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July 14, 2008

Jim Furyk


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we've got 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk with us. Jim, thanks for joining us.
JIM FURYK: Thanks.
MALCOLM BOOTH: You finished 4th here in 1998 and also 4th at Hoylake in 2006. Is there something about the northwest of England that you particularly like?
JIM FURYK: The two courses, I know that. No, I had a good run at the British Open over my career and then in the middle missed a bunch of cuts, and the last couple years I've played pretty well, so I'm hoping to keep up the good play of the last two years.
As far as Royal Liverpool and Hoylake and this golf course I think really suit my game. They're narrow golf courses, places where you have to work the ball and get it around, much different than, say, St. Andrews, and places that stereotypically wouldn't be a place where you'd probably pick me to do well at.
I've got some good memories back from '98 here. I had a real good opportunity to win this tournament. I was very disappointed in the finish, just down the stretch. I felt like I hit some good shots and didn't knock in some putts and made a mistake or two and I think ended up losing by two. Early in my career I think that was probably the best opportunity I had to win a major championship. I remember it well, but also it was a major disappointment at the time.
I'm happy to be back. It doesn't seem like too much has changed. 17th green is probably the one that sticks out, but a few bunkers here and there, but for the most part it's the same golf course. I think a very underrated golf course in this rotation, to be honest with you. I think it's better than a few that get touted even higher.
MALCOLM BOOTH: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. You mentioned that this one is perhaps not as highly rated as others, as it should be. Can you tell us which ones you were referring to (laughter)?
JIM FURYK: Well, no offense to the other golf courses. I think there's a lot of great golf courses in this rotation. And when I think of the best, I think of Muirfield, I think of Carnoustie. Turnberry is a wonderful golf course, even though I haven't played an Open Championship at it. Lytham and Troon, and to be honest, I think this golf course is as good or better than Lytham or Troon, and I think they're both good golf courses. I just think this is -- it never gets rated like Lytham or Troon or Carnoustie, or we don't seem to hear about it for some reason, as many, and I think it's every bit as good as those courses.

Q. Not perhaps directly related to the Open this week, but from a points perspective, we've been accused here perhaps of being Ryder Cup-obsessed. Can you give me your own thoughts on what level of importance the Ryder Cup is in America at the moment in terms of people talking about it and what the absence of Tiger might do?
JIM FURYK: Well, for me personally it's my favourite event, so it's one that every other year it's on the radar screen. I keep an eye where I'm at in the points, and I always want to make sure that I'm on that team. It's easy to take care of, you just have to play well for the most part.
Right now I hear a lot of buzz in the States. I hear people say they're trying to get tickets, they have tickets. Basically we still have a major championship coming up, the PGA, but I think in Ryder Cup years the excitement of that tournament maybe gets hindered a little bit because people are looking beyond it and looking at the Ryder Cup because it's such a big event and a tough ticket to get.
I think there's a lot of pride in the States, not only from the fans but from the players. When I think back to the two PGA Championships held at Valhalla, in Louisville, and how excited the fans were, I think there's going to be a great buzz. Golf seems like it's done really well in that town. It's a mid-size city, small to mid-size city in the United States. It's not an LA or New York, Detroit, Chicago. But golf tends to do well in that size of city back in the States. It seems to bring an extra excitement. There's not a lot of golf events there, and the fans were crazy in the last two PGA Championships, so I expect they'll be the same and even better for this event.
As far as not having Tiger, obviously it's a disappointment. He's the best player in the world, so having him on your team is special. You know he's going to fight to the end. He's been my partner a lot, so I'll definitely miss him on the team. I think a lot of players look up to him now as being a leader, being someone that you can always ask advice from, always talk to, and he's got a lot of experience.
The players really look -- I think look to him and love having him on the team. So it'll be disappointing not to have him there, but we'll have to manage without, and I'll step it up a little bit.

Q. Two questions: One, you said 17 green sticks out. Sticks out good or bad, and why?
JIM FURYK: Well, it's different. To my knowledge it's been redesigned, so I think all the other greens are pretty much the same, if not the same design we played ten years ago. But the 17th is not.
It's got a lot more movement on it, it's got a lot of undulation. You can have some very crazy and fun shots on that hole and a lot can happen. It sticks out in my mind because it's not the same green. I would have remembered that green the way it is now.
And there is some movement in these greens. Most of The Open Championships I've played you have some undulation, but the pins are usually in relatively flat spots like at St. Andrews. There's a lot of movement, a lot of humps and bumps and big tears, but the pin placements are usually relatively in flat spots. You can get a lot of putts here with six, eight, ten inches of break on a 10- or 15-footer, where you don't see that a lot at the Open. If it gets real windy here putting will be very, very difficult.

Q. And secondly, when it comes to links courses, people point to this one and say this one is fair. It's the most fair of all of them. How do you define a fair links course?
JIM FURYK: I don't like to use the word fair. I try to avoid it at all costs in my interviews because there's no real way to distinguish that word, determine what is fair, what is not. It's an opinion instead of a -- you can't quantify it.
I feel like I avoid that word at all costs. I just like the golf course.

Q. Is it more predictable as far as the bounces you get? That's what I'm getting at.
JIM FURYK: Well, somewhat, more than other golf courses I would believe. But it's there in front of me. You can see where you're going on most of the holes.
The fairways are tight. You have to challenge some of the bunkers. It's bunkered well. I think some of the greatest green settings. Just look at some of the greens complexes. I stood out there 100 yards from the green and took a picture of the green, most of them are very, very pretty, more so than most links green complexes. A lot of them fit into the dunes and just from sheer beauty are very pretty and difficult.

Q. We've had brown Opens and green Opens. This appears to be a green one. Do you have a preference, and why?
JIM FURYK: I don't know if I really have a preference. I would rather see the ball as firm and fast as possible, so I guess brown. But it's not like the ball is not chasing this week.
You know, what I like is that if you know it's been -- when we went to Muirfield, we come here, you know it's been raining. When you go to Liverpool you know it's been dry. You look at the golf course, and the weather for the past couple months will dictate how the golf course plays. If it's been raining the rough is going to be tougher, going to be thicker but you're not going to get as much roll, and vice versa when it's brown.
I don't really have -- I think there's courses that I prefer over here, and then on top of that, if I had it my way, I'd want it to play as firm and as fast as possible.
But coming to Birkdale, Muirfield, Turnberry, I really liked Liverpool because I think it's because I played well there, and going to places where you don't have to bomb it and really work the ball around, I'm going to prefer those whether they're green or brown, versus -- I've always just found St. Andrews very difficult, and the last time we played there it was -- I don't know what shape, it was past brown, but it was in that shade, as well, and almost very slippery. It almost got white at times (laughter). But I just struggled with St. Andrews. I haven't done a good job there.

Q. You had a stretch of playing well in the Open, and if I'm not mistaken, a stretch of missing the cut just about every year. What happened during that patch and how did you get back to where you had been?
JIM FURYK: When I first came on Tour, I hit the ball pretty low. I was a low-ball hitter. I was very comfortable in the wind, very comfortable flighting the ball and hitting it down, even some of my early wins, a bunch of them were in Hawaii, tough conditions. So I didn't mind that style of golf. And I adapted over here pretty quickly. I think I finished 4th in my second Open.
Then in order to get better, in order to compete in the United States week in, week out, and have an opportunity to win at more courses, I changed my game, I changed my equipment and worked on hitting the ball higher, and a lot of it was due to equipment as much as technique. But I worked on getting the ball up in the air, spinning it more and being able to attack more of our newer style of golf courses back in the States.
And when I tried to come back, I had a hard time adapting. That sounds more like an excuse. The bottom line is I didn't adapt well. I didn't come back, and a good player should be able to play in all conditions and adapt his game and style to the way you need to play, and I didn't do a good job of it.
After missing four or five cuts in a row, I kind of committed myself at Liverpool to really working on trying to fit my game to the style of golf course and got a club or two in my game that I could fly it a little bit better, in between a 3-wood and a 3-iron, a nice hybrid that I could hit about 10 feet high and run it down those fairways. I guess I made more of an effort to adapt and to play better and probably got fed up with the way I had been playing and eventually broke out of it.
Hopefully -- I finished somewhere in the teens last year, maybe 12th or something, and hopefully I can keep that up.

Q. There's obviously been a lot of talk and a lot of things written about Kenny Perry's decision not to come over here. Given how hot he is, what's your sense of that decision?
JIM FURYK: To the best of my knowledge, you can't win if you never play (laughter). You know, I would -- from a personal standpoint, I'd have a very difficult time staying home when I had the opportunity to play in any major championship. I missed a bunch of cuts in a row here and maybe was down on myself coming to the Open Championship. Maybe my attitude wasn't as good. But still, you can't win on the couch.
That being said, that decision wouldn't be for me, but I'm not Kenny Perry. He also made a decision not to play in the U.S. Open, and you would think that Torrey Pines would be right down his alley, but he says he never plays well there, doesn't like the course, and decided not to. Kenny is about 48 years old. The fact that he's going to play 25 or however many events this year, and he's playing so well with two wins, I mean, I guess --

Q. Three.
JIM FURYK: Did he win yesterday?

Q. Yeah, in a playoff.
JIM FURYK: Who did he beat in a playoff?

Q. Adamonis and Williamson both hit it in the water on a playoff.
JIM FURYK: That's the kind of playoff I need to get into right there (laughter).
You know, I like Jay a lot. I don't know Brad very well, I like Jay a lot. I'm happy to see him. Kenny has got three wins under his belt. The beauty of our game is we're our own boss, we get to pick and choose. He can do whatever he wants, and obviously it's probably a sore spot over here, but I think the world of him. When he's hot, he's as good as anyone in the world.
And he tends to -- in those years, it seems like he plays mediocre for two or three years and all of a sudden he gets hot and he wins four events in two years, and when he's playing well, he's hard to beat.
The beauty of this game is we get to make our own schedule, and more power to him.

Q. As a quick follow-up, you mentioned Torrey Pines, and one of the reasons he cited was obviously his desire to play in the Ryder Cup, build up as many points. But now he's assured of the Ryder Cup. Do you view his decision here maybe differently than his decision at Torrey Pines given that that's sort of out of the equation now, that wrapped that up?
JIM FURYK: It's still the same thing, still the same argument. He said his whole plan, his whole goal for the year was to make the Ryder Cup team. He set a schedule, he's stuck to it, made the team. No reason to change the schedule now.
I don't know what the reason is why he isn't here, why he didn't want to play. But there was a reason, so he stuck to his guns and has done it. It's his prerogative, and it's not my decision but I'm not criticizing him. I'm actually very pro player in these situations and he should make the decision that he wants to, that's good for him.

Q. I was going to explore a similar theme, but maybe I can reshape my question and ask you what you think of the collective American challenge here, how strong it is in view of Tiger's absence, Kenny's refusal to come here, and the possibility of Phil Mickelson's game not being ideally suited to links golf?
JIM FURYK: Well, he's also played very well and had an opportunity to win a couple times over in links golf. I don't know, I mean, I could just make everyone mad. How many Americans have won the last ten years?

Q. At Birkdale it's gone over the pond five times out of eight, so you have a good record here.
JIM FURYK: Well, I feel like it's one event that you wouldn't think that -- I mean, just looking at it and how much different the golf courses are here than what we play week in and week out in the States, you would think that maybe the Americans would struggle a little bit more. But even when you go back to Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton and Justin, there was a bunch of years there in a row where -- it was like eight out of ten years or something where an American won the golf tournament. Of course Tiger won it probably 12 times, too, and he's not here this week (laughter).
But obviously missing Tiger is a big deal, Kenny is probably -- Kenny hits a real high, towering golf ball, and he probably doesn't love coming over and playing links golf from that shot, but the way he's playing right now I think he could play anywhere in the world and be a force.
I don't know, I think we've got a lot of Americans that have played well here in this tournament with a lot of experience, and I would hope that we would fare well. Saying that, I hope I fare well.

Q. What drives you week in, week out? Are you obsessed by chasing the next victory? I assume you're not playing to pay the bills these days?
JIM FURYK: Winning golf tournaments. My goals starting the year are to win, and obviously I haven't this year, so that's a disappointment. Another goal is to play on the Ryder Cup team, and hopefully a winning Ryder Cup team. First and foremost, I want to win some golf tournaments, and if I do that, it takes care of the latter.
But yeah, right now I've kind of refocused my goals, I think, from the last -- my goals are different now than they were ten years ago than they were five years ago. I don't know how many more good years I've got. I think it's a lot. But either way, when I finally do call it quits and say it's time, I want to look back and say that I gave myself the best opportunity to win as many golf tournaments as I could have because that's what you're going to be remembered for.

Q. With Tiger missing for the rest of the year now, does that change the way you're looking ahead to this tournament and the PGA and the regular tournaments?
JIM FURYK: No, I've been asked that question a lot in the States, as well, at tournaments I've played in since. And it's kind of a -- I think it would be a very poor attitude for guys to get really excited because he wasn't present. I've always viewed it as it really doesn't matter to us who's in the field. I know the sponsors are looking at it, I know the tournaments are looking at it, I know the media is paying attention because it's obviously the big draw. But as a player I'm not really worried about who's here and who's not. I've got enough to worry about whether my game is in shape, hitting the ball well, whether the course suits me and getting it around the course.
Whether he's here or not doesn't matter. I'm trying to think of the best terminology. It's just kind of a chicken attitude to walk up and say, well, he's not here; now I've got a better opportunity. In reality that's probably true because he -- but to look at it that way, I'd have a tough time waking up in the morning looking at myself in the mirror if that's the way I was thinking.

Q. Ten years ago here on the Saturday, I think was maybe the template for really wild weather in the last 12, 15 years at the Open. Do you remember anything special about that Saturday? I mean, I think 23 guys who made the cut were in the 80s that day. Do you remember anything --
JIM FURYK: I've got to be dead honest with you. I remember now that the weather was bad because you mentioned it and because I was told, remember Saturday? I don't remember a damn thing about Saturday. I remember most of my Sunday round to be honest with you, and I played with Mark when he won. I remember the disappointment at the end, and I remember my shots down the stretch. But I honestly don't remember a thing about Saturday, other than I must have played well because I got myself in the hunt towards the end, towards the last three or four groups.

Q. I think 6-over made the cut, and I think 5-over led after Saturday.
JIM FURYK: 6-over made the cut and 5-over led the tournament? What won the tournament?

Q. Even?
JIM FURYK: Even was leading through 54? I don't know, I remember I missed the cut at Muirfield, and I remember coming through the airport and looking up at the TV and seeing Shigeki hiding behind one of the tee signs. I remember thinking, maybe it's not so bad that I'm here at the airport.

Q. Given your experience and seniority and also your success in terms of your career, do you see yourself as a leader of the American cause here and in the Ryder Cup?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I don't want to put the -- I hate jinxing myself or putting the cart before the horse. I'm in pretty good shape for points. I think I'm 5th in our points out of nine. Crazier things have happened. First and foremost, I want to make sure I'm on that team. That being said, if I am on that team I see myself as a little bit of a leader. It would be my sixth time around. Mickelson is probably the only guy that's got more experience on that team in those situations. Yeah, we'll have some young players on the team that will have questions and be wondering what's going on. We have some players like Anthony Kim who's probably going to be on the team. He's got a lot of game and a lot of guts. He's a guy that I don't think needs any prodding along.
But yeah, I would view myself -- it's amazing how time goes quickly. When it was my first Ryder Cup, and now I've played in five of them and five Presidents Cups. I view myself as one of those guys that if you have a question, I'll be more than happy to help you and hopefully saying the right thing at the right time to someone that might help out and help their game out or their spirits.

Q. You emphasized a point I was going to ask you about. You've been coming here for a long time. Do you feel like this is a second home? Do you feel comfortable here to the extent, say, of drinking beer or driving on our side of the road or even drinking tea? How do you feel about coming here? How do you feel about what you find when you're here?
JIM FURYK: I'd probably have to say that the tea is highly overrated and the beer is highly underrated (laughter).

Q. You like the beer but not the tea?
JIM FURYK: I'd agree with that statement (laughter).

Q. And driving?
JIM FURYK: It doesn't bother me, although renting a car here could be the most difficult thing of the entire trip. It sounds like it's going to cost like 200 to 300 pounds, and by the time you're done it's like half the mortgage on your house, is what it seems like. And then you get a call like six months later that you still owe them money.
I try to avoid renting cars at all costs over here. But I have no issue driving anywhere, small towns, small roads, the other side of the road never bothered me.
As far as being like adopted or anything, I would say there's a couple places in the world -- I feel really comfortable in South Africa, but I've played well over there, I've won twice in Sun City, and I feel like I've been adopted there. Hawaii, from the States, has kind of adopted me. I'm comfortable here, but because I haven't won the event or really challenged as much as I would have liked, I probably -- I guess I have maybe two or three 4th place finishes -- I guess three. If you had won here, I think it draws people in closer, especially -- for like a Justin Leonard or a Tom Lehman, guys that have won here, they love coming here, they love the event, links golf, they appreciate the history, I think that they kind of have that maybe more keen feeling and warmth because the people really understood how much it means to me. Hopefully someday; how's that? But I feel very comfortable, and I enjoy being here.

Q. One more spin on the Tiger issue. Do you notice any less buzz now that you're here with him not here, and do you think it would diminish at all whoever wins here this week, maybe like an asterisk on it, that he wasn't in the field?
JIM FURYK: Do I feel less of a buzz? Not really. Not really. I'm sure there's probably in total number less outlets, especially the outlets that maybe usually don't cover golf that show up because of a Tiger Woods. For all the hard core golf media I'm sure everyone is here that usually is here. As far as the asterisk is concerned, I mean, I wouldn't see that. Let's put it this way: Whoever won here, 20 years from now they're not going to say, well, he was the British Open champion in 2008, but by the way, Tiger Woods wasn't there; no one is going to care. It's not going to go down in history that way.

Q. You talked about Birkdale, liking it. Is it because it is in two loops of nine and the wind is changing all the time so you're really having to think about your game as the course turns?
JIM FURYK: Never thought of it that way. That's a good point, though. I like the style of the golf course. Like I said, I think it's pretty. But more than that, I like the -- I just think you have to work the ball here even more so than most links golf courses. It's not a bomber's paradise.
And probably more than anything, I played well here last time, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

Q. Does it give you an extra buzz to have to think your shots through?
JIM FURYK: I think you always do. In the Open you're playing in tough conditions. The golf courses are set up pretty tough. It's easy to find yourself concentrating because if you -- it's the easy courses that you lose your concentration on. When things get too benign and too easy, you kind of stand up on a wide golf course and just let it fly. I think I hit more errant shots or poor golf shots on a course like that. When even par is a good score and you're playing in severe conditions on a very tight and narrow golf courses it's easy to concentrate because everything looks so difficult. Hitting on the practise tee it's easy to get your mind wandering, fly one left, fly one right and say, well, shoot, I'd better start grinding again. It doesn't seem that difficult in a major championship.

Q. You mentioned Anthony Kim. What do you think about his game and his guts? What about his game jumps out at you? And could you ever see yourself wearing a belt buckle JF that size?
JIM FURYK: Nope, I don't (laughter).
What do I think of Anthony? I really like the guy, to start with. He's a lot of fun. He's got a -- he's loose, but he's got a real confident feel about him. Even as a rookie, just the way he handled himself, walked around the locker room. He almost appears cocky, but when he talks to you, he -- I don't see that side of him when he talks to you. He's just very confident. He has a lot of belief in his ability.
I think back to -- I was wearing a shirt -- I want to say last year I was wearing a pair of black slacks and I think I had a pink shirt on one day, which was probably out of the normal for me and not as conservative as usual, and he was giving me a hard time on the practise tee, "Look at you stepping it up, pink shirt, walk by." I said, "Rookie, what? Wait a second. Rookie, it's still your first year, just pipe down over there, be quiet." I was kind of getting a kick out of him giving me a hard time, but doing it in a fashion that I generally thought he was funny. I really like being around him. He's a good guy, and he's got a lot, a lot of game, especially for, what is he, 22 or 23 years old? He's got a lot of game.

Q. What about his game jumps out at you?
JIM FURYK: I just don't see a lot of weaknesses. I can't think of something -- I haven't played a lot with him, but when I have, I haven't seen him do anything poorly, and you don't see a lot of young guys like that get in contention on a tough course like Wachovia and then just beat the snot out of everyone. He gets up two, pretty soon it's three, pretty soon it's four. You have to have a lot of belief in yourself to do that.

Q. Is the Player of the Year race over, and if not, what's somebody going to have to do to nail that down with the remainder of the season left? And secondly, the bookies here in town have installed Sergio as the pick this week. I wonder if you might or might not be surprised by that, and why?
JIM FURYK: I'm not really surprised. I'm not putting any money on it, so I don't really care. I'm not surprised. He's played well this year, won at THE PLAYERS, could have won the British very easily last year, could have won this event.
I'm not surprised. Again, -- they're actually pretty darned good at their jobs. It has to do a lot with public opinion, as well. Being a guy that loves sports, I have buddies that like to gamble, so it deals with public perception. They feel they're going to get more money on Sergio, and to even everything else they've got to set the odds that way.
I enjoy the math end of that. That was the only thing I was really good at in school was math. English language was pretty elusive for me. I couldn't do what y'all do for a living, trust me. But the math end of it interests me, so the odds and everything, I get a kick out of it.

Q. The first part was Player of the Year, whether that's already locked up by the guy with one leg.
JIM FURYK: I don't know, I never thought of it. I guess. I mean, no one is probably going to catch him on the Money List I would think.
But I guess someone could rattle or a major or two and get in the FedExCup. I don't know how important that is for the voting. And we'll see. I'm not sure. It may be. Someone rattles off a major and -- say Anthony Kim wins a major, a playoff event and the TOUR Championship, then I think, yeah, I mean --

Q. You didn't think about it?
JIM FURYK: How many times has Tiger won this year?

Q. Four.
JIM FURYK: Four and a major? That's going to be tough to beat. What did he play in, three events, four wins?

Q. Pretty much, yeah. You are good at math.
JIM FURYK: It just feels that way.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Jim, thanks very much for joining us.

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