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May 1, 2007
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Wachovia Championship. Defending champion, had a lot of success here, and probably a good place to come back to.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'm always excited. I've played three of the four events here, missed one due to injury. But the last two years have been a lot of fun. Grueling, but a lot of fun. Two Playoffs, lost in '05, was able to come back last year and get a win in a playoff, so I've got some good memories.
Q. Can you kind of give us an idea of how you're playing, how you feel you're playing?
JIM FURYK: I'm playing okay. I wouldn't say -- I'm not jumping up and down or excited about the way I'm playing, but I don't feel like I'm playing poorly, either. I've got a few things that I've been working on and trying to get comfortable, but overall, I feel like my game is in decent shape.
But I obviously want to improve it for THE PLAYERS next week, and I've got a good stretch. I like The Colonial and Memorial a lot and then obviously getting ready for the U.S. Open.
Defending here, playing THE PLAYERS, having two of my favorites events in Colonial and Memorial, U.S. Open backing that up, I've got a big stretch in front of me, a lot of fun, so I'm hoping to get my game in shape for those events.
Q. I guess the next question is exactly what you are working on.
JIM FURYK: I'm trying to think of the best way to put it. I mean, I've been fooling around with my irons a little bit, to be honest with you. I've been looking at the lies of my irons a little bit after playing Augusta on some tight lies and I felt like they were a little toe deep and that my irons were a touch flat, and I spent a lot of last week trying to fit those properly and get comfortable with how they felt going through the ground.
Q. Is that still ongoing?
JIM FURYK: No, finished, done. I wanted to make sure that when I arrived here I would be thinking more about preparation for the golf tournament than about anything technical or swing or the irons. I put that to rest through the weekend and felt very comfortable in practice yesterday, and it's behind me.
But it's something I was -- when I was at Augusta playing off those tight -- playing off the very short grass, as well as here, I didn't feel comfortable with the way my irons were going through the ground, and I felt like the toe was digging, and my divots showed that. I felt like I was working too hard to draw the ball or keep it on-line, and I felt like my swing was getting a little quick because I was trying to catch up and make sure that I could square the club face up.
In a theory-based world, supposedly the more we play our clubs, the more we kind of -- we knock loft off of them and they get flatter, so if you just hit your clubs over and over and over again into hard turf for months and months at a time and never check them, they say they'll get a touch flatter and a touch stronger, and I'm probably at fault for leaving well enough alone and not going to the trailers to check on things. I try to stay out of there as much as possible, and I think that they tended to get a little flat on me, and I needed to go back and work on that and kind of give myself some peace of mind.
I like the way the club is going through the ground much better right now, and I think it's helped my rhythm and my tempo and my timing.
Q. Does that have a mental impact as well as a physical impact if you're not comfortable?
JIM FURYK: Both, both. I think the mental impact is that when you're comfortable and you have peace of mind and you're with ease at it, then you have peace of mind mentally.
As far as physically, a golf club has got to be going through the ground, and if the toe is in, it's pointing right, and if the heel is in, it's pointing left. You want a good increment in your set, so your 3-iron, 5-iron, 7-iron and wedge you want everything going through the ground the same so your shots look similar.
Q. Probably not a question for a guy with a unique swing, but I'd be curious how much unsolicited advice you've had on your golf swing or your game, and have you ever taken it?
JIM FURYK: Unsolicited? Very, very little, almost none, since I was a kid.
As a youngster, I was taught not to listen to anyone else or to watch anyone else swing, so that made it easy. So if anyone did say anything to me, I kind of said thanks and went on and kept doing what I was doing.
Once I started having success out here, everyone has pretty much left well enough alone, so I'm not really having -- I haven't had to worry about that much in my career or worry about negative comments or talking. I don't know why.
I'm happy, happy that I haven't, but I've never really been given -- I've never been a guy that's had rabbit ears, either. I've never seen a teacher teaching someone and gone over there and seen what they're working on. I don't care, and let everyone else go about their business and I work on my swing and off you go. I really haven't ever dealt with that much too much.
Q. You hear a lot of stories about players giving each other tips, hey, I see something in your swing. Any of that ever happen?
JIM FURYK: I think if it was someone I played a lot of golf with. If I were on the Nationwide Tour and I played my practice rounds with the same guy all the time, and he said you're standing a little closer to the ball than you normally do, or it looks like you're aiming right, I never see you aiming that far right, I see you doing this or that, then I would take that advice and go back and check it out.
As far as if someone said, well, you've always gripped the club this way and I don't like the way you grip it, you'd be much better off -- I would tell them to get lost or say, okay, I'll look at that and then forget he ever said it, if that makes sense. That would be pretty much the way I'd handle it. Now I'd pretty much tell them to get lost. Nationwide you might have to be a little more polite.
Q. How did your putting sequence come to be, and could you sort of walk me through it play by play with the, in basketball terms, kind of pump-fake you throw at it and then back off and look, and sort of how did all that evolve?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think that in order to read a putt properly or read the line on a putt, especially one that has some break to it, you first have speed in your mind, so I walk up to the ball -- I do the same thing everyone else does, I just do it in a different order.
You look confused.
Q. That's why I'm asking you to explain. Articulate that.
JIM FURYK: Well, probably the most common playing routine on TOUR would be put your ball down, walk behind it, walk up to it, take a couple practice strokes inside, step into the ball, hit it. Mine goes put the ball down, stand next to the ball, take my practice strokes, walk behind it, read it, walk up to the ball, hit it. I don't make any more practice strokes.
So I do the same things as everyone else, I just do them in a different order. After I hit my practice putts I like to stick the putter behind the ball. I'm just getting an idea of how I think it's going to break. The reason I want to take my practice strokes first is I want to imagine the speed that I'll be hitting that ball before I go back and read it because the speed I hit the ball on will determine how much it breaks, if that makes sense. If I'm on a downhill putt and I say, geez, this is going to be lightning quick, I've really got to hit it easy, now when I walk behind the ball I'm thinking about how easy I'm hitting the ball and how much that ball is going to break because of the speed.
The reason after I hit my practice putts I go and stick the putter behind the ball is I'm trying to pick out a spot on the green where I think the ball has to roll over or where I need to aim at to get the ball on a proper line, and then when I go back and read it, I've got that in my mind, as well.
I would gather that anyone that plays golf in this room, when you go to the putting green you never read putts, you just stand over it and get a feel for how much it breaks. You make a lot of putts on the putting green, so that's kind of my contention is when I'm over the ball I'm kind of getting an idea -- I get to read the putt from two angles, from over the ball and from behind the ball.
When I go behind the hole, I'm totally lost. I can't read putts from that angle so I never go over there or very rarely will I go over there. My caddie reads putts very well from behind the hole, so it almost gives me a third look.
Q. I know you weren't in Dallas last week, but did you have any thoughts on the Mickelson situation?
JIM FURYK: Well, I wasn't as well versed on the Mickelson situation being at home. I heard the reports and I think there was something even on the PGA TOUR website. My management company that I was talking to about scheduling later on in the year said there was a big buzz about it. I don't pay much attention to a lot of tournaments when I'm not there.
Yeah, it was obviously very confusing. I think that as hard line a stance as we've had in the past, it was very confusing for a lot of players to try to understand why there was a difference this time than there was in the past. It was explained to me from our TOUR that we've softened the regulations and it's up to the tournament director, which would be the head rules official or the two head rules officials to make the determination for the week, and I can't remember if it was Slugger or Mark Russell, but it was one of those two that determines where it was a situation because of the weather and he couldn't fly in and he had an opportunity to play in a tournament where some players in the past hadn't.
You know, Phil is a friend and a guy I've known since we were 16 playing junior golf together, college golf together, now on the TOUR. We've been on a lot of teams together. He's a friend of mine. I think the big red flag went up from a lot of players that it's a top player. If a Tiger or Vijay or Phil or Davis or an Ernie get possibly what they view as a favorable call, it probably shows up more in the limelight because of the high profile player. If it would have happened to a player maybe that just squeaked into the Pro-Am, I don't know how the situation would have went.
It seemed, from the outside looking in, seemed very, very fishy, and I could see why a lot of players looked at it and -- it wasn't consistent with what had happened in the past. But that being said, the rules also changed from what it was in the past because the players thought it was too harsh.
Not being well enough versed on the rules, I don't know if the right call was made or not, but I understand why the red flag went up, because it sure seemed a lot different than it was in the past.
Q. So we'll give you a raise and make you commissioner for the day -- sorry. What would be your policy on that, on Pro-Ams? Do you like the way it is now? Do you know what it is now?
JIM FURYK: I thought I had a really good idea of what it was (laughter), but I think -- I know 90 percent. I didn't know the 10 percent that got Phil through.
I always thought that it was too hard line a stance. I didn't want to see a guy disqualified from a golf tournament for something that happened on Wednesday. It just didn't make any sense to me. I've never been a fan of that rule.
As far as what to do, it's a very difficult situation. In the past, in say the year 2003, we had 50 guys miss Pro-Am times, and that's inexcusable. You can't -- it's too big a part of our TOUR and it's too big a part of our allure to our fans and to corporations that they can come out and play with us on a Wednesday.
If you take a hard line stance and then the very next year we had two guys, accidentally, versus 50 or 52, it obviously was a plus, but where you get situations where Chad Campbell had a grandma that passed away and he couldn't make the tournament, Bob Tway's son had a good friend killed in a car accident, he couldn't make the Pro-Am because he wanted to be with his son, you know, those are -- those don't make sense. So it's very difficult to draw a line.
Taking away a retirement benefit doesn't really do it because the guys that were missing (indicating air quotes) and got sick (indicating air quotes) quite often were guys that don't care about their retirement quite as much, so that's probably not going to benefit. But --
Q. Who were those guys?
JIM FURYK: I felt like my idea way back when was if you miss the Pro-Am you have to do some sort of sponsor-related outing during the week of that tournament, whether it's go to a two-hour -- let's say a two-hour function or whatever it was at night after one of your rounds on Thursday or Friday, rub some elbows, let that tournament know that you care and you wanted to be there and for some reason you couldn't make it and we'll call it even at the end of the day.
If it boiled down to me going out and playing for four or five hours and getting a practice round and seeing the golf course or going and sitting in a room with a sportcoat on for two hours, I think I'd take the outdoors for four or five. That would deter guys from doing that. But I hate to see a guy get disqualified on Wednesday.
Q. Second thing was with the movement of THE PLAYERS to May, do you get a sense at all that this tournament has kind of crept up on us just because of where it had been for so long on the schedule?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think a little bit. In the past I think it was the first really big golf tournament of the year in March, so you were looking forward to it a little bit more. The Masters was coming, it was two weeks before. It didn't sneak up on you as quick. But now it's a month after Augusta, a month before the U.S. Open. Yeah, I think so. It got here fast for me.
But I'm also at home, so I've seen the stands go up, I've seen the clubhouse being built for the last 14 months -- well, destroyed and then rebuilt. I've kind of seen the steps as it's gone. But even that being said, yeah, it has crept up a little bit.
Q. Do you recall specifically were players briefed on the new Pro-Am policy, so to speak? Do you recall specifically being told --
JIM FURYK: We're not really briefed on any policy. It shows up in green sheets. It shows up -- there's a policy written down, it shows up and it's voted on, the board knows about it and we are told, but I haven't always took the time to read the green sheets.
What it boils down to is if I don't show up for my tee time on Wednesday morning, if I sleep in or whatever, I usually get disqualified. I know there was a push towards being a little bit more lenient, that the tournament director had a little bit more wiggle room, but yeah, that information is available in my opinion, and it's there and it was probably written.
I don't always spend the time to read all of it, either. Sometimes like six words are changed and I have to read it four times before I figure out the difference, so why bother?
Q. Why do you suppose this tournament has climbed so far so fast? This is its fifth year.
JIM FURYK: Simple. It's a simple equation. It's played on a very, very good golf course. It gets a very, very strong field and always has a very big purse. Pretty much every ingredient for -- those three ingredients make a pretty darn good golf tournament. It's a tough, penalizing but fair, fun golf course. Everyone likes playing the golf course. You never hear guys complain about it. It's attracted a very strong field and it has a very big purse. Maybe the big golf course and the big purse attracted the very strong field, but if you tell me you get to play on a great golf course against the best players and you get to play for a lot of money, I think I'm going to show up.
Q. They've gotten a little tighter on cell phones this year. Could you tell us do you have any history of distraction from the fans, or is your zone of concentration so good that it's not real --
JIM FURYK: The TOUR has gotten stricter?
Q. I think Wachovia in particular.
JIM FURYK: Can I remember an incident from this event where I was distracted?
Q. Just any.
JIM FURYK: Any tournament where I was distracted by a cell phone? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I'm pretty sure every player in the world could come up with one or two times where a cell phone rang in their backswing. My favorite is the fan that's talking on their phone and they're walking down the fairway and everyone is quiet and you can hear them talking on the phone and they realize that everyone sees them, so instead of hanging up they just walk the other way and stay on it.
Yeah, it's common. In this day and age, we're all on our phones continuously because it's such a convenient thing, and it happens. It's part of it. But I think the tournaments -- every year I think the tournaments get a little bit more strict and crack down and try to make it more peaceful.
I particularly -- if I'm playing at a country club or I'm a guest at a country club somewhere I always ask whether or not they have a cell phone policy. I love going to the golf course at a country club where they have a no-cell-phone policy, where they have strict areas where you can use your cell phone. There's nothing worse when you're sitting in like a grill room and everyone is having a good time and you've got one guy next to you talking on the cell phone and kind of taking the peace out of it.
None of the clubs I am a member at or play at have that policy, but I think it's a good policy.
Q. Who do you like tomorrow, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan?
JIM FURYK: What are they doing?
Q. They're paired in the Pro-Am.
JIM FURYK: That's not even a contest.
Q. Back to THE PLAYERS for a second, whether it was in March or May, it seemed like every year we got to this event, there was more talk about what it's not, whether it's a major or not, than what it is. How would you fix that and how would you market this tournament?
JIM FURYK: I think the best way to market the tournament is it's the strongest field in golf, period. I don't care if it's a major, I don't care if it is or it isn't. I've gotten so tired of that six, seven, eight years ago, is this a major, is it not a major. My answer was simply, does it matter? It's a good, strong field, and I would say it's bar none, by far the strongest field in golf, year in and year out, and it's probably the best way to market it.
Being that I live in Ponte Vedra and that it's my home event, I'm very excited about the May date just from the fact that the golf course is going to be all Bermuda, it's going to be firm, it's going to be fast. If it rains, it's going to drain better.
For the next 20 years the weather in May is going to be a ton better than the weather was in March for the last 20 years. That being said, it's probably going to rain four days in a row for us because I said that. But over 20 years' time the weather is going to be so much better in May; it's going to be warmer, it's not going to be nearly as windy, and the chance of rain goes down severely.
And that being said, the golf course -- the golf course was never meant to be an overseed, it was never meant to have five-inch rough, it was never meant to be played anywhere near -- it was never designed to be played the way we played it in the past, and I think the golf course was ruined by the way we played it in the past in March. Now not having to overseed the golf course, it'll be Bermuda year-round, I think it'll get back to the way it was supposed to be played and it's going to be a much better golf course.
Q. Have you been in the clubhouse yet?
JIM FURYK: I haven't. I've been invited a couple times, and I figure I'll be spending the next couple years in it and I don't need to see it that bad.
Q. What do you mean by ruined exactly? I don't understand where you went with that exactly. Is that an agronomy thing specifically?
JIM FURYK: It had to be overseeded. It had no choice. But the golf course was never -- when you overseed, you have to wet it down to keep the overseed. We don't want to see a golf course wet.
The golf course was never meant in its design to have rough that high around the greens. There were collection areas that couldn't be used as collection areas. Just the way the golf course had to be kept, in overseed, it didn't match the design of the golf course if that makes sense. And in my opinion it ruined the style and the playability and the way that golf course should be played. It took a lot away from the golf course.
It's a much better golf course played firm and fast and with Bermudagrass, and what the rough is going to be, they're claiming two and a half inches --
Q. The only time we ever see it is in March.
JIM FURYK: It is a different golf course, and the design changes are very, very slim. They're not going to make a huge difference. The setup of the golf course is going to be night and day. It's going to look like a different place.
Q. So now what style of player would you favor on a completely different golf course than what you've seen in March?
JIM FURYK: I think it favors no one in particular more now than it ever did. I disagree with the argument that it favored no one in the past, a little bit. But more so than ever now, I don't think it's really going to favor any style of player is my guess. But I want to see it in tournament shape.
There's no -- I can look at it and think about how I think it's going to play, but until I see the final product and setup -- I haven't been on it since before The Masters. It was closed down Wednesday for good until the tournament.
Q. Most of Dye's courses are ball-strikers' courses. They're point-to-point type courses. If you're talking about the way he designed the course, the way it's going to play more the way he designed it than it did back in March, length is not an issue still --
JIM FURYK: Length won't be an issue. They've added yardage, but it's not going to play any longer because it's going to play firmer and faster. Length is not an issue there.
But I think -- not disagreeing with you, but you brought in an opinion saying that Pete Dye's golf courses are ball-strikers' golf courses.
Q. You don't think so?
JIM FURYK: I'm not saying that. But you brought in an opinion rather than a fact.
Q. What do you have to do on this course to be successful?
JIM FURYK: On this golf course?
JIM FURYK: I think that right off the bat, you have to drive the ball very, very well, and there's a lot of difficult driving lines where holes run at slight angles to the tee boxes, and you need to be able to work the ball off the tee, or it's preferable to be able to work the ball off the tee to keep the ball in the fairway here.
If you don't get the ball in the fairway, and it's difficult on a lot of holes, you're going to have a tough time attacking the golf course. I'd say right off the bat putting the ball in play is number one.
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