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July 28, 2010
WHITE SULPHUR SRPINGS, WEST VIRGINIA
DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk. Jim, thanks for joining us for a few minutes prior to the first rounds of the Greenbrier Classic.
You've had a chance to see the course. We'll get some comments, what you think. But you're off to a great year. You've got two wins already under your belt, and with a win this week, you would take over the No. 1 spot on the FedExCup points list.
Why don't you just start off a little bit about your year and how you're feeling going into this week.
JIM FURYK: Um, I've been pleased with my year. It's been nice to win a couple of events. The last couple years, in '08 and '09, I didn't win. That was a sore spot with me, and talked a lot about it in the press.
I was very consistent in those years. I had a lot of top finishes and opportunities to win, but I never got over the hump.
This year has been a little bit of an opposite year. I've been a little bit more inconsistent; I've missed a few cuts. I haven't had nearly as many top 10 finishes, but I've always said I would trade it. The goal is to win some golf tournaments. So to get over that hump this year and win those events has been a lot of fun.
So there's a big stretch of the year coming up with this event, then we go to the Bridgestone and then on to the PGA. So, you know, big stretch with this event, World Golf Championship, PGA, take a week off for me, and then get into the playoffs.
So huge run coming up. I'm looking forward to it, and glad to be here in start it. It's interesting being a new course trying to get a handle for how it's gonna play, how it's set up. You know, it's just a beautiful place. I had some decisions about places I wanted to play and how I was gonna schedule my end of the year here, and I'm glad I put this one on the schedule.
DOUG MILNE: What was the selling point about the decision to play here as you mentioned this big stretch coming up?
JIM FURYK: Um, really I mean, the Tour, I think, did good job trying to explain the golf course. And really, they try to sell on the fact that the Greenbrier, the hotel, the family atmosphere, all the things that your kids and you family. That's all well and good and nice.
For me as a player, I've always tried to choose my courses and try to look at it as more of a business perspective and what's the golf course like. So I always want to, Yeah yeah, that's nice. Tell me about the course. I want to hear about the Old White. CB McDonald and Seth Raynor's names get thrown around, and immediately everybody's eyebrows get raised because of the great history and all the classic golf courses they've designed, that raises an eyebrow.
I've had a lot friends that have visited here. They talk highly of the hotel. I've had some golf professionals at home that have played in Pro-Ams with the members and such here, and they've liked golf courses.
It fit into my schedule very, very well. You know, it's actually -- I probably committed, oh, six to eight weeks ago. I was looking forward to coming.
DOUG MILNE: Questions.
Q. (Question regarding the wife making all the decisions.)
JIM FURYK: Yeah, obviously there are sayings like that. But, no, I think -- we've talked about it a lot. I don't -- you know, there's quite a few events that have some great family atmosphere that I don't play. You know, I haven't played Disney in quite a while. Obviously for us it's a little easier. We live in Florida, so it's two and a half hours door-to-door. I know that because we go there a lot.
I can enjoy that family time and that family atmosphere a lot more when I'm not playing a golf tournament, if that makes sense. I can spend a lot more time with the kids. I want them to be happy.
My wife was pushing to come here because she had had so many friends that stayed here, and there are so many activities for her and the kids and things to do that we don't get the opportunity to do on the road as much.
What it boils down to is if it's a place where it doesn't make sense, if I were out there and I just did not like the golf course, there's no reason to come. They can have all the fun they want. And we can go on vacation and have all the fun we want. I don't need to not want to be at a place.
So the golf course, for me, is important. This is a very fun golf course to play.
Q. You were overheard during your Pro-Am today talking to some fans about your best friend is from Morgantown. A, is it accurate? And B, is it true that he turned you into a WVU football fan?
JIM FURYK: Uh, it is accurate. One of my closest friends at home grew up in Morgantown, spent a couple years at WVU, and I've been to about three football games in the past few years.
Yeah, it's a great atmosphere. I enjoy football to start with, so we end up going on, my wife and I, my kids and wife and I. I go on a trip with some of the guys, and I'll go on probably about three or four football trips a year to see some games.
There's is a great atmosphere in Morgantown. Obviously the whole community lives and dies with every play in every game. That's fun to watch no matter where you're at. Like I've never been to a Texas A & M game or a Notre Dame game, and they have similar atmospheres. Those things I put on my list.
But Morgantown is a fun place to hang out. I've actually been given a couple pictures of people that have taken pictures with me tailgating at the games, so it's kind of been fun.
One was years and years ago. My wife went to Ohio State and it was back probably - I gotta think - had to be close to 12 years ago that the picture was taken. Unfortunately I had an Ohio State hat on there, because as we talked about earlier, you got to keep momma happy.
Q. This is a two-part question? What makes it course unique over other courses you play on the circuit? And No. 2, everybody a talking about how low the scores will be this week. What do you think will be maybe the winning score come Sunday?
JIM FURYK: It's tough to pick the winning score, and that's because there's a few variables that I can't see or can't control. One is gonna be the weather. It looks like the weather is gonna stay relatively warm, but I would like to see the wind. If the wind blew, that's gonna make a big difference.
So far since I've been here it's been 83 degrees and there's been a three-mile-per-hour wind. The scoring conditions are as good as they can possibly be. The golf course is soft; the greens are soft; they're gonna stay that way. I don't think they really have a choice.
The root structure underneath is -- the roots don't seem real deep. I don't think they can get the greens as firm as they would like it. We'll see some soft greens this week. The fairways are starting to firm up a bit, but the soft greens are gonna allow guys to score. They're gonna fire at the pins.
Someone will find a way -- some of the best players in the world are here. Someone will find a way to shoot a good score. So I expect scoring to be pretty good as long as there's no wind and the weather is pretty good.
It's a unique golf course I just think in the area of design. They've redone it and given it a little facelift, but they've tried to keep some of the McDonald and Raynor traits. You know, it's -- a lot of cross bunkers put in there. It's got a unique look with the fescue around the bunker.
You know, it has a little bit of -- the back nine and front nine look a little bit different in any opinion, but it's a fun golf course. I just think, you know, if they're a little firmer, fairways are a little tighter, you could make scoring pretty difficult pretty quickly.
With the way it's set up right now and it's a first-year event, I think they're gonna try to -- and gonna be here for quite a while, so they're gonna -- our staff is gonna get in there, get their feet, see what the players, see what and rules staff think, kind of put it all together, see what improvements we could make for the future, how we could set the golf course up better. It's a good golf course.
Our scores are more reflective of setup than design, if that makes sense. You can go to a lot golf courses out there and you can set it up to where even par wins or you can set it up to where 20-under wins. You're trying to find a good mix of making it very playable and rewarding good shots, but also making difficult as well.
We don't want to go out and have 35-under win. That's not gonna be the case, also we also don't want even par to win if the course doesn't -- you know, if you have to make it hokey to do so, that didn't work either.
I think we would like to see a nice, difficult golf course that's tough to score on but that rewards good shots. But we'll figure it out. As the years go on, this place a just gonna keep getting better and better because it's a nice layout.
Q. What would a win mean to you, especially in light of that it would vault you to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings?
JIM FURYK: First and foremost, it's the win that I would be most concerned about. We're getting close here to the end of the year. Really only four more events that you can accumulate points before the playoff.
So to win and vault to No. 1 and basically be cemented in one of those top three spots for sure is a bonus. That gives you a big head start in the playoffs. Points get more volatile, things jump around a lot more, but it's a big head start to be seeded very well.
First and foremost, you know, it would be great to have a three-win season. I've never done it. Two was my most in a year, so it would on nice to break new ground. As I've always said, that's the goal every week. Winning golf tournaments is really what drives everyone.
At this point in my career, what drives me the most is trying to win golf tournaments and getting myself in position. It's fun waking up on Sunday with a chance.
Q. Talk about the 18th here and finishing on a par-3. I think it's one of only two par-3 finishers on the Tour. Depending on where that pin is on Saturday and Sunday, could be a little bit of a challenge.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I would suspect -- my guess is we're gonna see three pins in the back and one in the front. That's just a guess. I have no idea. The reason I guess that is because the pin's been up front all week. It was there Tuesday and today in the Pro-Am, so I would think they would save that. I'm guessing one up front -- possibly front right since we saw front left today -- and probably three in the back.
But I haven't been told that. It's a unique hole. I've never seen anything like it with the big hump and the way it sits. If you hit -- if the pin is in the front and you happen to hit it long in the back, there's really no chance of stopping a putt very close to that hole.
But it's unique. It kind of -- I was told that -- and someone shake their head and help me out -- I was told that the 18th green didn't like that before the redesign; is that true? It did look like that?
I mean, it looks like it's been there. You go back and you see redesigns, there's things that you pick out and you go, That doesn't look like it sat there for 100 years. Like those chocolate drops out there don't look like they were there ten years ago. They look like they were put in and manufactured because they're all perfect tee-pees. They don't look like they've worn or weathered over the years. They will.
But that green likes like something that would have been there, you know, 80 years ago. The greens were much slower and weren't as fast, and design had a lot more undulation, like in Augusta or like a Winged Foot. There's a lot of undulation and a lot of sloping greens, and it kind of has this appearance.
So I think there are some interesting design features out there and some interesting holes and places where people could be critical. I tend to think that -- I grew up on courses built in the '20s and '30s and old designers, and the best course in the town I grew up in, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was an old William Flynn course.
So I should study and should know my architecture better, but I appreciate it and I love playing old-style courses. I think it's great.
Q. You just kind of touched on it a little bit, but being a PGA Tour player, you have access to any course you would like to go play. Being able to play a course like this or Aronimink under Tour or competition, is that something that you and the guys on Tour appreciate? Do you think that'll lead to a stronger field next year when they play the AT&T there?
JIM FURYK: You know, I was actually just talking to our staff about next year and about the events. We were talking about Aronimink and this course, because it was first-time courses and we were talking about set up.
I grew up about an hour and a half from Aronimink and never played it. As much as I have access and am fortunate to have access to a lot of golf courses, I choose rarely to play, because I've played so much on Tour. I'm trying to get away and relax and practice and get ready for my next event practice.
So I don't play a lot golf courses. I play with a lot of amateurs that play a lot more golf courses than do I because they're interested in traveling around and doing so.
Um, you know, for next year, a stronger field, first impressions are huge. That's the best I can say. Um, guys look at the golf -- you know, guys that aren't here are gonna ask questions. Their ears are always gonna be open, and they're gonna hear the opinions of the players.
Some will watch TV and some will read what's written about this place. The first impressions are very key. If guys walk away from an event for the first year and aren't happy, that tends to stunt that event for quite a while. You know, one bad year could mean two or three thin ones.
But you know what? You walk in that first year and there's a "wow" factor and guys come away raving from the place, guys remember that. They start thinking, Well, let's see how I can get that on schedule next year. Or I'll walk up and say, You know what? That course, the way it was set up, it really would suit your game or your game. You tell a guy that and they go -- friend of yours and they trust your opinion, then try to get 'em to schedule for next year.
It's a first year. You have to realize that it can always be made better. We'll learn from our mistakes. But it's a beautiful place. Everyone is gonna rave about the hotel and the activities and the family atmosphere. I can't imagine people not raving about the golf course.
As far as we talked earlier, it may result in low scores. That will raise a lot of eyebrows. Guys understand that that's indicative of the setup. It's soft, and it's only gonna get firmer over the years. I really think it's a neat place. It's kind of a -- I won't call it a secret, because I've here about the Greenbrier for a long time -- but a lot of people around the country, especially on the west coast, probably don't know much about this part of the world and how beautiful it is.
So I really hope that the reviews are good and that this event only keeps growing and gets better, and like you said, gets a stronger field. I think it's got a really unique spot in the schedule. I think it sits in a very nice spot.
Because, you know, an event like Greensboro, no secret, it's in a really rough spot. You're gonna play the World Series and PGA, and almost everybody is gonna take a week off trying to get ready for the -- if you're sitting good in points, you're probably gonna take a week off to rest and try and get ready for the playoffs.
This one sits -- you know, it's a nice bridge between the British Open and between World Golf Championship and a major championship. It sits in a good spot.
Q. This course remind you of anywhere you played either on the Tour, in Opens, anything like that?
JIM FURYK: I think it's got design features that do for sure. You know, 9 has got a little bit of a feel of Shinnecock with the redans, the 7th at Shinnecock. Although it's playable; the 7th at Shinnecock isn't in certain conditions. Hopefully everyone gets the humor there and not the bad part. But set up properly, 7 at Shinnecock is just a great, cool hole. It just got away from 'em a little bit.
You know, the hole on No. 3, I think that's called -- that a biarritz, the big dip in the middle? And then Greensboro's got one of those, No. 2. Davis and Mark love kind of copied that style of green.
Just kind of -- I was talking to Mark Love a little bit yesterday, and he was kind of filling me in on a lot of the Raynor/McDonald traits and how much he enjoyed looking at the course because he and Davis are so involved in design. He was kind of explaining the traits of the golf course and what they usually have. Then you see it out there on the course, and it's unique.
The bunkering is very, very unique to this golf course in that bunkers are sticking out in the fairways and kind of running at an angle, and have the squared-off look to 'em at times. You know, it's -- we probably don't play that many tournament golf courses with these designers. So it's interesting.
But I enjoy the look, and, you know, it's -- I just think it's a fun place. It's pretty -- I don't spend too much time looking around and looking at the trees and the beauty of places, but this is a place that's hard not to. I'm more usually focused inside the ropes and don't look up too much.
Q. In view of what you said, do you think that you or others could convince, say, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to come to this event some day?
JIM FURYK: Not my job, Jerry. That's not my job. We pay people to do that.
It's gonna be on the review of the golf course and what people think and how they feel it's gonna suit their game. A lot of it's setup. There are places that I've gone -- the hard part about all of it, and everyone has to realize -- how many events do we have on Tour? 47 in 43 weeks maybe? So 43 weeks I have an opportunity to play golf. I'm gonna try to play 25 events this year, so a little over half.
There's 18 events that I won't go to this year where they're raising money for charity and they have 1500 volunteers, where community is busting their rear end to put on the biggest show they possibly can, and, you know, the owner is spending $750,000 to upgrade the course so the pros like it.
That's every week, 43 weeks a year, and we have to say no. Tiger is gonna say no maybe more than half. So it's difficult. The tournaments are really in a competition amongst themselves to lure the players to them as much as we are playing. There's just a lot of events. That's the best I can say.
As far as -- it's not my -- Sea Island, Davis is gonna try to woo people in. He's gonna try to rub some elbows and twist some arms because that's his home.
But, you know, I had my own charity event, and I asked a lot people to come over the years. I feel sad that I don't have the event anymore, but it's a breath of fresh air not having to ask for favors.
It's not my job to ask people to come in. If people ask me what I thought of golf course, I will let them know what I thought of the course, the setup. And if it was a place that I said, You know what? You would really like it, I would let them know.
You only get a really good feel for the course after -- you know, I've sat in a lot of places on Wednesday and been really excited for a golf course, and then kind of been disappointed with the setup.
And I've sat in a lot of places on Wednesday thinking, Ah, you know, I don't know. We'll see. Then by Sunday I'm like, You know what? That was really good. I like that place. I definitely want to come back.
I think you need to play it in competition and see how it's set up and go from there. Gives you a lot better feel than just going out on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Q. Outside the ropes, what do you like about this area? Have you had any interaction? What's the buzz in the locker room?
JIM FURYK: I'm shocked at how many blue and gold shirts with WV written on them I've seen. They're like three hours away. It is amazing. I've found one VA Tech hat all week, so the Mountie fans have definitely outnumbered. And I hear they're closer. Like VA Tech is only two hours away.
It's amazing. There's a lot of blue and gold out there. I'm surprised, because it's clear on the other side of the state.
Q. Your friend from Morgantown, who is his name?
JIM FURYK: His name is Lee Caplan (phonetic).
Q. You went to one game?
JIM FURYK: No, I've been to a few.
Q. I was just wondering, you got to play your practice round, Pro-Ams, things like that, what holes in particular do you think can be scored on on this course, that are good scoring holes?
JIM FURYK: Well, if you got the ball in play, you're gonna have some wedges in your hand. So right off the top of my head what do I remember? I got to get my yardage book out. I can remember all the holes once I'm there. 4, I believe. 4, 5, 7 possibly, but tough little green. 7 is cool hole in that you can layup and lay it back and hit a little longer club in with a really wide fairway, or you can get in there and try to drive up there in a little smaller area to get a sand wedge in their hand.
I think most guys will pick the driver, because you don't want to hit 9- or 8-iron into that green and try to get it close to the pin. So possibly 7, but it's got a tricky little green.
9, plays real short. It's a driver and wedger left.
10 is a very short hole.
Then you start getting into some length.
Par-5s, I can't reach 12 and 2 the way it is now. It's a little into the breeze , and I can't get there. But there will be guys that reach 12 very easily.
13 is a bear.
14 is reactively short hole, but it's tricky. You gotta get the ball in the fairway.
Then you got 17. I'm getting 17 because it's a little down breeze right now and running pretty firm; par-5.
There's a lot of opportunities if you're patient with a wedge in your hand. The problem is you start making some pars out there, and if scores are low you -- when scores get good, it's sometimes hard to get patient. If you don't, there's enough trouble out there is can jump up and bite you.
If you go out and you're even par through 6 or 7, you look up at the board and someone is 8-under, you have to just relax and realize your opportunities will come.
In between ought holes I picked, there were a couple 470-yard par-4s that were quite difficult. Patience still. Even par is a good score and patient counts; but even when -- if scoring is low, patience may even count more. It's easy to be patient when something is tough. It's hard to be patient when the course is yielding birdies.
DOUG MILNE: Jim, thanks for your time.
JIM FURYK: Appreciate it.
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