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March 10, 2020

Jim Furyk

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Jim Furyk back to the 2020 PLAYERS Championship. Jim, you've had an exciting week already. We're on the heels of your 10th annual Furyk and Friends, and while we were there, you announced a new tournament that will come to the PGA TOUR Champions in 2021, the Constellation Furyk and Friends. Can you talk about that new event and its formation.

JIM FURYK: Is there another event this week? Is there another reason we're here? (Laughing.)

Yeah, Tabitha and I are really excited. It's been a couple years in the making, and we're just -- I can't tell you how excited we are to host and to have this new event here in the Jacksonville area. A lot of thanks to the PGA TOUR really, to have the support, I think also -- all their support, all their vision. We've asked a ton of questions. We've asked for a lot of help. And first and foremost, for the approval of being able to have a Champions Tour event and then all the help along the way, and then also for Constellation, they'll be our title sponsor, and I've had a long-standing partnership for over 20 years with them, and so it was natural that that would be one of the first and the first company to approach. So thankful to have them involved along the way, and we've got a lot of work to do to get ready for our first event in October, but super excited to showcase the city, to showcase our town, the river, and a wonderful golf course in Timuquana. It's a beautiful venue, and we're looking forward to our event.

We've had a charity golf tournament for 10 years now in this area, and we have a great vision with it, we've had a lot of great support here in the community and also around the country with folks flying in, and our vision is really to take that event and have the same feel. But it's going to be a little grander scale, a Champions Tour event, and now instead I guess leaning on the guys in this field to come over and entertain our guests and our sponsors I'll be leaning on the over-50 crowd to make sure we have a strong field and you get the best players possible for the Constellation Furyk and Friends.

THE MODERATOR: Looking ahead to this week for THE PLAYERS Championship, you had an exciting runner-up finish last year. Can you reflect on that performance and how you're looking forward to replicating it this year.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's always fun to play at home. I think we all put a lot -- when we're home we put a lot more pressure on ourselves. We want to perform well. For that reason I think I haven't always had the best success at this event, but I had some flashes and two good opportunities to win, and one of those being last year. And to feel, kind of feel the excitement of the crowd and a little bit of that hometown cheering section was really special for me, especially at the age of 48, coming off of three years of injury and really not playing all that well, and I wasn't even in the field in 2018. I snuck in last year and had a great week, and it honestly gave me a ton of confidence that I got under the gun and hit some good shots down the stretch and almost won the tournament.

A lot of fun, and this is a -- it's always a big week for us. Tabitha and I are involved in a number of different charity events throughout this week. We had Operation Shower on Sunday afternoon, we had our concert and party Sunday night, we had our charity golf tournament yesterday across the street at Sawgrass Country Club, and then this morning we had These Kids Can Play with the Wilson Children's Hospital and Community PedsCare.

It's a busy week, and then we're just going to cap it off with coming to the media room and answering questions about our new event. Eventually this afternoon or tomorrow I'll start thinking about golf, I'll start thinking about the task at hand and THE PLAYERS Championship, but it's been a whirlwind week so far and it's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, I can take that excitement and take it to the golf course this week.

Q. This is the first THE PLAYERS Championship without Pete Dye. I'm wondering, you've had as many starts as anybody in this field at this course. Is there a hole, maybe not necessarily your favorite hole, but is there a hole out there that is the most reflective of what Pete's vision and what he demands -- I think I saw a quote where you've got to hit the shot Pete wants you to hit, not the one you necessarily want to hit. Is there a hole out there that you think most reflects that?
JIM FURYK: There's a lot of them. I think -- when I think of Pete Dye and think about the work that he's done, I think one of the most impressive things is he tackles jobs that most architects won't. He takes difficult pieces of property -- if you remember what this property looked like, it was kind of a swamp land at one time, and he tackles a difficult piece of property that's very flat, needs a lot of fill, and he makes something very interesting, very demanding out of it.

I read a book that he titled, I think he said he wanted his courses to be visually disturbing and I think that would sum up my feeling, when I'm on a tee box on a Pete Dye golf course, right out of the chute I think about the first hole. The first fairway from the tee looks extremely narrow. You stand on the tee, it's uncomfortable, it's tough to pick a target, and it looks like you're hitting to about a 15-yard wide fairway. And then you get out there, and I miss the fairway a lot, and I look around, and I go, sheesh, this fairway is pretty big, it's 35-yards wide. And then I look at the green, and I go, my goodness that's a tiny green. There's a big bunker on the left, and visually it's disturbing. And I miss the green and I get up there and I go, this green was plenty big enough to hit with an 8-iron, how did I miss it? It's seems like that's kind of his unique trait is everything looks tougher than it is. When you get up there on the 5th fairway -- the 5th fairway looks small from the tee and you get out there and you go, God this is a big fairway. But his golf courses are visually disturbing, they look more difficult than they are, and I think he forces you into hitting shots that you wouldn't normally hit because of that.

Q. Does that make you a better golfer because you hit uncomfortable shots and maybe you pull them off, and now all of a sudden you get halfway decent at being uncomfortable?
JIM FURYK: Possibly, possibly. I think one thing about this golf course is that it makes you at times want to play very conservative. I think the 4th tee would be an instance like that. I don't think that's the way you play a Pete Dye golf course. I think you've got to take it on. You've got to be aggressive. If it eats you up, if you don't hit the shots, you're not going to be competitive. But you have to be aggressive off the tee. You have to challenge the golf course. And if you do drive the ball well, you can set yourself up for some opportunities.

And I think early in my career, it took me a long to figure this golf course out. I think I tried to play it a little too conservatively and then it kind of ate my lunch. Last year I did a very good job of being very aggressive off the tee and I was hitting the ball real well and I gave myself a lot of opportunities because of it.

Q. When you turn 50, are you the next week going to jump into the Champions Tour or are you going to be like Davis Love and play a lot on the PGA TOUR, or like Ernie and Retief and go?
JIM FURYK: I'm caught a little bit in between, but my thought right now would really -- I kind of want to play this season on the PGA TOUR. I started the season, I want to finish it. Last year I was kind of -- I was real close. I had a good solid year but real close to making the TOUR Championship. I'm not going to have that many opportunities in the future for those to happen. That window is closing. So I want to finish out the season on the PGA TOUR, and then I'm going to kind of reevaluate, and eventually when I do -- I don't see myself juggling. I talked to Strick a lot about it. He tends to like the juggle kind of between both tours. He's one of the few players I've talked to that does enjoy that. Most kind of try for a while, don't enjoy it, and then they flip the switch and pick a TOUR, like pick the Champions Tour full time. I really believe that's what I'll do. When the timing is right I think I'm going to turn over and play the Champions Tour full time and maybe cherry pick a couple of my favorite events, like the RBC Heritage or next week Valspar. Those are some of my favorite courses and you don't have to hit it like 410 yards off the tee there, so it really feels a little more comfortable to me.

Q. We focus so much on winning and if you win it's a successful week, maybe if you don't win it's not. I'm just curious, when you look at some of your --
JIM FURYK: I had a lot of failure. In that model I've had a lot of failure in my career.

Q. You've had 188 top 10s, and I'm just wondering, can you get satisfaction out of a top-10 finish that's a non-win?
JIM FURYK: Sure. Sure. I think there are times when I've finished eighth in a tournament and felt like it was a disappointing week because I felt like my game was firing on all cylinders, I might have made some mental errors, I might have felt like I let a tournament slip through my fingers that I could have or should have won. And there's other times where I finished 20th at an event and really didn't have my game, I scrapped it out, actually got the ball in the hole pretty well, and at the end you're kind of satisfied. You're like, I've got some things to work on and I know my game isn't sharp, but I really did play well this week as far as I got the most out of what I had. I guess I'm not happy about the fact that maybe I didn't have my "A" game, but I'm happy with the fact that I got the ball in the hole and scrapped it out. And you never know when one little swing change, one little swing thought, you get a good feel, you start striping it, and all of a sudden you're playing good.

Q. A year ago did you walk away satisfied or disappointed?
JIM FURYK: I think it could be both. I would say last year it's really close to -- it's really difficult to get that close and then not be able to get a win. But I think the event gave me a lot of confidence. It had been a long time since I had been in that much heat and been under the gun. And I was able to birdie 16, able to birdie 18, hit a great shot at 17, hit a good putt. Moments like that is why we've practiced and prepared our whole career is to put ourselves under the gun and kind of test what you've got. And then if you hit some pretty good shots and play pretty well, I guess it's a satisfying feeling, but it also is disappointing to get so close and not win, and especially in a tournament of this magnitude where it's a huge part of your career to win this event.

Q. Your tournament that you're going to be holding on the Champions Tour, is it going to be a one- or two-day pro-am and are you going to invite your friends from Pennsylvania down?
JIM FURYK: How about some of my friends from Pennsylvania? It's tough to make the list.

Q. Do they have to be Pittsburgh Steelers fans?
JIM FURYK: It helps. It significantly helps, yes.

The Champions Tour often has a Wednesday-Thursday, two days of pro-ams, 54-hole event starting on Friday, and that would be the model that we're in. We're excited. We have obviously a great -- we had 39 groups at our event yesterday playing 27 holes, so we're hoping to continue the support and continue the event we have right now, and then obviously we'll have a lot of new partners and sponsors and such.

The pro-am is a major part of every event, PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, and we're excited to do a good job and get into that.

Q. We've had five guys 22 and under win since July, Hovland, Morikawa and Wolff actually did it quickly after getting out of school. Is there something about the game today that makes it easier for guys to come out -- I know you've seen a lot of these youth movements -- but something about today's game?
JIM FURYK: We've been talking about these youth movements since I was about 35, so the last 15 years. I think that it seems as though -- I think it's a two-part answer. It seems as though in the last 10 years, you see a lot more young players maybe not finishing college, maybe early 20s, and they're prepared to be successful on the PGA TOUR, and they're prepared to win at an early age.

That being said, that could be training, fitness, Tiger might have made golf a little cooler, you've got a lot more athletes playing the game. But I think a lot of it, the technology driven, they seem to be very confident, though, mentally and prepared mentally better maybe than my generation was. Mickelson came out early and was prepared to win, but I also look at this class. I mean, the guys you mentioned, Hovland, Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, we'll see, but 10, 15 years down the road, that could be the best class that we've seen in the last 50 to 80 years on the PGA TOUR. I mean, these three kids come out in the first year all have won PGA TOUR events, have done it in very definitive fashions. It's not like a flash-in-the-pan type win. These guys are playing well week-in and week-out and are very consistent and then also closing the door to win some events.

I think you see it as a whole, but if we're just talking about the young folks that have won this year, we're looking at guys that are very, very good players in their own right.

Q. What role has maybe TrackMan and ShotLink and that technology helped with maybe quickening the learning curve of maybe helping give stuff that it took 5, 10 years to learn, allowing guys to know much quicker, maybe put a veteran's mind on a young guy's body, if that makes sense.
JIM FURYK: Possibly, but I think the technology part has helped in training, but when you're standing out there on the 18th fairway with a 7-iron in your hand and a one-shot lead and you need par to win, TrackMan is not really helping you too much at that moment. You still have to be mentally prepared and ready and believing in yourself. There's still a mental side to the game, and it's still an art in some respects. What I'm most impressed is the maturity level of some of the young players coming out.

I think for every Morikawa, Wolff and Hovland that mentally aren't prepared, that are physically prepared for the PGA TOUR but not mentally prepared, so my hat's more off to them on that side of things.

But the training -- there's just a depth in fields. I've long said that Nicklaus would have been great in any era. He's Jack Nicklaus. But the depth in the '50s got better in the '60s, got better in the '70s. We're just seeing more good players, more skilled players and more depth, more players that are able and capable of winning, and it's impressive to see.

I'm 50; when I came out of school, it was rare, one or two guys a year would get their card that played college the year before, would just get their card. Now you're seeing a lot of kids come out and they're not only getting their card and being respectable, they're challenging and becoming top-20 players in the world very quickly.

Q. A little along the lines of what Mike was talking about with the top 10s, Rory is on a run right now where every week it's a top 5 or better the last six events or whatever this year, but he's not getting over the line and winning them. Just kind of wonder where you fall on that, if it were happening to you would you be looking at the positive side that you're putting yourself there every week or wondering why you're not making it happen on Sunday?
JIM FURYK: I think there's a -- I think as players, we all get frustrated by that. Again, getting close, not getting over the hump. It's frustrating for everyone. He puts himself in that position quite often, and that's because he's -- it's hard to -- I'll just go real general, if he's not the most talented player in the world, he's definitely one of the top 5, so he's fun to watch. But I think those kind of things comes in bunches. I wouldn't be surprised if later this year he rips or three or four wins real quick, as well. That's just kind of the way the game is.

We as players don't look at the whole or the big picture, so if it were happening to me, I'd be frustrated and I'd be pushing and I'd be trying a little too hard and I would be working hard at home, and I'm sure he's doing all those things. But from an outsider looking in, the way I look at it is the guy is super talented, and it's just a matter of time. He's going to keep knocking on the door, and then when the flood gates open, look out, we're all going to be in trouble there for a little while.

Q. It looked like Brooks was going to run away and win a couple majors a year, and now he finds himself struggling right now, obviously a little physical issue. What's your view of Brooks and is that just the way the game goes?
JIM FURYK: I think that's the way the game goes. He's not 100 percent. I don't think he's said he's 100 percent. That's always difficult. Golf is such a unique sport. You put a running back out there in the NFL and if he tells you he's 85 percent and it's Emmitt Smith, you're running him out there because Emmitt Smith at 85 percent is going to help you. Golf is a little different sport. Trying to play at 85 percent is difficult when we have so much depth again and so many great, talented players.

But I think what's unique about Brooks is that he's just tough. I mean, you get him in contention, you give him a chance to win, it seems like the bigger the stage, the more that's on the line, the more he seems to thrive, if that makes sense. Big shots, big putts, I guess you could say Brooks like big putts, cannot lie. (Laughter.)

Q. I did want to ask you about your tournament, given where it falls in the schedule or in the calendar year. Do you feel like your tournament will give you an extra incentive to join Champions early at all? Does that make sense? Where you'll obviously have a presence there already before you've even turned 50? Would you play more on the Champions Tour earlier because you have a tournament that is involved in that?
JIM FURYK: There would be incentive for that, yeah, absolutely. I want to support the Tour. I want to support the Champions Tour and play in it, especially hosting an event. So yeah, I think it would -- there is an incentive to play maybe earlier or more because of it, but I really went into the season not wanting to just flip the switch in May and turn over and kind of go half a year on both tours. I kind of want to finish up the season on the PGA TOUR, kind of want to reevaluate where I'm at, and then I'll figure out when exactly is the right time for me to start the Champions Tour. I've been pretty adamant that I don't want to go back and forth on both, but I've also been pretty adamant that I can change my mind any time I want, so I'm going to stick with that theory, as well.

Q. Seeing Ernie win last week, and depending on what Phil does, whatever he's planning to do, you have some big names coming in --
JIM FURYK: We do. We do. I think it was fun for me when I was 30 years old that we had a great group of folks that were all within about five years of each other. I think about -- you mentioned Ernie and Retief and Phil, myself and Duval and Justin Leonard, and they were all buddies of mine, all guys that I really respected but were all similar ages -- Mike Weir, K.J. Choi -- all similar ages. It was kind of a nice niche and a nice group of folks that I got to play alongside.

I like seeing them have success, and I've always said that I'm really, really getting tired of hitting 4-iron. I feel like I'm the only guy on TOUR that can wear out a 4-iron before a pitching wedge anymore. So that's getting old, but I had an opportunity to win the biggest event on the PGA TOUR last year, and I'm not going to get that opportunity for that many longer in my career, so I'm going to ride that for as long as I can. But it is more of an incentive to play the Champions Tour and start playing it full time sooner rather than later because I have an event out there, absolutely. Those are my friends, too. I want to be out there in that atmosphere. I miss some of those guys.

Q. I was going to ask you, do you see you can renew some of those rivalries on the Champions Tour, like you're basically extending that against the guys that you've been battling with for 20 years?
JIM FURYK: I think that would -- yes, absolutely. I think that's great for the Tour. To have Ernie and Retief out there -- I guess Bernhard is probably everyone's rival. He's been kicking everyone's butt for 10 years. But yeah, I think those rivalries, guys that are at the top, guys that are fighting it out, that's going to be great for the Champions Tour, and I would love to get out there and be competitive and be in that mix.

Q. You look at yourself and Rory, or Rory and you running 1 and 2 last year, you would acknowledge you play different styles of games. Is there a championship venue that's more inclusive than this one to all styles, and if so is that a good thing, being that it's THE PLAYERS Championship?
JIM FURYK: I guess the one tournament that comes to mind would probably be Hartford in that you had Bubba Watson and Corey Pavin in a playoff, which is still like the coolest thing I've ever seen, probably the longest and shortest player in the field got in a playoff in an event. There are still venues on TOUR where the distance might not be as impactful as others, but I think that's one thing about this golf course, it really -- I'm not sure it favors a style of game as far as power is concerned, but it will test a lot of different areas of your game, if that makes sense. I still think you have to be a well-rounded player to do well here.

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