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August 22, 2007

Jim Furyk


STEWART MOORE: Thanks for spending a few moments in the media center here with us at The Barclays. You come in third on the FedExCup points list. Talk to us about your feelings going into this week and the ensuing three weeks afterwards and what you are expecting out of this whole thing.
JIM FURYK: First of all, it's disappointing because the press room used to be so close to the 18th green. And now that there's so many of you interested in the FedExCup, I've got to take a car to get out here and a car to get back. (Laughter).
So the length of time and the distance, before I could have meandered out of the press room to the putting green and start working, and now I have to get in a car. So I guess there's double the amount of media credentials or outlets that needed media credentials this week.
Obviously there's a buzz about these four events; the fact that we're out here on the other side of the property and not right next to the 18th green, and there's so many more people that have wanted to come and look at the FedExCup as far as from a media standpoint means that there's a buzz. Everyone is trying to get a handle on what the FedExCup is all about, how is it going to play out for next four weeks, and I think that was the whole idea when we started was to put golf in a broader scope right now, to get everyone focused on golf for one more month at the end of the season.
And I guess by your reaction so far, it's at least seemed to work. Whether you all are writing positive or negative, you are writing about golf and I think that was the idea.

Q. Are you more intrigued by this process and what's going to happen than you were, say, two months ago? Is it difficult to wrap your brain around playing in this?
JIM FURYK: There was never really anything -- all year, I would gather it was probably a tough package to market during the season because you're focused on trying to play well. But if you play well the points take care of themselves and you find yourself in a good position at the end of the year. That's pretty much what I said all year.
I think I struggled in March early on, I was in the high 20s on points and I had a couple of guys ask me about was I going to play more events, how was I doing. And I said really what I'm focused on right now is trying to play well. I'm not real happy with the way I'm playing particularly right now and I want to play better. And if I can do that, then the points and everything will take care of itself and I found myself, you know, I played well through the summer and in late summer, I find myself in a good position on the points.
You know, right now, we've got four weeks left and we're all trying to jockey again for position. But you know, the way I'm attacking is go out and try to play well in four golf tournaments and win like I always try to do. And this year, I love Westchester Country Club; Cog Hill has always been a good course for me; and Atlanta has always been a good course for me. I like three of the four courses.
I don't know that much about Boston, I've played there a couple of times and I know they have redone it. It's supposed to be -- I like the improvements made the first time and it's supposed to be significantly better now. Sounds like we have four good venues and just go out there and prepare and try to play as well as you can.

Q. And also the status of your back.
JIM FURYK: I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good. I was hurting earlier in the week in Tulsa and I was trying to get through my practice rounds. It wasn't until about Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, that I started to feel like me again, where I was able to free up and make the swing that I wanted to. My performance there, I missed the cut by one, really wasn't -- it was probably a reflection more of I was ill-prepared, but I wasn't hindered in my swing during the tournament. But I wasn't very well prepared for the event, and I played very poorly to be honest with you. I scored bad and putted bad and didn't get the ball in the hole well. Really wasn't a physical battle there. I played poorly and mentally.
Right now I feel I'm in good health. I played quite a bit and practiced when I was home and, I don't feel limited in any way right now.

Q. Because most sports have playoffs, do you think this is really going to benefit golf that there's a playoff format now in the sport?
JIM FURYK: I do. I think in our sport, "playoff" is a very loosely used word, how's that? (Laughter).
It is an end of the season chase. We are all trying to win the FedExCup. I'll give you a playoff, but it's not like it would be in other sports, like a head-to-head elimination or something like that.
Yes, I think it will be good for our sport. Just the fact that we are talking about it; the fact that we have another month of golf that's going to lend itself to a lot of viewership, a lot more media outlets covering it, it's going to put more attention and focus on our sport which will be great.
Everyone is still new to it. We are trying to figure it all out. It used to be once the PGA Championship ended, our ratings significantly dropped. So I'll be interested to see what happens this year and interested to see how these next few weeks play out, because they were always very good events on our schedule normally and now they are thrown into this Playoff picture. And THE TOUR Championship is going to have a lot more significance now than it ever has.
A lot of the years previous, my 14 years on TOUR, I can probably remember four years where the TOUR Championship was real significant as far as battling out who was going to be leading the Money List or Player of the Year. Vijay and Tiger had a battle one year, Duval had a battle one year with O'Meara maybe trying to figure out who was Player of the Year. But it will be a little bit more significant this year as far as winning the FedExCup.
Obviously it will be hard not to manage Tiger being Playing of the Year this year but there's still a lot to be done in the season, and I think it's going to be fun for our fans. And the players, we're all kind of trying to figure out as well just like everyone else.

Q. Did you play four in a row before last week, thinking about Carnoustie, Canada?
JIM FURYK: I was supposed to but I didn't play. I had to withdraw from Akron.

Q. So it will be seven of nine if you play through Atlanta?

Q. What's tougher, the stress off the body or --
JIM FURYK: I think it depends on how well you're playing. You know, the better you're playing, the harder it is to play more events. If you're a little confused by that --

Q. Because you're in contention and all that.
JIM FURYK: Shooting 72 everyday and being in 60th place isn't real stressing, if that makes sense. When you're worried more on Saturday night about what plane you can catch out than about whether you can win the tournament or not. You're not under a lot of stress and it doesn't wear you down as much.
If you're playing poorly it wears you down mentally because you're upset with your performance. If you're in contention a lot and trying to win the golf tournament that tends to wear you down physically and mentally more than playing average golf, if that makes sense.
Quite honestly that's why it's hard for Tiger to play as many events as the average guy and that's why it's incredible Vijay is able to play as many events as he does and stay in the condition and mental frame that he's in, he's just so driven. I think that's what makes -- I think that's what makes Vijay incredible. He's kind of like the Cal Ripken of golf, if that makes sense.

Q. Could you talk about your affinity for these traditional courses like here, or Hamilton, or Wachovia, where you've had a lot of success?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'm comfortable. Growing up in southeast PA and the Philly area, I grew up on a lot of the courses built in the same era Westchester is. It's just the style I grew up on, it's the style I'm comfortable with. That's where I learned to play the game. And I like those style of courses. Most of the time, you know, if it's been built in the last ten years, I like maybe 10 to 20 percent of them. If it was built in the last 40 years, I'm about 50/50 and if it was built in the last 100 years, I'm usually about 80/20 the other way if that makes sense.
Maybe that's just, you know, given a chance for a lot of the new courses to mature, but I think the architectural style and maintenance styles have changed and I'm probably more comfortable with the older style because that's what I grew up on. That's what I knew best and how I learned to play the game and my game was built around that.

Q. You mentioned TV ratings, is that how we measure whether this thing flies or not, or how do we determine at the end of the day, since we are all kind of throwing question marks around the success or failure of this enterprise; is it whether the public tunes in; is it that simple?
JIM FURYK: I think there's a lot of different variables. Just off the top of my head, I think we want our sponsors to be happy. We want The Barclays and the BMW's and the Deutsche Banks to be happy and Coca-Colas happy with being part of the FedExCup. We want the other 43 events and their sponsors to be happy with being part of the FedExCup and building up to the Playoffs. He would want the fans to tune in. Without them, it kind of makes it a little anticlimactic. The fans tune in to watch the major championships to see the big events and to see who is going to win and see the players on the weekend.
I think ultimately, the players are going to have to kind of give it a stamp of approval and walk up here and stands in front of the microphone and tell you it was fun and what they liked about it and be general June.
Who am I missing right off the top of my head? Obviously, you know, television, let's not fool anyone, they are writing a huge check with the television package every six years, so we'll know about in five years how well it went over in negotiations. (Laughter) Time always tells. That's a big part of it.
Ultimately, you all write the stories and you try to do the -- my guess is I don't do your job and probably don't understand it very well anyway, but you probably try to get a feel from the players, from the tournaments, from all of those different packages and kind of sum it up in print or on television on whether it has a stamp of approval on it or not and you all reflect that as well.

Q. You mentioned Vijay, the amount he plays during the year; does it become more and more amazing the older he sets? It seems like the story line the last ten years is the same, that he plays seven in a row, eight in a row, he's always on the range, first guy out, last to leave; does that story get more and more amazing as he's in his mid 40s?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think he's -- I would never use the word slowed down, but I see him at home a lot practicing, so I know and I can appreciate as much as anyone. Everyone else sees him on the road, but I see him at home and what he's doing and how hard he's working at home just as well. I think he's probably maybe not beating quite as many balls as he used to, but he's still leading the league, put it that way.
It is impressive. You know, how old is Vijay now, he's like 44 now? 43? 44. So I'd like to say I wish I could do that when I was his age. I can't do it now so it's not going to happen when I'm 44.
Yeah, I think it's pretty amazing what he does. I don't think there's a lot of guys that are physically strong enough, physically strong enough to do what he does; and mentally is another story. Because to get up every morning and want to beat your head against the wall without a break and a rest is pretty mentally demanding, as well.
So he works hard and he deserves -- I've seen how hard he's worked over the years and I consider myself a very hard worker and someone that shows up prepared. So I appreciate and, you know, I understand what he does and I appreciate what he does and he deserves everything he gets.

Q. You took issue with the word "playoff "before. Would you have preferred --
JIM FURYK: I didn't take issue. I just said it's a loose term in golf, if that makes sense.

Q. Would you have preferred to this a four-week knockout, as opposed to point accumulation?
JIM FURYK: I never really sat down and thought of a different format. Obviously the TOUR has -- if there's 125 people working in the TOUR office, there's 250 people trying to figure out the best possible scenario on what we should do to maximize our exposure and get the most benefit out of this for everyone involved. This is what's come up, and I'm sure it will probably get tweaked and manipulated somewhat over the years as we learn and figure out better ways to do it.
The reason I would say it's a loosely-used term in the situation is very simple. In football, there's 32 teams in the NFL and if I'm correct, 12 teams go to the playoffs. This year, 125 guy also keep their TOUR card and 144 people are going to the Playoffs. So that's roughly 110 percent of the league. (Laughter).
So just the thought, but that's why I think it's a loosely-used term. But, in baseball, what do we have eight teams that go to the playoffs? And everybody complains in hockey and basketball that half the league gets in at 16. Everyone complains and they are 50 percent and we are 110. So it's just a thought. That's my humor for the day.
That's why I think it's a little loose. But we are also, you know, eliminating players as we go, and you know, it is what it is. I didn't make the rules and I'm not one of those guys that really likes to complain or bitch about them. I just go out and play hard and see what happens.

Q. Down the road how much of a pucker is it if you have a putt to win, does that even get the high paying dude's attention?
JIM FURYK: It's a deferred pucker. (Laughter).
Yeah, I think it will affect guys. I guess I'm trying to figure out at THE TOUR Championship, they will probably have some running totals on the scoreboards on how everything works. Right now, you know, what I'm focusing on is trying to win golf tournaments and try to compete this week, try to get myself in contention, try to win a golf tournament like everyone else and trying to play well and not really worrying about how the points fall.
As the weeks go on, the points are going to start jockeying and everybody will see it and it will be more prominent. The way to play these events out is to play well and quit worrying about the points. That's what I've done all year. But it's going to be a lot of fun for someone sitting at home and seeing on TV how these different scenarios are jockeying around. I would not want to be the one having to putt them on television and figuring them all out but I think it will be interesting.
If a guy has an opportunity to win at East Lake or has an opportunity, there's always a stress factor that becomes involved when you're trying to win a golf tournament. And if you throw a another scenario on top of it that's dangling a big carrot at the end, it will put that much more stress. So, yeah, I think it will. And the finishing holes at East Lake are not too easy as I remember.

Q. At some point I imagine somebody from the TOUR, Commissioner or someone else presented this notion to you and explained this. What was your reaction then and how does the reality of it compare?
JIM FURYK: It was first explained to me at THE TOUR Championship a couple of years ago at Atlanta, and I was a little confused and scratching my head trying to figure out why. As it was explained and told to us why and why it was needed, then I think at that time the most confusing part was, okay, this is going to happen because originally I was thinking, this is not going to happen, is it?
Then I realized it was and I realized why and it was a necessity. Then I think the biggest confusing part from that point on is they were running so many different scenarios. There was like six different scenarios as I remember from early on and trying to figure out and poking holes, and this is bad because and this is bad because and trying to find the right scenario was the main goal.
When those things happen, a lot of rumors fly and you can't make everyone happy. In one scenario Player A is happy and Player B is pissed off, and another scenario it's vice versa. It ends up with what it is right now. You want to give everyone an opportunity to compete and do well, and then you don't want to -- you know, if there's anyone that should be mad, it should be Tiger Woods. He kicked everyone's rear end all year and now he's back to even. He's undisputedly the Player of the Year at this point. It's not even close. There's not even a running second. I finished third in the points and he almost doubled me and now he's right there next to me. So I guess we should all be happy; he should be upset.
It is what it is and he's not a guy that would get upset about that and it's just another opportunity for him to compete and go play hard and he's going to do that.

Q. Speaking of the No. 1 seed, how do you feel about him giving himself a first-round bye, and could you see yourself doing that in the same situation?
JIM FURYK: Well, I don't think, you know, what would that situation be, when you say "in the same situation?"

Q. Well, in his situation, coming off a major win and leading this thing in points.
JIM FURYK: I don't think the fact that he's leading it -- like if he was second in points and it was only a matter of a thousand points, I don't think that would really change, I don't want to guess, I don't want to put words in his mouth but I doubt that would change his scenario here.
I think if everyone -- the good thing about our TOUR is we are independent contractors. That's the word that I always hear, and we have the ability -- greatest part about my job is I've never had a boss, which I've never worked for anyone and I'm very fortunate to be able to say that and I can pick and choose where and what courses and what events I want to play.
So you know, he's entitled to -- I'm always going to stick up for the players and protect the players being one of them, and I feel like -- I don't think he's going to be the only guy that skips an event. I've already heard some names thrown around. Some of them are top 20 players, some of them are top 40 players, some of them are top 60 players. I've heard other names thrown around but he's going to be the guy in the microscope because he always is. He's entitled to do what he wants and he'll still be competing in the last three events trying to win. Everybody knows him, he hates to lose as much as anyone and he'll be trying to win no matter what it is.

Q. As far as never having a boss, I assume that doesn't include Tabitha?
JIM FURYK: We all have one of those, unless you're not married, we all have one of those. And, yeah. (Laughter) I won't even argue.
STEWART MOORE: Jim, thanks for coming in. Good luck.

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