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May 5, 2006

Jim Furyk


LAURY LIVSEY: We welcome Jim Furyk into the interview area after your second round, your second straight under par round and your sixth straight counting back to Verizon Heritage. You seem to be playing pretty well right now.

JIM FURYK: I feel comfortable with my game. I took a couple weeks off, and as I said yesterday, I wanted to come out and get my feet wet a little bit, felt a little rusty earlier in the week, but I did practice pretty hard at home in the last week trying to get ready for this golf course.

I want to hopefully keep building and feeling more comfortable. Yesterday I told you all that I wanted to really concentrate on hitting the ball in the fairway more today, and I did a good job of that. I felt like I drove the ball very, very well today. I had a little bit more control of my game and drove it well, hit my irons better.

The score was one worse, but it was a good round of golf, and I got myself in good position for the weekend.

Q. Did you literally get your feet wet with the rain?

JIM FURYK: It just sprinkled a little bit. I actually had my umbrella out for maybe three minutes.

Q. Did you come off the course at all?

JIM FURYK: No, I think the greens were more receptive today, which was more obvious because I had a morning tee time instead of afternoon, but I think they'll continue to stay receptive this afternoon. The cloud cover is holding moisture in a little bit. It's still a tough golf course. I would eventually guess maybe the average score will come down slightly today, but it's still not easy.

Q. Even though this is a ways off, because of the way this tournament is set up a lot of guys are talking about it's a major esque kind of setup. Is this a good preparation for the Open, or is it still too far off?

JIM FURYK: I think it's too far off. It definitely tests your game. There are a lot of fairways that are dogleg at awkward angles to the tee where you would have to carve it like you would there. The rough isn't it's patchy. I wouldn't say it's overly long in spots, but it's very thick, so you see a lot of guys kind of get the ball up around the green but not really on the green. You kind of advance it a little bit, but it's pretty darn thick.

And the greens are every bit as hard as a major championship in that they're a little bit firm. They're quite quick, but there's just a lot of movement, a lot of undulation. You really have to think your way around with your iron shots because the greens are about as severe as we play. I can't think of greens we play this severe at PGA TOUR events, so this is probably the most severe we play all year, other than the major championships.

Q. To a degree most of what you just said describes a little bit of Winged Foot.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, so I think it's great as far as you saying that, if this were the week before Winged Foot, sure, I think it would be great preparation. But being that it's, what, five more weeks left four more weeks before five more weeks before Winged Foot, so it's pretty far off. I think it's just a good test for your game. It's one of the reasons I worked so hard last week for the last four or five days before coming here because I knew the golf course was tough and I had to be ready.

Q. You mentioned the need to shape the ball around certain doglegs. I'm just curious, how much less does the ball turn in either direction with new technology than it did five, six years ago?

JIM FURYK: Five, six years ago, probably not a little bit less.

Q. What about ten years ago?

JIM FURYK: Even a little bit more. 20 years ago, a lot. How's that?

Q. If you needed to do a sweeping cut of some sort, is new technology a detriment at all?

JIM FURYK: I see it every Wednesday. I see a lot of sweeping slices.

Q. Players of your ability.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think you can still manipulate the golf ball and still move it, although it's probably a little bit more difficult to you can still hit big sweeping we'll call them slices or big sweeping draws. I think that it was probably easier to control those big sweeping shots more in the past. The balls were softer, they spun more, it was easier to probably control how much in the past, and it was easier to actually probably hit more at times.

But now I think when you try to hit that I never stand up there and try to hit a 20 yard cut off a tee or 20 yard draw off a tee, but if you were to try to hit a severe shot like that, it was probably easier to control that shot because you had more backspin on the ball to manipulate it.

And the way our clubs were geared at that time, that's the way they were set up. Forged irons haven't changed a lot, either. The 6 iron today is pretty darn similar to a 6 iron 20 years ago. So then you're talking about the ball, but off the tee you're talking about drivers and golf ball.

Q. Hootie Johnson announced today he was stepping down at Augusta, and Billy Payne is taking his place. Talk about Hootie's legacy at Augusta.

JIM FURYK: I want to say he was there for 10, 11 years?

Q. Eight years.

JIM FURYK: He obviously made some major changes. I think Augusta was known for always tinkering with the golf course; the tee boxes seemed to slide five yards to the right here or there. It didn't seem like they admitted to it 10 or 15 years ago. Now they let you know there have been some changes made. They gave us a booklet this year telling us about all the changes that were made over the years. I think in his era there was probably more big major changes, the addition of rough to the golf course, although it's not real long rough; the addition of two major renovations for lengthening the golf course.

He doesn't really strike me too much different than most of the people that are around Augusta National Golf Club. It seems to be a one man show, and they seem to all make the decisions and stick by them through thick and thin and do it the way they want to do it. You think of all the great companies and corporations in the world, it seems like they're run that way, too. There's one person at the top making all the decisions and you don't have to go through a lot of red tape to make a decision; one guy is pulling the trigger.

Augusta is what it is; it's changed a lot in the last ten years or actually the last eight years since he's been there. The style of the golf course, the way we play it, it does not, even ball for ball, technology for technology, does not play the same way it did eight years ago or have the same clubs into those greens, at least for me it doesn't. And I'm a lot longer than I was eight years ago.

But he's definitely changed it dramatically, and I don't think anyone is going to argue he's definitely not made that golf tournament or the club worse off. I think he'll have a very positive legacy.

Q. Do you know Billy Payne at all? He's the guy taking over.

JIM FURYK: I know the name. I don't know him well. No, I do not. I don't know Mr. Johnson very well, either, for that matter. I've said hi to him.

Q. Do you think you let a really good round kind of get away from you on 16 and 17?

JIM FURYK: Well, I'm disappointed about the bogeys. 16 was an aggressive play. If you're stuck in between clubs there, you probably take the shorter club, play it out to the front right of the green, take a two putt, get out of there. I just happened to hit on a really good number and caught my iron shot a touch thin and from there had a very simple bunker shot that hit just over the fringe and kind of scooted on and got about five feet by, and I hit a bad putt. It was an aggressive play, one I felt like I shouldn't have made bogey there, but I did.

And 17, I hit my 5 iron, I hit a hard 5 iron out to the right, put it in the fat of the green, and from there you have a two putt. I think I had a very difficult two putt, but I wasn't able to get it down in two, and I won't be the only one today that makes 4 there.

Yeah, I'm disappointed. I felt like in my mind I should have played those holes better. It's kind of like an easy up and down that didn't happen and a three putt, but that's part of it. If those bogeys come at 4 and 13 today, you know, none of us would think twice about it. They just happened to come at 16 and 17. I think those three holes are three of the toughest holes we play all day.

What's difficult at that point is I'm kicking myself in the rear end walking off both those greens, and then I've got to step on the 18th hole and go play that one. At least I sucked it up and hit my best drive of the day. I killed a driver off 18 and shaped it well. I was in between 8 and 9 iron going into the green, and I really felt like I hit the 8 iron right at it and was going to have a good birdie putt. It just scooted by and I had a 20 footer.

Yeah, I'm disappointed, but the silver lining is when I needed to I hit some good shots at 18. If I would have walked off 18 with another bogey or missed a drive out in the right rough and made 5, then I probably wouldn't be in as good a mood as I am right now.

LAURY LIVSEY: Thanks for spending some time with us today.

End of FastScripts.

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