, or I'm behind in FedExCup points, or I'm starting late, it was really just, everyone wanted to know if I was going to play the Champions Tour, to be honest with you. You're going to be 49 in May, are you going to play on the Champions Tour or are you going to play out here. And I said, well, let's just see how competitive I am. I'm healthy, I feel good, if I go out and I give it 14, 15 months and I'm not really contending I'll go play the Champions Tour some. And if I'm knocking on the door and giving myself chance to win golf tournaments I'll play some out here. But even that, hard to say when I'm 50 it's hard to imagine I wouldn't play any on the Champions Tour and it's hard to imagine I wouldn't play any on the PGA TOUR, I still feel like you got to play a little bit each way.

Q. Do you still enjoy the work?
JIM FURYK: I've had points in my career where I did not when I felt like I was away from home I was away from Tabitha and kids and I was missing ball games and the grind was too long. To be honest with you I spent a lot of time with Doctor Rotella talking about those things five years ago and getting kind of in a good mental frame and I think that's what's allowed me to extend my career. But not being healthy and not getting in contention and not giving myself opportunities to win for three years, I kind of enjoyed the work. I didn't go out this off season like and practice because -- it wasn't like I rolled out of bed and said, oh, shit, I don't want to go to the course today, I mean I was actually, yeah, I enjoy it. I enjoyed working at it and seeing some improvement. And some days you don't get better, a lot of days with the putter I would come home scratching my head kind of maybe in the middle of dinner and Tabitha could tell that my mind was thinking about something that day. I'm sure I had some glossed over look that she understands and she started to see it a couple times this off season.

Q. I think you were just under 40 when you won here in 2010. I think of Calc winning here, Paul Casey last year at 40. Experience is good every place, but is this a place where it tends to play a bigger role than some other spots?
JIM FURYK: I think experience is key. I think, I don't look at this as a place where -- Paul hits the ball plenty hard -- but I don't look at this as a place where -- you're not going to dominate it with power too often, you still have to place the ball and think your way around this golf course really well. There's a couple places where that power, like on the back nine, maybe on 14 you can get home in two and maybe make a birdie there. There's a couple places where it could help, but this is more about picking a golf course apart and using your head and playing the game a little bit. So it doesn't surprise me that you've got some wily veterans that have done well here. I called Paul's caddie a wily veteran last week and I'm not sure he like it too much but we joked about it a lot.

Q. Have you had a chance to take a breath, look at the schedule, do you have an idea of where you're going to now have to pull back or is it going to be something that you're going to determine as the season progresses and see what events you do play your way into?
JIM FURYK: It's going to be a little bit more as the season progresses. This, the area I'm in right now was my biggest fear starting the year was kind of like March, April. And then once the summer came around there was too many tournaments to play in and I was going to have to pick and choose spots. But March was really thin. I was going to play Honda off an exemption. I was thinking API and PLAYERS were off. I was going to come here to play. I was going to have Match Play off, play Valero, have Augusta off. Before you know it I'm playing less, I'm at home for a lot less, for more events than I'm out playing. Now with the addition of the PLAYERS and the addition of the Match Play, I've kind of got more events than I know what to do with. So it's a great problem to have and I hope that continues because that would mean I could possibly get in Augusta or I could possibly get in the U.S. Open or get, start getting in more events. But I'm kind of on a wait and see what happens. And again that's my fault. It used to be if I was playing really well and I was top-10 in the world and I could kind of make my schedule at the start of the year and stick to it and it was good. But you earn that by playing well. So I'm in this situation because I didn't play as well as I wanted.

Q. How much is the Masters on your mind now that it is within reach, the Match Play is the last week obviously to qualify.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think that's one of the reasons yesterday was important just for me mentally. I know if I played well this week and next week or played real well for one of those two that it might give me an opportunity to go back to Augusta. I haven't had that opportunity in quite awhile and I'm trying to think of the last time I -- the last time I won was, what? 2015? And then I had surgery in 2016 so I wasn't able to play Augusta. So that was the last time I was qualified I wasn't able to go, so that's disappointing. I would love to go back to Augusta and play. So it's always on your mind, the trap to that is trying to figure out, all right, how many FedExCup points would I have to earn or how many World Ranking points would I have to earn, what's going to get me in the top-50, what place would I have to finish. Doing those things a lot of times is very counterproductive to playing well because you start worrying about the outcome, you start worrying about finishes rather than being efficient and productive and going out there and playing good golf. So I really wanted to kind of get my mind right and come in here. I had an outing on Monday with NetJets and kind of took yesterday off just to shut it down. And I'll go out and practice a little bit this afternoon, nine hole pro-am, hit some balls this morning, worked on my 5-wood a little bit. I wanted to kind of have a light day because I really want to be mentally fresh and I want to get back into the same mind frame that I was in at Pebble Beach, at L.A., at Honda, at THE PLAYERS, where I kind of felt like there was a world of opportunity out there for me and really wasn't worrying about the consequences. And if I can keep doing that I think I can keep playing well. If I start worrying about the consequences and trying to finish well so I can get in the Masters or get in the U.S. Open, then it's going to be difficult to do so.

Q. You talked about last Sunday and also just now about the playing out of that FedExCup 126 through 150. This year players like Talor Gooch, Corey Conners, Baddeley, they seem to be playing pretty well as well. Everybody's different in different phase of their career, but just your take on playing out of that category and is there like urgency to play really well when you get a chance and just looking at the whole season how that particular priority ranking was.
JIM FURYK: It really can be and I think there's a lot of that urgency for say a young guy coming out of like WEB.COM finals. Especially when you're down low. A guy in the old days, you come out of TOUR school and you got a low seed and you don't get in a lot of events early, it's really important to make cuts and kind of work up the ladder just so you get opportunities to play. That's the same thing for a 126 to 150 category where you want to get reshuffled high up, where you get the most opportunities to get into events and take advantage of it. But when you start thinking that way, when you have a sense of urgency in your game it's difficult to play sometimes. Sometimes it can be a benefit, it makes you really focused and gives you something to shoot for, but it can also be counter productive at times as well. So there are a lot of guys playing very well out that have category and a bunch of us got in THE PLAYERS last week, which was pretty cool.

Q. You had the joke Sunday about your first name being 48-year-old and you just mentioned people asking about Senior Tour. Does that ever get a little tired and is there, is any of that, do you ever feel a little, like I'll show you 48? Is there a little motivation in that at all or is it I mean obviously we're all stuck with our ages?
JIM FURYK: The last few years I actually felt it, to be honest with you. So being beat up and not being a hundred percent I kind of felt my age. I felt like the last six months or so I've been cheating a little bit, which has been good. I just joked, I'm, I didn't watch a lot of television last week but when I did I heard myself called 48-year-old Jim Furyk a lot. And I just, it kind of made me laugh. I heard a few people say, all right, ease up, all right, we know he's 48. They have only got about, what? A couple more months and then I'm going to be 49, they will have to change it. But, no, it doesn't really bother me. I think what's really interesting is we have seen, you know, I saw Ray Floyd relatively early in my career win at 50, I believe. I think he won an event on both tours when he was 50, is that right? Which is amazing. I seen Davis win out here at 53. But when I think back like Kenny Perry was a stud at 48, 49, he was playing on Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams and not only playing on those teams, he was one of our best players on those teams. Fred Funk I think qualified for a Presidents Cup at 49. I mean here's a guy that doesn't hit the ball very far. A lot of it is motivation and where guys are at in their careers and where things are. I think for Kenny his kids were getting older and kind of graduating, going to college and he and his wife were traveling the TOUR and enjoying themself and he enjoyed putting the work in, he was playing great, he was a horse for us on a bunch of those international competitions. So it can be done, I know it gets harder, but you got to be healthy and you got to have a good attitude.

Q. Wondering if it added anymore fuel to your fire?
JIM FURYK: No, I'm not like an overly spiteful person that way. I don't really, you know.

Q. You mentioned a few times about being mentally fresh. And even though there's a ton of responsibilities that go along with being a Ryder Cup captain, it's not about your own game your own swing, so in that sense did the work of being a Ryder Cup captain indirectly kind of help you out mentally when you did get back to just worrying about yourself?
JIM FURYK: I don't know, being the Ryder Cup captain might not have helped me like my mental attitude as well as I, I enjoyed being around the guys. I mean I love being on those teams, I'm really proud of the fact that I qualified for so many Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams. I enjoyed those weeks and the camaraderie. Being a captain and being the one that was expected to lead that team and around so many younger players, I enjoyed it. I think it was refreshing for me and I got to watch them play and be around them and played some practice rounds with them over there, played one practice round with them over there last summer in July. I think some of that was refreshing for me and it was also when that event was over, I, it's not that I wanted to play well to get back on the team, but it kind of jump started me a little bit. I loved watching -- there's players from outside of European America that are the best players in the world but I mean to watch those 24 players all week and watch the shots they hit, it's exciting and I wanted to get, I wanted a part of that again. I wanted to feel those nerves and that excitement.

Q. You talked about the conversation with Webb Simpson, how you were able to adapt to that arm lock putting style. After the event's over last week, was there any conversation between you and Webb and?
JIM FURYK: I saw him in the locker room before I went to the media room and everyone said, hey, great playing. And I said, thanks again for the lesson. I probably told him that like six times now. But he did help me, he gave me a little tip with my left hand and something that made it go from, you know, comfortable to I was like, hey, I think I can do this. And I still had to work at it and figure things out and I'm still in the process of working at it and figuring things out, but to get in that situation last week on the weekend and have a lot of stress and to be able to putt pretty well was a lot of fun. So it's something I need to continue to work on and hopefully hone and get even more comfortable with. But you see that a lot out here on TOUR, you see guys helping each other. And it's something Webb, he kind of figured out and everyone does it a little different. Like I said, Bryson and Rod Pampling and Stewart Cink kind of look very similar to me and Kuchar and Webb and I'm kind of more in that side of things the way they do it. I'm kind of emulating them a little bit and it's, I'm a firm believer in that when you pick something up, if it's not comfortable right away, like if you pick it up and you go, oh, my God, that feels terrible. Like when I tried to pick up a long one and anchor it against my chest 20 years ago and putt that way, I was, it felt like I was, like I had a bigger loop in my putting than I did in my swing, I mean it felt awful and there was no way I could do that. But when I, when Webb kind of, when I picked it up it felt okay but there was a missing piece and Webb kind of showed me what that missing piece was and like I feel like the light bulb went on and I literally was saying to myself, I can do this, like that's a game changer and I think I should give this a try and see if I like it. So, and it's got to feel good right off the bat or it's never going to work.

Q. Curious, in all your years at Augusta did you ever do anything wrong, did you ever have any no no, any club members explain to you that's not the way we do things here? And if not can you make one up.
JIM FURYK: Well I'm pretty sure I probably did, but no one ever let me know that I did it. How's that? You know, honestly, I've heard the stories and I've heard the maybe taking a picture down Magnolia Lane or and folks kind of being frightened by doing things wrong. I talked to members that have done things wrong and they laugh about the guy, like I remember when I got the note because I did X, Y and Z and I just didn't know any better and friends still make fun of me because of that. One thing I noticed about Augusta though, like the first day I was ever there my dad and I were sitting in kind of the grill room off to the side of the locker room and so I went out and played and it was kind of a rainy cold day, and I played 18 holes probably in three hours because I was so damn excited to see the back nine. And we got in and afterwards I think we had like a bowl of soup and definitely having a beer. So having a beer with your dad in the grill room at Augusta was pretty cool for the first day. And there was a table of guys next to us and the golf tournament was on TV and they were telling jokes and we were trying to act like we couldn't hear them, but we were like laughing. So I mean like I'm trying not to spit in my beer out because I was laughing at a couple jokes. And you just realize that even though you're like in the fanciest club that you can possibly think of that they're, the members there, they're just like the rest of us. They're good folks. And so they have always been -- I've had some of the same members introduce them self to me like 50 times, which I think is kind of like Julius Mason always does at the PGA. He's introduced me for eight years and he would say, hey, Julius Mason. And I'm like, yeah, I got it, Julius. I've been on four Ryder Cup teams I know exactly who you are. And I've had some members do the same thing there. So very humble people and I can't remember doing anything wrong, but I'm pretty damn sure I did along the way, just that ignorance.

DOUG MILNE: Okay, Jim, thank you for your time.

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