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December 18, 2008

Jim Furyk


DOUG MILNE: Jim Furyk, thanks for spending a few minutes with us here after round one at the Chevron World Challenge. Great playing today, 4-under par 68, just a few comments on the round.
JIM FURYK: Obviously happy. I had a lot of time off, haven't played a lot of golf. I spent the last week or two kind of starting to get a club in my hand and get some feel and trying to work on my short game a little bit. But to be honest with you, I didn't really expect -- my expectations weren't that high. The goal was obviously to come in and play well and try to win the golf tournament, but as little as I've been playing, I wanted to just kind of get my feet wet and little by little chip away and try to put a good round together.
So I'm happy with today's round. I did a lot very well. I hit the ball straight. I kept it in front of me. Putting was good in spots, and I think the one place where I needed to improve, I did not birdie a par-5 today. We have five of them out there. I played four of them pretty solid, gave myself some pretty good opportunities, and either missed the putt or didn't convert on some not-so-difficult up-and-downs, so that could have improved. But overall the scores aren't that good today, so 4-under is a good score and I'm happy with it. But I need to build on it, play well the next couple days.

Q. After all the rain how did the course hold up?
JIM FURYK: It's wet. I thought it was a lot worse today actually. It was more wet today than it was yesterday while we were playing in the rain. The ball was plugging quite a bit, some casual water earlier this morning, a lot of mud balls. It's strange; early on the front I got some that picked up mud, but my ball did not seem to get affected too much. On the back nine I hit a few balls that went three different ways in the air. I think you'll hear some guys kind of grumbling a little bit about being able to control the golf ball today because of the amount of mud sticking to the ball. But it'll get better as the week goes on, and there's nothing you can really do about Mother Nature.

Q. When we come here every year, it's basically almost the start of the next year, and you have a couple weeks off. Just wondering, you didn't win this last year, Mercedes opens the year, you seem to always be there, you have a home. You're sort of like, hey, I should be there. What's your feeling?
JIM FURYK: Well, I'm disappointed I didn't win. It's not a -- I don't really look at it as heading back to Kapalua as much as I'm disappointed that last year I had a decent year, but the one glaring bad spot or bad mark on the record was I didn't win a golf tournament last year. So I'm disappointed. I had two or three good opportunities that I didn't convert on.
And you know, ultimately I'm going to judge my season by how I played, how many golf tournaments did you win, how did you play in the major championships, and I'm disappointed. I had some good majors, but I'm disappointed in no victories.
That being the case, it'll definitely change my schedule early year this year. I'm used to -- other than being hurt in '04, I think for the last eight, nine, ten years I've been out in Kapalua probably all but one year, and then I've played Sony behind it and taken some time off, so this year I'll switch my schedule around quite a bit.

Q. What's going to be your first tournament?
JIM FURYK: Pebble Beach. It's basically the same schedule I've run in the past. I'll miss the first five weeks, which is basically the same schedule I've always played in the past, but without being at Mercedes, I chose not to go out to Sony. That's actually one of my favorite events, but to get ready around the holidays -- honestly, if I had one spot that I disliked about our schedule year in and year out, it's that the day after Christmas I'm worried about getting ready for an event and going out to Mercedes. It's actually probably not fair to my family, not fair to my kids, and I have the opportunity this year to not go and maybe pick up another event along the way.
I love the Sony Open, love the golf course. I've won there and lost in a playoff, and I've had a lot of great finishes, so I'll miss it. But that'll be good family time for me. Hopefully I win a bunch this coming year and I'd love to go back and play Mercedes and Sony.

Q. You just sort of alluded to the start of the season, and for a lot of people normally one year ends and already the next one is beginning. Do you find it a little odd that golf doesn't really have a big bang opening? And is there anything they could ever do about it, or is it just the way it is with so many tournaments throughout the year?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think the fact that football, baseball, basketball, they have a lot more of an off-season than we do, especially when we look at football season. They're ending right around February 1st, got the Super Bowl, and you're not going to see football again until the next fall. So the fact that you have that long layoff, I think the anticipation builds up. They throw the draft at you sometime there in mid-May -- late April, early May, they throw the draft at you, tease you a little bit, and then you turn around and have to wait another four months. You've got training camp and then you've got another six weeks. I think it builds the anticipation.
Our season is just probably too long for that. You can turn the television on probably 50 weeks a year and see network golf. The Golf Channel you can watch it 365 days a year. Probably not Christmas week, but somewhere they're playing a golf tournament.
So the anticipation for the start of the year probably isn't as great because of it, but I'm also sure there's a lot of sports that have like 50 percent of the teams get in the playoff to extend their season as long as they can for revenue, so it helps us out in that capacity.

Q. The Race to Dubai, people are discussing it, and another big prize, this one separated from the TOUR Championship by a couple of months. Are the American players thinking about it at all, and is there any discussion about it?
JIM FURYK: I haven't played in eight weeks. The last time I played was at the Grand Slam. I haven't been out with the guys, I haven't been around them, and I never heard that event mentioned in the last couple weeks other than I heard a couple guys asking if -- I think I might have asked someone. I heard that one of the guys was going to play the European Tour.
Oh, we were watching The Golf Channel this morning, and Europe is in South Africa, I guess, and the first three events -- and we saw like Rory and Ernie and a bunch of guys, so it led me to wonder whether they were -- like if Rory was going to become a member of the European Tour or not. I don't know if he would be over there playing in South Africa or not otherwise. It was just mentioned.
But I haven't heard much about it. I haven't been around, and it's not something that I've always basically -- I've traveled around the world in our off-season. I've played throughout most of the corners of the world. I'm getting to the point in my career now where when the fall comes around -- right now I'm coaching little league basketball. I never get that opportunity, and I'll rarely get that opportunity as long as my career is going on.
It's time really for me to -- I've always focused on our TOUR first. I will continue to do that. I'll play a little bit in the off-season, a little bit in the fall.
I'm going to trim my schedule a touch, maybe play a couple in the fall so I don't have that giant eight-week layoff. I'm finding that it sounded like a great idea and it's been wonderful, but now the task is trying to get your game back. But I probably won't focus on trying to become a member of the European Tour.
I respect the guys, I respect the Tour. I think it's a great idea what they're doing. But I've decided not to take up membership so I can spend more time at home and not be in an airplane.

Q. How surprised are you to be leading and not having made a birdie on a par-5? I mean, usually here you've got to take advantage of them.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, you've got five of them. But that shows you how solid I played the other 13 holes, really. I was able to play those other holes in 4-under par, and probably that's not going to be the case every day. So in order for me to play well, I'm going to need to attack the par-5s and play them better and make some birdies.
Like I said, I hit the ball solid, put the ball in the fairway, drove the ball well on every one of them, hit most of my second shots pretty good, missed the fairway on one but hit a wedge to about five feet on No. 5, hit a good putt, missed it.
I played them well, didn't get much out of it, so hopefully I can turn that around.

Q. Are you surprised to shoot what you did, given you haven't played in eight weeks?
JIM FURYK: I haven't played competitively in eight weeks. The first six of that weight I didn't play hardly at all. I played when I had to for events, but the last couple weeks I've tried to get ready and I've really tried to get my game in shape. I'm a little rusty, but I think almost everyone in this field would claim to be a little rusty and not really at the top of their game. That can turn around; you can get a good feel and go out there and -- I think I see more 64 or 65s in this tournament probably in the second, third and fourth rounds than you do in the first round. That being said, my best round is always in the first round, I don't know why.

Q. Why so much effort into this week if you're not going to play again until --
JIM FURYK: I felt like I needed to bridge the gap, one; play here and then take another seven weeks or so off. I felt like I needed to bridge that gap between the two tournaments. I felt like getting ready after eight weeks and then having another six or seven week break, I'll be playing a lot coming up.
I just felt like the longer you wait, the more time it's going to take to get back. So I just -- I like the event.
I also have pride; to just come out here and slap it around and shoot 78 every day and collect a check isn't, one, fair to the sponsor, and it's not fair to the tournament. I think everyone has got a little more pride than that, so I wanted to come out and play well.
I tried to prepare, and obviously I did a decent job of it. I played pretty well today. But everyone -- I want to keep improving every day. It might not be reflected in my score, but I want to feel more comfortable about my game every day while I'm here. That's my goal.

Q. About the start of your schedule, it seems like the perception is when you're a younger player with limited status you pretty much have to go to Pebble because that's one you can get in, and then once you establish yourself there's been a feeling in recent years of, whew, I don't have to play Pebble. You know what I'm saying?
JIM FURYK: I hate to pick on Pebble, but you get tired of playing six-hour rounds in 45-degree weather, so yeah, I understand. I kind of pick and choose my schedule on the golf courses that I really like, the ones I feel like I have the best opportunity to win at. Those golf courses, I think you've got to hit a lot of golf shots there and the greens are soft leak thinker here. You've got to hit little knock-downs and bump shots and put the ball in play and work it around the golf course. So I choose to go there because I like the golf courses and I feel like they give me an opportunity to win the tournament.

Q. A lot has been made about the 20-somethings of late making a lot of noise, Sergio, Camilo, Anthony Kim --
JIM FURYK: Sergio is still in his 20s? Really? When did he start, when he was 12?

Q. I was hoping to ask you about Hunter Mahan. What do you think he can take out of that Ryder Cup performance, and is he ready at 26 to maybe get into that --
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think so. I think a year ago if you would have -- one year ago today if you would have asked most people who the two best young American players were, you'd hear Hunter and Anthony mentioned in almost every breath. I think everyone has believed in those -- especially Hunter; he's been our TOUR a little bit longer than Anthony. Anthony, this is only his second year. But I think everyone witnessed some flashes and how good they really were.
Yeah, it should give him a lot of confidence. I think putting yourself in a situation where there's a lot of pressure, there's a lot of people watching, a lot of pride on the line, and then to be able to come through and play so well, I think it's always a good confidence builder. You believe in yourself that much more, and you become that much more comfortable with those situations.
I've got a lot of respect for both those guys, and you mentioned Hunter, I think he's a good person. I respect him, the way he goes about his business. He's very quiet, business-like, kind of gets his stuff done, goes about his business his own way, but he's got a lot of game and is going to be around for a long time.

Q. What did you do during your time off for the most part, spend it with your family?
JIM FURYK: Spent it with my family, and I'm a big sports fan, so I attended a lot of -- I was trying to count how many games. It was probably a dozen or more live professional and college sporting events in the last eight or nine weeks. It was a pretty good clip, actually.

Q. What kind of games did you attend?
JIM FURYK: I watched a couple Ohio State games in Columbus. I was at an Arizona game where they beat Cal. I saw a bunch of Steeler games, six Steeler games, went to one of the World Series games in Tampa, Pitt basketball game when I was at the Steelers. So that's about 12 right there.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
JIM FURYK: No, we've only had two practices. I'm feeling up for the next -- I'll be there for nine of the first 12 weeks, so I'll miss three games and three practices, but I'll have about 14 outings with the kids in that time. It's fun. They're four and five years old. It's very interesting, eight-foot hoop, defense is in the paint. I'm learning the rules. Defense can't come out of the paint. We're still working on our dribbling, our shooting and our passing and catching. We've got some that -- we've got a couple kids that have a hard time getting it to that hoop. Eight feet is pretty high for a four-year old, but it's fun.
It's been nice to spend some time. My son has played in some other -- this is the third basketball team he's been on and he's five. They start them young. He's been on soccer teams, so it's nice I think for him to see his father as a coach rather than someone else's.
DOUG MILNE: Jim, thanks for your time.

End of FastScripts

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