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February 20, 2007

Jim Furyk


LAURA NEAL: Jim, thanks for coming in. It's your first pro start here in Tucson since '98. I know we've got some history with you and the University of Arizona. Just talk about coming to this event in Tucson.
JIM FURYK: It's good to be back. I was obviously disappointed to see Tucson go against World Golf Championships years ago and haven't been able to come back and play in the Tucson Open because of that. Going to college here and enjoying Tucson, I missed it, and it's nice to be back.
LAURA NEAL: Questions?

Q. How is this week different from a regular Tour stop when you get on the range on Monday or Tuesday here? Is your mind set any different than it would be at Riviera last week or somewhere else?
JIM FURYK: Not particularly, other than we're all here on Monday, where usually that doesn't happen. I think the short week and starting on Wednesday is really the only curve ball. You'll see some guys come out -- you know, especially after finishing late on Sunday over at Riviera and trying to get over here. You're a little worn out and tired; usually Monday is a day when you're take the day off or go out and chip and putt.
No one has really played this golf course, so you want to go out there and really get accustomed to it. It's a bit of a short week, but as far as preparation for match play, medal play, it's not that much different. You have to go out there and make sure your game is in good shape either way.

Q. Is there some significance to coming back home? I mean, just coming back to Tucson, what does it mean to you?
JIM FURYK: Well, I've missed being here. My parents used to live here full-time at one time after I got done with college, and then they moved out for a while and they miss it themselves. They're talking about moving back to Tucson for part of the year again. Without them being here and no tournament here, I didn't make it back, so it's nice to have this event.
I'd love to get to Tucson more often. I enjoyed going to school here, and if I had to do it all over again, U of A would be my choice. I've missed it and I've missed some of the restaurants and some of the people. Like I said, it's a pleasure to be back.

Q. On a course you haven't played before, how much different is your preparation on the greens in trying to get a feel for the greens as opposed to a course you've always been to?
JIM FURYK: I think a lot of that is maybe overplayed a little bit. I mean, there's a few places or a few putts on certain greens where you expect the ball to go left and it goes straight and you remember it from year to year. Really, on a golf course you haven't played before, I'd really like to get at least two practice rounds in to try to -- you can learn most of it in a day, but you kind of get to back up your information the second day, and really, I think, get a better feel the second time around the golf course.
Most events on Tour, I may play nine holes on Tuesday and then play the Pro-Am on Wednesday and off I go. So my practice rounds really -- I may play nine holes on Tuesday; I might not. That's my practice round. Where here I might want to come out, and a lot of major championships you're playing more practice rounds because you need to see the golf course.

Q. Just to follow up on that, since, as you said, guys don't really have memories of the greens here like you do on a lot of stops that you go back to year after year, how important is just pure greens reading?
JIM FURYK: I still think that -- the point I was trying to make earlier in the last question was I think it's -- I think you get accustomed to a golf course from year to year and you learn in different conditions what shots to hit, where you want to play from, places to avoid. I think you get to learn the nuances of a golf course.
But rarely do I hit a 7-iron into a green and I know it's ten feet left of a certain pin and I go, Oh, yeah, I remember this one. I think it's left edge but it's a cup out. I think the knowledge on the greens get overplayed a lot from week to week.
Coming here for the first time, it's -- as golf professionals we should be able to learn the golf course in a couple of days and should have a pretty good knowledge of what's going on. As far as reading the greens, they're pretty darn good.
I mean, they're -- the desert is a great place for golf course conditions, because it seems like when you come to places like Tucson and Phoenix the golf courses are usually in pristine shape. Same thing with Palm Springs. I think the hot days, the cool nights probably lend themselves well to the maintenance, and the golf course is in good shape.
As far as reading the greens, shouldn't be much of a problem. For the most part they look pretty good.

Q. Is experience in match play overrated? In other words, you're playing a guy tomorrow that hasn't played since the '90 Rhode Island State Amateur. He beat his dad in the semifinal, by the way.
JIM FURYK: That's funny (laughter). That family did quite well up there in the events up there in the northeast.
I don't know, to be honest with you. I think that it's nice to have some experience, but it really -- what it boils down to is you're going out there and you have to play well, or at least you have to play better than the person you're playing against.
There are some subtleties as far as in medal play you don't really worry about what everyone else is doing around you, you just play the golf course in your own style. You might keep an eye on what they're doing, just, you know, you hit the ball a similar distance or farther than the guy next to you and he blows over a bunker and you say, Okay, I can blow over that bunker in medal play.
For the most part you're not paying attention to what you're doing, you just try to get the ball in the hole. Here you do the same thing but you always have an eye on your competitor, because it may once in a while change the way you want to play golf. If it's a reachable par 4 and they drive it up there on the green, you're probably going to go ahead and take a crack at it.
If they blow one out in the desert and you know they're re-teeing you're going to take a more conservative route, maybe put the ball on the fairway, make them do something spectacular. You're keeping on eye on your player, but honestly you still have to go out there and play well. And 64 guys, the top 64 in the world, or whatever it went to, 65, 66, that's a good class of individuals. There's a lot of good players in the field.
I think everyone has got pretty much -- pretty much has experience in this field. That's what I'm trying to get at.

Q. As a follow-up, what would be your preference: Playing Tiger 18 holes of match play in the finals or tied for the lead 18-hole stroke play?
JIM FURYK: Wow, that's a tough question. I'd probably go -- I guess the point there would be it's not really a good scenario either way (laughter). I'll go with match play probably. Tiger doesn't usually -- Tiger is good at -- he doesn't usually hurt himself, if that makes sense. He keeps the pressure on you, hits a lot of good shots, and he just doesn't seem to shoot himself in the foot very often.
Rarely does he get in control of a golf tournament and then jeopardize that. He just seems to know how to -- he's a great front-runner and a guy that's there. I'd say match play probably. I think it's a little bit more volatile in that case. I think he'd be tough to beat in medal. He's tough to beat either way, so it's close.

Q. Speaking of coming back here to Tucson, I know you've been giving back to the U of A. Part of your Ryder Cup check has been going to the University, and that's helped build a beginners' golf program for business majors. That's been very successful, always full, and now they're adding summer classes. How glad are you to hear that's going well?
JIM FURYK: Very, very. You know, both in the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup we have the ability to give back to charities. The Ryder Cup definitely also pinpoints -- we always get $100,000 to charities of our choice and $100,000 for a PGM program for the University of our choice. Obviously going here, I'm glad to hear that it is going well for Arizona.
I think it's a good program, and PGA of America does a good job of generating a lot of revenue and then putting it back into the world of golf and trying to better the game.

Q. What do you think of this course as a match play course and do you think it benefits any style in particular?
JIM FURYK: All courses are fine for match play, really. It definitely has some options. They took those two short par 4s and made them reachable for some people, and then moved the tee boxes up on two par 4s: 7 and 12. 7 is definitely reachable for most of the field. 12 for probably the longer guys in most conditions. They've given some options.
The golf course is pretty -- it's a big golf course; it's vast. There's not a lot of rough out there. Really I think you're not really -- a lot of guys aren't going to be worried about keeping the ball in the fairway as they are about keeping it between the desert lines, if that makes sense. There's not much rough out there. There's real big greens, and I would say that it's probably -- if the greens were firmer than they are right now -- the greens right now aren't very firm. They're very receptive, so I think it kind of neutralizes length a little bit.
But if the greens got really firm and fast, I would say it would be a little bit more of a bombers' golf course. But as it's playing right now I don't think it really favors too much of a style. It's tight in a couple of spots, but for the most part it's a pretty big golf course. There's plenty of room to hit it out there. It looks probably a little longer on the card than it is just because we're up here in a little bit of elevation.

Q. Since we brought up Tiger a minute ago, do you just have a comment on going for eight in a row? Is it a streak or isn't it a streak? Tiger kind of feels like it shouldn't be a streak. Could you just comment on winning seven in a row in general anyway?
JIM FURYK: Well, I guess it's hard to do. It's hard to win seven in a calendar year, let alone seven starts in a row on the Tour or in a fiscal year, however you want to say it (laughter).
You know, it's pretty impressive. I mean, I guess his point is that he's played in other events outside the U.S. and on other tours and hasn't won those, but it's pretty impressive that the last seven times he's teed it up on the PGA TOUR he's won the event. Pretty incredible. Only guy I know that can -- I didn't think that was actually possible. He'd be the only guy I know that could do that.

Q. Do you think that streak is harder to keep going at this tournament than a stroke-play event would be?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it may be. May be. Yeah, I'd say it would be because you can go out there and play a good, solid round. You can go out there and shoot 67 and get beat, and that might put you in a good spot -- you go out there in the first round and shoot 67 and you're packing your bags and going home, where if it were a medal play event you might be in the Top 10 in the tournament and in good position and still have a good opportunity to win the golf tournament.
So yeah, I'd say match play probably is a little tougher to keep that going.

Q. Was there a point when you knew you belonged on Tour? You were on the Nike Tour for a couple years, right?
JIM FURYK: I played the Nike Tour for one year, in '93. I finished school here in '92. I think you always have confidence in yourself, but my first big event, as we talked about yesterday, was the Tucson Open. I went out and I had the second and third round lead. I was tied for the lead in the second and third round. I think I shot 71 on Sunday and lacked a little experience and ended up finishing about 7th and made a pretty good check and realized that had I -- if I kind of would have known what I do now type thing, I would have had a lot better chance of winning the golf tournament. But I realized if I played well I had the ability to win on Tour, and it gave me a lot of confidence.
There's always a point in time in your career where you realize, Okay, I'm good enough to do this, it's just a matter of executing and figuring out the right ways to get better. The Tucson Open here in '94 was that event for me. It was the second event of the year, but it made me comfortable that when I was playing well I could play --

Q. Were you on the Tour then?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I had my card.

Q. On the subject of University of Arizona golf, what did that program do for you? What did that do for your golf career in terms of helping it along? Secondly, you talk to the guys who play for Rick right now. They watch you; they watch Rory, they watch Robert, and they watch Annika and Lorena and take pride in that. Is there any kind of wild cat bond out there?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, there always is. There always is. I've talked to Rory about the basketball team, whatever it may be, whatever time of the year we're in. Once you go to a school, it doesn't matter whether it's Arizona or anyone else out here, there's always a pride and you'll always be a part of that tradition. We always keep an eye on Arizona and how they're doing.
As far as what the program did, all the American players go to college, where a lot of the European Tour guys will turn pro early and kind of build their way up to the ranks with mini-Tour golf. It was a very good fit for me. Other than being really far from home, growing up in Pennsylvania, it was just a very good spot for me.
Rick was -- I'm trying to -- his coaching style was perfect for me. I had a different swing (laughter), but his main goal was that he wasn't a babysitter. He treated us like men. He just said, I'm not a babysitter. I'm not here to watch your every move. I was a decent student. I worked hard on my game. I didn't really need anyone cracking the whip.
I was very motivated and very driven, and he allowed me the freedom to allow me to play the way I wanted to play. He wanted me to learn by my own mistakes. He never dictated the way we needed to play holes on the golf course or how he wanted us to play holes, he just wanted us to shoot the score. I appreciated that freedom and the ability to go about things the way I wanted to do them.
I don't think he cared as long as we were working hard. I kind of needed that a little bit. I've always been a little bit of my own spirit and wanted to do things my own way, and he allowed me that freedom, which was nice. Arizona was another good fit in '87. The '87-'88 season they were ranked No. 1. We had Mike Springer, Larry Silvera and both Meeks brothers and had a great team. So our schedule when I came in my freshman year was fantastic. They lost those four guys as seniors, so they were dying for some young guys to come in and play.
So it was a great opportunity to play at a very good program and playing against the best competition, but it was a place that I knew that immediately I was going to probably come in here and play, which was fantastic because I didn't want to -- you're a young 18 year old and you played well in high school, you think you're pretty good. You don't want to go somewhere and sit on the bench for a while.
I enjoyed that. And the weather, coming from Pennsylvania obviously -- I can remember shoveling snow my first Christmas break and coming back and it was 80 degrees, and I decided at that point I wasn't shoveling snow ever again once college was over. I kept to that. I live in Florida.

Q. So Rick was one of those technical guy who was going to change your swing who knows what would have happened?
JIM FURYK: I wouldn't be saying here I miss Tucson all the time. I wouldn't have come. Because I had a few coaches say that. It's pretty well-documented. I wanted to choose a program that was right for me, and that was Arizona.
So, yeah, I knew that he would give me that freedom and allow me to play the way I wanted to. He's always been a guy that's recruited people that he thought were good athletes and good -- he always says he likes kids that are good athletes if they play other sports and they're tough.
You see that when you look at the guys on the list like David Berganio or a lot of the guys I played with. Usually a lot of us played other sports in high school and they were good competitors, and he felt like those were the kind of players that would make good players on his team.

Q. I'm also a U of A student right now, and I was wondering, currently the golf class is only offered to business majors. I was wondering if you'd like to see that extended to other majors such as journalism perhaps?
JIM FURYK: Wow, you're a little out of my specialty right here with curriculum (laughter). And since I was a business major (laughter) and graduated with a degree from the business college, the reason that is is that program runs around the PGA of America. They make all of their -- in order to be a golf professional within the PGA, they make you attend business school and go through, from the numerous different jobs that they have.
Most golf professionals, the last thing on their mind is playing golf. It's running the golf shop and running a business and giving lessons and basically running a business for your membership. Basically that's probably why everything feeds through the business school. But I would have to -- as far as being educated enough to say whether that should go to the arts and sciences, I have no idea. I'd address that with the PGA of America.
So I apologize. How's that?

Q. J.J. played other sports, too. From what you saw of him at the Ryder Cup and out on tour, how do you think he'll do out there?
JIM FURYK: J.J. Henry?

Q. Yeah.
JIM FURYK: I think he'll do fine. I assume he's playing Tiger with that question.

Q. Correct.
JIM FURYK: He stepped up and played very, very well at the Ryder Cup under a lot of pressure. He played pretty much as well as anyone on our team did. You know, the other issue is it's kind of a -- it's not -- it's a tough spot to be in when you're playing the best in the world, but it's kind of a no-lose situation, too.
I'm sure none of you are expecting him to win, and he can go out there and just kind of play free and let it go. I think he'll be fine, but he's got his hands full. It's a tough match when you're playing Tiger.

Q. What was your first one-on-one with him? Was it at Firestone? And even if it was stroke play, what did you come away from that with?
JIM FURYK: Who, Tiger?

Q. First time you kind of had a one-on-one with him.
JIM FURYK: I know he's tough. He's tough to beat no matter what. I guess what I came away with was we played in that playoff for seven holes and half his drives ended up in the trees somewhere, but he was tough enough to always find a way to get the ball in the hole and make 4 and keep it going.
Eventually on our last hole I hit it in the trees and got in a spot where I couldn't get out. You know, he's just good at finding a way to -- good players find a way on their bad days to hang around and find a way when they hit a bad shot to somehow get it back in par and make a bogey and limit the damage, and he's good at that.

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