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June 5, 2009

Jim Furyk


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk into the interview room. He's our co-leader of the Memorial Tournament after 36 holes. 7 under par, including a 2 under, par 70 today. Jim, if we could just get some comments on your rounds, please.
JIM FURYK: Screwed up your stories, didn't I?
Obviously, I'm happy with the position I'm in. You know, I think, when I look back, I played very well on the front and bogeyed the 1st hole. Really grounded out. Made three good birdies and some good putts, some tough putts on the front nine and was able to finish a couple under.
Then on the back, just kind of plugged along, made one error shot at 15, probably kind of blocked the pitching wedge trying to get it over towards the pin on the right. Hit that tree limb and knocked it down in the bunker. Always disappointed making a bogey on the par 5. Then the tough news is you've got 16, 17, 18 on the way in were pretty tough holes.
I wanted to really buckle down and try to see if -- you know, I just kind of wanted to play really well those last three holes and get in the house where I wasn't disappointed with my finish.
So make a good par of 16, good up and down at 17, and good birdie on 18, that leaves a smile on your face. Good to go home, and puts me in good shape tied for the lead.
They were asking me outside about that. It's really unimportant where you're at right now in the Tournament. I just want to go out there and play one more solid round tomorrow and hopefully sit in the same spot and put myself in good position for Sunday's round. I'll just be jockeying for position and trying to play another good round. And continue to do the things -- continue to play the same way after the first two days, which has been real patient, keeping the ball in front of me, trying to limit the mistakes.
Picking and choosing my spots to be aggressive and trying to take advantage of those.

Q. You've played here probably as much as anybody in this field. Have you ever seen it tougher to get the ball closer to the hole and make putts because of the way the greens are?
JIM FURYK: Greens are tough. No doubt about it. Have I ever seen it? I guess I've seen it where it's played tough. Maybe not. If you go back and look, the scores probably haven't been this high on the first two days for a while. For Thursday, Friday, I thought it was a very difficult setup.

Q. Jim, Jack was saying the other day that he wanted to have this event a couple of weeks ahead of the Open so that, you know, the positioning would be good for the Tournament. Is the Tournament a good prep for an Open, the way it's set up now?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think so. I think so. You know, the fairways here are probably a bit wider than the U.S. Open, but the roughs, you know -- the rough is still quite thick. I know it's not last year's. Last year's was as thick as I've ever seen it. It's still difficult. You're not seeing a lot of guys hitting greens from off the fairway here.
And the greens, I think, being so quick, this will be my last event before the U.S. Open, and I can't imagine them being any quicker at the U.S. Open. I think that's obviously good prep. It's hard to emulate that at an Open, especially in Florida in June. You're not going to get a Bermuda roll on that quick.
So I think that's a good preparation. And there's a lot of slope on these greens as well, as there is at Bethpage, where you've got to hit a lot of putts that are feeding into the hole. And you get some five or six footers here where you feel like you're breathing on it.
I think it will help, help the guys that played here for sure.

Q. And just to follow up. In terms of the way you said you were approaching the golf course too, keeping -- you know, minimizing the stakes, being patient, the same type of mindset it would seem to call for.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think so. The biggest difference will be the fairways here aren't gigantic, but they're wider than you'll see at the U.S. Open. That's the biggest difference I see in most of Jack's courses and this one. Some of the green complexes here are quite big. Greens probably square foot wise are quite large, but the areas you're hitting to, he's always had a second shot. There's always been demand on this golf course.
I don't know if it's just luck or what. Maybe just jockey around a little bit and try to get rid of the rain. Where the week started with the weather and it rained so much, it's amazing these greens have firmed up and they're as quick as they are. It's amazing how fast and how good they are.

Q. With the crowd support you generally have here, kind of a hometown for you, do you feel more comfortable when you come to this tournament than some others?
JIM FURYK: Well, I feel comfortable, you know, for my family it's relaxing. My wife gets to come back to her hometown. We get to see a bunch of her friends and close friends of the family and spend some time with them. So it's fun in that respect.
I've played well here in the past. I like the golf course. I've won here in the past. So for my game, it's comforting as far as I know that it's just always a boost when you know you've won here before and you know that you can play well in this golf course.
But as you said, I get a lot of support here. The fans know my wife's from here. They know she's a big Buckeye fan. We're at Buckeye games. They see me here. At least I'm somewhat adopted here. So I appreciate the support.

Q. Tiger said, when he came in, which was five or six hours ago, that Latshaw told him this morning they had the greens already at 14. What did it seem like to you out there?
JIM FURYK: Why didn't I get that information? (Laughter)

Q. I wasn't sure if he told him before or after.
JIM FURYK: I have no idea. It's difficult to put a number on the greens because I never putt them and then go pick up the Stimp and measure them and figure out how fast that is. They're slick. They're really -- I can't imagine them being any quicker. With the slopes we have on these greens and being playable, if that makes sense. I think we're at our max. I hope we're at our max.

Q. My followup is the forecast for the next two days is pretty much more of the same. I think it might be maybe a little more humid on Sunday. If you get more of this weather, what is -- what are you going to have to --
JIM FURYK: High blue sky definitely dries things out.

Q. What are players going to have to do to stay in contention and stay in control of their games?
JIM FURYK: I just think be very patient as far as there's places out here that you can attack and there's places that you can't. Identifying those situations. You know, obviously, you're going to have to take control of your game. You're going to have to hit your driver well.
From a physical perspective, you're going to have to execute your shots well. I think also, you know, being patient and identifying situations that, you know, you need to play away from the pin or places where you can get aggressive. And take advantage of those situations.

Q. Jim, on a hole like 17, for instance, you've got guys that have won Majors, the three of you, how difficult does that hole play? Secondly, when you're looking at your second shots, because you're all on the fairway.
JIM FURYK: That grade is extremely, extremely severe. There's basically two tinily little greens you're trying to hit, the front left and the back right. If it plays long and I can't get over the bunker, now I have to hit it into the right, and I have a horrible angle off the green no matter what side you're going to. If you can get it up the left side, at least I have more of an angle up the green. It still sits clock-eyed to the fairway. You need to hit a high, soft, preferably a cut usually into that green to keep it on.
A guy like me is a little bit shorter. I'm going in with more club. I was between clubs there, a 5 iron and 6 iron. I'm trying to press the issue and probably hit the hard 6 because with the easy 5 I'm afraid of maybe releasing on.
You do have a back stop. The front pin is a little more mild than the back. I got a little greedy probably and tried to hit a hard 6 in there. In turn, I didn't hit it really all that poorly. It just wasn't enough club. Came up a little bit short.

Q. Just to finish the question. When you look at a guy like Jeff, for instance, and you see him on 18, trying to chip on 18 that way, when you're playing with guys and you see these things, do you think to yourself, you know, everything is -- there's land mines everywhere?
JIM FURYK: I've been there left alone on 18 and made my 6 more than once.
Yeah, you get to the point on that hole where, if you make a mistake, hit the shot, hit it long, you know you can't do that. Now it becomes -- he's probably not trying to make 4, he's trying to make 5. And literally that becomes difficult because that third shot, if it comes out a little hard and it takes off, it might run off the front of the green. It's a catch-22.
You're trying to put it in position where, if you get a putt at 4, great, but you're trying to put it in a position where you know you can make 5 and just get out of there.

Q. Can you talk about the sense of anticipation for the U.S. Open, if there is one? The Masters guys talk at the start of the year, they start thinking about it. When in the back of your mind, as an Open champion, is there a little thought about the Open's coming up? When does that start?
JIM FURYK: I'm thinking about it. I haven't visited the course or anything like that, but I'm thinking about it. I've kind of gone over the course a little bit in my weeks off. Just pulled out a yardage book and taken a peek at it, trying to think about the holes, remembering the golf course. I know they've made some changes. I've looked into those a little bit. So it's in the back of my mind.
The best way to prepare for that event now is try to play as well as I can at Colonial and try to play as well as I can at Memorial. Identify my weaknesses and work on those in the off week and also identify what I've been doing well that will work well at the U.S. Open and what I haven't. Trying to think about the shots and different things I need to get around that golf course.
I haven't really had any magic possession or anything that I can do before those events to get ready. The best way for me to get my game in shape is to actually play. I can sit on a range, even when I'm testing equipment. I can sit on a range and try to focus or concentrate as much as I possibly can and really get into what I'm doing, but I can then go on the golf course and learn more, and I can then go into a golf tournament and play a competitive round and learn a ton more.
So the best way I find out about my game and where I stand is to be in competition.

Q. For the U.S. Open, you're thinking, oh, boy, it's coming up in a couple of weeks? Or, oh, boy, I'm having a root canal in a couple of weeks? Is it a different sense of anticipation from the Masters?
JIM FURYK: I don't dread it by any means. I've played well there and have had success. I think I've looked at it as a challenge.
You know, I've had my share of butt whoopings there too where I've walked out of there with my tail between my legs and played awful. Shot my share of rounds in the 80s as well.
You know, but it kind of -- I think those will kind of motivate me more to want to come back and prove to myself that I've made some mistakes, try to correct those. I missed the cut at Bethpage and turned around the next year and won at Olympia Fields.
I think there's a lesson learned at Bethpage that helped me out the next year. My attitude was a lot better, and I was kind of driven to do well that year.

Q. Did you remember -- did you have any uniquely memorable New York moments the two days that you were there that were funny or amusing anecdotes that were sort of indicative of what was happening that week?
JIM FURYK: I shot 80 something on Friday, and walking off the green, they let me know how bad that round really was. I think it had something to do with I sucked, if I remember.
And I'm proud that I did not fight back because I realized how worthless it actually would be for me.

Q. Would have just made it worse.
JIM FURYK: It would have just made it worse. You know what, they were pretty much right, so I did suck that day.

Q. Jim, Mike Weir said, when he came in, that the fairways were still -- the course was still playing long this morning because the fairways weren't as dried out as the greens were. And I wondered, it didn't look at 18 at least that you got much release on that tee shot. And I wondered if you've been getting any roll today or not?
JIM FURYK: I don't think the fairways are playing fast by any means. But the golf course played a little shorter for me today. Maybe just a touch shorter than it did yesterday morning.
I'd be interested for the guys yesterday afternoon, if they felt like it played a lot longer this morning than it did yesterday afternoon. It played a touch shorter this morning, or this afternoon. For us yesterday, it was cold in the morning. I kind of attributed some of the length I had in those holes -- I mean, what was it, low 50s when we tee'd off? It felt cold. I had a vest and a sweater on top of my golf shirt, and I was chilly.
I attributed some of that. But it's -- I'm not picking up any mud or plugging or anything like that. The 3 wood I hit off of 18, that's a very elevated tee. I hit a high 3 wood off the tee, and I was actually surprised how far it flew. It went a little farther than I expected.
And I've been kind of hitting the ball pretty high this week and last week as well, and I haven't been hitting the shot that's been really running. So I haven't really paid much attention to that, if that makes any sense. Usually I would, I guess, but I I've been hitting the ball high, and it's a pretty good recipe for this golf course.

Q. If someone had asked you what's the U.S. Open like, would your answer today be different than it was five or six years ago? Seven or eight years ago?
JIM FURYK: Absolutely. The setup has changed dramatically. You know, obviously, I always feel like, when I get asked that question, that I'm picking on Tom or picking on the previous setups, which I don't want to do. I obviously won a U.S. Open that Tom set up, but mike has had a different approach.
I think the graduated rough was genius. I think it's one of the best things that has been brought to major championship golf in the last ten years. That's just my opinion. The farther offline you hit it, the worse off you should be in theory.
Obviously, you're going to get good and bad lies, but I felt like in the past the gallery, and a lot of golf tournaments we play, the gallery is too close to the fairway you hit a shot a yard in the rough, and it's usually dead. Ball ten yards in the rough, and you're in the gallery, and it could be perfect.
I think they've kind of, where they could, they've blown the gallery back off the fairway. I'm sure it doesn't detract really from the viewing, but it really makes the golf course, I think, play more fair, and also I think they're able that way to kind of set up a shot value a little bit. I just feel like you're rewarded more for a good shot now than you were the previous, say, ten years at the use open.

Q. But if someone scores, you look at Winged Foot and Oakmont, you're still 5 over.
JIM FURYK: I agree with you. What's been ingenious about the setup -- again, I'm not knocking Tom. I'm actually praising Mike. I feel like the scores were 5 over, 5 over at Winged Foot and Oakmont, winning score. And last year was maybe --

Q. 1 under.
JIM FURYK: 1 under. So the scores aren't any better, but there's a lot less pissing and moaning and whining from players. Would you agree? So something's good.
Still playing tough. Par is still a great score, and there's less complaining. That's the genius of it all.

Q. I'd be curious, from Winged Foot forward, did you notice as a player, especially during the tournament rounds, that the gallery was farther away than they had been before?
JIM FURYK: I didn't notice it, but when you look at the fairways and how they cut, it has to be. Just there's more room from fairway to -- I've hit some balls in the last three U.S. Opens -- I remember hitting one left on 18 at Winged Foot that was left. I was still in rough.

Q. Pissed off about it.
JIM FURYK: Well, I was mad. I remember, because you have the different layers. I was in the highest layer that you could possibly be in. I was way out of the fairway where I just think that's great.
Obviously, some of those old golf courses, there's going to be some areas where you can't do that. But I think they've done a good job of it.
I know on tour we're always worried about the viewing, making a better experience for the fan. I think at times -- at times we have gallery rows extremely close to fairways, which is probably great from a viewing perspective, but it's probably bad for hitting fans off the tee, which I see quite a bit.

Q. Jim, just to follow that up a little bit, I know you didn't play well last time at Bethpage, but did you feel the way it was set up, there were maybe only a handful of guys that conceivably were probably going to win that tournament?
JIM FURYK: I wouldn't say there's a handful of guys, but a lot of players were taken out of that field before it started, absolutely. Which is fine. I really have no issue with that. I don't think that's right or wrong.
But definitely they took -- it was a power dominated U.S. Open, which is very rare, actually, when you think about the history. Not being a power-oriented guy, I'm not going to sit here and whine about it because I think the U.S. Open is more down my alley most times than not. So if it isn't one year, I'm not going to be upset about it.
My saving grace is it wasn't set up well for me last time. I didn't play well last time, which is my fault because I didn't execute. But I'm going in with a positive attitude because I know it's going to be set up difference. I'm going to like the way it's set up. Obviously, I won't know until I get there, but that's the positive attitude I'm taking in there. Hey, it's going to be different than last time, and I liked the setups the last three years.
Actually, I rarely go play Torrey on tour, but if we could play it in June and it were set up like that, I'd kind of have a hard time missing it. I thought they did a great job setting it up, and I didn't play all that well. I just thought it was set up well.

Q. Will you take a scouting trip to Bethpage?
JIM FURYK: I will not. I will not. I actually did some work for American Express where they did some flyovers, and I was supposed to talk about the holes. So I've kind of -- there's years I've gone in and played before, years I haven't. When I won, I never saw Olympia Fields in my life. But kind of, my scouting has been I've seen the flyovers. I've looked at my old yardage books. I've looked at the new yardage book. I've seen what's been written about it. I've seen what's been changed.
So I kind of feel like -- in a way, I kind of feel like I've been there without. Does that make sense? But the way my schedule really is set up -- I actually went to Bethpage early last time. I went up and played a round. It was about 47 degrees and raining, if I remember correctly. It was a dream. I hit a 3 wood in every hole. It was perfect. And it didn't work that time, so I'm going a different route.
The way my schedule is set up, I'll probably go in over the weekend, and U.S. Open practice rounds can be painful. So I may just go like nine a day and maybe do that for four days or so. Get in there maybe Sunday and practice.
JOHN BUSH: Jim, let's go through real quick. The bogey on number 1?
JIM FURYK: Drove it in the fairway, hung a 6 iron to the right, and short-sided myself where I couldn't get the ball up and down. Ended up making a good four-footer for bogey.
Birdie at 3. Hit a hybrid and a pitching wedge about eight feet. Knocked that in.
Nice birdie at 4. Actually a 3 iron to about ten feet, and it was straight downhill. It was one of those just breathe on it and pick the right line.
And then a two-putt birdie at 7. Driver and a 3 wood on the green there about 40 feet.
Birdied 11. Laid up, and I want to say I hit my gap wedge, my 50 degree wedge to, oh, about -- seems like three hours ago. About eight feet probably in front of the hole.
I bogeyed 12. Wind kind of got me there. Had a decent shot, but it kind of drifted to left in that bunker. Not easy to get that one up and down. Made bogey.
We talked about the bogey at 15 where I had to lay up. I wanted to aim 15 feet left of the pin because there's an overhanging tree limb, and my body wouldn't let me.
Made a mental error there, got greedy, wanted to stick. Clipped that tree limb and drove down the front bunker. Hit a bunker shot, but I missed an eight to ten footer for par.
The birdie at 18 was a 3 wood and an 8 iron to about seven feet behind the hole.

Q. Best birdie of the day?
JIM FURYK: Was that my best birdie of the day?

Q. Number 4.
JIM FURYK: Was 4 my best?

Q. I'm curious what you think is your best birdie of the day.
JIM FURYK: I'll take all five of them. They're all beautiful. Just like kids. Why have a favorite? They're all beautiful.
JOHN BUSH: Jim, thank you very much.

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