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July 5, 2006

Jim Furyk


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome the defending champion of the Cialis Western Open Jim Furyk into the interview room. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us.

JIM FURYK: Thanks.

JOHN BUSH: Let's just get some comments, make some reflections on last year's tournament and also your preparations for this year.

JIM FURYK: Well, obviously it's always nice to come back to be defending champion, and I love not only the Chicago area but I really enjoy coming to Cog Hill. I've had a lot of good tournaments here. I look forward to this week. With winning the Western Junior back in 1987, I have some good friends at the Western Golf Association. It's a fun week.

As far as my preparation, I played the U.S. Open, went on vacation, spent a week at home playing a little golf and trying to get ready for here. But I'm coming off a two-week layoff so trying to get all aspects of my game in order right now.

Q. The Western won't be part of the tournament's name after this year. What is your reaction to that?

JIM FURYK: That the Western won't be part of the tournament's name? I wasn't aware of that until today in my Pro-Am. I played with three directors from the Western Golf Association, and I was asking how everything would work and trying to figure out -- obviously I didn't know the name of it yet with another sponsor coming in. I was just trying to figure everything out, and then I realized that The Western as it is now wouldn't be part of that.

I guess I'm sure it's frustrating for them. They have I think the second oldest tournament in this country behind the U.S. Open, probably one of the top five oldest tournaments in the world I would think, or close to it. I think had I been that organization, I'd kind of want to be -- want to make everyone -- how can I put it? It's probably important to have your name on the tournament and say the Western Open because not only are we benefiting the Evans Scholarship program, but it's also just an awareness of what the Western Golf Association is. It's probably frustrating not to have your name involved with that.

Hopefully we can get the awareness out because they are such a good organization that they are still running the golf tournament, that they are still part of it, and we're still benefiting the Evans Scholarship program. If we can keep the awareness and keep the revenue up, I'm for it, but it's frustrating.

Q. How about the focus on the U.S. Open? There's been so much focus on Phil, but you finished at the same score. Did you spend these two weeks wondering what might have been?

JIM FURYK: I think you can what-if a lot in this game. You know, I putted really well on Sunday for the first 12 holes or so and I had a three-putt on 15, and I missed about a six-footer or so on the 18th green that eventually would have gotten me into the tie. I thought there was an outside chance that that might get a playoff, but a lot of things had to happen. I thought 4 was a really safe score, playoff at worst, and I really thought 5 was an outside chance. I guess those things happened obviously.

I think I was disappointed that evening, but like I said, I had a family vacation planned already, and in this game you're going to have more downs than you're going to have ups, and you learn to deal with those things. It's part of the game. It was a close try.

Getting close sometimes is a little worse than finishing 10th, but I'm proud of the way I played. It was a really good opportunity. I didn't close the door like I could have, and I think my immediate comment was there's probably -- there's guys that are more frustrated than I am right now, and there's no sense in really dwelling on it. You've just got to put it behind you and get ready to play.

Q. Would you give us a feel for how the course is and how it feels since you've been off for a couple weeks, how it's looking, how it played for you today?

JIM FURYK: The course looks like it's in really good shape. The greens are in good shape. They're a little soft right now, so guys -- you're able to fire the ball at the pin and stop it relatively well. But overall, the golf course -- I had heard they had taken some extra steps with maybe some top dressing and aerification, and it seems to be in very good condition. The rough is pretty stout in spots where you really can't advance it too much.

It looks pretty good, but if you can keep the ball in play right now, the greens are soft enough and they're putting well that you can still probably shoot a pretty good score out there. They tend to get firmer as the week goes on, as we all know.

Q. You mentioned you haven't played in two weeks. Tiger, I think he's played one tournament since The Masters, so that's 10, 12 weeks. How difficult will it be for him to get back into the rhythm? Tiger is Tiger, but how difficult is it to get back into the rhythm and groove of playing when you haven't played a lot of competitive rounds?

JIM FURYK: It's tough. I had a five-month layoff and came into here in '04, and that was really difficult for me. It took me three, four months to really feel like I was -- it took me a month or so to get back in rhythm, took me three, four, five months to really feel like nothing had happened.

As far as Tiger is concerned, obviously he came back right from his surgery before and was off for a few months, and, bam, won in San Diego if I remember correctly, I think the first event back. Being the best player in the world and having the ability and the talent that he does, the work ethic that he does, I wouldn't be surprised if he came out and won the golf tournament. But also knowing and being on a long layoff, the best way to get your game sharp is to be under competitive pressure.

I can kind of understand the U.S. Open, and if he was going out there just trying to make the cut and play the best he could with what he had, I think his score would have been a lot better. But Tiger, being him, of course he wanted to tee it up in the U.S. Open; he's looking to win all the time, whether he's laid off for nine or ten weeks or not, and he was playing a very aggressive -- from what little I saw on television, it was a very aggressive look on Friday and trying to get back into contention. I understand it's tough coming back from a layoff, and I suspect that very shortly his game will be back in very good form.

Q. You talked about the name change. This has always been a really popular stop for the Tour's top players. Knowing this is only going to be here every other year, is that a big loss for the players not having Cog Hill in the rotation every year?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think when they start talking about Bellerive and some of the different names of the courses they're throwing around, you're looking at real good quality golf courses, also, and I don't want to take anything away from Cog Hill because I'm personally bummed we're not coming here every year to play the golf tournament because I've had a lot of success and I really like this golf course. I first played it back at the Western Junior in 1988, so I really enjoy it.

It's a shame because it's been here for quite a long time. I think what's even a little more interesting is some of those courses they mentioned aren't in Chicago, so the fact that we won't be in Chicago every year is probably maybe a bigger deal to me than Cog Hill, and that's saying a lot because I really like Cog Hill.

But hopefully the event -- hopefully this new system and everything will prosper and everything will be fine, but I can understand some disappointment. And as players, as we leave like Booz Allen a couple weeks ago, we're not going back to D.C., and we're here in Chicago this week and next year we'll be at Cog Hill but two years from now I believe we won't if that's correct, and we might not be in the Chicago area that year. I think we're going to Bellerive, so it's hard to sit up here and try to come up with explanations.

You know, I personally have -- I think Chicago is a wonderful city. On top of that, I've had a lot of success here with the win at Olympia Fields and playing well here at The Western. I like the city, I like Cog Hill, and it's a shame we're not going to be here, but that's the system we're moving towards, and again, like I said, I hope that -- I hope we prosper and I hope the new system we have starting next year really works out well, and you all receive it well. I hope our fans in particular receive it well, and I'm hoping the players really receive it well because none of us really know what to expect. I think we're all excited, but we're also cautious, too, and we hope everything goes over well.

Q. I just want to follow up on that. From the players' perspective, not very many of the top players play four or five weeks in a row. Is this new format going to --

JIM FURYK: No issue. The way it's been laid out for me is there's a chance that some of the best players in the world will have to play six out of seven events at the end of the year. I've done that already twice this year. I was planning to, got hurt and didn't play Westchester, but I did earlier in the year. I would have done it twice with Westchester. Playing six out of seven is not really an issue.

Playing the same number of events in eight and a half months that you play in ten months and a week, that's an issue. So I think that if I played 26 events from January 1 through the first week of November, I can't play 26 events through eight and a half months of the season if that makes sense. Or it's going to take a serious toll on my body.

The one thing is, well, you get a big break afterwards, but I also know how I feel mentally after playing six out of seven weeks, and I'm spent. I want to take two or three weeks off. I don't want to turn around and do it right over again. In order to play that number of events in eight and a half months, that's a lot of weeks playing and not a lot of weeks off.

I think the guys that are fit, the guys that are young, the guys that aren't all that injury-prone I think are going to -- I think it's going to be easier on them honestly, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that our disability package, hopefully it's strong because I think there's going to be more injuries on Tour.

Q. When you talk about The Western, what kind of memories, if you're talking about that, come to your mind when you first think about it, the Junior Western, the Western? What kind of memories when you're thinking about the Western Open, what kind of memories, your win last year, or does something else come to mind?

JIM FURYK: When I think of the Western Golf Association I think of an association that's been around for a long time. They've been important to the game of golf, they've had an elite Open championship for a long time, but when you think of them you have to think of the Evans Scholarship program and all the wonderful people that have gotten a good education and have gone on to be real successful in their occupations. It's a really neat part of our sport with the caddie programs, and some of them are dwindling throughout the country, and a lot of clubs are losing the caddie.

It's really big here in the Midwest, and they are doing a lot of wonderful things. Although they run all these great tournaments that I've played in, there's just a lot of good people in that organization that really care about these kids getting an education, and I'm trying to think, it was hundreds of kids that go through a year on scholarships.

I have some good friends around the country that were Evans Scholars and got a scholarship, went to school and have become real successful because of it. I think it's a wonderful program.

Q. Being that you said you like Cog Hill so much, when you do come back after next year's tournament in a couple years, Rees Jones will have been here, there will have been some renovations done and a hope for a U.S. Open. If you could play architect, what do you think they could do to this golf course to make it U.S. Open or BMW Championship friendly in the future?

JIM FURYK: Well, I know they're going to add length to it. I don't even have to say that. That seems to be the era. Even being a relatively mid-length player, I think it could probably use a little length here and there.

I think it's going to get more of a facelift rather than a change. Going back and redoing some of the bunkers, I think it's more going to see a facelift. It's a good golf course. It's not very player friendly. It's one of the hardest courses we play for amateurs because you can't bounce the ball on the green on almost every green. You have to fly the ball in the air into the greens.

I don't really think they have to do all that much to it. It's just a little tweaking here and there, and it will be just fine and be able to hold up in any condition.

Q. Assess the field this week. We kind of have the midway point between U.S. Open and British Open and it makes the field this week almost a major championship field.

JIM FURYK: I haven't paid attention to be honest with you. I know Tiger and Vijay and Phil are here, and past that -- I've seen most of them. I practiced with Vijay so I knew he was coming, and I see him at home practicing. I haven't seen Tiger, but I know he always plays here, and I saw Phil today during the Pro-Am. Other than that, I've never gone to a tournament and looked at the tee sheet to see which guys were in the field or not.

You know, it's a good golf course, it's got a good reputation as far as the history of the championship, and they always get a strong field here, and I think that's really what most of us are looking -- I want to play in the events on courses that I really think I can compete and I want to play against the strongest fields. It's no coincidence those usually end up being the biggest events.

Q. The tournament rotating out of Chicago, I know you guys care about the exposure, maximizing your exposure, and you talked a little bit about Booz Allen. Are there players out there wondering and scratching their head wondering why the Tour would abandon the nation's third largest market every year, and it looks like you're going to be out of a big market in Washington. Are players wondering about that?

JIM FURYK: Well, absolutely. I think that we were given the information about the same time as pretty much everyone out there has been given information, as it's gone along. I think our opinion has been called on a lot, and I've had probably countless hours talking to some of our player liaisons and trying to bounce ideas of different point formulas and this and that and I'm sure our PAC and our board have spent ten times the amount of hours the rest of us have spent.

Yeah, there's so many different -- if we want to sit here and talk about next year's format, all of us could probably sit here for the next six hours and keep chatting about different ideas. There's a lot of work that goes into it.

Yeah, of course, players -- it's our Tour and it's something we take pride in, so of course we're always going to take some interest in what's going on. Ultimately in the end, I think you have to -- as a player, you have to have trust and belief in basically Tim Finchem. He's the guy running the show. He's our commissioner. We hired him to run this Tour and make those decisions, just like any CEO of a major corporate would, and you have to have trust that this was the path that we needed to take to stay on a level and keep growing.

I have faith in them, but of course I don't think we're all sheep and we just follow blindly. We're going to have questions and we're going to wonder how things are going to work out. Yeah, I think there's a lot of uncertainty there, but I think we all have to have faith and hope that everything works out fine.

Q. Where did you go on the family vacation? What was the highlight? And also, when you won the Cialis Western Open, how much free Cialis did they send you?

JIM FURYK: It's not creative; I've gotten a lot of those questions. A lot of people wanted to ask what the trophy looked like (laughter). My friends beat me up pretty good about that (laughter).

We went to the eastern shore of Maryland, which the eastern shore is Chesapeake Bay. They don't consider the ocean the eastern shore, they consider the eastern shore the Chesapeake Bay. It's kind of an area where they go crabbing a lot, and you pick crabs and hang out on picnic tables and eat too much food and drink a couple beers and spent some time on a boat, went fishing a couple days, took the kids out on the water a little bit. It's a very shorts-and-tee-shirt, laid-back kind of area. I didn't really get out of flip-flops for seven days, which was fun. Just had a good time.

The highlight, probably eating too much and having too many beers, all the good stuff.

What was the second part, the Cialis question?

Q. You already got that.

JIM FURYK: Gotcha.

It was a place that I used to go fishing with my dad a little bit as a kid, and my wife and I have been there once before. It was kind of a -- it was just a weird coincidence that that's where we ended up. Nice spot.

JOHN BUSH: Jim, thank you. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts.

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