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December 19, 2008

Jim Furyk


DOUG MILNE: Jim Furyk, welcome back. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at the Chevron World Challenge. 1-under 71 today, good enough to get the job done. You head into round 3 with a two-shot lead tomorrow. Just a few comments on the round today.
JIM FURYK: Well, I hung in there today. That's the best I can say. I kept the ball in play, hit a lot of fairways. I wasn't as crisp with my iron game today, didn't have as many birdie opportunities, and only two birdies today compared to five yesterday.
But I managed to limit the mistakes. The only bogey was on the last hole. I pulled that 5-iron a little bit, put myself in a tough spot to get it up-and-down and hit two good shots and the putts just didn't go in. But I wasn't as crisp, wasn't as sound today with my ball-striking as I was in the past. I felt a little bit better with my putter today, but I just didn't have enough opportunities. It was a good day to hang in there. I didn't feel great about my game but still shot 1-under, still in good position, and that's what you need to do on days like that.

Q. Playing the ball down, did you have any experiences with mud?
JIM FURYK: Sure, sure, everyone did. It's still -- I had two or three embedded balls today. There's a few key spots. The second shot on 2, the drive on 9 comes to mind, and there's a couple other places where the ball just -- you pretty much know it's not going to bounce, and then you're catching quite a few balls that hit and pop out and are carrying some mud. It wasn't as bad as yesterday, but yeah, there's still some mud balls out there.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JIM FURYK: Yeah, you know, it's part of the day. I think yesterday it was very difficult, and I think I was fortunate I didn't have a lot of balls that got away from me. I hit some balls that did some funny things but ended up in good spots on the greens, and I was pretty fortunate. Today it was less, and I think it was fine to play the ball down today.

Q. You birdied 9, right?

Q. How?
JIM FURYK: I hit a 3-wood off the tee and I think I an 8-iron into the green. I hit it about ten feet, long right of the pin so I had a nice uphill putt coming back.

Q. Clean ball?
JIM FURYK: Well, it was embedded so I got to clean it and drop it, which was nice.

Q. Get it up in the air, make sure it's embedded so you can clean it?
JIM FURYK: I don't think you have a choice. You're teeing off from a mountaintop up there, so hit it as low as you want, it's still coming in from a high angle.

Q. Whether it's a U.S. Open or a little event, you just hate to bogey 18 I assume. Does that sort of not ruin the round but leave you feeling a little down after walking off the last green?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I mean, you don't want to bogey the last, but I don't know why, if you birdie 18 for 71 or you bogey 18 for 71, you should still feel the same way; it's 71. But you don't, you're disappointed. I didn't look at the leaderboard much today. It looked like early on a lot of guys were getting under par quick, but then the course caught up to the guys somewhere in the round, and I didn't really worry about how everyone else was playing, I just plugged along.
The way I look at it, 71, still two shots ahead, and I wasn't -- I didn't play poorly today and I don't feel bad about my game, but I was -- I didn't strike it as well, and I felt like I got the ball around the golf course pretty well today, and 71 was a decent score, and I hung in there when I had to.

Q. Last par-5 of the day you finally made your first birdie on a par-5 in the two rounds.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it only took me ten tries.
The three-putt at 11 was a little disappointing. If I struggled with one thing with the putter, my long putts I struggled getting close. I had three long putts that I either left pretty far short or knocked the ball by the hole today, and I made most of the comebacks but missed that one at 11, so it was a disappointing three-putt. But I put a good lag on it at 16 and I knocked it up there to tap-in distance. I didn't play the par-5s particularly well again at 1-under, but I'm hanging in there.

Q. With as wet as it is, are you playing most of them as a three-shot hole?
JIM FURYK: No, I got to 11 and 16 today. 16 is reachable from that up tee almost all the time. It's a very difficult drive and second shot. But 11, I have an opportunity a lot to reach. Yesterday I went for 13 in two, and I hit two good shots and came up about five yards short. Front nine, 2 is not reachable in this weather, nor is 5 for me. On the back, I have an opportunity to probably reach all three, but mostly just 11 and 16.

Q. Does it amaze you with Fred, a guy who's 49 and been dealing with an unpredictable and creaky back and yet he goes through a year like this and almost makes a million dollars comfortably, has a few chances to win, doesn't seem to be -- I don't want to say slowing down, but at that age you don't see that a lot.
JIM FURYK: No, I think I'm not surprised. He's got a lot of talent. He's one of the best players of this era, so I'm not surprised. I asked him how old he was yesterday, and he said, I'm going to turn 50 in October, and I didn't realize that he was so close to the Champions Tour. And then I guess it took him a couple hours to get through his drug test yesterday. I told him I thought at that age it wasn't an issue, but I guess it was (laughter). I don't know if I should talk about that in the media or whatever, but I never mind giving anyone a hard time (laughter).
No, I'm not surprised. I played with him yesterday. He was a little off his game. He showed flashes of playing very well, and then he hit a couple errant shots to the right, but I think he played a good round today. What did he shoot today, 4-under, 3-under? He played a good round. I'm not surprised at all. Freddie is Freddie.
What's difficult is to play as little as he does, and he plays 15 events a year; it's not like he plays three or four in a row and then takes some time off and then three or four in a row. He just kind of sporadically plays here and there, yet he still competes. That's very difficult to do. But obviously with someone that has a game like he does, he's capable of doing it.

Q. One of the young guys that's close to you, too, Anthony Kim, Ryder Cup teammate, is there anything that surprises you about him or that you've noticed because you've been closer to him this last year?
JIM FURYK: No, I don't think so. He's got a well-rounded game; he's got a lot of confidence in himself. Not surprised at all. He doesn't seem to have any weaknesses in his game, which is good. You can't pick out something that -- he hits the ball plenty far, he hits it straight, he's a good ball-striker, he's got a good short game, he's aggressive, not afraid to close an event. So I think physically and mentally he seems pretty good.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JIM FURYK: It's been a long time. The last guy that was that age that was able to dominate a golf tournament and win down the stretch, the last guy that did it was Tiger, and I don't want to compare him to him, but there just aren't that many guys who are 22 or 23 years old that come out and have that much game and can play on the PGA TOUR at that level. There just aren't that many guys that are able to do it.

Q. There was a story out, and I know it's around, about the video that Tim Finchem has sent to the players asking them for more support, to extend their schedule a little bit, say nice things about sponsors. Have you seen the video, and do you have any comments on it?
JIM FURYK: I have not seen the video. The TOUR seems to email a lot of things to my wife's email for some reason. It's probably a testament to the fact that I've only had an email address for about a little over a year. I avoided it for as long as possible. So they tend to send her things and then she forwarded that to me, and I can't watch it on my phone, so I'll have to wait until I get home. But I haven't seen it yet.
But yeah, we're in an interesting economic time, and I think we're fortunate in our sport right now that we're still -- we're not losing events as of right now. That's very possible in the future. We're going to have some sponsors that are struggling, and I think they're going to ask -- my guess is they're going to ask some more of the players to do some meet-and-greets, rub some elbows, thank people, make people aware of the fact that we appreciate what they're doing, and I think the players will -- I think the players will respond positively to that. They should; they should realize how fortunate we are. I think they will.

Q. There's a lot of -- there's some other opportunities I should say with the Race to Dubai that some guys are taking advantage of, and by doing so there's probably two or three or four events that you're going to have to skip here to go play over there if you want to keep the same number. I'd just be curious how you balance maybe a need for loyalty to the TOUR during a tough economic time with being an independent contractor and doing what you want to do.
JIM FURYK: I think you're talking to the wrong guy in that aspect because I can't remember -- in 15 years on TOUR I think I've asked for two releases. One was to play a Shells match and one was to play the Scottish at Carnoustie the week before the British Open, so I haven't left our TOUR very often to go play a foreign event. I've played a lot of foreign events after our season has ended through October, November, December. But you know, I haven't been to Dubai, I haven't been to Qatar. I've been loyal to our TOUR.
For the other guys that -- I don't blame the player. I know there's appearance fees. I know there's interest in a guy like Ernie who has played worldwide and he probably feels some loyalty to the European Tour; that's where he started his career. There's a little of both.
But I've always chosen to stay here at home as much as possible, but I have a reputation from the European Tour players and some guys worldwide as a guy that has traveled a lot. They've seen me at a lot of events in Asia and South Africa in the off-season, and in South America for that matter. I've been quite a few places.

Q. I'm asking you because you're a veteran and because you're sitting there.
JIM FURYK: It's one thing -- I haven't chosen to do it. I haven't chosen to try to become a member of the European Tour. As a player you're always going to support players' decisions. We're going to kind of rally behind each other for the most part unless they do something crazy or stupid.
I agree with the fact that they have the right to do what they want, but we need to take care of our home TOUR and our sponsors and feel fortunate for the things we have.

Q. Just to take that on a bit, is loyalty to your TOUR more important now than perhaps it ever was before?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure there's a right or a wrong answer to any of these questions. Would it help our TOUR significantly? Yeah, if most of them -- you have to realize a lot of members of the TOUR are huge -- maybe someone could help me out. What percentage of our TOUR, of our membership, is American, to start with? 61 percent? I mean, I'd be surprised if it's 50 -- I'd be surprised if it were 50. You've got to realize the great majority of our TOUR started somewhere else, so they feel loyalty -- the Aussies feel loyalty to the Australian Tour; the Europeans feel loyal to the European Tour. We're a worldwide Tour as far as the players are concerned; the European Tour is a worldwide Tour as far as where they go play if that makes sense, because they play all over the globe.
But we have a lot of players that are probably more loyal to their home Tour first before the United States, because that's where they're from, that's where their roots are, and I understand that.
We need to do something on our TOUR such as a FedExCup or the Race to Dubai that will make the players -- it's not the sponsors' responsibility, it's the TOUR's responsibility, that will make the players want to stay home as much as possible, and I think in the last few years you've seen there's a couple European Tour events, the Dubai event -- but I don't think guys have left any more in the past five years than they did 10 years ago or 15 years ago. Basically they've played good events overseas and they've gotten paid very well to go over there; let's be honest about it.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JIM FURYK: I think time will tell on that. I honestly haven't talked to any players about it. As I said, I've chosen that it's just not right for me. We talked about the reasons why yesterday, and I guess we'll see. I haven't put any thought into it because I just can't -- I can make a one-person difference, but I have no idea how many guys from the U.S. are going to take up membership on the European Tour. I'll be surprised if it's ten. I'd be very surprised.
DOUG MILNE: Jim, as always, we appreciate your time. Best of luck tomorrow.

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