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May 5, 2008

Jim Furyk


Q. (Regarding course conditions in May.)
JIM FURYK: No overseed. It's going to be firmer, faster. I think it's a better challenge. This golf course is meant to be played fast, and this gives us the best opportunity to do that.
I think it's a great time on the schedule. It's not a tune-up for the Masters. May was an open date. We had the Masters in April, U.S. Open in June, and now the big event in May here.

Q. Do you expect this course to play firmer and faster than it did last year?
JIM FURYK: Now you're testing my memory. I don't remember how it played last year, to be honest with you. A little bit. I remember it played pretty firm and fast. I remember I liked the greens.
The problem with the overseed is you have to water it a lot to get the grass to grow. You can never really dry it out, if that makes sense. It makes it difficult. With the Bermuda, you just have such a better chance of -- once we got this warm weather here in the last few weeks the grass starts popping and you can keep it really dry and play it firmer and faster.
It's a better test that way. The golf course may play a little bit shorter, but it plays more difficult. It's harder to get the ball in the fairways, it's harder to control it into the greens, and I think the greens are a much better test with Bermudagrass.

Q. How do you feel about your game right now?
JIM FURYK: It's in pretty decent shape. I've been playing pretty well the last couple of months, and I've had some good finishes. I had a real good opportunity to win at Doral, and I've had a lot of other finishes that were close. I've got a few things to work on, but I'm happy, I'm pleased with the way things are going.

Q. Can you give a brief summary of two holes and the way you approach them, 6 and 15? What do you think of those holes from your opinion of are they good golf holes?
JIM FURYK: 6, I don't think it's a bad golf hole. I wouldn't list it as one of the great holes of the golf course. But it's a tough -- it's a cute little hole. It's tight. They've added some palm trees on the left behind that bunker, so the left bunker now is much more penal. You just can't get way with anything down the right side. Anything a little bit in the right rough you get kind of caught behind not only the trees that are straddling the right side of the green but also there's the tree line down the right, so it's a short hole but you have to put the ball in the fairway, and you have to be careful because there's trees that overhang that green that are just about on the exact right trajectory to catch your second shot.
15 on the other hand is I think one of the more underrated holes on the golf course. I think it's a good golf hole with a very difficult green. It's kind of sliding left to right. I think it's one of the prettier tee shots on the golf course, and the green is pretty well guarded. It's got that big dip in the right side that you're always trying -- when the pin is up the left side of the green you're always trying to keep it left, but left is no good.
I like that hole. I think it's not one of the holes that most people mention on the golf course as being one of the better holes, and I think it's one of the top five or six holes on the course.

Q. A few weeks ago you said you thought the days of 24-under winning the tournament were over for good. Even if you get some rain --
JIM FURYK: That's only really happened once in memory. Those days were always gone. I think Greg went crazy, he was 24, I think Fuzzy was 18. I think third place was 12-under.

Q. Even if this course gets an abnormal rainfall for April or May, what's the best a winner could hope to score here under the current setup do you think?
JIM FURYK: That depends on how the staff wants to set it up. If the staff wants single digits it'll be single digits. If they want to give us a chance to play 10-, 12-, 14-under once the golf tournament starts, that depends on pin placement, firmness and fastness of the greens, obviously your same weather aside. It depends on how they set the golf course up as far as pin placements and speed and quickness of fairways and greens. They could get what they want. They could get it back to 5-under if they want, and they could probably have 15-under pretty easily I expect. But I expect it's going to pretty much fall in the middle.

Q. If this is the weather we're going to get the rest of the week, and it looks like that's what it is, is it going to get baked out Saturday and Sunday?
JIM FURYK: If it's like this all week, it'll probably get baked out before that.

Q. How do you think Tiger's absence is going to affect things this week?
JIM FURYK: Obviously the best player in the world, he creates a buzz, a stir. There will be less people and media around, tougher for the producer to figure out who he's going to follow Thursday and Friday.
Obviously we miss having him out here. He is our lead story. He's the one that draws -- he's drawn a lot more people to the game, but it is what it is. We'll still have a good tournament and there will still be a lot of great players here, and he will be back soon.

Q. I wonder if there will be some guys who psychologically might approach the tournament differently with him not here, not so much the veteran players but maybe some of the guys --
JIM FURYK: If he were here I'd tease him and say he wasn't that much of a factor in the past, so what's the difference? It's the only event I can say that (laughter). At this point he'd be calling me a few names that you couldn't put on there.
But no, I don't think we really approach -- the best players in the world get excited about playing against the best. I mean, you want to tee it up Sunday against Tiger and you want to go out there and test your game in tough conditions against the best player, and you want to win in those situations and say that you were able to do it. Very few people have been able to do that, but still, that's exciting.
I don't think we look at this event and say he's not here, now I have a better chance of winning. You kind of worry about yourself and your own game and getting yourself ready. It's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; I'm not really looking at the field. I'm thinking about what the golf course plays like, what am I going to have to do to get my game in shape to play this golf course. That's kind of the same every week.
So his absence, him being here or not being here doesn't really affect the rest of us or how we prepare, but it affects on a broader scale, television, how our viewers, how our fans look at the golf tournament because they want to see Tiger in the field.

Q. Anthony Kim is the latest 20-something year old to win this year. Do you see something they have in common at all? Are they a little bit -- obviously Adam won, Trahan, Immelman, Johnson Wagner; there's been seven or eight others. Do these kids have less fear or are they more confident?
JIM FURYK: It's the same story every year, it really is. It's just an ebb and flow. One week we're going to have a 40-year-old win and the next week a 30 and the next week a 20, and it will be kind of boring. We'll have a phase where a bunch of young guys win, a bunch of first-timers, and then we go through a phase where the old guys seem to be cleaning up. Vijay was just over his 40s and he won eight or nine tournaments, whatever it was, and then all of a sudden the old guys were -- then there's no Americans that are under 30 that are in the Top 50 in the world. There's always something.

Q. Some little trend that we dig up?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, there's good players at every level and age, and it's just a matter of winning. I mean, I don't know all those guys personally all that well, to be honest with you. I know Adam obviously probably -- I know his game the best. He's obviously -- I think everyone would probably say he's the best under-30 player in the world right now. Trevor has got a heck of a game.
But as far as being really, really young, I mean, Anthony Kim -- Sean O'Hair is pretty young for that matter. People don't realize how young he is. Anthony is, what, 21, 22?

Q. 22.
JIM FURYK: I mean, no fear. He's confident. You can tell just by the way he walks, the way he acts, that he believes in himself. I wouldn't call him cocky because I think that's a negative connotation, but he's very, very confident. And the reason I say that is because I really think he's a great guy. I really like him. So I wouldn't use the word cocky. But he has a brashness about him and you can tell he has a lot of confidence in his game, and not many 22-year-olds have that, so he's obviously a special talent physically and mentally.
No, I think everything has an ebb and flow to it, you know? I always have to hear about how we lost four out of the last five Ryder Cups we played in, and ten years from now they're answering those questions. Four years ago they had to answer the question how come they never won. So it's kind of the ebb and flow of things. Just because there's a guy on the other side that's 22 or 42, it doesn't really matter to me. Everyone out here has enough game to win.

Q. Do you think they've gotten a little more polished because of the instruction they're getting? These guys are going to the Leadbetter Academy and they're going to Hank's academy and --
JIM FURYK: Go down the list and tell me how many of those guys went to David's academy.

Q. They haven't all gone to Lead, but they have gone to some of them. Some of them have gone.
JIM FURYK: To the academy? I'm just curious, not that I'm bad-mouthing the academies, but I think we haven't seen that era yet because when those guys would have been going through that academy would have been eight, 10, 12 years ago and I don't think that academy was really that popular eight, 10, 12 years ago. I think that's a fad right now. That may not be a fad in the next 40 or 50 or 100 years, but I don't know if we have a guy on TOUR, Ty Tryon maybe for Leadbetter, but I don't think we have a guy on TOUR that went to one of those academies. I'd be interested to hear it. If they were taught by Leadbetter or -- they're good teachers. I think the world of the guys. I like David and I like Hank, and I don't know if those academies are good or bad, I'm not making an opinion, but I don't think we have that on TOUR, guys that went to those academies.
I think younger players are more polished, but I think the instruction some of the young kids are getting these days is both a positive and a negative. Not for the guys that are on TOUR, but when I go to the range, there are a lot of 14-year-olds on the range, and they're all -- not one of them can play a lick, but they're out there working on their swing. They can't break 80 but they're out there working on their swing, so that part scares me, the mechanical.
I think our youth today is so worried about what their swing looks like and the mechanics of the swing, no one can actually play the game, which is more important.
Now, our young guys are coming out now, I think there's better places to prepare. Junior golf is so much better and stronger, college golf is better and stronger, there's more mini-Tours and places to play that if you're not on the PGA TOUR than there was 10 years ago than there was 20 years ago, and goodness gracious, beyond that -- the Hogan Tour started, what, '87, '90? I was on it in '93, and it was the first year they called it the Nike Tour, and I was so excited to tell people I was on the Nike Tour. And they all looked at me and said, "What the hell is that?" I would say, "It's the Hogan Tour." "Oh, oh, I didn't know they switched the name." Then it wasn't a big name. Nowadays everyone knows what the Nationwide Tour is.
Basically when I was young if you didn't get on the Nike Tour or the PGA TOUR, you were going to Asia, period. There was nowhere else to go, nowhere else to play. You might go to South America, might go to Canada, but now there's a lot more places to play, and the Canadian Tour is better than it used to be, and there was a Hooters Tour that was around when I was playing, and that's a lot better and more competitive, and the Nationwide Tour is a lot, lot better than when I played on it 15 years ago.
I think there's just more places to play and groom yourself and get your game in shape so that when you come to the TOUR you're better prepared. Does that make sense?

Q. 26 years the event has been here and a European has only won one time. Any theory as to why the Europeans -- the numbers that I've seen, it looks like they've --
JIM FURYK: Sandy Lyle?

Q. Yeah, Sandy Lyle. Europeans tend to struggle on this particular venue. Any idea why that is?
JIM FURYK: I have no idea. I have no idea. This would be the stereotypical American golf course as far as target-oriented, water down the stretch. When I go to Europe to the British Open, all of the people in the UK, when they think of American golf, they think of target golf courses and they think of water, especially down the stretch, lakes, ponds, they think of 16, 17 and 18 here, and that's just a stereotype on the United States.
I think some of our best golf courses, if you look at all the older ones, the Winged Foots and the Shinnecocks, there isn't a lot of water around the place. So it's different.
My thinking of stereotyping American golf would be the early 20th century courses that were built in the 1920s and '30s, the Donald Ross and the McKenzies and the William Quinn, that's what comes to my mind. But now because of the world we play on the PGA TOUR, if you think about it, we play at a lot of TPC courses, we play at a lot of newer golf courses, and they all have water down the 18th hole, almost every one of them.
Last week would be a good example, Charlotte. It's a good golf course. There's not a pond but there's a creek. Hilton Head is not a new golf course, but New Orleans, Doral, Bay Hill all are kind of on that route.
Why they haven't won, I have no idea. That's too long a trend.

Q. I was wondering if you were suggesting that maybe these courses have more appeal --
JIM FURYK: No, I mean, maybe -- I don't know. I was just trying to avoid the question (laughter).

Q. Back to the 20-year-old thing, most guys that come up and have success at the junior and collegiate level, and really they get their butts kicked when the hit the TOUR. It's a humbling experience. How much can that affect a guy? How humbling is that to hit the TOUR after so much success?
JIM FURYK: You know what happens, though? Most of the time you come out as a junior, and you're always trying to elevate to a new level. For me it was playing locally in my town, and then I moved to the Philadelphia area and then I started moving to regional tournaments and national tournaments. The first time I went to play in Philly, I thought, there's a lot more kids here, and I played bad, and I looked around, and I said, you know what, if I would have just played my own game I would have played fine. Then I went to a regional tournament and I did the same thing and went to a national tournament and I did the same thing.
I kind of worked my way up through the ranks. I actually played well in my first college event and said, hey, you know what, I've got stuff to learn but I can compete here. I went to the Nationwide Tour and same thing, I went to the PGA TOUR, and I played well in my second event, finished Top 10 in my second event, and I looked around and said I've got a lot to learn. There's a lot of guys out here better than me and I can improve, but when I play well I can compete.
It's not really a -- for me it wasn't like demoralizing, it was more like -- it was just like the lightbulb went on and I looked around, and I said, okay, there's Corey Pavin; man, look at his short game. And there's Nick Faldo; look at him around the golf course and how meticulous he is. I looked over here and went, look what this guy can do, look what this guy can do. Corey hits wedge shots really well and better than me. I wondered how I could -- I didn't try to copy him. I need to work on that part of my game.
I can remember being at The Masters one year and hitting wedges next to Faldo in the chipping area from about 40 yards, and I looked at my dad, and I said, that's how I want to hit a wedge; that's what I'm trying to do. He said, "Well, let's go to work." His swing is different than yours. The way he's approaching a shot is different because of X, Y and Z. Some of it I thought was my equipment at the time, some of it was my mechanics and what I was doing. And I went to work on that, and now it's one of the strongest parts of my game. That's where I think from 50, 60, 70 yards I'm really good on TOUR.
But it was like opening a broader horizon. Instead of saying, oh, God, I've got so much to work on, I looked and said, oh, wow, I've got so much to work on, but I've got all these examples of how to get better. Young guys can go pick older guys' brains and ask them things, and they'll always help. Rarely will you get a pro that will say piss off and won't help you. You want to ask questions, yeah, here's what I'm doing.
I remember playing a practice round with Tom Kite, and he didn't know, but I was kind of following him around, and he was doing something on the green, and I finally said, what the hell is this guy doing? I couldn't even figure out what he was doing in practice. What are you looking at? And he said, I'm looking at the green and how the shot is coming in, and he just started explaining it, and I went, hmm, that makes sense. It never crossed my mind, but I kind of scratched my head and said, all right, I've got to learn a little bit more here, learn the courses better.

Q. Do you remember where that was?
JIM FURYK: That was at Honda. I was playing with him and Bruce Lietzke. I used to play practice rounds with Lietzke when I could.

Q. Is your game shaping up at a good time with the U.S. Open coming up?
JIM FURYK: I hope so. I'm not real fond -- I shouldn't say fond, but the events that I get the most excited about start at about Doral. From Doral I start getting excited, obviously at The Masters, MCI, Wachovia which I love, come home, play Colonial, Memorial. At Colonial I finished second a couple times and won at Memorial, then I get to play to U.S. Open, then I get to go to Flint whenever I want, and then Congressional. These are all courses I love. Not that I don't like the courses we play on the West Coast, but I love -- today is a great day. If it were ten degrees hotter, it would be perfect. The hotter the better. I'm more of a summertime guy. I think as I get older I'm going to start playing less events outside the summer months.

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