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September 24, 2008

Jim Furyk


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room here at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola after a victorious week last week at the Ryder Cup in Kentucky. I'm sure you're a little bit worn out, and hopefully had a couple days of rest to catch up. Coming back to an event where you're making your 11th career start. Haven't won this tournament yet, but three Top 10 finishes to your credit through your career here, so certainly you've been close.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'm a little disappointed that I haven't won. I really enjoy the golf course here, and in the past it was in Houston where I played well, I think, one year. But proud to be here, what did you say, 11 times?
STEWART MOORE: This is your 11th start.
JIM FURYK: One year I was hurt, yeah. Yep, that sounds about right (laughter). I was checking your math. That sounds about right.
Yeah, I'm proud of that fact. I've been at this event a long time. This is obviously a different format where a lot could happen, but I enjoy the golf course. I think I need to emotionally and mentally probably make sure I'm prepared.
My game is in good shape physically, but we're all a little bit worn out after last week. I found that at 38 I don't recover like I do at 23. I knew that, actually, but I've proven it once again (laughter).
We really had a good time and I enjoyed it. There's probably pretty much nothing you could see to keep me from happy for a little while longer after last week's win.

Q. Steelers.
JIM FURYK: Well, like I said, if one of us had to lose, I'm glad it was them. They have 13 more. I gotta wait two more years. So I'm glad they took one for us.

Q. You played a World Golf Championship after the Ryder Cup last time in a limited field, big event, nice purse. What was the enthusiasm or energy level like that week that you recall? How was it different? How much do you think winning and losing matters in that respect?
JIM FURYK: I think you're probably a little bit more mad. Although you're tired, you're probably a little bit more mad, a little bit more driven after a loss than you are possibly after a win, if that makes sense. I remember taking Monday off and kind of getting back to work a little bit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
But any time I've had a close call or lost in a playoff or -- it's usually about a day or two, and then I kind of get nose back to the grindstone and get back to work and try to fix what could have slightly went wrong the week before.
You know, after you have a big win on TOUR, it's a little bit of a hangover the next week, and emotionally it's tough to get up and get ready. I'd hate to overplay that fact.
We have a wonderful sponsor here, a big tournament, THE TOUR Championship, and just kind of a weird -- I want to thank the TOUR for looking at the schedule, kind of redoing it. I know there were some questions about it at first when Ryder Cup was supposed to be the week after the TOUR Championship.
Trying to play five big events in a row would have been very taxing on players, and I appreciate the change. And even though it might have -- it's going to put a little bit of a question mark on this event, because guys are going to come here and say they're tired and they were partying.
But emotionally we'll try to get ready. I'm still getting some rest every night. And like I said, I like the golf course, I like being here, and you might as well come out here and play well if you're going to be here.

Q. This kind of presupposes that you've been aware of the levels of venom and vitreal in the UK directed at Faldo. Are you surprised --

Q. -- if you've seen much of that, or is that sort of the world we're living in now?
JIM FURYK: I haven't seen it; I've heard about it. I'm not surprised, and not because I feel like he did a bad job, just I've seen it happen to our captains for the last three. It's part of the job. When you take it you need a thick skin, and you need to realize that you're either going to be the hero or the goat.
I can't remember the last time a captain lost and was applauded for the effort he put in in this event and wasn't widely criticized. So surprised? Not at all. Not at all. That's part of it. You have to realize it's coming.
Having Lee Westwood kind of come to his aid and say, We hit the shots. We felt the same way for Curtis and Hal and for Tom. These guys poured their hearts into it. They put in two years, you know, some of them flying back and forth to England and Ireland and all that goes into it, all the thought, the gifts, just wanting it to be special for their 12 players.
Then we don't play all that well, things don't go right, and they get basted. So that's part of the job. If you can't deal with it then you shouldn't take it. But most of those players -- most of those men got to the position they did in the game and got chosen as a captain because they took some criticism along the way and it didn't bother them and they thrived anyway.

Q. Would that give you pause if they rung your doorbell someday, the PGA?
JIM FURYK: I mean, that's obviously in the future. I feel I'm a little too young to be worried about that. But I would -- I, as well as a lot of other people, would love to have that job, and it would not give me pause. I would realize that it would be part of it, but the honor is too great not to take.

Q. Along those same lines of some of the criticism, there was something that came out -- I don't know if you heard anything about it at the time -- about Ian Poulter and Anthony Kim. Poulter hinted at the fact that it was Kim who lowered his shoulder into him as they were passing each other on the course and kind of bumped him. It seems like a big accusation to come out after the fact. Was there any talk of that, or had you heard anything like that during the actual play I think it was on Saturday afternoon.
JIM FURYK: I was playing Saturday afternoon against Poulter, so Kenny and I were playing Ian and McDowell.
No, I don't know anything about lowering his shoulder or intentionally trying to run into someone or anything like that. I, through the grapevine, heard that they bumped into each other, but I didn't -- I wasn't aware that it was anyone's fault, that anyone intentionally ran into -- that one intentionally ran into the other.

Q. When you were playing you didn't see anything?
JIM FURYK: I wasn't aware of it at all when I was playing. I didn't see it, didn't know anything about it until, I think, later that night. I had heard that something happened, but I think I just assumed and was kind of told that it was a miscommunication.
But as I said, I'm the wrong guy to ask because I guess I was there, but it either happened way behind me or way in front of me. And I'm not sure. I didn't see it physically and I didn't really hear an answer or an anecdote from either player.

Q. Completely switching gears, and I'm sure somebody may follow-up on that, but you mentioned a good sponsor here and the TOUR being in the situation they are with all the sponsors lined up. Commissioner was in here yesterday talking about the economy and the position that the TOUR is in, and he called it a "major concern for the TOUR" in keeping an eye on what's going on in the market.
JIM FURYK: He probably didn't say "major concern" as you said it.

Q. Well, in print, "major" could be read any way you want.
JIM FURYK: Right (laughter).

Q. But he said, "major concern." But as players, how much do you pay attention to what's going on and how that might affect the TOUR and purses and things along those lines, sponsorship?
JIM FURYK: Purses.

Q. I mean, obviously purses have gone up significantly in the last year.
JIM FURYK: Right, probably a -- I don't know if they're reflected more on the -- I would think they would be more reflected on the television side of things than they would on the sponsor side of things. But I don't know. I don't have that answer.
I never claimed to be the brightest person in the world, but obviously I'm smart enough to figure out that the economy in this country is struggling, major business is struggling, and it's going to be an effect on all areas.
As we look for sponsors -- and we have 43 weeks and about 46 tournaments, does that sound about right?

Q. Yep.
JIM FURYK: Looking for 46 title sponsors, I guess we're looking about 40 because you have the Buicks and the AT&Ts of the world where you have multiple events. So you're looking for probably high 30s probably. It's going to be more and more difficult, a harder sell.
Yeah, I think that we've grown at such a rapid pace, and as an event like The International has gone or an event like -- what else am I missing just recently?

Q. Atlanta.
JIM FURYK: Atlanta. We're filling them right in. Atlanta is missing, and all of a sudden we take San Antonio and put them in their slot, and then we just (snapping fingers), and then we've got another event in the fall. We kind of keep filling them in.
Eventually maybe we won't be able to fill them in or maybe we'll have one less event on the schedule, I'm not sure. We have a heck of a lot of events right now, and I think probably the difficulty there is that we have a lot of sponsors that have been very good to us, very loyal to us.
The difficulty probably isn't finding -- hasn't been finding sponsors. The fact that we have so many darned tournaments that we need so many sponsors, if that makes sense.

Q. And you're right, his voice rarely has any inflection (laughter).
JIM FURYK: His voice -- actually, I probably shouldn't be caught on camera saying this. His voice never has any inflection of tone. It is very monotone or even keel. Even keel would be the nicer way to say it. He gets the message across, but he never gets confused with Lou Holtz, I'll tell you that.

Q. If there's a question mark on this tournament, do you think it's more of kind of a Ryder Cup hangover in terms of there's still a big buzz over the last week's event, or the fact that there's so many different players here that people aren't used to having, they're used to having...
JIM FURYK: I couldn't even tell you who's in the field or where they stand on the Money List. It would be nice to see the 30 guys in the field and what position they were on the Money List and see how many guys are different than what it would have been in the past.

Q. There's probably four or five.
JIM FURYK: So that's not a lot, really. That's not a lot, really, when you think about it. I thought it would have been about 10 or 12 would have been my guess with the volatility of the points. It's probably a little bit of both.
I think that any time you follow up such an exciting event that of course the United States won, we're here in the United States playing this tournament, fans -- I can't tell you how many fans said, "Great job. We're so proud of you." I've got people chanting, "USA" during the practice round. It's been wonderful.
I know you've heard this before, but, yeah, it's still fun to keep hearing it. That's part of it. The other thing is we're missing a few key guys. Paddy Harrington comes to mind. Two major championships and he's not here in the TOUR Championship. Tiger is hurt, so we knew that was going to be the case.
Yeah, that hurts a little bit, but still have a hell of a field. You can go down the list of guys in the World Ranking and big-name players. There's still a lot of guys here.
I think the fact that Vijay took care of business early on in the year is obviously another point, and there's really nothing you can do about that. If we're going to set up a points system and one guy keeps winning all the damned tournaments, it makes it difficult for this event to be the final end product.
You know, if you don't make them so volatile it doesn't really fall in. I don't know what you could do, but if Tiger wins two events and finishes second and third, he's pretty much going to win. If Vijay goes out there and wins two of the first three and separates himself in a volatile system, he's going to win. In that case it's a little bit of a bummer.

Q. Not to get into ideas or how to fix things, but if they do it again for the third time next year, readjust the points, does it run the risk of getting kind of a stigma to it?
JIM FURYK: I like that word, if.

Q. When did I say if?
JIM FURYK: I thought you said if they go ahead and do the points.

Q. I take nothing for granted. When they change the points system for next year, does it run the risk of getting the same kind of stigma that a course that gets redesigned every year for like three years?
JIM FURYK: Honestly, the system, if you look back and think about it, every system could have provided a very exciting finish. Each system could have. You just had a player -- Tiger Woods goes out and wins twice and finishes second. You had a player that separated himself. This year, even though the system was totally different, it could have provided a really exciting finish. It did not.
I think it was actually -- you know, it was either really bad luck, or if you want to say it's bad planning, I don't think that's the case. I mean, it could have come out -- when you redesign a golf course, say Augusta National, for instance, and now the argument is it's not as exciting anymore.
Well, in this era of these real dominant, power, and then lengthening, the year that Mickelson made the putt on the last hole and jumped all of about two inches on the ground, and that was only because he spread his legs, otherwise it would have been like a half inch had he not (laughter.)
That was an exciting finish. It was an exciting tournament to watch. There's been a lot of exciting Masters tournaments in different fashion, where pars and pars and pars and a birdie and a par and a birdie and a par has been really good instead of eagles and double bogeys. It's been a different tournament.
So I think it's kind of good luck or bad luck whether you get the duel at the end. They've actually had some bad luck these first two years. It would be really great if you could come down the stretch and have four or five guys with an opportunity to win. Depending on how the putts fell on the last nine holes, that would be pretty cool.

Q. Do you think that will ever happen?
JIM FURYK: Yes, I do, just out of luck. It's got to.

Q. Vijay's putt in the playoff with Sergio, you know, when Sergio made the 20-footer and Vijay topped him, six guys would have a chance to win this week. So it's one putt there and it's totally different, speaking of good luck, bad luck, bad play, kismet, whatever.
JIM FURYK: Or just a damned good putt. I think everyone probably said, Oh, he rolled in a 20-footer. What's the chances of this next 20-footer going in. They're not good when you think about it, but he sucked it up and hit a good putt.

Q. Are you enjoying this Ryder Cup win more than the '99 victory? And if so, does it have anything to do with what happened in between?
JIM FURYK: It's hard to say, because time just kind of -- you forget over time. You forget things over time. Is this the best this or the best that, who's the best quarterback, who's the best putter. Over time you forget about ten years ago and twenty years ago.
'99 was special. And for the reason that we were four points down; no one thought we were going to win; everyone thought Ben was crazy; we came back from nowhere and won the thing. Pretty amazing. I mean, it was a great story.
I wasn't part of the '93 or '95 team, but I was there in '97 when we lost. So '99 was pretty special. Then you've got this time, what I really appreciated was the fashion that it happened. We controlled from opening day 3-1, we're up two points -- I'm sorry, it was 51/2-21/2. We're up three points after the first day.
Second day they fought back and got a point back from us. But on Sunday early in the day, all red on the board. I mean, it looked so good when I was on the front nine. I kept telling myself, It can change. It can change. There's a lot of 1s on the board. All squares, a lot of 1s. It can change so fast. You've seen it happen before.
Sure enough, as I'm making the turn, early on the back nine I look up and it looks like it's dead even. There's just as much blue and just as much red. There's a few matches lopsided on both sides and a lot of all squares. I'm thinking, Oh, boy, it can still go bad. Then guys sucked up and all of a sudden it started turning red.
What I liked is, in convincing fashion -- I mean, we won it on the eighth match of the day with four matches still out. It was a convincing win. If we had played it this week or the week before maybe it wouldn't have been that way, but that week we were the better team and it was convincing.
I hadn't been part of a Ryder Cup team that had done that in six tries. I had been beaten convincingly a couple of times, and it's no fun. I had a couple close losses, two convincing beatings, and it was nice to be on the other side and kind of leave no doubt about it.
That's what was special for me and what was so fun. Our team will always remember that together.

Q. You were around when 21-, 22-year-old Tiger Woods came on the scene, and now you're out here with 22-, 23-year-old Anthony Kim. Any similarities, personalities, and games with those two?
JIM FURYK: I would say they're both confident. I mean, they're both always confident and believe in themselves. You know, I think when Tiger first came -- see, I'm comparing Tiger probably the very first year he came out, because that's what I remember the most.
Where Anthony is -- this is, what, his second or third year on TOUR? Second full year on Tour. You know, Tiger, probably that very first year to Anthony now, it's kind of a little bit of an unfair comparison, to be honest with you.
But both have a lot of talent, a lot of tools, a lot of confidence in themselves, and they're different people the way they go about things. Tiger is probably -- gives the appearance of more driven, and Anthony gives the appearance of more a little bit of a happy-go-lucky floating around, Ah, it's no big deal. But in his heart it is. If you see the way he plays, it's important to him.
Where Tiger always has that nasty scowl and driven look on his face. Both of them definitely want to tear your heart out, there's no doubt. But Anthony is very polished for his age, there's no doubt. As far as his game, he's got a lot of tools. He's very polished for being 22, 23 years old. He's very impressive.

Q. A little out of left field here. The bonus this week, does the caddie deserve a chunk of that? If you win ten mill or three mill, does he deserve the usual 6-8-10, or did he get that over the four weeks of the FedEx and his weekly pay?
JIM FURYK: It's an interesting way to look at things. That was always -- at one time that was our retirement package. Now our retirement package is kind of split into cash and deferred money.
You know, I'm sure that everyone looks at it a different way. I'm sure the player looks at it different than the caddie looks at it (laughter). It's probably up to each individual pairing, and I don't think there is a -- I don't know.
You know what, very rarely -- I think it's only ever come up, in my knowledge, one player and caddie has ever talked about it that I've actually heard them talk about it or heard it being talked about. I've never had another caddie mention it to me, I've never had my caddie mention it to me, and I've never had another player mention it to me.

Q. What did you hear?
JIM FURYK: I just heard player and caddie talking about whether or not it should be -- it was last year. Last year everything was deferred. It's kind of difficult to pay someone on deferred money I would think. I don't know.
It was always -- I don't know. It's definitely opening up a can of worms just in -- not from the player-caddie relationship but from how the whole FedExCup has worked and how we get paid on it.
I'm still shocked that we had a player on this TOUR that voted for cash, but we did, and that's why we have cash now.
Again, I'm not the brightest guy on TOUR, I promise you, but I'm not that dumb either (laughter).

Q. So you were in favor...
JIM FURYK: I stressed "dumb" when I said it.

Q. But you wouldn't make as much interest now as you did last year. The interest is less this year than it was last year. Market is not doing so well.
JIM FURYK: I realize that, but I'm not retiring tomorrow, so...
And you are not investing my money after that comment (laughter.)

Q. So you would have been in favor of leaving it the way it was?
JIM FURYK: Well, there was probably some other issues there, too, as well. But absolutely. Absolutely. I had this conversation with our player liaisons, Sid Wilson and Billy I can't tell you how many times. I couldn't have been more crystal clear that if we could, leave it the same.
But I think there were some more issues, as well, with Washington, D.C., IRS. $10 million deferred, that number, I think, blew some minds, if that makes sense as far as -- you know, a CEO at the biggest corporation in the country isn't deferring $10 million, so it's kind of awkward that we were able to do it here on TOUR.
But if you could, if you were allowed, it's a no-brainer. It's not even a question.

Q. A lot of money on the back end coming out.
JIM FURYK: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially if you're like 25 years old or Anthony Kim, 22 years old. That's a lot of years until retirement.
STEWART MOORE: Jim, thanks so much.

End of FastScripts

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