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August 11, 2009
KELLY ELBIN: 2003 U.S. Open Champion, Jim Furyk joining us at the 91st PGA Championship. This will be Jim's 15th PGA Championship. His best finish, a tie for 6th in 1997.
Jim, you come in having played all three majors this year. Your best finish, a tie for 10th at the Masters. Comments on your game in August now as you head into the final major of the season.
JIM FURYK: Well, actually the last couple of events -- a little bit disappointed. I went to play on a golf course I really like. I finished, I think, 25th went to Akron on a golf course I really like. I finished 50th.
I don't think there's any reason to push the panic button. I think there's anything really bad about my golf game right now. I just have not been doing a good job of scoring and getting the ball in the hole and finding a way -- finding a way to turn 4s into 5s and not finding a way turning 5s into 4s. So just haven't done a very good job of scoring the last couple of weeks. Up until that point I felt like I played really well.
And I had as you mentioned a couple of chances to win majors this year. Pretty good position going into Sunday at the Masters, and pretty good position going into Sunday at the British, and didn't play good rounds in either round.
And put really bad at Augusta on Sunday and hit the ball pretty poorly on Sunday at Turnberry. So I wasn't able to get it done. I was disappointed by that.
But I still have quite a bit of the year left and hopefully can get myself back in position and play a good round.
KELLY ELBIN: You finished 9th here in 2002.
JIM FURYK: I do remember that actually I wouldn't be able to tell you where I finished.
KELLY ELBIN: What stands out from that seven years ago at the golf course then versus now?
JIM FURYK: Well, obviously the length, everything you read coming up into here, the golf course is almost 7,700 yards. A lot of length has been added. It hasn't been -- it doesn't seem it's been to a lot of holes. It seems like they got an extra, what was it, 300 yards.
KELLY ELBIN: 325.
JIM FURYK: 300 yards. Did it in about six holes. Added some huge length to a few of the holes. And it's probably only dramatic on about three or four of the holes out there.
So I think you always remember the finish of a tournament. You always remember the finish of the golf course. And 16, 17, 18 are what really stand out in my mind. And 16 obviously is the signature hole for a reason. That's the one everyone always remembers. And I remember Rich Beem had a big lead. He played great. Tiger put a little hit on him down the stretch, birdieing the last four.
Past that, it's a very big golf course. I'd have to think that designed around 1970; is that about right?
KELLY ELBIN: Opened in '62.
JIM FURYK: '62. I have to think this was kind of on the cutting edge of the new design or the new era or age of design in golf courses, with big massive greens, kind of cut up by ridges into little smaller greens.
Flashing sand in the bunker, a lot of bunkering out there. It looks like a modern-day golf course, something that was built in the last 10 or 15 years. And I'd have to say being built in the early '60s, it was probably one of the first of its kind, big, long golf course with huge greens.
And it looks like something that's been built in the last 20 years.
Q. Is it too big of a golf course for a medium hitter, or will he have to really kind of almost max out?
JIM FURYK: I think it depends on the setup. It depends on how much the golf course dries out. I don't feel overly stressed or -- the only hole that probably wore me out in my back nine yesterday and front nine yesterday, the only hole that probably wore me out was 12 -- I want to say we played 12 into the wind and I had to hit 3-wood in there.
I hit 3-wood over the green, actually. Probably could have hit a better drive, maybe a hybrid in. But that was the only hole I felt really stressed me distance-wise. 13 is a brute right in behind it.
But overall, I notice on the card three par 5s over 600 yards, that's kind of funny. Overall it's not too long, but if it were really wet and they tipped it out, it could become a problem for medium to short length hitter.
I don't see them playing -- my guess is I don't see them playing every tee back every day. And the one good thing about a long golf course is it gives you a ton of options, if that makes sense. You don't have to put the tees in the same place every day. You can make holes play differently. Kerry is usually pretty good at that.
Right now, the one thing that's probably not stressing us out is the green is very soft. You can hit a green with 3 iron stop it relatively quickly. Or I have 5-irons that are hitting greens and going only a yard or two after it hits. That being the case, you can be very aggressive. Will probably need a little sunshine and some high blue skies to suck some of that moisture out of the golf course right now.
Q. The three-shot par 5s, is that a bit of an equalizer on the power player?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, somewhat. The only one I really see a decent percentage of the field having a go at is 7. The other three, you might have a guy here and there. But you're not going to have a third of the field going in any of those par 5s. Might be a little bit of an equalizer. I agree with you there.
Yeah, I'd say it's a good assessment.
Q. It does seem that every major you go to there's a chance that the people will be saying this is the longest U.S. Open golf course in history. This is the longest PGA Championship course in history. Does length matter anymore? It seems like we're doing it by 20 yards at a time. It's just like -- (Laughter). It just goes on and on that we're going to have an 8,000-yard course at some point?
JIM FURYK: It's probably going to happen. You're not going to make a golf course too long for Tiger and Phil and Vijay and Bubba and JB. You just can't make it too long. And I'm not -- I really don't consider myself short. But obviously I'm average at best for length-wise.
And I'm still not overly stressed out, which is scary over 676 yards. Now, if these greens got really, really firm and the fairways were soft, then I'd be really stressed. I wouldn't be able to hit the ball far enough off the tee and make it run. I'd be stuck with a long club in my hand and wouldn't able to stop it on the green. That's a whole different story. If the fairways firm up with the greens, I think I'm okay. And right now, it's somewhat soft in the fairways, soft in the greens. I think we're all right.
That's just kind of the fad of today. Longer, longer, longer is better. That being said, the best hole on the golf course is a second shortest par 4 on the course. Longer doesn't necessarily make it better but definitely the good part about it is it gives the guy that's setting it up wisely an opportunity for a lot of options. And I think that makes the golf course more interesting.
Q. When he was talking about Padraig Harrington Sunday, Tiger Woods was asked what he thought about Padraig Harrington as a hard worker. He said if there were two people in golf that at the would recommend people to follow their example, it was you and Padraig Harrington, because of your work ethic and the way you've developed yourselves to the utmost as golfers. Do you almost feel you're a kindred spirit with Padraig on that score? When you look at him, does he give you encouragement that there's maybe an enjoy a run at the majors?
JIM FURYK: The last part of the majors I didn't hear.
Q. Do you look at Padraig almost as a kindred spirit?
JIM FURYK: My Irish brother? Irish cousin.
Q. Your hard-working brother; maybe if a guy like Padraig can go out there and win multiple majors, that there's room for you to go out and do it, too.
JIM FURYK: I don't think that -- there's a couple ways to take that. Paddy's got a lot of talent, but you look at a guy that is always working on his game, always trying to improve, always trying to find an edge. And the guys out here know who works hard and who doesn't. I mean, I guess unless you're not one of the hard workers, you're not out here enough to figure it out.
But I look around. I know who works hard. When I see the young guys coming up, I know which ones are preparing the best, which ones work the hardest. Camilo comes to mind right off the bat. He's a grinder. He's tough. He's a guy that's always practicing, always working on his game, always trying to get better.
There's some guys that I see are lazy that really don't put the effort forth that might come really easy for them. Doesn't mean they're not going to win a bunch of majors.
But I take what Tiger said as the utmost compliment. And coming from the best player in the world and being compared to one of the best players in the day in Paddy, I take it as a compliment. And I know Tiger meant that with the best possible spirit in mind.
So, yeah, I look at it as a very nice compliment. And I've always tried to prepare myself. I've always tried to work hard, and I'm getting a little older. Might not be out there as much as I used to. But it's always on my mind and I'm always trying to find that edge.
Q. Padraig is not one of the boys as such, he's sort of a loner. How is he viewed in the locker room by you guys, on a more personal --
JIM FURYK: I never met an Irishman that didn't drink until I met Paddy. So that's a start.
Q. He has his moments.
JIM FURYK: I haven't seen him. I haven't seen him. I think he's very friendly, actually. I get along with Paddy very well.
I think a lot of golfers are somewhat of loners in their own way. What I mean by that is when I was a kid it wasn't like -- you could always go to the playground and go to the basketball court or baseball field. You could always find a dozen kids that wanted to play ball. You didn't go to the golf course when is I was a kid and have a dozen kids hanging out trying find a game to go out and play.
You had to really want to do it. You had to be out there and practice; you have to be by yourself a lot. To hit that many balls, to chip and putt, to try to want to get better as a young kid, you had to be by yourself and you had to be able to deal with that. And I was always able to create little games, keep myself interested always. Found little things that -- just to kind of take the monotony out of it and make practicing fun, and you have to be alone. So I think a lot of us have that sort of thing.
But Paddy is a guy that I think gets along well with everyone. And I never really felt like he's been a loner to where he's been off by himself. We're all unique. We're all a little quirky in our own ways. I find him friendly and easy to get along with. And actually strike up a conversation with.
I really wouldn't consider him a loner at all out here.
Q. I'd like to ask you, thinking about working hard, with a couple of tournaments where you like the course and maybe didn't finish as well as you like and a couple of majors where you didn't end as well as you like, what have you been working on recently to try to get yourself in better position?
JIM FURYK: Well, I'm not so sure it was always physical mistakes. At Augusta I wasn't happy with my putting, and since then, up until that point I worked very hard on it. Obviously I putted well to get myself into good position. Sunday I wasn't happy, but I've continued to really work on that part of my game.
A lot of it is probably -- a lot of it at the British was probably a little bit of impatience and trying a little bit hard and trying to force the issue a little bit. I missed a bunch of fairways that day by not very far. And didn't hit the ball as well as I would have liked. But I think just trying to build on the same fundamentals as I have all year. But to kind of go one step farther, maybe fine tune them. But more than anything, if I look back, it's probably been a little bit more mental than physical and maybe pressing the issue a little bit too much and not letting things happen.
Q. How did you develop your work ethic, Jim?
JIM FURYK: I think it would be indicative of the way I was brought up. And both my -- from my mother's and father's side both hardworking families that were blue-collar Pittsburgh mill workers, to watching my father when I grew up put a lot of pressure on himself to perform and to do well at his job. And it's just the way he was brought up from his family. The way my mother was brought up, and the way I was brought up. If you wanted to succeed, you had to work hard on it.
Q. Have you talked to Phil recently, and what do you think he's had to go through this summer? What's it been like for him?
JIM FURYK: I would say that when -- I'm sure it's been -- for me to sit up here and try to put a word on it would probably be impossible. I think for all of us, we've all known someone that's dealt with breast cancer or dealt with cancer. It's a very difficult thing for those families to deal with. And I think it's probably been very, very difficult and very tough for the family. And my wife and I know them very well. And we wish them the best.
When Phil's been out here on tour, I played a little bit of a practice round with him at the U.S. Open. I've seen him in the locker room last week. I think, really, his mind-set -- everyone wants to know how she's doing and how she's feeling and how are things, and he's real quick to tell you and try to explain things for you.
But I think he's also, from what I've sensed, he's trying to get away a little bit and trying to ease his mind and maybe lighten things up. He's playing practice rounds with guys he always used to and he's joking around and he's trying to have some fun, and the same thing I saw in the locker room last week. I think pretty lighthearted and witty and kind of -- I think it's good for him to be out here with the guys and see some of his friends and just kind of take a deep breath and get away from it a little bit because it's a tough reality at home and he's probably, knowing Phil, really spending a lot of time with Amy and the kids and trying to make sure everything is good at home.
Q. Wonder if you can address the par 72 majors. I think if I'm not mistaken, not counting Augusta, I think Tiger is six-of-eight in par-72 majors. He's got four more at Augusta. That's 10 of his 14. And if I'm not mistaken, Nicklaus won about two-thirds of his majors on par 72s. Jim, is that just a power player having two more par 5s a day to feast on, or is it deeper than that?
JIM FURYK: Nothing like hitting me with a question like that. I never really thought of it. I never read that stat. I never heard it or knew it.
I think at Augusta, it's definitely an opportunity for the power hitter. I struggle. Every once in a while I can reach 2. I can never reach 8, and I can reach 13 most of the days and 15 depends on the wind. But obviously with his length he has a much better opportunity to reach those holes and take advantage of them. It's an interesting stat.
I would have to believe that -- I'd like to go back in those stats and see how he played the par 5s that week. He has 16 opportunities. How many under par was he; how many under par did he finish for the tournament; how many under par was he on those par 5s. And if he was pretty healthy on the par 5s for all those weeks that he won, I think it's a good sign that, yeah -- take that into account. I guess he's got probably the best record ever at Firestone, and it's a par 70.
So I wouldn't count him out anywhere. But it's an advantage for long hitters to have four par 5s.
Like I said here, maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see -- maybe some guys are going to get to 11, but I don't think a third of the field or anything like that. I think it's going to be a small percentage of guys.
7, there's going to be some guys having a go. And I can see myself also in the right conditions having a go at 7. But 3 and 15 I've got absolutely no chance in any condition.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you very much.
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