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August 15, 2019
Q. Solid playing out there, bogey-free, got off to a hot start. Looks like a really good ball-striking day. How important is that obviously for you to play well on a golf course like this?
JIM FURYK: I think it's important every week on the golf course. There is some rough here. The golf course we played last week, if you kept it in the corridor, the rough wasn't that significant. So hitting 11 or 12 fairways maybe wasn't as important. It's going to be a little bit more important for me here at Medinah. It's a little longer golf course. But it's soft out there from the rain, so it's receptive. We can stop the ball on the greens. We're going into the greens maybe with some longer clubs, but we're going to see some low scores because it's still maintaining its softness.
Q. You've won the FedExCup before. Coming into this week you know you've got to play well. Does that make it easier or harder for you?
JIM FURYK: Well, I mean, I guess a little of both. I'd much rather be in 20th place and know I've got a ticket stamped, but I don't have much to lose this week to be honest with you. I didn't have much to lose in the playoffs. I came in ranked 39th. Really the only thing is upside, can you get better, can you improve and try to get in the top 30 for next week.
Q. 16 years ago you won the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields where this event is going to be held next year. How good is it to come back into this area again and play a golf course obviously you're familiar with, too?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've always liked Medinah. I've had some good events in the PGA. Chicago has been good to me. I won at Cog Hill, the 59 at Conway, and I finished second there, and then obviously the win at the U.S. Open as you mentioned. This city has been good to me. I always enjoy coming back to Chicago and seeing the fans here.
Q. That must have been fun to play.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it was a good solid round. It was nice to get off to a good start. The last three, four events I've played, Thursday has been a great. I've kind of got behind the 8-ball and had to dig myself out of holes and trying to make cuts. To get out there and birdie the first couple, make an eagle at 5, kind of off to the races. I feel good about the start, and it kind of gives me something to build on the rest of the week.
Q. What did you hit into 5?
JIM FURYK: 5-wood.
Q. What did you hit into 17?
JIM FURYK: 5-wood. Yeah, I was trying to hit kind of a smooth 5-wood up there. A little hard, tugged a little bit in the left bunker. 16 you meant.
Q. Given how well you play well, how big a motivation is it to get back to East Lake?
JIM FURYK: Well, it's obviously a goal for everyone that shows up this week. What's significant about the top 30, you're qualified for every major next year, probably most of the World Golf Championships. It's definitely icing on the cake, and from where I've been the last two or three years schedule-wise, I kind of had to play my way into two World Golf Championships and three of the four majors this year. Just missed Augusta.
Starting the year ranked 200 whatever it is, not knowing exactly where you're going to play, it's not the best of situations. Obviously I want to get in those majors championships. So making it in the top 30 is icing on the cake and it kind of sets you up for the following year. That would be the goal for me.
Q. Last time you were supposed to tee it up here was 2015, you had to WD because of the wrist --
JIM FURYK: Here in Chicago?
Q. At the BMW.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I was here, did an outing and was out for -- actually I think I may have even played a few holes. I may have played six holes at Conway before I just couldn't go anymore, and that kind of led into the surgery in '16 and led into the spiral. But it wasn't like I got hurt here in Chicago. I was fighting it off for a couple months leading up to this event.
Q. How would you describe that journey coming back from the wrist injury to finally getting back to --
JIM FURYK: Yeah, the wrist injury I came back from pretty quick, to be honest. I had the surgery early in '16 and it set me back. I started playing a little better late that summer but it wasn't my best. As I was kind of catching a little bit of stride in '17 I injured my chest, my SC joint. That let me back another year. So that's been a struggle. I guess that's part of being 47, 48, 49.
But I feel good now. I feel healthy. I've worked really hard on my game this year. I think a lot of it's kind of getting some confidence back and putting yourself in those situations. I put myself in a good situation at THE PLAYERS and responded well, put myself in a good position at Colonial where I didn't maybe respond quite as well on Sunday, but I learned from those things, and I've been working hard on my equipment and my swing and my game, so it's been fun.
Q. I know it was at a different golf course, but when you play in this tournament, do you ever think back about the 59 at Conway a little bit?
JIM FURYK: Other than people telling me from the crowd, not much, just because it is a different golf course. Chicago has been good. I won at Cog Hill, and obviously Olympia Fields, and the 59 at Conway. But when I come to Medinah, I guess my memories are '99 and -- what was between '99 and -- '06 and '12, so kind of remember bits and pieces about those events. I think I had a couple good finishes in the PGA, and try and draw from those.
Q. Does it seem like seven years already since the Ryder Cup?
JIM FURYK: No, it really doesn't, but I played a very minimal event for three of those seven.
Q. Speaking of the course, how is it playing out there?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's soft, so this is I think a tough golf course by design. But right now there's a lot of moisture in it from the rain. So the golf course is playing a little longer than usual, but that's never an issue for players of today. It's receptive where you can stop the ball on the greens, and the greens here have a lot of teeth to them. There's a lot of slope in them, difficult to get the ball close when they're firm. Right now guys can kind of take aim and stop the ball, and that's why you're seeing the scores.
Q. Have you looked at yourself as kind of a standard bearer for the guys between 44 and 50, guys that are kind of in that transitional phase?
JIM FURYK: I don't understand.
Q. Well, you don't see a lot of guys playing this kind of golf at age 47 or 48 on this TOUR. You might see it at different places --
JIM FURYK: You do in pieces. Depends on the guy. Kenny Perry played real well into his late 40s and was a force for us on Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Freddie Funk, short hitter, won THE PLAYERS in his late 40s I want to say, and made a Presidents Cup team at 49. I know that because he was my partner.
So it depends. Ray Floyd did it, Mickelson is doing it. There's guys there. I feel like if you're healthy and you have that will and that determination, it can be done. 2015 was one of the best years of my career at 45. I was ranked really high in the world at that time. I think I was inside the top 5 in rankings. It can be done. A lot of it is what's your motivation, how hard are you willing to work, and then how healthy can you stay.
Q. Is the motivation the harder part of it?
JIM FURYK: It's different for everyone. I think the guys I mentioned when they were playing well, they had that drive and they had that want, and for different reasons for everyone, and right now I think my motivation is I had three years off basically where I wasn't playing good golf, and I want to prove to myself that I can do it again.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports