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April 17, 2010

Jim Furyk


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome our 54-hole leader at the Verizon Heritage, Jim Furyk, 11-under par, one shot ahead of Brian Davis.
Can you to comment on your round out there.
JIM FURYK: Obviously happy with a 67. I thought the conditions were a little tougher today, a little bit more breeze. The greens had firmed up a little bit. They were a lot faster in my estimation. I'm happy with the round. I got off to a little bit of a slow start with my iron game. Got the ball up and down a lot on the front nine, kind of eased down on 3, really good up-and-down on 4 and 5. Pretty routine up-and-downs on 6 and 7. And five holes in a row I was able to save four pars and make birdie. Really just that's where I felt like I held my round together. And then I got comfortable with my golf swing. I hit a lot of good iron shots. The last 11 holes, gave myself a lot of opportunities and I was able to coax a few of them in.
I was a little frustrated on 15, 16, 17. Made a couple of really good putts in there. I was able to knock the one on 18, which was a good finish to the day.
JOHN BUSH: You've had so much success at this tournament, but you haven't won yet. Talk about tomorrow's round, what your focus will be.
JIM FURYK: Today, everyone made a big deal on the range this morning when I did my pre-round interviews about going out there in the lead. And really what I looked at was last night when I clicked over to see the scores, I think there was 20 guys within two shots of the lead. So really I didn't consider myself leading the golf tournament. The goal was really to go out and fire a good number today and put myself in position, and I was able to do that. When we went out early I saw guys kind of coming from pretty far back, starting at 3, shooting 6-under, getting to 9. Heath had it at 11 at one time. So even when I teed off we were already in about 4th or 5th place, which was kind of interesting, but I expected that today. So just tried to forget about what everyone else was doing and shoot another good score.
Tomorrow we're going to be bunched up again, I think. Looking and talking to Johnny in our scorer trailer, I think there's seven guys at 9-under. There's a bunch of us piled up. Nine of us within two shots. And there's a bunch three and four back that could fire good numbers. Tomorrow is the same goal, go out there and play another good round and try to put the heat on the rest of the field.

Q. Along the same lines you were second here in '05 and '06, and 4th in '08. What do you have to do different tomorrow in order to close it?
JIM FURYK: The one second place finish was the year Darren Clarke and Peter Lonard, they were eight shots ahead of the field. And I think when I was on the 8th hole I was something like 11 shots back. And when I got to 18, I felt like if I birdied 18 I might actually have a chance to get in there and tie for the tournament. And I think I only ended up one or two shots back by the end of the day. So it was kind of not really a battle down the stretch. I finished second and went in the locker room and watched the back nine, and thinking it's not going to happen but I have to stick around. But it came close.
The other one was a duel down the stretch with Aaron Baddeley. We teed off in the last group and the two of us were leading most of the day. It was a little different feel. And he hit the key shots and made the key putts down the stretch.
I like the golf course. I've had success here but it's been feast or famine. Those two years you mentioned there I think '07 and '09 I missed the cuts. I think I went second, second, missed cut, fourth, missed cut. So it seems to be feast or famine. And I said yesterday, I hope tomorrow is feast again.
But really I've got an opportunity tomorrow. And to go out there and play a good round and try to win another golf tournament this year, and I'm going to enjoy that opportunity.

Q. I know you were talking in the past about feeling a lot of pressure, how much did winning last month take any of that away?
JIM FURYK: A lot. A lot. No one puts more pressure on myself or any of us, for that matter, than we do. Than I do. And I was disappointed. I said on CBS just a little while ago, as the time mounted and it went from a year and a half to two years to two and a half years, and talking about it so much, I tended to put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt like I had to be perfect and I had to hit every shot just right. I put undue pressure on myself. And I'm finding myself now going out there and enjoying that back nine, getting in the heat of the battle. I hit a couple of bad shots here and there. But I enjoy the opportunity and looking at it as the glass is half full rather than half empty like I used to.
I learned from it. My attitude wasn't what it needed to be to play my best. And I feel like I'm in a great frame of mind. Since we hit the east coast, since we got back to Florida I feel like my attitude has been real good. And I've played some poor rounds, hit a bunch of poor shots and really haven't let it bother me and plugged on. And that's one of the reasons I won Tampa, and hopefully that's the reason I'm in this position now with an opportunity to win again.

Q. Are there many places you can look at where you haven't won yet, any fondness you have for the course and the success you've had, and feel the place may owe you one or that you're due one? Do you feel that way here?
JIM FURYK: I don't think anyone owes me one. I was disappointed in Westchester in New York. That's a course I liked. I finished second there twice, lost in a playoff, had Padraig Harrington make that 70-footer there one year to lose by one. That one always bothered me.
I think Colonial is a place that I've always said is probably my favorite golf course on Tour. And I finished second there at least once, maybe a couple of times. I was in a duel with Tom Watson, which is, I guess, kind of cool as a subnote, being my age, someone I watched growing up. But it wasn't so cool that day.
This is a place where I've always enjoyed. There's a lot of places I haven't won. There's a lot shorter list of places that I have. I've won three times in Vegas and probably let another three slide by, to be honest with you.
But I think it's a cool event from the perspective of everywhere has got their own little niche. The Memorial has Jack Nicklaus giving out the trophy. To win there and hear Jack say kind words about me, and my wife being from Columbus was a special day. Arnold Palmer being from Bay Hill.
This is a shame, they're looking for a title sponsor next year. It's got a great tradition and there's a lot of great champions. I'm not sure the plaid jacket is exciting anyone, but the golf tournament has been here a long time. And so guys enjoy the golf course. Hilton Head is a pretty area. I've enjoyed coming here. Really for me it's mostly about the golf course, when I pick and choose my events. This golf course is great, but it's also got some stuff on the side, that tradition and history that make it more special.

Q. In that light, you talked about nobody puts more pressure on you than you, but I think they want to see big names on the leaderboard, and you're one of the top-ranked players in the world. Do you feel there's an expectation or hope that you and some of the other well-known players would be on that leaderboard Sunday?
JIM FURYK: I don't think that -- it's not for me to worry about or think about. When I look at the -- I don't watch a lot of golf on television, I'll be honest. I watch The Masters on television. That Saturday round was pretty unbelievable, with Mickelson going eagle, eagle, and almost making eagle on 15. Everyone bouncing around the leaderboard, putts bouncing. For about 45 minutes to an hour was probably some of the best viewing I've ever seen. I've got to think today with 20 guys being close to the lead starting the day, having guys coming from -- you've got a 7-under on the board early from Nick O'Hern. You've got guys coming from way back and getting into the lead, and then you have the leaders. So early in the telecast you had a lot of excitement with guys getting close. Late in the telecast you had still quite a few of us, Boo, and Heath and myself coming down the stretch in the last groups close to the lead or in the lead. And I heard a stat when I left that there was, the 18th green, at one time there was ten guys in the lead or for a share of the lead. As far as television, as far as CBS, as far as the tournament was concerned it was an exciting day of golf. Not taking away anything from Brian Gay last year, when he blitzed the field -- it's great for Brian. And I'd love to do it some day. But he ran away with the golf tournament. And that's probably tough on the viewing. It's nice, a day like today when there's all those guys mounding there close, it's great for television and should be good for the tournament.

Q. Last week you experienced a little bit of tough go of it. And these are two different types of courses? Did you feel there was any part of your game that was real close to clicking last week but just didn't work. But now everything came to fruition, it worked for you this week?
JIM FURYK: No, they're two totally different styles of courses and game plans are totally different. I really felt good and confident leaving home and going up to Augusta and actually started my preparation really well. And then as the week drug on I felt like I was starting to fizzle out and going the wrong way. That golf course, I've had my opportunities to win there, twice for sure. But teeing off Sunday morning I probably had four good opportunities to win the golf tournament. I know I can play well. But it mounts some struggles for me every year. It's a golf course where you always want to hit the ball high and hard and spin it. And I find myself making the same mistakes over and over and over and over there. When I play poorly, my swing gets long, I'm trying to help the ball up in the air. Instead of making a good, solid, compact swing and letting the ball, that's when I hit it my highest and hardest and that's when I spin the ball the most. But it's natural and I let it get away.
This golf course is the dead opposite. You're staring down a bowling alley with trees every shot, it naturally wants -- you want to kind of tighten up your swing. It gives you a great visual for shaping and hitting shots and alignment. I worked on tightening my swing up with my dad a little bit. It's helped me come to this golf course. If I was on a long, wide open golf course this week it would be tough to implement this quickly what we tried to do. But going to a place that's tight and narrow -- playing those courses in Vegas, those ones in the Strip, they would go through the condos and different things, gave me that real, tight, narrow, my swing would get real -- just would feel very compact and really good and I hit the ball really accurately. And it's helped me this week I think on this golf course.
But everyone's got that same -- you sit there on the tee and you see all the trees, trying to work it around. Everyone has the same feeling.

Q. Through the focus it gives you more commitment to your shot?
JIM FURYK: I just think it helped me with -- it's just totally different golf courses. So I think when I left last week, I wanted to figure out, identify the problem, which my father helped me with, being my teacher. And then once I've identified the problem then I want to look in the next week, look in here and see what do I have to do to play better. And I've been trying to -- a lot of it was attitude. I've been a lot more patient this week. I made a couple of bad swings last week, and then I started getting really impatient and trying to get the shots back and get back in the golf tournament. It can go one of two ways for you, and it definitely went the wrong way for me. And being foolish, I didn't step off the pedal. As someone said, how did you shoot 80? I said, I birdied 18. I'm still trying to hit it right at the stick. I hit it a foot on the last hole. So that can go wrong really quick for you. And I've been a lot more patient this week. But I've been in a position to be. So it's been better.

Q. On 18, speaking of 18, were you thinking of birdies, solo lead or getting it on the green there? You were a little ways back?
JIM FURYK: Well, I hit a poor shot there on Thursday, and really I was first and foremost safely putting the ball on the green, putting it in a place you can make 4. The good and the bad one is when it's downwind that pin is in the back. The bad is it's easy to land the ball in the middle of the green, get a big bounce and catch the bunker in the back, which is not a good place to be with that pin. I heard there were quite a few guys that came in there and made 5 or 6 out of the bunker.
The good news is, if you land it on the first third of the green, it's best to get the ball to the hole. I was trying to hit a soft 6-iron or hard 7, my caddie and I talked about it. I've hit a lot of good shots at that pin that landed middle of the green where I thought they were going to be good and ended up long. It was a tough place to make 4. And so I knew I had enough club to carry it to the front of the green. I didn't know if I had enough to get it to the back of the pin. It hit and released a long way to get it back to the pin.
JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by.

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