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February 28, 2007

Jim Furyk


CHRIS REIMER: Many thanks to Jim for joining us today. We're in the early wave of this morning of the Pro-Am, just start off talking about how the course is playing and what you thought about it.
JIM FURYK: I think the course is tough. It's a good, solid layout. The fairways are relatively narrow, especially on the front nine and rough is up in a lot of spots. And the wind picked up for us on the second side, basically. That finish, the prevailing wind is basically into you for the last four holes. That finish is very, very difficult.
CHRIS REIMER: Coming off the West Coast to the Florida Swing, do you change your game at all or do you look forward to getting off the West Coast? What's the difference?
JIM FURYK: Flights are only, you know, less than an hour, rather than five. So that and humidity. My skin will recover now in the next few weeks. You could peel the skin off my hands after a month out there.
You know, the golf courses, we play on different grasses and different styles and you just kind of pick and choose your favorite courses. It's really not an issue. Other than for a guy that lives in Florida, the travel is a lot more demanding going out to the West Coast.

Q. Two parts, one, the wind was at your back when you played 10 today?

Q. What did you hit?
JIM FURYK: From the third tee, which is 510, I hit a driver and a -- I might have still hit a 3-iron in there. The ball is not rolling. The fairways are extremely wet. I picked up mud on my ball for most of the back nine even, the second side and picked up some mud on my ball on 10. I think I hit a drive that was somewhere in the 300-yard range. It was probably in the 290s, which left me a little more than 300 yards which was 3-iron.

Q. The second part would be 18.
JIM FURYK: 18 is, in my opinion, a lot of the holes have new tee boxes, and you can tell where they are at, but there's a bunch of tee boxes. Even on a hole like 10, downwind you can play it back a little bit more, but into the wind you're going to have to move up to make the hole playable. We played it from the second tee box yesterday into the wind, and there wasn't a -- I played with Rich Beem. There went a chance in the world that either one of us was going to reach that hole in two from about 520, say about 520, 525. It wasn't going to happen.
But they have the ability to move up. 18 is that one hole where the difference from the back tee to the front tee looks like it could be 60 or 70 yards, and from the back tee it's a very awkward hole into the wind. You drive it, you know, good drives into the teeth that were playing out there now, it was probably blowing about 25 when I got there. And we were not driving it that far into the fairway, and then you're left with a very awkward shot. You can't see where you're going. The fairway is at a funny angle. There's water over there. It will be a little bit better right now the second time around. But when it's playing into the wind, 18 is a very awkward hole I would say.

Q. You're usually pretty good for a thoughtful answer, I was wondering what your thoughts were on the square grooves and --
JIM FURYK: Too tired for a thoughtful answer. How that's?

Q. Then give me a short, funny one.
JIM FURYK: To me, it's not really much of an issue because we don't know what the heck is going on, at least I don't. I keep hearing, I guess there's an article plastered on the wall in the locker room about square grooves won't be banned but they will probably be cut back. I don't think they are going to ban square grooves, I think they are going to ban how big they are. They will limit them is my guess; I don't know.
There was a headline. I didn't obviously pay that much attention or read the article. But my understanding, and I don't even know if it's right or wrong, is that they are just going to cut back until we know how much, whose clubs it's going to affect. I doubt that it will affect my iron set. It may affect a wedge or two, a sand wedge in there, and it will affect probably quite a few sand wedges on TOUR.
Until I actually know what's going on, it's not even really worth worrying about if that makes sense as far as -- yeah, there was a headline, something about today that they are not going to ban square grooves. "Square groove" is such a bad term; one, because I could have -- three of us could have square grooves in our clubs and they could be all different sizes and all different amounts of spin coming off them. It's such an open-ended term.
Until we know what the USGA is really thinking about or what they want to do, or how they are going to pull back on the amount of spin you can put on the ball, it's not really worth worrying about. It could be a giant leap, and then it could affect a lot of people or it could be my guess is it won't be a giant leap but it will be significant probably in the wedge area.

Q. Would you be in favor, I guess, in principal, of if they forced you guys to hit a few more balls out of the fairway so that you're not ripping wedges back out of the rough?
JIM FURYK: How many tournaments do we play in where you see a lot of rough and guys are ripping back balls out of the rough?

Q. I'm overstating the case --
JIM FURYK: But don't let the exaggeration ruin a good story, though. (Laughter).
I'm teasing you only because I know you.

Q. Guys are winning tournaments hitting less than 50 percent of the fairways. Like Tiger at Torrey, just to pull an example out of my hat.
JIM FURYK: Which, out of my understanding, didn't have a lot of rough on it.

Q. It didn't have rough, that's a bad example, but that's the only stat I could think of.
JIM FURYK: I could give you a good stat. Back in I think it was in '02 and '03, the Top-5 guys on the Money List each year, only one of them were in the Top-100 in driving accuracy. So why it's become an issue in 2007 is probably my biggest wonderment. You know, we haven't started hitting longer overnight. Didn't happen yesterday in '06. But probably trying to figure out a good way to combat the distance has probably been more the issue.
Being a player, I would just follow the rules and figure out a way to play the best I can within them and won't worry about it. The good players are still going to play the best no matter what they do with the rules. I guess they are just trying to separate, make more separation. I don't know, our game has become a power-oriented game. If my kids want to learn to play or if they want to play competitively, I'm going to teach them to hit it hard, if I can, because I still don't really know how to.
But I'm going to teach them to hit it hard, and we'll figure out how to hit it straight later. Basically that's how my career went. When I was young I hit the ball far. When I was in college I used to hit in the long drive contest for my college team. Obviously it doesn't look like that now and I don't have the ability to move it like I used to. But, you know, my game was kind of long and crooked as a junior, and now it's shorter, more controlled. But if I have a son or a daughter that wants to play, I'm going to teach them to bomb it because that's the way the game is going and we'll teach them to hit it straight later.

Q. Can you compare what you saw there today to the conditions of the '87 PGA, other than it was hot obviously in '87, but the course and conditions?
JIM FURYK: In '87, I played the PGA Junior here. So I have no idea what it was like. I was 17. So I apologize. Davis could help you out. I think he might have been the only one.

Q. Funk might have been around.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, that was well before his rookie year, his rookie year was '92 or something like that.

Q. Does it compare to when you played here for the Junior then?
JIM FURYK: That's 20 years ago. It's tough to remember.
You know, the biggest difference is the overseed. The golf course is playing very, very soft right now, surprisingly soft. The greens are very receptive. The fairways, like I said, I was picking up mud on the back nine quite a bit. We're not getting a lot of roll, so the golf course was playing pretty long, but slow. You know, when you're playing a major championship, you're here in August and it's 4,000 degrees; I assume the ball was bouncing all over the place. I heard a lot of guys saying the greens weren't very good that year, probably because of the heat. The greens are fantastic right now. So I'm sure there's going to be a lot of differences just in the time of the year.
The overseed is interesting. I don't know enough about golf course maintenance, but I didn't realize that this far south the overseed would be necessary this time of year. But you know, it was an interesting route they took. The golf course would play totally different if it were all bermuda, firm and fast. And like I say, I'm not making an opinion on it, other than it's a big, drastic change.

Q. You've obviously learned how to close a tournament and win. What is hard about closing a tournament the last few holes, and what did you learn that enabled you to win?
JIM FURYK: Usually there's five other guys trying to do the same thing. That's probably the hardest part of it. I think a lot of it is just experience. No matter who you are, you're going to -- you can't close out every event. You can't win every time you get in that position. The more often you can put yourself in that position and get comfortable with it, the better off you're going to be.

Q. Is the hardest thing the mental aspect of it?
JIM FURYK: More than likely. But you're also under a lot of pressure. There's a lot going on. I guess that's partly mental. You have to trust your ability. You have to make the right decisions. Things are happening at a much quicker, more rapid rate. For instance, when you're really geared up or really excited, you can do things in 20 seconds you usually do in 40, if that makes sense. Guys get ahead of themselves; they get fast. It's a matter of comfort. A lot of that is probably very much related to the mental side of the game.
I think the mental and the physical go hand-in-hand, too. You have to get comfortable within yourself and trust yourself and be able to pull the trigger under -- when you're really excited like that, when you're really nervous, whenever it may be. More often you get there, you never lose the butterflies or lose that edge, and you don't want to. It's what you play for. You want to have that feeling.
The more often, like I said, you just get more comfortable with it and I think you'll learn to control it better. Yeah, it's an ongoing process no matter what. You're always learning that and always trying to do it. No matter what, you know, the best players in the world, whether it's Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, they have lost events down the stretch. But they obviously win their fair share.

Q. You made kind of a funny joke about it at I guess Kapalua this year when they were asking you about being No. 2 in the World Rankings, and you said, "here comes a question," the implication being that's about as high as you're going it get given the guy in the 1-hole right now. What does it mean to you to be kind of a homemade, homegrown guy without the classic swing with his old man as a coach doing things sort of your own way, to get that high in that day and age with the talent around you?
JIM FURYK: The number doesn't mean --

Q. That's pretty damn good where it is.
JIM FURYK: It's a nice side note. If I could be about ten years younger, it's pretty cool. It's really not in the whole scheme of things, not that important to me. It means so much more to you all and to the fans to the people that watch golf than I think it does to the players as far as what number is in front of your name.
You know, I always compare things. I would rather win four tournaments this year and be 10th and win one and be second. I just want to win golf tournaments. I realize at times that's going to go hand-in-hand, most of the time. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it does. Most of the time it goes hand-in-hand, and the more you win, the more you move up.
I've always been comfortable with what I am and what I've accomplished. I've always looked at what I want to do and how I want to move on in the future and get better, and that number has never really -- I know in my heart whether I'm better or not, that number doesn't mean that much to me. It's not a driving force. And I've always stepped out and said, you know, just once in your career, it would be nice to maybe have No. 1 next to it just to say you had it. I mean, Tom Lehman or if it was only a week, I don't know, I knew it was a brief -- I would have said a couple of months. It would be cool to say that, "at one time I was ranked No. 1 in the world." It honestly won't mean anything but it would be something you could tell your grandchildren some day.
You know, I would rather be known for winning the U.S. Open and winning more major championships than being No. 2 to Tiger's No. 1, if that makes sense.

Q. Was relative to your goals coming out of college, have you overachieved, underachieved from where you were out of the chute?
JIM FURYK: That's an extremely loaded question, and this is why I would say that. If you would have sat back, sat me down ten years ago and said, all right, ten years from now you're going to win the U.S. Open, you've won 12 times on Tour, you're going to play in five Ryder Cups, four Presidents Cups or five Presidents Cups, you're going to be ranked No. 2 in the world, I probably would have thought you were absolutely nuts at that time.
Now being in that position, I mean, we're greedy as people; you always want more. Yeah, I'm still a little jacked at some of the events I let go, and I honestly think I should have won more times. But I wouldn't be worth a damn if I told you I shouldn't have. I wouldn't be any good if I didn't think I should have won more often.
It's kind of partly both. You know, part of it, to reach this level, yeah, some of it's overachieving. But then again, I really felt like, you know, I feel like in the last five years I could have won a lot more events. I could have played better. I could have done more. It's not from a lack of trying. It's not from a lack of work ethic, but you're always -- you know, there's always things that you can improve on, always things that you can get better at.
It's a little bit of both. I think, you know, you get words like, I think people are going to look at my swing and say, overachiever or whatever, just because it looks funny. You know, people called Tom Kite an overachiever, and I think that's kind of like a backhanded compliment in my opinion because he obviously has a hell of a lot of talent. You can't win 19 times or whatever he won on TOUR and be that consistent without actually having a lot of talent. He just put it to good use.
So I never take anything offensively that way or whatever. And I never really worried about where I sat. I get these questions a lot now because I'm ranked No. 2. So I've been a lot more comfortable answering them. I'm just comfortable being me, and if that is overachieving to one person or underachieving to another or however it may be, it really -- maybe I'm just too stupid to figure it out. I'm just comfortable being me and however it works out, it works out. I'll just work hard and try to get better.

Q. You talked about 18 how difficult it was. Can you talk about those three holes before called the Bear Trap; how do you see them and are they tough?
JIM FURYK: They are. They are. I would put 18 in there. I think you're shorting 18 by discounting 15, 16, 17. I think when 18 plays into the wind like it did today, it's every bit as tough because you have to hit three good shots. 15 and 17 are very, very difficult, but you only have to hit one good shot if that makes sense.
But usually a par 5 is for a golf professional where you're excited about playing a par 5 because you think you're going to have an opportunity to make birdie. But when that thing is playing 600 yards and it's into a 25-mile-per-hour wind and one of the shots you can't see where you're going, you have no idea where to hit the ball the first time you're playing it. It's a very awkward-looking shot, the second shot. I think you're shorting the 18th. But those last four holes are very, very difficult. There's not really a bail-out on 15 or 17. You've got to get up and hit a really good golf shot; or, you're going to make 4 at best pretty much.
The interesting thing is when you look at the 15th and 17th holes, you think the pins on the water would be the difficult pins, and that's not the case. The pins closer to the bunker are going to be the difficult pins because guys are going to bail out. They are going to get up and when the wind is whipping and you're under pressure, you're going to take the fat side and you're going to hit it in those bunkers. When the wind is in the water, you've a lot of greens to work with and you can get the ball up-and-down. When they stick the pin over by the bunkers, you are out of luck if you bail out and go to the bunker side; best you're going to be able to do is probably 20 feet.
Those two holes are tough. And it's interesting because they look a lot alike. I mean, for two holes coming down the stretch, 15 and 17, they are not identical, but they are somewhat similar in yardage and they are somewhat similar in the direction of the wind. It's not quite maybe changing 45 degrees or so.
But you're going to hit a lot of the same clubs. Yesterday in our practice round I hit 7-iron to both of them downwind, and today I was trying to flight 3-irons into the wind. 17 was just a touch longer.
And 16 is a good par 4 right in the middle where you really have to position a drive and it's a good second shot. If you don't get the drive in the fairway, you've got nowhere to go with your second shot. You have to basically just hit a sand wedge 20 yards if you can't get it over the water. So it's kind of like a little pitch shot. You can't, you know, wedge it up and get within a sand wedge of the hole. You make a little chip out and you still have to hit your 6-iron or 8-iron in there.

Q. Did you see the plaque near the Bear Trap?
JIM FURYK: I did not.

Q. Some guys on the range this week said, and of course it's a silly guess because no one knows what the weather will be of course, some guys would say they would not be surprised to see even par win it on Sunday; what would you guess?
JIM FURYK: You know, the only one that I know is good at it is Jack Nicklaus. He always seemed to figure it out or shoot the number he needed to shoot to win.
It's going to depend a lot on the setup. I have a lot of respect for our rules officials, and I feel like they will set the golf course up fair. But if you start playing the 10th tee and 11th tee back, the golf course just becomes a monster. When the wind was blowing like it was yesterday, when 10 and 11 were into the wind and I could barely reach -- actually I couldn't reach 10, and I had to hit two good ones to reach 11; then the golf course plays hard.
I assume that they will play a lot more fair than that. Fair might be a bad word, but a little more sensible than that. If the wind howls and it's tough, absolutely, single digits without a doubt. If the weather is really nice, and they are a little bit more mellow on the setup, then I could see it getting a little more. But we are not looking at like 16 or 18-under or something to win this golf tournament. The golf course is too much I think.

Q. What's better prep for Augusta, playing a course like this where 8-under might win or Tampa next week where 8-under might win or Bay Hill where 10-under might win or Doral where 22-under might win?
JIM FURYK: It's all setup, though. They can set this course up if they wanted to where 15-under won and they could set Doral up where a lot lower -- where a lot less under par won. It all depends.
You know, I don't know, Augusta is just unique in its own right. It's playing so much different now than it did years and years ago. There didn't really used to be any way to prepare for it ten years ago. Now it's -- I shouldn't say it looks more like -- it doesn't look more like --
Q. Standard?
JIM FURYK: -- standard, but the shots you have to hit are more like standard, if it makes sense. It's unique. It's not a place you prepare for anywhere else. You just try to get your game in good shape and get ready for that place.
The hardest part used to be in the past, you couldn't prepare for the greens because you just couldn't find anything that fast. They are still slick but that's mellowed in years past because the golf course is so demanding. I think they have eased up on a touch on the speed of the greens. You don't see the crazy 4-putts anymore that you used to.

Q. Fred was in here earlier, and in this power era that we know we're in, he's a guy that's obviously not real long.
JIM FURYK: Yeah he's one of the only guys that makes me feel good. (Laughter).

Q. How does he do it? A simple question without a simple answer, how does he do what he's doing at 48, 49, 50?
JIM FURYK: He's closer to 51. You know, one, he's the most accurate guy year-in, year-out. For the last ten years he's been the most accurate guy on tournament. He hits most fairways. That's part of it. He got a late start in his career. I don't think his rookie year was until after -- this is 14 for me. I'm going to say it was early 30s when he started on TOUR.
I think he's just a positive guy, a motivated guy, and he gets up every morning and likes what he does. He really works hard at it and he's been able to last much longer than most players. You see a lot of guys kind of slow down usually in their mid 40s, and that can be a lack of power; that can be lack of motivation; that can be other issues or other business affairs they are interested in; it could be kids growing up and family, whatever it may be. Freddie has just been able to --

Q. Balance?
JIM FURYK: -- balance everything very, very well, and he stays motivated and he's been able to get it done. He's a guy that I respect the way he plays, and I respect his work ethic. And he's not the longest, but he's feisty and he finds a way to get it done.
And good players, when they are motivated, when they are excited about playing the game, they find a way to -- he might not be the longest, but then he might be better at other things. And he sure is the straightest. You know, he finds a way to get it done.

Q. Have you seen enough of this Stenson guy at this Ryder Cup or Match Play or wherever you've run across him to form an opinion?
JIM FURYK: I haven't played with him all that much. I played with him for two or three rounds I was paired with him at South Africa this year.

Q. At Sun City?
JIM FURYK: At the Sun City event.

Q. Seems like he's the got whole package.
JIM FURYK: He bombs it. He hits it hard. As far as, I don't know much about like short game or putting or the whole deal, but yeah, he's ranked really high in the world and winning that Match Play event is a big issue. He's a good guy, I know that. I enjoy his company.
And being with Srixon, I didn't have anything to do with him signing but I thought it was a heck of a good get for them. He's still a pretty young player. To my knowledge he's probably in his early 30s. I thought it was a very smart idea on their part.

Q. Kind of a dry sense of humor, not the stereotypical Swede?
JIM FURYK: I would say he would bounce a little bit more on the --

Q. Jesper end?
JIM FURYK: Rather an the usual side of Swedish rather than the Jesper end of Swedish. I would say Jesper is more on the unusual side.

Q. The polar extreme?
JIM FURYK: I wouldn't say he's the polar extreme. Yeah, he doesn't -- I don't think I have ever met one of the Swedish guys that I didn't think was a good guy. But, you know, there's a few of them that are flighty, that's for sure. But they all seem to be good guys.
Henrik, I won't say he has a dry sense of humor. I think he's enjoyed bombing it by me by 40 and 50 yards quite a bit. He likes to comment that I'm a little smaller than him. But I enjoy his sense of humor. I've had a good time playing golf with him and the times we've been paired together and times I see him, he's -- I wouldn't say he's really outgoing, but I feel like he's a friend and I feel like he's a good guy. I get along with him good.
CHRIS REIMER: All right, Jim, good luck.

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