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May 30, 2006

Jim Furyk


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Memorial Tournament. You had a lot of success here. And you've played well this year with a victory just a couple of weeks ago.

Talk about being back here and a place that you're comfortable with.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, actually Columbus is a place that I'm comfortable with. My wife is obviously from here. She's got a lot of friends. Her parents have since moved, but obviously the whole family comes back. Her parents, her brother, everyone comes back, we rent a house, nice family atmosphere for the week and she gets to catch up with all her friends and how they're doing. So it's a great week for us as a family, but then also I have some good memories from the golf tournament, a lot of good finishes and a victory in 2002.

It's a good week for us, not only one I look forward to, but my family looks forward to coming back to Columbus.

Q. A number of players have sports psychologists, have you ever tried that, and what's your opinion of that?

JIM FURYK: I know some of the psychologists by name and speak to them as on a friendly type, say hi to them when they're on the road, but I've never sat in and actually I've been interviewed for studies and such, about what may be going through my mind in certain instances. But I've never sat in and actually felt like I've called one for help or anything like that or inquired for their help at times. I really have no explanation for that, reason why I have or have not, but I used to say early in my career I thought it was awkward to be thinking about what I was supposed to be thinking about. It just seemed like too much at the time as a 23 year old. And now as I've gotten older and I realized how much it's helped some of my peers and how fond they've talked of it I see it I could see it as a bonus, but I'm a pretty inward person, as far as it's tough for me to let a lot of people in to what I do and how I make a living. It's kind of a small team that I have. If things are going pretty well and they're not broken, I really don't try to fix them too much. I see it as a valuable tool.

Q. Have you been on the course yet?


Q. The shot you made in 2002 out at the 15th bunker, could you have made that now, with those little rake marks?

JIM FURYK: Probably had to be pretty sturdy, but the raking of the bunkers is I'm sure someone has talked about it, they have the new wood rakes, they cut every other tooth out. It appears they're going to try to rake them so that the furrows are you're hitting across them, actually, and not with them. So the ball has a tendency usually is going to get in a pretty tough lie, every once in a while it will sit up for you. I think it's going to be extremely hard out of the fairway bunkers, you're not going to see a lot of guys hit greens out of those bunkers. It's going to be difficult and a different look. I'd like to see it kind of in the tournament first. Right now some of them are raked, some aren't, probably the way they want them for the tournament. Maybe tomorrow at the Pro Am it will be in tournament condition. So I'm interested. From a distance, from 30 yards away, you can't even tell and then when you get right up on your ball you go, oh, boy, this isn't going to be good. It's going to be interesting, because there are some severe bunkers out here and severe greens.

Q. Do you like the concept?

JIM FURYK: In theory, in listening to Jack talk about it, he felt that he claimed yesterday that Muirfield or someone to do with here came up with what invented the modern rake, the one that has kind of the round cylinder with the narrow teeth coming out of it, so the bunkers would get real smooth. Over the years, he's had to make the bunkers deeper and deeper and deeper, as basically we've become longer, and because the bunkers were so smooth and guys could get the ball up and down easy, he had to make them deeper and deeper, and he's tried to do that. And the amateurs can't get out of them once he makes them deep. So he felt, leave the bunkers where they're at, for us, and then come back in with the smooth rakes and make it easier for the amateurs to get the ball up on the green. In theory it's good. But I'd like to see it in the tournament before I'd commit one way or another.

Q. With Father's Day coming up, could you talk a little bit about the influence your father had on you as both a player and a person?

JIM FURYK: I think everyone, both your parents are how you turn out and how you end up as a person is probably a direct influence from your parents. My father was a club professional when I was a kid. When I was about 8 years old, he took a job as a sales representative, sold golf equipment, so I've always had very good instruction and good equipment since I was a kid, which is a good combination.

I appreciate how he went about it. It's a difficult choice, now that I watch my kids and I try to trying to raise them similarly, both my wife and I, as our parents would have raised us. And you have a lot of interesting decisions to make, whether to push your children, to just kind of sit back and let them figure out things on their own. My dad was probably somewhere in the middle. He was very good at never making me play golf or pushing me to play golf, he actually held me back and kept me out of it. But also without feeling the pressure to succeed behind him, he also managed to be able to let me know what I needed to do to become successful. He had a very good work ethic. Maybe to a fault. He worked hard. And I think I learned a lot of that from watching him by example. We have a pretty special relationship. And the difficult part is not only is he a parent, but he's my teacher. We've had to learn how to kind of jump in and out of those two. Sometimes you don't say the same things to your teacher that you would to your father, and opposite. So we kind of have to hop in and out of roles once in a while.

Q. Jack was in here earlier, and getting back to the bunkers, he said that part of the reason that they're being changed is because he had conversations with the Tour about bunkers, and they've become too easy and too playable. I know you haven't played these in tournament conditions. Do you have an opinion on that? This may be the test week, if you will, for bunkers down the road being like this from tournament to tournament?

JIM FURYK: Interesting. I wasn't aware of that. I feel like it's something I probably should be aware of, just because going through the Tour I'm sure boards have to look at those ideas. Something I haven't heard of. But if that was the case, it would have gone through the proper channels as far as our rules officials bringing it to the Tour as an idea and probably getting approved by the board and talked about in our PAC. I'm on none of those boards or panels, so I would be surprised, but also I wouldn't be upset. I think we're all going to take a look at it and look at the test and see how it goes. Like I said, it may be very favorable. Guys might there's times when it's true in certain bunkers, you'd rather have the ball in the sand than the rough. You have an opportunity to put some spin on the ball and even from a fairway lie have an opportunity to maybe get the ball on the green. In Wachovia on 18, if I drive the ball on the rough, I have no chance to get it on the green, but if it was in a bunker, because of the rain I had an opportunity to get it up on the green and win the tournament. In theory, it makes a lot of sense. It could turn out to be a good thing. I think the guys that are really a good bunker player, will excel. An average player versus a good player in the bunker, that gap is going to be widened in bunkers that are prepared.

Q. When Jack was in here earlier, he's been

JIM FURYK: This is a lot of pressure. I follow Jack and then it's like God, himself, put the stamp down. I can't really argue too much (laughter).

Q. He's been tweaking this course, as you know, about every year for the last ten years trying to stay even with technology. He said today that he's probably close to the end of what he can do with this golf course. I wonder, No. 1, how do you think your field has stood the test of time as technology has constantly improved. And No. 2, what is your position on this debate that's never ending with technology versus the courses that you guys play and whether they're becoming compromised because of it?

JIM FURYK: I think it's definitely withstood the test of time. The biggest change Jack's always liked to tamper with the golf course and try to make enhancements to it, make it more difficult. There's been some length added here and there, the bunkers have been pushed away from the tees, because they wanted to get the carries longer. Carries used to be 280 and 285, that became unrealistic, guys were blowing over it, so now they're 305, 310. They're putting it back in the area, making those bunkers play like they did 15, 20 years ago. But I think the biggest change is the fairways have been narrowed up a little bit for the better in spots. I wouldn't say this is a tight, tight golf course, but it used to be a very open golf course. And I think the fairways have slowly been brought in a little bit in the last ten years. I think it's withstood the test of time. I think it's a wonderful golf course. It's always in beautiful condition. And as far as the technology and how it's affected golf courses, it's a shame that 7,200 yards just isn't long anymore. I remember Olympia Fields in '03 the course was 7,150, and there was more than one article written about how short the course was. People used to say 7,150 and their eyes would get that big, and now there are golf courses that are 77 and 78 hundred yards long from the backs with options.

If it continues, I mean there's some people out there that think that the technology has gotten to the point where it's it can't be increased much more, and I think that's very naive. I think there's too many engineers with too many billions out there not to think the ball is going to go farther, or farther in a different way. It's probably going to slow down, the pace is going to slow down compared to the last 10 or 15 years. I have a hard time believing that we won't, in the next 20 years, dial the ball back or something is going to happen in the next 20 years. I don't think they're going to let it keep increasing and keep adding all this yardage. The golf courses are having to change their golf courses. I think something will eventually happen and they'll come up with a good plan. When that time is going to be and when I don't even know who they are, to be honest with you, but whether that's the USGA, The R&A, the PGA TOUR, I think that our commissioner would probably be out on the cutting edge of that, as much as anyone, no offense to the USGA, I think there's probably some conjunction where the two bodies talk together, and together they'll probably come up with something. I think I'm being naive saying 20 years, but eventually down the road I think something will happen.

Q. When you were answering the question, the second question about the bunkers, you said you'd be surprised about if this was a week to week event. Why would you be surprised?

JIM FURYK: I would be surprised in that this is the very first time I've heard of it. I feel like if this was the test site and this was the I just feel like somehow that word would have trickled down through the Tour and they would have let the players know by now.

Q. When Jack called the Tour, supposedly, they said to all of you that the honeymoon was over at the end of the year and this was going to be something they were looking at to do, and it just happened to be that this tournament called and said, "What do you think?" And they said, "Yeah, we want you to do it, because we haven't gotten around to doing it yet." It sounds like they had communicated

JIM FURYK: I'm trying to come up with something witty about the honeymoon part (laughter) I had some good ones, but I probably shouldn't repeat them. So when you said, 'the honeymoon is over' part, the Tour was basically saying, "Over the last so many years, we feel the bunkers have gotten too easy and we're going to put a stop to it."

Q. Yeah.

JIM FURYK: I haven't heard of it, but it doesn't mean it's not true. But it wasn't an effort, a Tour wide effort to get that knowledge out there. That may be the way we're thinking. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first event and from now on we're going to see that, I'm not surprised that they may look at this may be the first event at the cutting edge, I wouldn't be surprised if they took a look at it and then we started talking about maybe this is the way we should go. But I think that I guess maybe I misunderstood how that question was coming out earlier. I was kind of thinking of it, well, this was going to be the first of many, get ready for it. And it was kind of more, this is the test, we're going to take a look at it and maybe starting next year, we'll start raking bunkers that way. I'm not sure you can do what they're doing here every week just because it's going to depend on week to week on the type of sand, the type of base, how they can rake them out. These bunkers can get pretty rough. But if you went to, like, Sony where they're real thin and kind of a grainy sand, you wouldn't get those big furrows as much. It wouldn't be as smooth as we're making them. The caddies wouldn't mind, just go around and quick around with their feet and they'd be done.

Q. Is it fair to say the question really came up that the bunkers are no longer as penal as they were supposed to do when first designed. And that's because of raking or the condition of the sand, or just everything in general, that's part of the problem. Were you comfortable with the fact that whatever it may be, if it's the raking or the non raking or whatever it may be, to make them more penal, are you comfortable with that?

JIM FURYK: Well, other than I wasn't playing golf back in the time when when was the first year this golf course early '70s?

Q. '76.

JIM FURYK: So for me to go back to '76, I wouldn't know. I don't think the bunkers are any less penal now than they were ten years ago or on such a ^minute matter I don't think, one, our golf balls are harder, you could take those balls ten years ago and spin them more than now. Or grooves are bigger in the wedges. Overall bunkers now and ten years ago are similar. From the '60s it's not even close, they're easier to play out of now, because the greens are a lot easier to putt, as far as they're manicured better. Everything is different. I always hate to go back in time. I hate when we do golf course construction and they say we want to return it to what it once was. It's just impossible. You can't return a golf course to what it was when we were playing 43 inch drivers with steel shaft and 18 degrees of loft on them and the heads were this big and now we're playing graphite shafts that are 45, 46 inches, they're a lot lighter and the heads are this big (indicating.) You can't return to what it was, you just try to make it as best you can for the area you're playing in. And I don't see a problem with making they're bunkers, hazards, I don't see a problem with making them more difficult to play out of. But I also I think you want to get them to a play where it takes skill to hit a good shot, rather than I think what some of the guys are afraid of is that it's going to be a little bit more of a matter of luck. The ball might go down, it might stay up, it might I think if you can get them to a place, and this is obviously what Jack Nicklaus is trying to do, he wants the ball to get in the bunker and he wants the more skilled player to get closer to the pin than the less skilled player out of the bunker, and he wants the bunker to be a hazard when the ball is in the air, he wants you to be rooting for the ball to stay out of the bunker and take a shot from somewhere else. I think it can be done. Maybe this isn't perfect, maybe we'll have to tweak it a little bit. Obviously this tournament is trying to be on the cutting edge and they're trying to make obviously the bunkers to be a hazard but give the skilled player the best chance.

Q. I wonder if you've thought about it or maybe talked with another player or two about it, the fact that is this tournament going to feel different at all to you with Jack not teeing it up on Thursday? He's still here, obviously, but do you think any differently or does it have any different feel because of that?

JIM FURYK: Well, in my mind, no. I haven't talked to any players about it. I've been interviewed on it already. I don't feel like I guess if Jack were in South Florida it would be a little different. But, no, I don't think so. What is Jack now, about 66? So I think the fact that he played up to 65 years of age and having hip problems, I think is pretty phenomenal. And he knows when the right time is. And that's totally his decision. I think the fact that one of the greatest things about this golf tournament, about a lot of others, Byron Nelson and Arnold Palmer, and I won this event and received the trophy from Jack Nicklaus, and having him here, having him present, having this be his tournament with his name on it, it's a wonderful feeling. I'll always remember that and whether he tees it up in the golf tournament or not, the fact that he's here and he takes pride in this place is plenty.

Q. When you first came on Tour some of the so called experts used to describe your swing as a little unorthodox or maybe even a little funky?

JIM FURYK: They weren't experts, then, it's really unorthodox.

Q. That swing served you really well, how did you develop it?

JIM FURYK: It was just natural. I was fortunate with my father being my teacher, I was fortunate that we worked on different things, we tried to become a little more textbook and more technical on things. My mind doesn't function that way. I'm more of a feel player. I work on hitting certain shots. We worked on my fundamentals, my grip, ball alignment, position. I still have the club in very similar positions in my key shots in my swing. But we realized that naturally I like to take the club outside and reroute it and that's what felt good to me. And when I got under pressure and I had to hit a good shot it was easier to revert back to what felt good, rather than trying to get everything in the positions that conventionalism would tell you I was supposed to do. So I'm lucky that he realized that and he let me kind of do it my way, but we worked on the basic fundamentals. In a lot of key positions I'm in the same spot as everyone else. I just go about it differently because it feels good for me and I can rely on it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us, appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts.

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