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July 17, 2007

Jim Furyk


STEWART McDOUGALL: Jim, thanks for coming in. Coming off a very good run of form, Jim, starting with a second place in the U.S. Open, how do you fancy your chances to week?
JIM FURYK: Well, my game has been in good shape. There's always a big adjustment for coming to links golf. It takes a lot of different shots, in my opinion, things that we don't get to practice or hit over in the United States. Last year I did a good job of making that adjustment. I felt like I got my game in good shape. I had a pretty good event here last year. I like this golf course. Carnoustie is a wonderful golf course. It looks like the setup is going to be a lot different than it was in '99. But I think it's set up very fair and very well.
The conditions, obviously, the weather as in yesterday can play a huge part, where it was horrific in the morning and absolutely gorgeous in the afternoon. That will affect the scoring quite a bit. My game has been in very good shape the last few months. I've played well and been knocking on the door. I've had opportunities to win tournaments and I'd like to do that again this week.

Q. You talked a while ago about the way the schedule crammed up for the summer. Now that it's here, you're going to Toronto next year, and the PGA, how is it going to play for you and a lot of the top guys?
JIM FURYK: Well, most of the top guys, they're probably going to play seven out of those -- seven of nine events, so they'll -- probably about seven of the last nine events is about what we have left, nine events. I'm going to end up playing eight of those events. Four on, one off, and then hopefully another four events leading up to The TOUR Championship. I hope that's the case. It is what it is. I've planned my schedule to this point where I've played enough golf but I haven't killed myself yet. I'll be exhausted after -- if I can keep playing well and be in The TOUR Championship I'll be exhausted after that event.
But playing four in a row doesn't bother me. Rarely have I played two full weeks in a row, with only one week off in between. It will be long. It's a matter of pacing yourself. I think you can practice and wear yourself down and be more tired after some events than others, depending on your schedule. And I think with looking forward with the eight out of nine events, I'll have to pace myself and make sure I have energy left at the end.

Q. What would be the closest comparison to playing that much? What's the most you've ever played in a brief period before?
JIM FURYK: Early in my career, I can remember playing seven events in a row. But usually you're doing that when you're not playing that well. I was missing some cuts, so you're not playing as much golf. Getting in contention and having an opportunity to win golf tournaments and the stress involved with that I think is what wears you down the most mentally. When you're playing well I think it's harder to play more events because you're more tired. When you're playing poorly, if you're missing cuts you're only playing Thursday and Friday and you have the weekends off, it's easier to kind of keep going.
Every year I play at least one full week in a row, and I actually enjoy playing three or four weeks in a row. I feel my game usually -- the only way to really prepare is to play events. If you stay home for two months and practice all you want, but to play an event you're still rusty because you haven't been in the heat of the battle. So I enjoy playing my way into shape and feel like my game should be really in shape to stay active in the PGA, after having two events behind me.

Q. Talk about the course. How are you finding the fairways? Are they hard, soft, something in between? And the rough, could you describe, if you're just off the fairway and if you're in some of deeper rough?
JIM FURYK: I think with all the rain they've had here, this is probably the softest I've ever seen a links golf course in a championship. The ball is running less in the fairways, the ball is stopping quicker on the greens. It's not like playing golf at home, by any means. It's much softer than a links course usually is, and that's just because of the weather conditions.
As far as the rough, it's spotty. Some holes you can hit the ball off the fairway and have a pretty good play and be able to have a go at the green and there's not much rough at all, and others it's spotty and it's quite thick. I think there will be some luck involved. There will also be some knowledge of where the thin spots are and where they're not. You might want to be aggressive because you know you'll have a play if you hit it in the rough. And other times you'll have to play more conservative because it's patchy.
Two players can hit a ball three or four feet apart and one player might have a really good lie and the other might not have much of a play at all. There's just kind of patches of thick, heavy grass in a lot of spots. There's a few spots out there that the rough is pretty tough. There's still a premium of putting the ball on the fairway and being in control with your approach shot. But it's obviously -- the fairways are a little wider than '99 and the rough isn't quite as penal as it was then.

Q. Just strategy-wise, then, what club selection is it going to be? Is it like Tiger taking two irons last year?
JIM FURYK: I think you'll see more aggressive play than that, but you obviously still have to avoid the bunkers. Bunkers are staggered a lot here. Last year they kind of started wide and worked their way narrow on a lot of holes and guys would lay back into the wide areas and not really attack the narrow areas. Here at this golf course they appear to be staggered, it might be short on the left and long on the right, and you're always going to have to attack one of those areas. You either want to carry the short one and avoid the long one or layup short of the long one and stay wide of the short one, if that makes sense. But it seems like there's always -- not always, but on a lot of holes there's always going to be a bunker that you have to avoid. You're going to have to pick your poison. Do you want to play more conservative or more aggressive, take it over the short ones and stay wide of the long ones, if that makes sense.

Q. Earlier in your career you had a lot of high finishes in this event. Then you had that five or six years where you missed the cut and were not attuned to the links golf. Last year you finished fourth. What did you find last year and did that performance sort of change the way you think going into this week?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I can't explain really why I played so poorly on a five-year stretch where I missed the cut, I think. Early in my career I really felt like my game was suited to this place and I hit the ball very low, when I came out on the Tour. I was comfortable in the wind. Everything I did was suited for coming over here and playing in The Open Championship. A couple of fourth place finishes early on. I changed my game, not all in one day but over a period of a few years I changed my game, I won't say dramatically, but I worked on a higher ball flight, hitting the ball softer, hit a lot more shots that were needed and used a lot in the United States and my career over there -- it reflected on my career over there because I played so much better and my record was good over there.
When I came over to The Open I didn't do a good job of adjusting. And a good player should. You should be able to adjust both ways and be able to play. A good player will come over and adjust in any conditions and play well. I just didn't do a good job of it. I was disappointed in that, and last year worked on -- I just kind of went over everything I was doing over here, how I was approaching the golf course is how I was approaching -- for me it's not -- I didn't think it was as much mechanical as it was kind of mentally how I was going about trying to play the golf course, trying to attack the golf course.
So last year I kind of reevaluated and I really made it a point that I was tired of playing lousy and I wanted to have a good event over here and really went to work on that. I obviously turned it around in good fashion with a 4th place finish. I still don't feel like I played the greatest golf tournament. I still felt like I left some on the course. But I was really happy with playing so poorly for a bunch of years in a row and turn around and actually feel like I had a chance to win the golf tournament Sunday. Early I got off to an awful start and Tiger got off to a good start. And I was basically chasing and trying to see how good a finish I could have at that point.

Q. Confidence-wise do you feel now that you come here and you expect to contend?
JIM FURYK: I feel like the way I've played the last few years, I obviously will try to win the golf tournament. You can't always do that. You can't always contend. Yeah, I feel like my game is in as good a shape as it's been in a lot of years. I'm still happy to have a couple of days preparation. I really don't feel like you can play too many rounds of golf over here or can get too many practice rounds in because the golf course plays so much different in every condition. The way the bunkering is -- the greens aren't that difficult to figure out. I like this golf course because it's very, very straight forward. It's in front, you can see most of the shots you have to hit. But in different wind conditions holes can just play dramatically different.
If I remember '99 correctly, we played 18 into the wind in all the practice rounds and in the tournament it was downwind. So in your mind you have to be prepared for that, in the practice rounds, try to figure out what you would hit on those holes. Sometimes it's tough to figure out until you actually get in it.

Q. Can you articulate a little more on the notion of adjustment? It seems like it's constant here from hitting a 5-iron into a place you might hit a 7 and then the wind changes the next day and the hole plays -- you throw a wedge up into the air. It seems like there's more seat-of-your-pants play here than you see in the U.S., which is mostly blow as hard as you can, hike it high in the air. The guy who adjusts the best frequently succeeds?
JIM FURYK: As far as the U.S., I kind of agree, although I don't ever hit it as high as I can, blow it as far as I can. I don't have that style. I think you can get away with that style in the U.S. and you can't here. But I think our best bet over there is still to have a methodical -- I think Tiger picks and chooses when he's going to hit it as hard and high as he can, and take advantage of his length. And he's calculating about when he's going to hit it in the fairway and lay back.
As far as assessing links golf in The Open Championship I think, yeah, you really have to think your way around the golf course. I guess I wasn't articulating as well as I should, really. Yeah, you can get to a hole that's playing the opposite wind one day and you have to be able to -- by the seat of your pants you have to adjust and pick what iron is going to stay short of a certain bunker. It's a feel thing.
If the bunker is 260 yards away and you're looking at your caddie and saying 3-iron is probably going to get it in there if we hit it at the bunker, that really doesn't calculate in your mind. You have to feel how far your club is going during the course of the week and adjust. You also have to adjust to hit different shots. You have to keep the ball down, you have to be able to move it both ways. You have to be able to control the golf ball, as well as think your way around the course. It is a good test and a fun test. If I had to do it a 52 weeks a year, it would probably drive me batty. I enjoy and love coming over here and getting tested.

Q. After two, what seemed to us as exceptionally difficult majors this year, Augusta and Pittsburg, if you felt that given a reasonable break with the record that Carnoustie might be the most straight forward test you've faced this year?
JIM FURYK: If the weather were good, yeah. I think Carnoustie is one of the -- definitely one of the top three venues that this event is held on. I think one of the reasons we like it so much is it's difficult, but it's right there in front of you. You can see what you're trying to do on most holes. There's not much hidden from you. There's not a lot of blind shots. There's not stuff you're trying to avoid that you can't see but yet it's still very difficult.
The scores that we shoot are more reflected by the setup of the golf course and the conditions over here than the course, itself, if that makes sense. You can have a very difficult course that we can still shoot pretty well under par if conditions are good and vice-versa, they can take a golf course that's not that hard and set it up so that we can't shoot even par. With the players, we want to see a difficult course that challenges the guys and separates the people that are playing well from the people that are playing poorly. But we want it to be fair. We want a good shot to be rewarded. It's difficult. It's really -- there's a fine line between making a golf course very difficult and kind of getting out of hand. It's not that big of a difference.

Q. But given --
JIM FURYK: There will be some good scores.

Q. You would expect possibly under par to win this tournament?
JIM FURYK: If the weather is good.

Q. As far as you're concerned, you mentioned earlier you've had good and bad spells here. Was that entirely related to your ball flight, how you were controlling that?
JIM FURYK: I think some of it was physical and not hitting the shots on the flight, not doing a good job keeping the ball down and flighting the ball the way I wanted to. And some of it was mental, the way I was attacking the golf course. I played poorly for quite a few years, I wouldn't blame it on just one area. I think if it was just one thing I could have fixed it easily and come back the next year. I think I didn't do a good job in a couple of areas.

Q. Some of the locals were saying that some of the breaks on the greens are imaginary here. Is that true?
JIM FURYK: I think the greens are -- some of the greens are quite flat in areas that you're playing on. There's not a lot of undulation. A lot of the pins are, there's not a lot of slope. So, yeah, I think that the breaks are probably very subtle and it's easy at times when the greens are that way that you can kind of manufacture some breaks and other things. But I think that -- there's a few greens out there that have quite a bit of slope on them, but for the most part a lot of them are relatively flat. Around the holes you're not going to see an Oakmont that you have a three footer that's breaking 6 inches. But when the wind is blowing 30, yeah, you can come up and make up some break, and there can also be some subtleties. A lot of times greens look quite flat but have a tilt slightly one way. We like to say the grain is going that way or the ball is getting pulled one way. The locals probably know those breaks a little better than everyone else.

Q. You talked about the mental things that you probably didn't do as well. Can you elaborate on what those were, and how did you address them going into last year, and did you follow-up in some way on it this year?
JIM FURYK: Well, I felt like -- I was trying to elaborate on that earlier. I was trying to say that I didn't feel like I attacked the golf courses as I should have. I didn't pick and choose my spots wisely as far as where to attack, where to be conservative. A lot of those events I got off to a poor start and probably tried to be over aggressive instead of patient.
One of those events I remember starting off really well and getting under the lip of the bunker, hitting the lip, hitting myself. I was 1 or 2-under and made a 9 or 10 on a par-5 and all of a sudden was behind the eight ball, poor decisions. The shot I hit out of the bunker should have been more sideways, just making poor decisions at the time. And probably not picking and choosing the times to go aggressive, styles to be conservative. Not preparing probably as well as I should have for the course.

Q. This may sound a little strange, but do you feel like the No. 2 player in the world, that it's Tiger and you? Is there any kind of psychological advantage internally?
JIM FURYK: Do I feel like the No. 2 player? I never really -- I wouldn't think of it in those terms. I never stepped up on the first tee and thought he's No. 2 in the world or he's No. 4 in the world, I'm going to have my hands full today. Coming down the stretch everyone is playing well, you don't worry about the guy you're playing against, you worry about what you're doing. It's a reflection on how well I've played in the last couple of years. But it still doesn't mean that much to me, like I've always said. I'm trying to win golf tournaments.
When I won the U.S. Open in 2003 is probably my best memory in my professional career. Honestly I probably have gotten more attention for being ranked No. 2 in the world than I did for winning the U.S. Open. It's mind boggling to me. I can't understand or fathom why that would be the case, but it has been. And I guess because Tiger is No. 1 and you have Phil and Vijay and Ernie and whoever can take a run at Tiger, it's always someone. I can't understand. I guess that's where they have me, but, again, it's flattering, but it's not that important.
STEWART McDOUGALL: Jim, thank you very much.

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