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September 14, 2011

Jim Furyk


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk into the interview room here at the BMW Championship, currently No. 35 in the FedExCup standings. Got a little bit of work to do to get back to Atlanta. Talk a little bit about your preparations for this week and your goals.
JIM FURYK: Well, you know, preparation -- I guess playing pretty well at Boston, I was anxious to try to go home and work on things and improve, and also anxious to get here. I feel like I'm playing pretty decent. I'm excited about the week. But the goals are real simple. First and foremost, I'd like to get -- I've got to move up at least five spots to get to the TOUR Championship, and I'm also in a very tight Presidents Cup race, sitting 9th in the points there. I think Nos. 8 through 12 are very close, so obviously want to hold my position or move up in that, as well.
You know, I'd like to come here and have a good week. If I play very well and -- I feel good about my game. I'm competing again. I have been playing better. But if I have a good week this week, I can get myself up there in the top 10 in the FedEx points, maybe give myself a shot to win again.
My goals before when I showed up in the Playoffs, I was in 60th place, so my goals were simply to keep advancing to make sure I stayed in the top 70 to get here first and foremost, then try to move up. Same thing this week; try to stay in the top 10 in Presidents Cup points, try to move into the top 30 and then hopefully there's some icing on the cake and you can play well and move up high in the points and give yourself a chance there.
JOHN BUSH: And back at Cog Hill where you won in 2005. Talk about what that means to have had success at this golf course.
JIM FURYK: Obviously the golf course has changed. I think we're in our third year of playing on the redesign. I played well the first year of the redesign. I finished second here, so I'm kind of going back to that. And then I've always had good memories of coming to Cog and playing well, and as you said, I won back in -- was it '06?
JIM FURYK: You sure? It was '05, you're right. I've enjoyed coming here, and I like Chicago, I like the area. In some respects I'm disappointed that next year we don't have a PGA TOUR event here in the Chicago area. I think that's disappointing. But hopefully we can work that out in the future.

Q. You've played well at both the pre-renovation and renovation here. How do you assess Cog Hill's changes, and especially address the conditioning this year?
JIM FURYK: I think too much has been made of the conditioning. It's always -- the first year out of a renovation is going to be a little tough and you have to be a little patient. Usually the greens are very firm, and they were. They're difficult greens. There's a lot going on on them. There's a lot of spines, and so the firmness of them made it very difficult that first year.
Last year obviously the golf course wasn't in the best condition, and the greens didn't have a very good root structure. They were slow, they were very receptive. But one year -- the golf tournament changed. It was always held in July, early July. Basically you'd come out of the winter here, you'd have a couple decent months of weather, and then it would start to get hot in July but the golf course was in good shape. We'd always get through -- this golf course was always in very, very good condition. We had one bad year last year. It might have been due to the renovation, it might have been due to it just being a different time. Now it had to get through two or three months of very hot weather, and that's tough to probably do and keep it in great shape for the tournament.
It looks great this year, and I think too much is made of the conditioning for one year. I think everyone gets a certain mistake, and it looks nice this year.

Q. Do you think that people used the conditioning to question the golf course redesign last year?
JIM FURYK: I don't know. I don't know. That's a good question. But it would be very difficult for me to -- a lot has been -- a lot has been said of the redesign. Some people have been very vocal and said they don't like it.
For me this week it is what it is. I have some goals and some things that I want to accomplish, making the TOUR Championship. I'm really adamant about trying to make The Presidents Cup team. I enjoy those. I really want to be on the team. That's kind of my focus. It's kind of counterproductive for me to sit here and walk through a golf course and say I like this hole, I don't like that hole, this green is bad, this green is good. It kind of defeats -- I've found when I do that I struggle to play well if that makes sense. I love design, I love looking at it, but it's counterproductive. I've got to have a good attitude this week and try to complete my goals.

Q. Just to follow up, do you think it makes it more difficult for you to advance this week because the course is probably playing a little longer, it's a little colder? Obviously it's going to be a little wetter. Do you think that --
JIM FURYK: I don't see it as a -- no, I don't really see it as an issue. I don't really think the golf course -- I played yesterday. I don't think the golf course was playing overly long. I guess it could rain a little bit and get wet -- when it gets wet the greens are actually pretty receptive. They're not extremely firm. Where this golf course really is going to show some teeth because of the green design, because if the greens get really firm there's some pins on every green that just are not accessible, that you can't aim at. That's not going to change really whether I'm hitting 7-iron or 9-iron into the green.

Q. When The Presidents Cup began, there was concern about Americans having to do that every year, Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, and as someone who's done that now yourself I believe every year going back to '97, has that been the issue that was feared. Have you found that difficult to play every year?
JIM FURYK: I don't think I understand the first part. The second part, have I found it difficult to play in every year, no, I enjoy playing on those teams. I've always been adamant that that's a goal at the start of every year is I want to qualify, I want to make those teams. I haven't really found it as an issue, and I don't really think it is for -- I don't think it's an issue really for any of my teammates, either. I think maybe that's been used as an excuse for a while when we haven't performed as well as we would have liked to in the Ryder Cup. I don't think we used that excuse, but it's been an excuse that's maybe been used to try to protect us rather than just saying we got outplayed.

Q. Last year you came into these last couple weeks here of the, quote-unquote, regular season and kind of a logjam of guys with two wins, and obviously what happened in Atlanta, you took home all the money, you took home all the hardware. Were you able to sort of not think about those during the week, or do you think about those during the week as kind of the carrot on the stick dangling out there because it's virtually the same scenario this time around; there's six guys with two wins and all those same things are still very much out there for a whole bunch of guys?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I kind of find it the same as a guy that is tied for the lead on the back nine and said he never looked at a leaderboard; it's pretty difficult not to. They're right there. When you're trying to -- I tried to stay focused on winning the golf tournament last year and not think about winning the FedExCup, not being Player of the Year, all the accolades that would go with it that I felt would happen if I won.
It's difficult to do. I think honestly on the back nine last year, what made it a little easier for me was the conditions were so tough. I was hiding under my umbrella. I really didn't see the board and where I was projected in the FedExCup. I knew in the back of my head, but I wasn't visually looking at it because the weather was bad and I was really just trying to stay dry and stay focused on winning the tournament, and maybe that helped in some respects.
No, it's there. I think guys always know about it. But you have to put that part of it out of your head and focus on the task at hand and what it's going to take to compete and play well rather than thinking about the prize at the end.

Q. As somebody who came in and finished off a great year by winning the FedExCup, what would you think about -- I know it's not likely, but somebody could win the FedExCup without winning a tournament. What would you think about that? Is that good or bad?
JIM FURYK: I had that opportunity two years ago, actually. They're probably not going to win the FedExCup without winning a tournament. A tournament all year?

Q. Yeah, it's possible mathematically. Casey had a chance last year. Kuchar is third in points right now.
JIM FURYK: He's third in points now but more than likely would probably have to win the TOUR Championship to hop everyone.

Q. Let's say that Ernie Els wins this week and gets in the top 30 and then finishes 30th and the guys in the top 5 don't really perform very well, Kuchar finishes second.
JIM FURYK: And you're saying he hasn't won an event all year?

Q. Right.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I had the same predicament and we had the same discussions two years ago because I hadn't won an event going into the TOUR Championship and I was in the top three or four in points and it was mathematically possible, and I answered the same questions. I felt like I needed to win the TOUR Championship to win and then I would have said I won an event.
No, I think winning is important. The TOUR's response to that will be, well, think about how consistent and how well the guys had to play all year to not win and still be high up in points. They've got a point there, too.
But I've always kind of put my emphasis on winning, and I think that's most important and should be emphasized.
Did I answer the question?

Q. We're just trying to figure out if this is really a playoff or not a playoff.
JIM FURYK: I guess if you call it a playoff, it's a playoff. Early on five years ago I wasn't fond of the word "playoff." I didn't like the term. I was adamant about saying that. I wish we would have called it something else. But it's a playoff because we call it a playoff. It's still a point system, it's still a way to identify a winner at the end of the year rather than just going off a Money List. It's an exciting way to come down, guys jockeying for position these three weeks. When I was third in points at the end of the year, I was bummed that a guy could make such a big move after having a bad year, and now that I've had kind of a bad year and started 60th, I don't view it as maybe right, but I've got a smile on my face saying, well, at least I've got an opportunity. So you're saying there's a chance. (Laughter.)
I think it's a little volatile. I think it's too volatile. But even coming from back -- even starting at 60th I think it's too volatile now. I haven't really played all that well this year and I could probably finish second this year and jump into the top eight in points and win the TOUR Championship and win and really not have had a great year. I'd have a big smile on my face, but I don't know.
I played really well all those other years and watched the other guys jump up. It is what it is. It's a point system. I quit kind of -- a year or two ago I quit worrying about it. I hear the players talk about it, I hear the arguments on both sides. It's a system. You've got to just exist within it and compete within it and try to use it to your advantage somehow.

Q. Can I get your thoughts on No. 14, the par-3, if you could take us from tee to green on that particular hole.
JIM FURYK: The green has changed significantly in the redo, in the design. They'll play it from a lot of different yardages. They can play it from probably over 200 yards to as little as 175 because they've got a really long tee box there and a pretty long green. It'll play from different yardages. Sometimes it's hard to pick up the wind. There's a barn or a building or structure on the right side of that tee that if the wind is from right to left it blocks that wind a little bit. You know it's there because you played all the other holes, but it's eerie sitting on a tee box where it's dead still and then you look out and see the trees moving. So sometimes you can get fooled by the wind on that hole.
But really it's a difficult green so you're trying to put the ball under the pin somewhere, put it on the green somewhere where you have an opportunity to basically two-putt and get out of there with a par. I think it's a tough birdie hole, but if you can hit it up there somewhere close and knock in a putt, it's icing on the cake. But you'll see a bunch of bogeys on that hole this week because it's a tough green to hit and tough to put the ball in a good position.

Q. I want to get your thoughts on 18, as well, your strategy coming into that very difficult finishing hole.
JIM FURYK: Again, it can play in two different scenarios. I've hit as little as 7- or 8-iron into that green when it's playing firm and fast, and I have hit as much as probably 3-iron or hybrid into that green when it's playing long, so two different strategies in those cases.
You know, it's always been a little bit of an awkward tee ball in that the fairway sits up just a little bit higher than the tee. So the fairway is at eye level, and it kind of has an appearance of being crowned. So it looks probably skinnier than it is. Really you want to try to hit the ball off the tee, you'd rather be up the left center of the fairway, keeps you away from the corner on the right and maybe possibly getting blocked out by those trees, and might give you a little less angle into the green but you're hitting away from the water a little bit.
That back left pin on Sunday if it's playing long is playing very, very difficult. Again, if you have a 7- or 8-iron in your hand and you're a longer player, it's playing fast, you have an opportunity to hit it in there and hit a pretty good shot, but with a 3-iron in your hand or a 5-iron in your hand you're kind of playing out to the fat part of the green, and again, I think 4 is a great score on that hole, 3 is definitely icing on the cake, and if you don't hit a good drive or put the ball in the right position, you're now playing for where can I put the second shot that I can get the ball up-and-down and try to make 4 that way.

Q. We don't have a PGA TOUR event here next year but we do have the Ryder Cup. I think they said on TV this morning you have the longest streak of any American of consecutive Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and maybe tell the people here what they're in for next year and having a Ryder Cup here in Chicago?
JIM FURYK: Mickelson would have that streak. He played in probably -- '97 was my first. I want to say '95 was probably his first. Or maybe -- he might have even went back to '94, but '94, '95, '96, somewhere in that would have been his first team, so he's got a little longer streak.
But I think having it in Boston or Chicago, and even the support in Louisville was unbelievable. Louisville is more of a college-related town, but you've got Boston and Chicago, great sports towns. The support, the patriotism, the following that we get is fantastic. You know, if we can just get on a little bit of a roll or catch a little bit of momentum or start knocking some putts in here and there, it's an amazing feeling that is having a crowd that is just 100 percent behind one team, or in this case 95 percent of the people there are rooting for one team. Their 5 is still relatively loud, believe it or not. But coming to a place like Chicago that really has some great fans and some great sports teams here, it'll be fun to see the crowd really get behind the American team. The Americans have to give them something to cheer for, though.
In Boston it was a little quiet for the first couple days but we were getting our tails kicked. As soon as we turned the momentum around it was electric out there on Sunday and something I'll never forget.

Q. If you can kind of expound on what you just talked about Chicago fans, what your thoughts are on a TOUR stop not being regular here in Chicago any longer, what your thoughts are on that.
JIM FURYK: Well, it's disappointing. I think -- I can remember the Western Opens that we played here over the 4th of July and the holiday weekend and the support and the army of people following Tiger up the 18th hole. This place was crowded. We got a lot of fan support here. It's been a good city for the Western Open, for the BMW, for a lot of years. It's disappointing that we're not here in Chicago, and hopefully that won't be for long and something will get figured out and we'll be back here on a yearly basis.

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