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June 22, 2011

Jim Furyk


DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk into the interview room here at the Travelers Championship. Jim, thanks for coming by and spending a few minutes with us and welcome back to the tournament, first time since 2001.
JIM FURYK: Yeah. I didn't realize it had been that long, but someone interviewed me yesterday and told me that, and it's good to be back.
I was a little disappointed to get rained out today in the Pro Am, wanted to see the golf course, or the whole course -- I got rained out on the 14th tee -- one more time just to get a good memory of what was going on and learn the golf course. But I'm glad to be here. It's a good golf course. I know the tournament gets support here real well here in the community and it's a fun place to play.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll go right into questions.

Q. What caused you to add this tournament this year?
JIM FURYK: I think a lot of it had to do with maybe the change in some events beforehand and the way my schedule would have -- the events that I've played in the past, I believe if I would have kept up with the same tournaments, it would have been kind of a one tournament on, one tournament off. And so if I go back to after finishing up the -- let me see. I played The Players Championship and the Colonial two weeks in a row and I took a week off and then I went to Memorial, took a week off, and then the U.S. Open, then a week off, go to AT&T, then a week off and then go to the British Open and on to Canada, and that's just no way to really keep your game sharp, one.
Two, I haven't been playing very well this year. It hasn't been my best year, and I think the best way to get playing well is to keep playing. Being at home and practicing isn't really putting yourself in tournament conditions or tournament stress. So anyone can go out and shoot 68 with their buddies, but to do it on a tournament golf course is more difficult.
And you know, when I looked at the schedule and looked at which golf course I thought best suited me and which event I would like to add, this is the first one on the list.
So it's been kind of -- you know, I pick and choose my schedule by the golf courses that I really like the best, that I feel like suit my game the best. And I kind of try to sprinkle everything in and around it. Rarely do I ever go to a place, if ever, unless it's a major championship, to a course that I just don't like. If I get bad feelings about it, I'd rather be at home, to be honest with you, because you're not going to play well.

Q. Is there anything particular that's been off and was it particularly hard following up a year like you had last year?
JIM FURYK: The question following up last year has been asked of me a lot this year. And it even started at the end of last year after being Player of the Year, what more can you do next year. And I never really viewed it as that. I never really have in the past. I've kind of turned the page.
When '06 ended I turned the page. It was a good year, probably my best year to date, flipped the page and was ready for '07 and what do I need to do now. You always start fresh in this game, so I never really thought about like I needed the curtain call and come out and do something or prove something more this year. It was a new year to start over.
You know, some of it has been my fault in tinkering a little bit. Some of it's been -- yeah. Some of it's been, you know, not -- some poor golf shots. Some of it's been poor putting, some poor decisions where I've forced it at times. There's been events where I've played very well, like I had a good chance to win at Hilton Head, and down the stretch I made a couple double bogeys and all of a sudden finished 20th in a tournament I should have finished 6th in, and I've done some bad things when I've been playing well.
But mostly I'd say my putting has been inconsistent, but if I were to just blame it on my putting, it would be chickening out a little bit. I feel like I've been a little rusty with some of my game. I tried to switch some irons earlier this year, and the center of gravity is a little different in the irons, and it kind of was changing the way I approached my swing a little bit, which I didn't like, went back to the old irons.
So it's a combination of a bunch of different things and if it were that easy for me to pinpoint and put my thumb on, I promise you I would be playing a lot better right now. How's that?

Q. Just kind of a takeoff from that question, why the tinkering so much this year?
JIM FURYK: Well, I've got a cooperate bag, I represent RBC on my golf bag. I have a contract to represent TaylorMade. I play their driver and their golf ball, which I love. And you know, there's a good and a bad that goes along with that.
The good is what you see in my bag is what I think is going to allow me to play the best I possibly can. I don't have a 12-club contract, and I should never be disgruntled about having to play clubs that I don't feel fit me. There are a lot of players out there like that, trust me.
The bad that goes with it is that you can get carried away with tinkering a little bit and you can get caught up in trying to get better. And as we all know, sometimes when you try to get better, you don't. You know, you can change your swing, you can do this, you can do that.
I've always been very adamant in not trying to change too much. What I have works when I'm playing well and just have tried to refine it. I've always wanted to go to a blade iron, to a smaller headed iron, to a forged blade club. I play a little bit of a forged cavity back right now. It allows me to work the ball a lot better, allows me to hit the ball a little bit higher, spin it a little bit more, all of the things -- working the ball is one of my strengths. Hitting the ball high and spinning it is one of my weakness. I think it helps some of those.
The problem is when that blade is a lot smaller, the center of gravity gets kicked in towards the heel a little bit more and the club becomes much easier to draw. So shots that I was hitting -- at times I'd look up and feel like I made a good shot, but it was always a touch left of where I thought it should be. And yeah, I went and tried it for a little while and just felt like it wasn't -- you know, I didn't want to change my swing or change my approach, and I went back to my old equipment last week at the U.S. Open.
So I'm not saying that's going to make a world of difference and all of a sudden I'm going to start playing better. Right now and I think for the last two or three months I definitely wouldn't blame the irons for the way I played. Actually I putted poorly. And I didn't drive the ball very well early in the year either. The three most important clubs in your bag are your driver, your wedge and your putter, and for a lot of the year -- you know, I didn't drive the ball well early in the year, and I didn't putt well early in the year; and if two of those three are off, you're not going to play very well.

Q. Do you have a rule of thumb --
JIM FURYK: I have lots of rules of thumb.

Q. What is your decision-making process if you're not playing well, do you like playing the week after a major or if you are playing well, do you take a week off?
JIM FURYK: The week after a major there's no rule of thumb really for me. If I like a tournament and it fits in the schedule -- ultimately what I'd love to do is I'd love to play like three or four weeks in a row and take two off, play three or four weeks in a row and take two off. It's just the just doesn't work that way for me. And I would end up playing golf courses I didn't like and missing courses that I did like. So you put the major championships in, the World Golf Championships, The Players. You start picking out your favorite events.
For me out west it's Riviera, and then you go to Florida, I like Doral in Tampa; and then you go to Wachovia and Hilton Head and Colonial and Memorial and you start picking out the courses in my mind. It's no secret I've either won at all those courses or played really, really well at those courses, but it's because I like them. They suit my game well. And I look at where those fit and then I try to make blocks of three tournaments in a row, if that makes sense.
And you know, I pick out the very top, my favorite ones, and there's some courses on there that I promise you I don't care where it falls in the schedule I'm not going to go. I won't tell you which ones those are, but I haven't been to some of them in 17 years. So that would be a good place to start.

Q. For a long time you've been one of the top American players, sort of a central figure in terms of American players. Where do you see the future in terms of American golf? Obviously Rickie is kind of one of the guys that gets put out there. Who are some of the guys you see --
JIM FURYK: I think there's a lot more guys than just Rickie that are put out there. I think with -- and I'm glad, I'm happy to see some of our younger players probably getting more publicity than they did in the past. I think the absence of Tiger right now, with him being off the TOUR or not playing as well, it's allowed the focus to shift, and I think he's gotten a lot of credit and a lot of notoriety in the past years -- and he's deserved it. But now that he's not, I think it's allowed you all to focus on other players, and that's allowed some of the younger guys to really be able to step up and get some notoriety and publicity that I think they deserve.
And I think American golf -- I've said this a lot the last few weeks with Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney. Those are the four that just come to mind just immediately. If you gave me a list, I could come up with more. But those four right there, I'll allow you to pick four guys from any other area of the world. I won't even make you pick a country. Pick an area of the world and I'll pick those four against anyone.
Time will tell. We'll know 20 years from now, but that's a lot of talent wrapped up in there for under 30s. I don't know how old Bubba is; I have no idea. But we've got a lot of young talent in the U. S. right now.
A lot's been mentioned about the top three places are held by foreign players, but four, five and six are all Americans, too, as well. And we've got a lot of good young talent.
So I think we're -- I think the American golf is probably a little better than what it's been given credit for, but obviously it's a worldwide game, and I don't think of a lot of these international guys -- I think of them as members of our TOUR. I mean Vijay is a neighbor of mine. I don't really think of Vijay as from Fiji. He's lived in Ponte Vedra 20 years and he's played our TOUR exclusively for that amount of time. He's not American, but I don't really think of him as being foreign, if that makes sense.

Q. As a former U.S. Open champion and someone who played last week, what does a winning score of 16-under mean? How do you put it in perspective?
JIM FURYK: How do I put it in perspective? Well, I think what was impressive about his score wasn't that it was 16-under. I think what was impressive was that he won by 8. You know, if he shot 16-under and the next best score was even par, then the 16-under becomes more important to me. But I think winning by 8 is what was so amazing and what was so impressive there.
The scores were low last week. There's no secret. There was probably more people that broke par last week than any other U. S. Open in history, I guess. I didn't hear that. I watched the telecast, but didn't really have the sound because I was in more of a crowded room. So I assume that's the case.
And Congressional I think is a wonderful test. I think it's a difficult golf course. I think it was set up very well, other than the fact that what had happened that they kind of lost the greens early in the week. There was a lot of dead spots on them. They needed the rain. They needed the moisture from the cloud cover, and I think that's what kept them alive and the scores were so low because the greens were soft and they weren't fast.
Those were some of the -- I won't call them slow, but they were the least fast of probably any U.S. Open I've ever played. And so those greens are difficult because of the slope in them, and when you make them slow, it neutralizes the slope. And you give us somewhat soft greens and not very quick, someone's going to fire a good number. A lot of guys did, but Rory's week was so fantastic because he cleared the rest of the field by 8. That's what I think is so impressive.

Q. What kind of number do you think we're going to get after this?
JIM FURYK: You know, I'm not very good at predicting what the scores are going to be like. I think when you're out there on the golf course you get a feel of how you're playing and what the scores are going to be like for the day. It'll definitely help scores. When it rains, it's easier to keep the ball in the fairway. Greens become softer. Although it'll make the golf course longer, you know, all of us hit it plenty far. So you give me a 5-iron with a soft green and a 7-iron with a firm green, I'll take the 5-iron with the soft green.

Q. Jim, question about a couple of holes here this week. The 15th, how do you plan to attack that one?
JIM FURYK: I think it depends on the pin, and that's one hole I would have liked to have seen today in the practice round. I got rained out on the 14th tee.
But 15 is dependent on the conditions. If it's soft, where do I feel like I can drive the ball, where I can put it and attack it. If the pin's on the front right of the green and I can't get to the green, more chance than not I'm going to lay it back and go in there with a fuller shot so I can put some spin on the ball. A lot of it's going to be dependent on how firm and fast the course is playing, how soft, can I get there, am I going to end up short and where the pin is for that day. So I'll attack it a lot of different ways depending on that.

Q. And also the 17th?
JIM FURYK: I think you -- at all costs you find a way to put the ball in the fairway off the tee. You really don't want to drive it much past that bunker on the left because the fairway starts to really tighten up and then you have to hit it down the waterline a lot more. So I think you hit something adjacent to that bunker off the tee and leave yourself a short, you know, a short mid iron to short iron into the green.
And again, early in the week I think you -- I'm not sure conservative is the right word, but you put the ball on the green in a place where you can putt from, and if it's coming down the stretch and you need to make birdie you get a little more aggressive and maybe hit one in there tighter to the pin. But depends on -- it's probably not a green that on certain pin placements a place where you get overly aggressive because you know it can bite you. But it's a pretty small green. If you put the ball in the center of the green, you always have a pretty good putt.
DOUG MILNE: Jim, thank you, and good luck this week.
JIM FURYK: Thank you.

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