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March 19, 2009
PALM HARBOR, FLORIDA
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Jim, 34-31, 65, your sixth straight round in the 60s, low round of the year, and comes on top of your third-place finish last week in the WGC CA Championship. Great playing today. Just a couple of thoughts about the round.
JIM FURYK: I'm obviously very happy with playing such a good round and get off to a good start, something I can try it build on. I think the key really today, I putted very well. Looking down, I had 25 putts, and 11 on the back nine, my first side.
So obviously I made a bunch of birdie putts, a couple of long putts today. And at the end, I got a little loose. I hit a decent shot into 8 and I got a tough lie in the rough, kind of went underneath it and missed the par putt.
And then I had to make a good save. I hit a iron a little fat into 9, tried to take the shorter one hard, hit it a little heavy and into the bunker. Hit a decent bunker shot, but it skipped ten feet past and made a good putt to save par.
Obviously you don't want to go out bogeying the last two. Would have been a disappointing feel after playing so well for the first 16 holes, so I felt good about knocking that putt in and a good start for the week.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Run through your birdies if you would.
JIM FURYK: I started on the back side. 11, I laid up with a driver and I think a 6-iron to lay up. Hit my gap wedge in there about four feet for birdie.
12, I think I hit a hybrid off the tee and a 7-iron to about, again, to about four feet, somewhere in that area.
And then 14, the par 5, I hit a driver and a 5-iron to lay up, and I hit that hybrid in there again to four feet.
So made three relatively short birdie putts, but then a good par save at 17 from about 15 feet, and I made a bomb at 18, a good 40-footer. It was breaking ten feet right-to-left, and actually it was going a little fast probably. It was probably going to go four or five feet by at least. So I was happy it found the hole, and good start to the tournament with 4-under on the front nine.
I birdied 1 and 2. I drove it in the bunker and had to lay up and hit a 9-iron into 1 probably about 20 feet and I made it.
Then I hit a driver and a 6-iron to 2 to about 12 to 15 feet and knocked that in.
A driver and a 5-iron on 6, I made a pretty long putt there, about a 30-footer.
The only bogey of the day was No. 8. I hit a hybrid just about two feet off the right edge of the green and caught a lie with the ball way up in the air and went way underneath it and left it about 15 feet short of the pin.
Q. You started later this year, not until Pebble Beach; was that by design? And do you find that that has been a good thing for you as far as trying to round your game into shape at this point in the year?
JIM FURYK: Well, it was by design. I really didn't play much of a different schedule. Usually past history for me, I like to play if I'm in Mercedes, I'm going to go there and play the Sony right behind. And usually I take three weeks off, play Pebble Beach, L.A. and Match Play.
This year, not getting into the Mercedes without winning last year, I decided to kind of extend the holiday. For 15 years now, I've been basically, the day Christmas is over on the 26th, you're back out on the range, grinding, hitting balls. Everyone is at home eating leftovers, watching football and enjoying the holiday season while everybody is off work, and I just didn't feel like doing it this year. I felt like I played a lot last year. I was tired. I needed some time off and I just wanted to have a good holiday with my family, and I did.
So I really didn't play any different a schedule, other than I skipped Sony, and it's one of my favorite events. I just felt like it's a long way to go for one event, and I needed the time.
So you know, I was a little nervous about being rusty. It's had been a long time since I played. I played the Grand Slam in mid October, the only event between there and Pebble Beach, in probably a darned near four-month stretch was Tiger's event, the Chevron.
It had been a long time. But I seem to get back into it pretty quick. I tried to play a lot of golf at home and get ready, but it's never the same as when the gun goes off. I was a little rusty early on. I felt like I played real well at the Match Play. I got beat by a guy that just played very well in the third round, Ross Fisher, and was really looking forward to Doral, one of my favorite events. I seemed to get back into the flow quickly and.
The design was I played too much golf last year and too many events, and just mentally was not in the right frame of mind of where I wanted to be. Wasn't excited about coming to the golf course, so it was time to put them away for a while and now I'm back in a much better frame of mind.
Q. Since you're talking about schedule, do you have the Buick Open on your schedule this year?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I usually play Flint. In 15 years, I think I only missed it once or twice. I like the golf course.
Q. You mentioned a second ago about some tournaments where you didn't feel like being there. Was that a product of --
JIM FURYK: No, I didn't say that. I said that I wasn't excited about going to the golf course.
Q. I didn't mean to turn it --
JIM FURYK: I know. I'm careful about that (chuckling).
Q. Was that a product of trying too hard to win last year or maybe being frustrated that you didn't?
JIM FURYK: Not really. I didn't play any extra events because of not having a win under my belt. I added San Diego because of the U.S. Open. I added New Orleans because of the two weeks of schedule change and I didn't want to weeks off in front of the Masters.
I was very lucky in that it was one of my healthiest years ever in the last four or five years, no injuries, no dings. I had a four-week in a row stretch with foreign travel with the British Open and Canada, because I was defending twice in Canada. There were events in there that schedule-wise I added last year and played more, and I always felt actually -- I've struggled with the FedEx schedule. I feel like I've been out here too long to schedule as poorly as I did last year, but I managed to do it.
What they did basically in the FedEx schedule for me is most of those fall events, the only one I really historically ever played was Vegas. So you have seven events that used to be six built-in week-offs for me during the year, pulled those out. I pretty much played the same schedule without any six weeks off.
You know, I just played a lot of golf this year. I didn't go to San Diego. I'm not going to head to New Orleans. There's a couple built-in off. I probably won't go to Canada this year, but I look forward to going back next year, just from a golf course perspective, it's not one that suits my style very well. There's three right there.
And then take Mercedes and Sony out, there's five events, and I'll probably play the same schedule I did last year, which means it will be very busy hopefully towards the end of the year, but I look forward to that, and I'll be fresh.
Q. Did you ever get tired of people talking about your swing?
JIM FURYK: Just today. (Laughter).
Q. And maybe the greatest compliment is that no one really talks about it that much anymore.
JIM FURYK: It was early in my career. I kind of shed that after the first couple of years when people realized that I was going to be around for a while. I think they have gotten tired of talking about it, anyway.
My rookie year, I would play a good round like I did today, I would come into the press room, I would spend 20 minutes here and 19 of it talking about my swing and one of it talking about my round.
And now everyone has seen it. It's actually come up twice this week, with you asking a question, and Jeff Rude did a piece earlier. He's got a piece called "Hate to be Rude," and it was all about my swing and different things growing up along the way.
Other than that, it's usually foreign travel; I go to new places or new countries and then it's kind of like pushing rewind and going back to my rookie year and getting the same questions all over again.
It's different. I think people have seen it now. Just really isn't anything I've talked about that you will that much, really the last ten years to be honest with you. I guess that's -- I don't know if it's a compliment or not. It is what it is. I think that I've really improved as a ball-striker over the last 15 years.
I think I was a very average ball-striker when I came on TOUR with a good short game, and I learned to become a good ball-striker, by TOUR standards, and got better as the years went on. Might be one of the reasons why people quit talking about it, as well.
Q. Of your skills at the game, is one of them consistency? When you look at a receive appraisal of what you've done, is that one of the things that you're proud of?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think so. I think we all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and most players kind of identify those pretty quickly. You look around and see what other guys can do that you can't and things that you feel like you do better than most people.
But yeah, I think if you look at my record over the years that I've been on TOUR, the consistency is something I'm definitely proud of. I've had a lot of good years, and it's lasted for a good stretch, but I'm hoping to make that last a lot longer. Still got a few good ones out here I think.
Q. You say you look at things you know you're good at and what you're not as good at; what do you wish you were better at?
JIM FURYK: I wish I hit it farther, I'll promise you that. But it's not going to happen. I'm only going to get shorter probably from here on out.
I think the glaring weakness for me is that I'm very average length. I don't hit the ball that far. Most of the guys I play with hit it past me. My strengths have to be in other things, and I have to beat those guys in other areas, if that makes sense.
Q. Does today prove that you don't have to be long to be good out here?
JIM FURYK: I would hope the last 15 years proved that. (Laughter) This isn't really a golf course to -- I think you pick and choose your spots. I don't go to a lot of golf courses where I feel it's just a bomber's paradise and I'm at a severe disadvantage. I try to put myself in positions where I feel like I have the best opportunities to win.
But you know, any player that has a good record has confidence that he can win on any golf course. I just think there's places where that percentage goes up, where I have a lot better chance at certain golf courses than others because of the setups and because -- it's not really the length of the golf course as much as it is the setup of the golf course. If you make a long golf course kind of wide open, not much rough, it's probably not right down my alley. I don't mind it being long. I just would not want to see a premium put on hitting the ball straight then.
Q. When they make the rule change next year with the grooves, is that something you just wait till the end of the year to deal with?
JIM FURYK: No, I think the TOUR is trying to be a little bit proactive, and I think it's a good idea in kind of getting players involved and saying, hey, don't wait till the end of year. This is something you want to get a hold of early on.
I've been talking to Srixon since the middle of last years just for ideas. I've already got sand wedges that I've hit and tested a little bit, the week before I left for Doral with conforming grooves for next year. And as the year goes on, we'll test more of those wedges and see what -- I think my irons, I just switched back to an old set of irons.
So the irons I've been playing the last year were conforming and the ones I have right now they are saying are very, very close. So we are kind of figuring out if we need to jockey the groove a little bit or not.
But what we are going to do, I think everyone is going to look at the ball and see whether they need to dial it back, make it softer, make it something that spins more. I already play a product that spins a lot. I'm not expecting it to be a huge jump but we'll definitely test a lot through the year.
And then I expect most guys on TOUR in the fall to start after the season, to start kind of playing with their stuff and getting used to it for the upcoming season.
Q. Do you sense that it's going to have a big impact, just because there's going to be some unsureness in what they are doing, or by the time the year starts, it will all be worked out?
JIM FURYK: There's going to be a break-in period. Some people will start January 1 with no issues and other guys, they are going to need some time to get used to it. But eventually, give it six months or whatever, and everyone is going to be on the same page. I think the big difference -- I don't think it's going to make a difference in the shots we hit -- I'm trying to put it into good words.
If the amount of spin that you can put on the ball is limited, I think it's going to putt a lot more pressure on our ball-striking abilities and our abilities to put the ball in good places that we can attack the pin from. You're not going to be able to get away with as much, if that makes sense.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Jim, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.
End of FastScripts