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January 9, 2008

Jim Furyk


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome 1996 Sony Open champion Jim Furyk into the interview room at the Sony Open. Played well last week, finished tied for 5th at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Not exactly the result you were looking for, but still a good start to your season.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, a good start. I got off to a slow start, too. I hit the ball well on Thursday and Friday, those rounds, and really didn't score that well, especially on Thursday. I putted poorly and really putted pretty poorly through about the first two and a half rounds and then kind of -- I won't say I putted great, but I putted very solid for the last 27 holes and was able to make up some ground, shooting 12-under on the weekend. Real happy about the weekend, the way I scored and got the ball in the hole. Hopefully it's something that will carry over to this course.
It's obviously a whole different ballgame, a different style course, very narrow, very tight. It's been raining a lot so it's slowed down. It might be a little less difficult to get the ball in the fairway because the course is playing slower, but that being said, the rough is more penal than I've seen it in a long, long time, maybe ever. I'm hitting the ball in the fairway, hitting it straight, and so far this week we haven't seen hardly a breeze for two days. So if that picks up later in the week it'll be a good test.
STEWART MOORE: Speaking of Waialae, the site of your second PGA TOUR win in 1996, does that conjure up any great memories when you come back to a place like this where your career started to blossom?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I don't think I've missed an event here. I think this is my 15th year on TOUR and 15th Sony Open. It's a golf course that I like playing. When I come back here, I've got good memories, and I think when I'm playing well, it's a course that suits my style of game.
I'm actually surprised at some of the guys that played the Mercedes and then did not choose to come to this event because there's some guys like I really feel like the course suited their game, and I'm really not sure why they didn't come.

Q. The putting aspect, I know you talked about the fact that you're a spot putter, and I'm sure that your putting wasn't exactly what you wanted it to be last year. Coming out of those 27 holes on the weekend, how encouraged are you about your putting going where you want it to go now?
JIM FURYK: Pretty encouraged, pretty encouraged. Everything is always a work in process, always trying to get better. I didn't putt very well towards the end of the year last year. I putted real well at the Presidents Cup. I was kind of streaky. In years past I've really struggled at Mercedes. Last five years I've really struggled at Mercedes and Sony, and whether it's just the first couple of weeks and getting comfortable with the putter, whether it's being in the wind, I'm not exactly sure what it is. But I was happy to knock some putts in and feel like I was getting the ball on-line, seeing the line real well and being able to hit the ball down the line last week.

Q. Did you say you made some kind of an adjustment?
JIM FURYK: My grip a little bit. I have a bad habit of getting my right hand kind of caught underneath the grip and on strong. It makes it easy for me to miss putts to the left. Early in my career my bad putts were to the right. Later in my career I think I've overcompensated; now my bad putts go to the left a little bit. Maybe the very twilight or the end of my career I'll get them all on straight.

Q. Having done the FedEx circuit one time, any adjustments to the schedule this year, how you pace yourself?
JIM FURYK: It's hard. It's hard. I think the most difficult part of my year and of this new schedule is I just don't know how to -- it's not that I'm looking to play more events or where I'm going to sprinkle them in, it's how do I tone it down, how do I get events out of my schedule. There's a couple spots in the schedule that are quite difficult.
I think the West Coast is always the same. It really hasn't changed for me, and I've always usually played the same events. This year I'm adding an event in San Diego because I want to get a view of the golf course before the U.S. Open. So there's an addition.
There's two weeks now between Doral and The Masters, and I don't want to take two weeks off before a major championship so I'm probably going to throw one of those events in, most likely New Orleans, so there's an addition. Then I've got that tough stretch leading into the PGA with defending in Canada. So I've got three spots in my schedule that are different and they're all -- two of them are adding events that I've never played before. So in order to keep the level down I've got to probably take some events out that I would like to go play. I don't really want to do that, as well.
I struggle through the summer and where I want to take off because those are the events I like, Colonial, Memorial as it starts to heat up and into the U.S. Open and Buick and D.C. and golf courses that I love playing. I'll probably just be tired again (laughter). Probably in October I'll be ready to take some time off again.

Q. You could stop winning in Canada.

Q. Any on the potential chopping block when you say you see yourself just making a tough decision and taking a week off?
JIM FURYK: There's a lot of tough decisions. I didn't play the Byron Nelson last year and that was a really tough decision. Do I see anything that I'm taking off yet? No, I don't. But the two places where I raise an eyebrow on my schedule are adding San Diego and New Orleans, two events that I haven't historically played, and it's two more than I played last year, which I know come the end of the year is not going to work.

Q. You should just move to Orlando and play the Tavistock Cup.
JIM FURYK: Is that the Lake Nona and Isleworth, where they play each other?

Q. You could start your own.
JIM FURYK: Start our own? I'm not sure we could collect the Ponte Vedra guys, how we'd do it. Do the Duval County versus St. Johns County, north and south of JTB?

Q. You mentioned Memorial. Obviously you're a past winner there, and that's probably not on the table as one you're skipping?
JIM FURYK: No, Colonial and Memorial wouldn't -- Colonial I've always said is one of my favorite events. My wife is from Columbus, so it might not be a good option to take that out of the schedule (laughter).

Q. We're coming up on ten years of the WGC. This is the tenth year, I'm pretty sure. Have they run their course, A? And I'll think of B in a minute.
JIM FURYK: Have they run their course?

Q. It used to be to get more of the world together and now they are a lot of places.
JIM FURYK: But those are three more times that they're together. I guess they're more together more often because more guys are playing our TOUR full-time, but that's the reason. I can't think of any events around the world where you get a flood of Americans going to play unless it's a World Golf Championships.

Q. Which are all over here.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, but when we went to London, Ireland, different places, I think those events -- I don't think they've run their course. I look at obviously the major championships as being the plateau and then you've got THE PLAYERS and then I look at kind of the World Golf Championships as the next step and sprinkle in some of our big events out here on TOUR and then you've got our TOUR events for importance.

Q. Have they hurt the other tournaments?
JIM FURYK: I will say -- I'll go with no because they were all existing events that were turned into World Golf Championships. It wasn't like they invented a new slot on the schedule for any of those three.

Q. Now they are; Amex was a new one but now it's been kind of folded into Doral.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, but I'm saying it's still -- yeah, that probably hurt the Doral event, but Firestone was a limited field and the Match Play was probably a new event way, way, way long ago. But I don't think they've hurt the TOUR.
I think pinpointing those events, no, I think they've strengthened the TOUR in the fact they get all the good players playing together more often. I think we've hurt ourselves a little bit in the fact that we have so many events, we have to thin ourselves out and our sponsors out in a sense.
I think to just pinpoint and blame it on the World Golf Championships is a scapegoat. I think we have to blame ourselves as a TOUR that we grew the TOUR to a level to now we're having a hard time keeping field strength up and sponsors happy. It's a balancing and juggling act.

Q. I was thinking about contraction, but I don't see you guys ever doing that.
JIM FURYK: No, we made that bed, now we have to lie in it and find a way to make it better. I don't see contraction, either. I'm not even arguing contraction like some of my peers, I'm just saying that's the way it is.

Q. Could you see a day where the minimum was raised, 15 to 18 minimum appearances?
JIM FURYK: Does everyone not play 18 now?

Q. Not everyone.
JIM FURYK: No all but one guy (laughter)? Or maybe Ernie, does he get to --

Q. He struggles to get there. Goose was at 14 last year and then got the plus one with the Presidents Cup.
JIM FURYK: Do I see it being raised?

Q. Or could it be raised?
JIM FURYK: I'm sure it would probably -- I'm sure there's a couple players that would probably take a hard line and say I want to play and they wouldn't join as members but they could still play in 12 events instead of 14, so it probably wouldn't hurt them all that much if that makes sense. I guess then they wouldn't be readily available -- they probably wouldn't be able to get in the FedEx, so in that matter Goose would have lost four events right there.
Yeah, tough balancing act. Our motto has always been to try to have the best players in the world play on our TOUR, and I'll even say I've disagreed on how we've gone about it sometimes. We've probably made it easier for the foreign players to get on our TOUR than we have for the Americans to get on our TOUR, which I don't agree with. I think it should be the same for everyone, if that makes sense. I don't think it should be harder for the foreigners, I think the idea is to make it the same for everyone so we can have the best people on our TOUR.
It's a good idea possibly to raise it to 18, but then we're going to probably lose a few guys, as well. We'll get some of the guys playing more but we're going to get some -- we're going to get part of the guys playing more and part of the guys playing less, and I'm not sure which is better if that makes sense.

Q. Do you have some other ideas that might help the situation?
JIM FURYK: What's the situation exactly?

Q. Well, you outlined the fact that field sizes, the quality of the fields at some events aren't as good as others, some events are hurt by that, the sponsors aren't always happy.
JIM FURYK: FedEx was designed to try to alleviate that and try to help that and making the weakest field the same amount of points as the strongest field and trying to alleviate some of those issues. But no, I've got nothing for you. It's not my job, either, so I don't really worry about it.

Q. But you're an owner.
JIM FURYK: Independent contractor, owner, something like that (laughter). It's a gray area.
I've always been one that I feel like if I had an issue or a problem or an idea that I could go to Sid, I could go to Tim, I could talk to Henry. I think there's outlets for people I can speak to, but I've never wanted to get that politically inclined and join on our board, and I really don't feel like most of the guys that have been on our board have walked away from it -- they've all walked away with a positive experience and say that they've learned so much and they've gotten to meet some of those great businessmen and actually it's helped them do other things outside of golf, but none of them really feel like they made a dramatic difference on the board if that makes sense as far as a decision-making process. So to put forth the time and effort and take more time away from my family is nothing I've ever been interested in.
That being said, I still don't feel like I make a huge difference. I voice my opinion, but I've never felt like it's made a tremendous difference in what was done on TOUR. I'm going to back that up by saying that doesn't bother me, either. I think Tim is our commissioner. David Stern calls the shots in the NBA. Off the top of my head, I can't think of the football -- Goodell, and they call the shots, and I think they should. I wish he would more. I wish he'd tell us to quit whining and tell us to make the decision.

Q. Would you at all be in favor of the votes that come down on the policy board, having the majority of those votes be players, five-to-four type situation instead of the other way around?
JIM FURYK: You know what I think is important in all this stuff that deals with competition has to be a three-to-one for the players. If there's a competitive question, if we want to reduce field sizes or if we wanted to change the cut, the four board members that are players, it has to be three-to-one. If it's two-two and there's a favorable decision one way, it doesn't pass because the players didn't pass that. I'm a fan of that.
The rest of the business stuff, there aren't enough players that can donate enough time to actually learn enough about the business aspect. I think they get educated in there, but I don't want -- I'm not sure I'd want a full-time player making our business decisions. Does that make sense?

Q. Yeah.
JIM FURYK: I have a much different view than a lot of guys, so that might be startling to some people but that's the way I feel.

Q. What would be the problem if the TOUR required that you play at least every tournament once every five years or four years or whatever the case may be?
JIM FURYK: What would the problem be? I wouldn't want to do it. I guess it's that simple. There's events that I don't like to play. I don't enjoy the town, I don't enjoy the golf course, whatever it may be, and so I wouldn't really want to. But if they required it, we'd have to.

Q. Is that your independent contractor speaking?
JIM FURYK: Well, I'm just being honest. I'm -- you're saying what would the problem be with that? Why would I not be in favor of it? Because I don't like some of the golf courses.

Q. What would keep the TOUR from doing it do you think? Because Tim has leaned on the independent contractor thing.
JIM FURYK: He's leaned on it? That's why he said he couldn't do it?

Q. Yeah, if it were posed to him why can't you have those guys go that everyone gets to every tournament?
JIM FURYK: Why don't they put a big load of golf balls out there and make us all play the same ball? The same reason Corey Pavin doesn't want to play the longest golf course in the world and Tiger doesn't want to play the shortest. That makes sense. You go to places where it favors your style and favors your game, and I play the golf ball that favors my style and I play the golf clubs that favor my style. I'd sure like to see Tiger playing Corey's ball. It would sure make it a hell of a lot easier for the rest of us. I'd feel bad if Corey had to play Tiger's ball because it wouldn't go nearly as far. He's going to play something firmer that goes farther for him, and Tiger needs control and spin. I'm just picking Corey out of the blue. Maybe it's not Corey but a short guy.
I think Corey has got more talent than 99 percent of the guys on TOUR. The stuff he can do with the golf ball just amazes me at times. But I think he plays the equipment that favors that style that he can bring out his talents, and for the same reason there's just golf courses I don't want to show up and play because I don't like them, I don't like the grass, I don't like -- I hate traffic, so if I've got to drive in traffic both ways to the course, I won't go.
I still do it every year at Riviera because I love Riviera, and I spend an hour in the car trying to get home four miles to the hotel where there's day care because my family stays there, and I'm ready to shoot myself after an hour every day. If I had to do that every day, I'd understand road rage, I really would. That's the nice thing about Ponte Vedra; just avoid JTB for about 30 minutes a day and you're good.
Yeah, if it was a rule -- there's a lot of times I look at Sid or I look at Tim and say, I don't like it, it's not good for me, but I understand. You've got to do what you've got to do. But I wouldn't like it or be in favor of it just for that reason. There's courses I would rather not go to, and I would rather not miss the courses -- if you're going to make me play events that I don't play usually, then I've got to take out the events that I do play.
I still don't see the -- I still think there should be a good -- we're all competing on TOUR and the events are all competing, as well. I think it's -- to have to compete, to have to fight your way to be better has never been a bad thing. I don't see where -- there's events that start behind the 8-ball right off the bat, but we as a TOUR built some lousy golf courses for some of those events. Some of those events have made poor decisions in sites that they've picked or whatever it may be.

Q. Just to understand the theory on contraction, if they contracted in some way, shape or form, there's seven events at the end of the year and I heard they may extend that to eight, those events obviously take away players, take away money from the TOUR and stuff like that. If there was a way to contract it to where that money would flow back into the TOUR and there wasn't as many events, maybe the purses would be higher for events, would you be in favor of something like that or do you think there should be events for people that maybe aren't of your caliber?
JIM FURYK: It's a no-win situation, the conversation. Some of my peers have said they're in favor of contraction, and then there's 100 guys over there eating lunch right now that are ready to strangle him, and they're just upset and mad that they're not going to be able to get in events and they're not going to be able to make a living. It's very difficult for us as players to step out of -- everyone says they can do it, but it's very difficult to step out of your own world and what's good for Jim Furyk and try to look at everything from a neutral site.
I've seen all aspects of the TOUR. I was a guy that went to Tour school; I finished 78th my first year on the Money List; I knew what it was like to be a rookie, what it was like to not get a courtesy car, what it was like to listen to sponsors say, "we have a great tournament, none of those damn Tour school guys get in the field," where I was standing right next to him. I happen to remember that place, and I don't play it.
I've also been on the other side when I was ranked third in the world and everything is rosy, and I've been skewed to the Top 30 a lot more, so my memory is a lot easier there. But it's really hard to step out of your own world and try to judge the TOUR from a neutral site. That's what our staff is supposed to do, because they're looking at the good of the TOUR, not the good of Tiger or the good of the 125th player. They're trying to make sure it's a good Tour for everyone.
Contraction is probably never going to happen. It's almost a moot point talking about whether it would be good or bad because it's just not going to happen. We can't give that many playing opportunities and then take them away. If I had to do it all over again, I wish when we went back we didn't make it as big and as thin as we have, but now that we have, we can't reel it back in.
And the argument for making it as big as they did is they were afraid that a big agency like an SFX or IMG or whatever was going to start their own Tour and money and the TOUR had to protect their investment and their players, or the way they were doing business. That's the main argument I always hear for why we grew so quickly.

Q. The Kelly Tilghman comment has been getting a lot of attention today.
JIM FURYK: What was the exact comment?

Q. They were talking about the young players and how to challenge Tiger, and Faldo said, "We just have to gang up on him," and Kelly said, "Lynch him in a back alley."
JIM FURYK: How would they gang up on him to start? And secondly, I'm sure Kelly wishes she never said that. I've been told, and I haven't spoken with Tiger, but I've been told that they've had their talk and they've discussed it. I don't know, anything I say is kind of just like pouring salt in the wound at this point. Obviously she would love to not have said that and for it not to be news.
I was told today that CNN was kind of blowing it up with a big 20-minute deal. I don't think I have anything intelligent to say so I'm afraid to say anything, if that makes sense.

Q. I feel that way all the timing (laughter).
JIM FURYK: I'm sure it's something she wishes she didn't say. I'm glad that her and Tiger spoke. That's one of those scenarios that you're glad you're not a part of, if that makes sense. If I keep saying more I'm afraid I'll be a part of it (laughter).

Q. Let's talk about the one that you skip.
JIM FURYK: I've played my fair share. I've been trying to thin my schedule out and play less, and it's just difficult. There's a lot of events that I go down the schedule, and I go, I want to play there, I want to play there, I want to play there, and by the time you're done, all the events -- of all of those six, seven, eight events, the only one I really played consistently was Vegas. I played Disney once in a while. I didn't play any of the others. Now that they're at the end of the schedule, those used to be my built-in weeks off, so now I'm struggling to find those built-in weeks off.

Q. Where did you film the fortune cookie commercial?
JIM FURYK: Ginger Bistro. It's in Ponte Vedra. It's down by Play-It-Again Sports, the old Fresh Market.

Q. How long were you there?
JIM FURYK: A couple hours.

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