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April 18, 2010

Jim Furyk


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome Jim Furyk, your Verizon Heritage champion. Second win of the season and moves you to No. 2 on the FedExCup standings. But obviously one of the most interesting victories, with the way the playoff hole played out. Just maybe go through the last few holes down the stretch and talk about winning.
JIM FURYK: You know, there was a lot of guys tied. Brian and I had a great duel. And I didn't really watch the leaderboard much today, like I usually do. But I felt as well as we were playing, making the turn at 3-under, there was probably nobody that was 4- or 5- or 6-under on the front nine in the conditions we were playing. So I felt good upfront.
On the back nine I started taking a peek and I saw guys at 11 or maybe even 12 or 2-up on the board when we were 13 or 14. And by the time we got to 14 green or 15, I looked up at the board and everyone was gone, everyone was back at 10-under and we were separated. It gave me a good idea of how those last holes were playing and that we had some tough holes ahead of us.
And I think that was kind of my strategy on the way in, is that the last four holes I made bogey at 14, hitting what I thought was a decent shot off the tee. It went much farther than I expected it to. I expected the wind to hold that ball up more and it got too deep in the green. That's what made my pitch shot so much more difficult. Had that ball been 8, 10 yards shorter, I would have been off the fringe and had a relatively benign shot to get it up there from about three or four feet.
He makes par there. He goes 1-up. It was the first time in over 27 holes that I wasn't in the lead, leading the tournament. So 15 obviously is your best opportunity on the way in to make birdie. I hit a great drive and laid it up. He got a little bit of a bad bounce, his layup went down the right side. If you can on that pin placement, you love to layup on left, the way the green is shaped and from his angle he had an extremely difficult shot. From my angle in the fairway I could get it pretty close and ended up that we both missed five and six -- I missed about an 8-footer he missed about a 5- or 6-footer. And we got it back to even.
16, he got a little cute and left one in the front bunker and another 5- or 6-footer slipped by. And all of a sudden I'm two holes from -- I was up, I was down, and back to being 1-up in the lead. And I felt like par, par at 17 and 18 would win the golf tournament. I didn't see guys playing those two holes 1-under. He played great. I made two solid pars and he left a birdie putt short on 17. And then in great fashion knocked in a birdie at 18.
Everyone's asked, how did you get ready for the playoff? I still had a three- or four-footer for my par on 18. So I never really clicked off. I still had -- it was an inside, left-center putt for par and I figured that hopefully that would win the golf tournament. When he knocked it in, it was a tie and go to a playoff. So I never really -- if I had chipped it up there six inches and tapped it in, I probably in my mind I would think if he misses this I win. And then would have to reconfigure my thinking and think uh-oh, I have to go out and play. I never was afforded that luxury with the putt.
The finishing was disappointing. From my angle it looked like it was on the pin at first, and the wind caught it and it started going left. I saw it hit the bank above the red line, and so I knew I still had to make 4. But then it was hopping around those rocks. I assumed it was in the rocks. When we got up there and I saw the sand I was like, there's a chance here he can still get it up and down and make 4.
What happened from there was kind of strange. He called Slugger down there and told him that he on his backswing hit one of those dead sticks. I assumed it was not a big deal. If you've got high grass or bushes, you can touch those with your club without being penalized. So I assumed that stick would be the same way. But it was a lose impediment because it wasn't growing, it wasn't in the ground, like grass and, therefore, it was just like a leaf or something like that, just laying there. And eventually they figured out watching the tape that he did clip it on the way back. It's amazing what happens on TV.
So it was obviously a little bit of a -- we had such a great battle today and such a good golf tournament, to go out and lead a group on a tough round; he shoots 3-under, I shoot 2-under. To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I want to win the golf tournament. It's obviously a tough loss for him, and I respect and admire what he did. To be there and be in the battle and have an opportunity to win the golf tournament, and then have to call a penalty on yourself has got to be extremely disappointing. I admire him for what he did. It's a testament to our game and the people that play on the Tour, and that we have so many guys that do that. It's just awkward to see it happen at such a key moment in the golf tournament. Awkward for him to lose that way, and a little awkward for me to win. Obviously I'm very happy to win but you almost don't know how to react. I want to react to the crowd and kind of wave and let them know, that, hey, I'm excited, but I don't want it to take away from Brian. It was an awkward moment, an awkward way to win.
I've only had a win feel more awkward than that once in my life. And I hope we don't have to talk about that. Won the Argentine Open where Eduardo Romero and Vicente Fernandez and got disqualified after we finished 18, and I was supposed to go playoff with them, with Eduardo, I believe, and they had signed the wrong scorecards. They kept score on the wrong card. We sat in the scorer's tent 20 minutes waiting for a ruling. And everyone else was speaking in Spanish, and I had no idea for 20 minutes what was going on, and why we weren't headed down 18 to play in the playoff. And they said, "You're the winner." And I said, "okay, why?" And it was an awkward -- two Argentinians and myself and it was an awkward moment. But I tell you the fans there were really good about it and supported me. It was the only time it was more awkward to win.

Q. On the 72nd hole, Jim, you chipped from about 8 feet off the green or so. I know it's maybe a little hard to compare, but if you're facing the same shot at Augusta National, where the fairways are a little faster and the greens are a little faster, would you still be chipping or would that be a putter?
JIM FURYK: No, I would chip that. Because of the uphill and then over, it was just -- it was actually a very simple shot. I didn't want to -- I was in between clubs on the way through. I had to hit one yard apart on my -- I was about maybe eight yards farther right the second time, but I had 175 and I think 174 or -- I think those are two yards, 175 and 174. I couldn't hit 7-iron and get there, especially in the position I was in where 4 looked like it was going to win. It was an easy 6-iron and I babied it the first time that's why it hung out to the right a little bit.
The second time around I didn't want to baby it, and I was jacked up and hammered it and I was in the back of the green. When you get in that position, having to hit something easy probably isn't the best way. But the chip was extremely routine. And I actually thought -- I hit it like that, I was grinning from ear to ear as it was rolling halfway down there. And then when it slid four feet by I was, whoa, I was surprised. But it worked out.

Q. I want to get your thoughts on winning at a golf course that you've always thought you could win at and you maybe could have won at previous?
JIM FURYK: And what was the last part of that?

Q. Could have and possibly should have won previously?
JIM FURYK: I could have. I had a great battle with Aaron Baddeley down the stretch, and he hit some key shots and made some key putts and did more down the stretch the last five or six holes than I did and won the golf tournament. That was my best opportunity to win. I've had a very strange record here. I've kind of had similar records at Wachovia, too, where I've had four top-five finishes and two missed cuts the last two years. The second, second, missed cut, fourth, missed cut, and then I won. So it's awkward. And I did that at Wachovia where I think I lost in the playoff, won in a playoff and I think I missed the cut the year previously and I might have missed the cut the year after. Just kind of strange and awkward to do that.
But they're both very difficult golf courses, and if you're not right on top of your game, it's not that hard to hit a bad shot here or there, and all of a sudden miss the cut.

Q. Would you feel like you missed out had you gone through your whole career and not won on Tour on a golf course that fits your game so well?
JIM FURYK: That's a good question. There's a few courses on Tour, there's a handful that I really feel like suit my game and I've had my opportunity to win and I haven't. And I would be disappointed to get through and not win a golf tournament at. This was definitely on the list. I've always loved it here, and felt it really suited my game and played well here but never won.

Q. You've won twice in a month and you're coming to a stretch where you're getting ready for Quail Hollow and PLAYERS, where you've played so well. What's your confidence level right now and what do you take the next few weeks?
JIM FURYK: I think my confidence level is obviously very high. And we're getting to the part of the season where I really -- I start smiling ear to ear because I really like all the golf tournaments coming up. They suit my game. The golf courses, I've played well there. And it's starting to get warmer and hotter, and I've always played well through the summer, it's kind of my time. I've never had tremendously great West Coasts. Start to kind of warm up in March a bit here and there and once we get to Augusta and Hilton Head and we go Wachovia, PLAYERS, Colonial, Memorial, get to me and my schedule.
I'm excited. I think I'll be a little cautious. I'm right in the start of my favorite part of the schedule for the year. I'm playing as well as I have for years. So the caution is that you still have to be patient. You still have to go out there and -- otherwise you get in a situation where you force a few shots, like I did last week and you end up missing the cut.
And I think my game's there and I've still got some stuff that I really want to work on. I hit the ball beautifully today. My putting was definitely stroke play, which usually you don't win a golf tournament on Sunday. I hit some good putts that didn't go. But I hit a couple of bad ones, as well. And, you know, there's definitely still some things that I can improve on and work on. I think the idea is not to get complacent. Early in my career I'd start playing good, and think if I can hold it right here. And when you try to hold it, you go backwards. You have to keep the pedal down and keep going forward. It's fun.
It's only the second time in my career I've had two victories in a year. I've had a lot of fun this year. I've really enjoyed the battle today. I really enjoyed the duel. I allowed myself to get a little bit nervous a few times, but I always came back with a big smile on my face, and this is perfect. This is where you want to be. And I just had a calming feeling today that it was going to turn out well for me, and that I was going to win the golf tournament.

Q. Mentally your discipline, how did you hold that together when the flat stick was not working and your ball-striking was so good, especially on the front? You were hitting the ball spectacularly well. Were you not reading putts well or not where you were looking?
JIM FURYK: I have to go back. It's a little of both. A couple of misreads and a couple of poor putts I'd say. There was a combination of both.

Q. How do you hold your mental discipline when that's going on?
JIM FURYK: I'd say it's probably harder on Thursday and Friday than it is on Sunday. Thursday and Friday you're trying to get yourself in position to win a tournament. On Sunday late when you are in position, it's easy to stay patient. It's easy to keep your mental attitude going because there's still a golf tournament in front of you to win. I missed that putt, I missed another, but I look at the leaderboard and I'm still leading.
Thursday and Friday, you miss three or four birdie putts in a row from ten feet in, and you could be fit to be tied a little bit because you feel like you're letting opportunities go to put yourself in position.

Q. You talked about the two years without winning and how you felt it weighing on you a little bit. How much did winning earlier relieve that and play into today at all?
JIM FURYK: It did. It did. I think that when I won at Innisbrook I was very proud, and it was also a relief. When I won at the U.S. Open I had the same -- if you look at my facial expressions getting off the 18th hole there, it was relief. Because I was up three shots on second place, I was up five shots on third place. It was my tournament to win or lose. And Innisbrook mounted. I had a three-shot lead going into Sunday, it was two and a half years since I won, and it was my tournament to win or lose. A lot of people were saying, "It's his tournament to lose." And I hadn't won, I put a lot of pressure on myself. When I got off the golf course it was more of a relief. And I didn't enjoy it as much as I did this one. Where I put a lot of stress on myself at Tampa.
Here I expect a lot of myself, I put pressure on myself, but I really enjoyed it. I had a good time out there. I think Brian and I had a great back-and-forth. Like I say, he played great today. It could have turned out different for either one of us. But I enjoyed the duel, which is fun. I haven't done that in a while, because I've put a lot of pressure on myself.

Q. Can you expand on that swing you had on 13 and 14 where you hit it about five feet from the pin, and he responds and makes that putt and you missed that putt, and you're driving on 14.
JIM FURYK: The thing on 13 I had an opportunity to go possibly 2-up. He makes his putt and mine lips out on me. All of a sudden we're back to even. He played 14 well and I made bogey.
Yeah, I think -- I mean, I remember to myself thinking, this is my first time since I teed off yesterday that I wasn't leading the golf tournament. And then I kind of got that wry smile on myself and saying you still have four holes. You're still in a duel. There's still lots that can happen. I saw guys on 13th green, all of a sudden 10-under was third place. I thought what happened? Where did all the 11's and 12's go? I thought about the wind direction on the 14th tee, the wind is going to be in our face. And guys are dropping out. So that kind of got me thinking about, you know, on the way in, I'm 1-down now, but I bet if I can play those holes 1-under, the worst I'm going to do is probably going to be in a playoff. It ended up that I played them even par and was still in a playoff. I almost won outright.
I knew they were tough. I had a bad lie on 16 and played kind of conservatively. And then I felt like I played pretty solid on 17, 18, making two pars.

Q. You've been one of the top-ranked players in the world for a long time. When you go through a stretch of two-and-a-half years without winning, do you start to wonder, it's hard to place yourself in your own mind among the best players in the world without a win for a few years? Do a couple of wins validate in your mind you are one of the best players?
JIM FURYK: I've never doubted my ability or my talent. Where I'm ranked in the world I've always said is not all that important to me. Whether it's second, like it was for a year and a half back in '06, or whether it's 10th or 12th or 14th, it really doesn't matter. It's not going to matter on Sunday. It didn't matter to Brian where I was ranked today; he still wanted to beat me either way. It's not really been important.
I was disappointed in the fact that I hadn't won more golf tournaments. I had a lot of opportunities. Some of them were my fault. Some of them I didn't take advantage of opportunities. And some of those guys just outplayed me. I played great golf at the Memorial last year and Tiger birdied a ton of holes on the way in. Everyone is dropping like flies off the leaderboard and he's going the other way. Guys playing 3-over on the back nine and he's playing 3-under. I played better than everyone on the field but one guy, but it happens.
I never really doubted my ability or talent. I didn't feel like I had to justify my ranking or my ability because I don't really worry about that. As long as I get up on the first tee on Sunday and the guy I'm playing with knows that he's going to have a tough day because he's playing with me, I'm happy. That makes sense, whether I win golf tournaments or not. When I get to the first tee and guys aren't worried about playing me anymore, then it's time to retire.

Q. This will seem like ancient history now, but where were you when The Masters actually concluded and how did you end up getting here?
JIM FURYK: Where was I when The Masters concluded? I was in Myrtle Beach with my wife playing -- I played the Monday before The Masters with Hootie and the Blowfish. We watched the first half at a restaurant, and then we went back to the hotel, and picked it up on the back nine. And I watched in our room before Sunday, before we went to dinner. We're friends with a lot of those guys, but, you know, kind of had an interest in Phil. And it was nice to see Amy out there. We sat and watched television. I mumbled a few words when he was hitting out of pine needles on 13, but it worked out well.

Q. How did you get here?
JIM FURYK: I drove on Tuesday. We played Monday. They had a concert Monday night. We stayed up and had a great time and then I kind of slept in and leisurely drove down here, it's about four hours or more on Tuesday, got here in the afternoon. Just in time for an exciting PAC meeting.

Q. Second time in the last group on Sunday here. How much did you kind of think back to that duel with Aaron in 2006? Was there anything that you learned from that time around that helped you today?
JIM FURYK: Aaron flipped me on 14, I believe, or we went from a tie to him being 1-up. Or I think he got tied with me on 14 and might have went up on 15. And I kind of remembered the back-and-forth. I remember how hard 17 played. And an opportunity to tie or win at 18 that I missed and he makes the putt behind me. And I kind of thought when I was walking up 18, last time I had the close birdie putt, Aaron was over the green, he chipped it up there, made par. Here I'm off the green, it was -- I was thinking the roles were kind of a little bit opposite, where I was behind and had the birdie putt, like Brian, and I was kind of more in Aaron's shoes this time.
I thought about it a little bit but I got about 150 yards with nothing to do walking up, little things go through your mind.
CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations, Jim.

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