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July 1, 2009

Jim Furyk


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jim Furyk, thanks for joining us here for a couple minutes here at the AT&T National. While driving over we talked a little bit about your success here in Washington, D.C., particularly at Congressional Golf Club. Maybe some opening comments about a good spot for you.
JIM FURYK: Well, I always like the old, classic, traditional golf courses. They had a U.S. Open here in '97, we've got one coming up in 2011, so obviously a really good golf course. It's a place that I would always put on my schedule because I think the world of the golf course. I've played very well here the last couple years, so I've got some good memories.
I've got to say, it's probably in the best shape I've seen it of all the years we've played here. It's in very good condition. It's a little soft today from the rain we got last night. It rained hard where I was last night in Bethesda, so I assume that's why it's so soft. But overall it's in good shape. A couple days of sun, dry it out, it'll get nice and firm and it'll be a very difficult test.

Q. Along those lines, what do you like so much about this place, and is it two years out too early to imagine how it would set up for an Open and what they will do to it for that tournament in two years?
JIM FURYK: Well, we've all heard about where the tees are, especially there's some tees moved back on the back nine, 18 being one of them, I want to say 15 being one of them, possibly 9. A couple awkward ones. 15 and 9 seemed very awkward because they move away from the way the slope is. They both slope left to right and the tee is going back and to the left, which makes the tee shot a little bit more awkward. But it is too early. I think it's a good, solid golf course.
The one thing you have here from a U.S. Open standpoint is that it's very difficult to make the greens here too quick. If you get them up there in that 12, 13, you really lose a lot of your pin placements and you lose your ability to make the golf course playable if that makes sense. So it's a course where green speed probably isn't a defense, but obviously we'll see rough, we'll see firm greens, and narrow fairways. So that's plenty, as it proved to be back in '97.

Q. Lucas Glover was in here a few minutes ago, and having won the Open yourself, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what's hitting him right now.
JIM FURYK: I think that his time more than anything, his time has probably become stressed. He's being asked to do a lot more things. He's got a lot of opportunities ahead of him. He's a very nice person, so he's going to have a difficult time saying no. And until he does, he's going to be somewhat hectic and frantic and at times just stressed out.
It's a learning experience for everyone, I think, for the first time, just to learn how to manage your time and to pick and choose the things that you're able to do and realize that as much as you would like to, you can't please everyone. In the long run you have to make sure that you and your family are happy and then you try to do your best to make sure everyone else is.

Q. With regard to that a little bit as a follow, knowing that you're not a very nice guy, was it easy for to say no to some of those things? Seriously speaking, how did you find it and how was your life changed a little bit after you won?
JIM FURYK: I don't think my life changed that much. I felt like when I won, I was pretty established. I had already won six or seven times on TOUR. I kind of -- more than anything, I think you recognize more -- I used to tease you all that all of a sudden it seemed like my opinion mattered more, even on things that didn't deal with golf, which really freaked me out a little bit.
You know, it wasn't a giant step. I think back to a guy like Ben Curtis, who it put a lot of pressure on Ben, and I've read some quotes from Shaun Micheel, and I played with both of those guys in the Grand Slam that year, and I think it put maybe a little extra pressure on them, that originally they had to prove themselves, which I think is crazy. I mean, you went, you teed it up, you shot the lowest score, you already proved yourself. You won one of the biggest events in the world.
I never felt that way. I felt like I was established, and I played really well that tournament. I won by three or four shots and was pretty clear of the field for the last couple of days. So I felt like I earned it and never felt like I had to go and prove myself or live up to the fact that I was the U.S. Open champion.
That's difficult for some young guys now. Lucas in my mind is an established player. He's played on The Presidents Cup team, possibly a Ryder Cup team, but it just is different. You're asked to do a lot more things, you have a lot more opportunities at foreign events. You can wear yourself out very quickly and lose sight of what's most important, and he needs to figure out what's most important for him and how he wants to handle those situations and what's best for him and not for everyone else. Or what was good for me, what was good for Ben, what's good for Lucas.

Q. As a follow-up, can it be a pitfall like you were talking about with Shaun and Ben, maybe for the pressure to, quote-unquote, validate you, to win another one? Can that be a pitfall of that?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think you start worrying about what other people expect of you rather than what you expect yourself. That's always -- that can't be healthy and it can't be a good thing for your game. So I think most guys probably put more pressure on themselves than they can feel from the outside. But if you start feeling that -- I remember Shaun making that quote that he felt like he needed to live up to it and he needed to prove himself.
Ben was pretty young at the time. He's really -- I've felt like he's done a good job. I got to grow and kind of learn out here on TOUR, really not under the microscope. I got to do it without a lot of pressure. Ben had to do it under the microscope with everyone watching because he's the British Open champion. He's done a great job of it. He's won a few events, won probably three or four times since, and I think carved out a real nice career so far.
You know, but I'm sure it added a lot of pressure. He was able to overcome that and do well.

Q. The commissioner was in here earlier this morning talking about this is the anniversary of the drug testing policy.
JIM FURYK: I missed the party, but yeah.

Q. He also said that there have been no suspensions because of performance enhancing drugs. Number one, does that surprise you at all? Number two, how in your mind and other players' minds has the testing program gone? Has it been smooth, herky-jerky? Do you know where it's coming from?
JIM FURYK: I'm not surprised. I didn't think we had an issue when we started. If someone had an issue and you know you're going to get tested, you would quit at that point anyway. I'm not surprised at all.
As far as the problems, I guess it's kind of humorous that some guys have had a hard time producing a sample, so it's taking them a long time to wait around and drink a few waters and then kind have kind of built up behind each other so there's a line. Guys have said, I couldn't go, it took me two hours, or guys have said, There was five people in front of me so it took a long time.
I haven't had that issue. I've been tested at least three times, and it's been walking in, and I've maybe been the second in line the longest and I've never been in there more than 20 minutes, sometimes no longer than 10 or 15. So it really hasn't been an issue that way.
But I haven't really heard anyone complaining other than the amount of time that it takes or maybe using the facilities on the 18th tee and then coming in and learning that they have to go again, and they can't.

Q. As one who's not paid a great deal of attention to the drug policy, I wonder, are sedatives included in that? I would think it would be more important to be calm than to be stronger.
JIM FURYK: Certain types, I believe. I think we have -- I mean, I guess historically the beta blockers were one. But yeah, I'm sure there's certain levels of every different type of drug. And also I can remember seeing like caffeine or extremely high levels of that, supposedly I guess one that can get you really jumpy and really excited which I guess might be really good in some sports other than golf, but sometimes it has an opposite effect, so it would calm you more. So they seem to be checking everything. Yeah, I think sedatives are in there somewhere.

Q. I just wondered if it was legit. In the old days they might have a dose of scotch or something before they played to calm their nerves. Are you allowed to take a Valium and calm yourself down?
JIM FURYK: I don't think it would be very productive would be my guess, although I've never taken a Valium, so I don't know exactly what that would do. There's levels for everything. I believe that our policies are pretty close to like the Olympic Committee's for different things, and there's slight variances and changes, but still, ours are pretty close to everyone else.

Q. I wanted to follow up on the earlier subject. Was there anything you didn't do right in the first year or two after you won the Open? Is there anything you would go back and change? Did you try a swing change? Did you try anything? You didn't go off the rails and some have.
JIM FURYK: I'm not saying that people go off the rails. Is there anything I would do differently? I mean, if I went back and if I were able to win another major championship and I was talking to my management group, if I was talking to my wife, if I was talking to my father who's my teacher and they said, Remember what you did back then, they might come up with an idea here or there. But when I think back I have pretty positive memories. I'd kind of lean on some of the people that helped me with some things and ask if they remembered anything that I said I would have done differently or that maybe didn't go as smoothly as they could have. But off the top of my head, I can't remember anything.

Q. There's been a lot going on off the course with Amy Mickelson and Chris Smith and Ken Green. You guys always seem to rally to the cause really well. That would surprise some people in an individual sport. You think people don't really realize how close you guys are?
JIM FURYK: No, I think we all travel together, we all -- guys on the Nationwide Tour all caravan together and their families know each other and they're driving together a lot is something I hear on the TOUR. If you're alone or you're a person that doesn't get along with others, it's a very miserable existence out here, and eventually you need someone to talk to and someone to lean on and to have fun with. So the guys really -- I think they spend a lot of time together. Yeah, I realize we're competing against each other, but there is somewhat of a family type atmosphere out here, and you hate to see things happen to those people that you spend a lot of time with.
Chris is a wonderful person, and I can't imagine -- I wouldn't wish that upon anyone. I can't imagine what he's going through. When I heard the news, I felt sick to my stomach, felt awful about it.
I played early in my career with Ken, and he's going through some really tough times. As I understand it, it looked like things were brightening up, he was starting to play pretty well and his spirits were high, and to have something like that strike is just awful. Our hearts are out to them, and I've heard some guys talking about both of the issues.

Q. Were you surprised how many guys wore pink that one day?
JIM FURYK: I wasn't surprised at all, actually. I think it was a great gesture, not only for Amy and Phil who are good friends of ours, and not only for them, but I've got to believe that almost everyone in that event has known someone or has been touched by someone that's had breast cancer. It's a great cause. It doesn't take much to put on a pink shirt and just show your support, get the word out, and that can only help.

Q. Going back to the major question, a lot of guys that win a major have success and then change because they feel like they need to to kind of get to that next level. You're a guy who by and large really has never changed, but you've kind of continued to have that success. Is it hard to not change in a situation like that?
JIM FURYK: I guess I never considered it. If what I had was able to compete and win at the highest level there is, in a major championship, what the hell would I want to change it for at that point? I've already won and proved it worked. I wouldn't need the challenge of trying to do something else and prove that could work, as well. I'd rather just kind of keep going the way I'm going. It got me that far, I'm going to stick with it.

Q. Does this event feel like more than a normal PGA event because it's hosted by Tiger, because it's at a site that was a U.S. Open site?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think it's a big event on TOUR. It obviously is a strong field, played at a great golf course, got a great date in between two major championships. So it definitely has that feel of an elite level TOUR event. Everyone has got their favorites in their heart, whether it's close to your hometown or it can be for a number of different reasons, events you always stick on your schedule. But you see there's probably a handful of events that really stick out where you see really strong fields every year, and this would be one of them.

Q. I don't know if somebody asked this, but about the clown suit, did they have to convince you to do that?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, we already talked about it. I'm not going to do it again (laughter). I'm just kidding.
I kind of got talked into that by the writer, by John. It took a little twisting to say the least. But he kept saying it was going to turn out nice, it was going to turn out nice, it was going to turn out nice, and it did. So I guess I made the right decision. I thought it turned out humorous and was taken in the light that it was supposed to be, and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. I've got ribbed about it, teased about it, but all in fun, and I think it turned out positive. So I was happy about it. John and the photographer and the magazine did a good job with it.

Q. I had a couple questions, just first of all, your take on the groove thing.
JIM FURYK: Give me more. My take on the groove thing?

Q. How much of an adjustment do you anticipate it making for you? And how much do you think it'll change the way golf looks, specifically for golf savvy fans the next few years?
JIM FURYK: I don't think it's going to change the way golf looks to fans. I don't think it's going to change the look of the game. I think it's going to change the way we play the game, if that makes sense. Maybe the golf savvy fan will be able to figure it out, but I think that's a very small percentage of guys that can pick out whether shots are spinning as much as they were the year before. Conditions are different every week. Some greens are firm, soft. Pebble Beach it's probably not going to make that big of a difference. At the U.S. Open it could make a huge difference.
But I'm in support. I mean, I've sat in being a member of the PAC, I've sat in a lot of meetings, heard different arguments. From a PGA TOUR perspective, I think we did what was right for the PGA TOUR. As far as going ahead and going along with it, we're going to have to conform next year, make sure all our grooves are at a certain level.
For the game of golf, it's a whole different story. I don't know if I like the idea that we get tested and I think it'll test our skills better as professionals, but I'm not so sure that Joe 18-handicapper, he might as well have some equipment that helps him compete -- not compete, helps him play better and helps him enjoy the game more.

Q. Do you think that bifurcation is a bad thing for golf?
JIM FURYK: Bifurcation, having two sets of rules? Is that what bifurcation means? Do I think it's a bad thing? Boy, that's a big can of worms we could open up.
I don't think that the 20-handicapper and myself have to play the same equipment if that makes sense. Now, it becomes a manufacturing process if the manufacturer wants to make two sets, comes into expense cost, there's a whole bunch of different issues there. But I really don't care if the 30-handicapper at your club or 20-handicapper at your club -- let's be honest, the average golfer doesn't break 100. If the average guy can't break 100, give him all the help you want. Give him a head that's 500 cc's if it helps him hit it. I want him to enjoy the game.
But when we're competing when we're playing, I kind of like the idea that we have to test our -- if there's a way that makes us test our skills better, and that's what the USGA has come out with and the PGA TOUR has supported it, I'm in support of it, as well.

Q. Were you at Turnberry in '94?
JIM FURYK: No, my first Open was '96. So no, I've played Turnberry but never in an Open.

Q. On what occasion?
JIM FURYK: Just having fun. I think Turnberry is great. It's a wonderful golf course. I'm anxious to see the setup.

Q. Did you play before the changes, before it was lengthened?
JIM FURYK: No. I played before it was lengthened. I'm not sure I've played after it was lengthened. I may have. I don't know, I've been there two or three different times. I can break down the par-3 for you, tell you where you have to hit it on all the holes. I've stayed at the hotel quite a few times, which is beautiful. But I don't know if I played it after they lengthened it.

Q. Do you have to pay for your room that week?
JIM FURYK: Lots. I'm actually not staying there.

Q. That much, huh?
JIM FURYK: It's probably $600 or $700 a night would be my guess. It's like an eight-day minimum or something. It costs five or six grand. It is what it is. Same every year.

Q. Jack won the Memorial, but he didn't tear it up or play quite as well there as he did some other times. Do you think it's tough for Tiger to host and win an event? Any thoughts on that?
JIM FURYK: I don't know how much -- I don't know how involved Tiger is. I know Jack, I don't know how involved he was back in 1981 or '82, either, if he was working on course setup and was he at a bunch of different sponsor functions. I think it depends on -- Tiger would be able to answer that question a lot better because I'm not sure exactly -- if he's treating it like every other event, then it's probably just the added -- I won't call it pressure, but the added incentive for him to go out there and want to win. If he's doing a bunch of different events and jockeying around all week, jockeying his time around all week, then it becomes more difficult because he's got more responsibility. But I'm not exactly sure, I haven't actually asked him how much more he does at this event.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jim Furyk, thank you. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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