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June 15, 2012

Jim Furyk


BETH MAJOR:  We would like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room, 2003 U.S. Open champion.  He followed up his opening round even par 70 with a 1‑under 69 today.  Currently the clubhouse leader.  Jim, talk about your second round and the play out there today.
JIM FURYK:  Well, I wanted to improve on a couple things from yesterday, and most importantly I felt like the speed of my putts on my mid range putts on my makeable putts yesterday was a little off.
Usually I left putts short yesterday.  I wasn't hitting them firm enough.  I worked on that a little bit this morning on the putting green and got off to a bit of a rocky start with the putter.  I knocked about a 40‑footer about eight feet by on the ninth hole and missed it on the way back and missed a 15‑footer for birdie on 10.
But I kind of collected myself and plodded along today and was able to birdie 15; and although I missed a short one at 18, I played very beautifully on the front and was able to make a couple birdies on the way in and get it to 1‑under today.
So I felt a little bit better with the putter.  I felt like I gave the ball a little bit more of an opportunity to go in on those makeable putts and played a very solid round.
BETH MAJOR:  We'll open it up to questions.

Q.  You said you plodded along, and it's funny you use that term, as Graeme was saying said he doesn't think plodder is a flattering term, but it would seem like this week.  Maybe that's not the worst characterization you could give another guy or to yourself.
JIM FURYK:  No, I think the way the golf course is set up, that's pretty much what you need to do.  It's get the ball in the fairway or in a playable spot as best you can, get the ball on the green or in a playable spot as best you can and try to make four.
And then there's going to be a few places you can attack, you got to get some wedges in your hand once in a while.  You're going to get some accessible pins and if you can hit a good shot in there you'll get some opportunities at birdie.  But there's times where I'm in the middle of the fairway with a 7‑iron in my hand and I know that 25, 30 feet's the best can I do and that's where I'm trying to put the ball.
So front pins were very difficult to get to because the greens were so firm and a lot of times the fringes don't want to kick up.  You can land you'll see a guy land a ball short and it won't really release but then you see someone land it on the green and it takes off.
So I'm just trying to ‑‑ and plod, I think, is a good word.  You take what the course gives you and play the best you can from there.

Q.  Graeme was also saying that your style the way you approach things is very effective, and he tries to play the way you played.  As U.S. Open champions, do you see similarities in your games?
JIM FURYK:  I think so.  That's flattering.  I do like Graeme's game a lot.  I think that it's very understandable why he's succeeded in the U.S. Open, and he can‑‑ he really controls the golf ball well as far as he uses the wind to his advantage.  He'll hold shots into the wind.  He can hit the ball high, low.
I think what I like so much about his game though is he's tough.  When you went head‑to‑head with Tiger at the Chevron, he's not afraid to win a golf tournament.  He closed out the last Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor with some beautiful shots.  And that putt he made down the hill was incredible there on 16.
So obviously he's got a lot of guts and but his game is very well suited for this type of golf and he just gets the ball in the fairway, get the ball on the green and go from there.  He didn't continue issue nearly as well as he would have liked, but he played great for two days.

Q.  This particular course as a U.S. Open course seems to produce a certain type of winner, Billy Casper, top‑10 guy, won a U.S. Open before.  Lee Janzen, won a U.S. Open before.  When you look at that does it give you confidence coming in here when you see that, and do you have fun playing this course like those guys seem to when other guys don't?
JIM FURYK:  I think it would be a really fun golf course to play with the members.
But with this setup and as firm and as fast as it is, fun might not be the first word that comes out.  It's draining both mentally and physically.  You have to be on top of your game the whole time.  I think it's setup quite a bit different than '98.  I remember the holes and shots a little bit now that I've been around it a bunch.
But the clearing of the trees has probably allowed a little bit more breeze through this place.  It's firmed it up quite a bit.  I remember it was very difficult to hit the fairways back in '98, and now I understand why while I'm here.  The 4th and the 59 fairway are pretty frustrating.

Q.  You seem to have embraced that, that it's draining and tough?
JIM FURYK:  Well, you don't really have a choice.  I think there's been years where there's been years where I've gotten frustrated and I've gotten down on myself and I tried to, I lost my patient and I tried to force shots in spots and shot some pretty big numbers.
But when I'm playing well and I'm patient and have some control of the ball I do enjoy 70 being a really good round of golf.  I'm not sure I enjoy getting my brains beat in on the golf course for four days, but as difficult as it is, but I understand this style of golf and when I'm playing well I think it suits my game.

Q.  Mike Davis said yesterday after the round that he would like to mimic as far as ground conditions and rough the same as round one.  Did you find it similar out there today?
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, I think it's pretty similar.  It might be firming up a little bit.  I wouldn't be surprised if the greens are just a touch quicker today, especially this afternoon.
But it's definitely changed from Monday, Tuesday to now.  I expect we'll probably see a little bit of a transformation to the weekend after today as well.  But I felt like my afternoon and my morning round the golf course played pretty similarly.  That doesn't mean that it won't bake out and get a little faster this afternoon as well.

Q.  Matt Kuchar just a few minutes ago just said, and not in a critical way, that he thought that course setups like this won't necessarily put the best names at the tomorrow of the leaderboard.  I think the USGA's position is that course setups like this do exactly the opposite.  They do put the best names at the top of the leaderboard.  Who's right and why?
JIM FURYK:  Wow.  I don't think there's any right or wrong.  I don't really believe there's a right or a wrong answer.  That's kind of the eye of the beholder there for beauty.  We have some really good players this week and some of the best in the world that are probably going to end up missing the cut, from the scores that I saw.
But I think throughout ‑‑ usually don't see too many flukes win the U.S. Open through four rounds.  You'll see some guys that play, that maybe are in contention through Friday, but you usually don't see a guy win the U.S. Open who isn't a world class player.
So I think that they usually do identify some pretty good players.  But in the past there's‑‑ I've been critical of setups as well in the U.S. Open in the past.  I'll be the first to tell you I'm not sure the one I won was the best setup over the weekend.  It was definitely controversial and probably overboard on Saturday and Sunday, so...
But I won that U.S. Open.  So it was good for me.  But that's definitely an eye of the beholder question, and I don't know if there really is a right answer or wrong answer.  You learn what to expect when you approach a U.S. Open.  The last Bethpage U.S. Open didn't remind me of a U.S. Open.  It was because of the rain.  It was wet, soggy.  It became more of a power dominated ‑‑ the golf course is a little bit of a power dominated course.
But in those conditions it really is.  Last year didn't remind me of a U.S. Open because they basically lost the greens and they were a lot slower and softer than you usually see.
But we grow accustomed to what we expect to see in a U.S. Open and the scores we do.  And I would argue that there aren't a lot of names on that trophy that aren't pretty good.

Q.  You referred before to the fact that this mentally and physically draining to play here.  Is this anymore exhaustive than any U.S. Open that you've played because of the characteristics of the course and how does experience help you deal with that?
JIM FURYK:  It's no more draining mentally.  Physically this is a tough walk, actually.  You notice that all the fans hang on the top level of the golf course.  And you get down there in the bottom towards the like it's pretty thin down there and I give them credit these Californians are smart.  They know if they walk all wait to the bottom they got to walk to the top again.  My group's been laughing about that for two days.  They seem to be hovering up there.

Q.  There haven't been too many U.S. Open winners in their mid 40s and what would it mean?
JIM FURYK:  My early 40s, damn it.  42. (Laughing).

Q.  You played a lot of golf on U.S. Open setups and it gives you an advantage.
JIM FURYK:  Right.  Yeah, I realize that, at 42, I realize that the window's not wide open anymore as far as ‑‑ I have a lot more good years behind me than I probably do ahead of me, but I still feel like I've got some game.  I've got some more tournaments to win.
And I've always said, we're judged by the number of events we win and by the number of Major Championships we win, and it would be an honor, you know, it would be a blessing for me to get another Major Championship under my belt.  And I feel like in the next few years I have the opportunity still to be able to do that.

Q.  Is there anything in particular about the architecture here at Olympic Club that might help bunch the people, the field together so that a bomb and gouge doesn't have away of overpowering the rest of the field.  And also, do you fell that Olympic Club is as tough as our traditionally thought of hardest venues like Winged Foot or Oakmont or Oakland Hills?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I think that the setup this week is probably indicative of the scores as far as firm and as fast as it is.  I think if you got to this golf course and it was much softer and guys could stop their iron shots better and weren't worried about the ball rolling through the fairways you would see some lower scoring.
Is the architecture as difficult as Oakmont, Winged Foot?  Yeah, I think it's every bit as tough as Winged Foot.  Oakland Hills is just so long and brutal and Oakmont's just brutal I'll be honest with you I'm from Pennsylvania, but that is not a fun golf course to play at any momentum.  I would be the first to admit that.
As far as ‑‑ what this golf course does and it helps out an average length hitter or short hitter, is it makes everyone play from the same spots.  So you're not going to dominate this golf tournament with power.  You're going to dominate it with precision.
So a guy that can put that ball in the fairway and can carve a shot off the tee and put it in the fairway and carve a shot into the green and stop it somewhere where he's got a makeable putt and a guy that's making some putts could still run away with the golf tournament.  They're not going to do it with power, they're going to do it with precision.

Q.  I know you usually play a draw and Graeme McDowell, well, I said, usually.  I don't know if you are this week or if you're playing a cut shot.  Graeme McDowell said yesterday that you had to be playing a fade shot almost exclusively on this golf course.  And so he's up there and you're up there and if he's playing a fade and you're playing a draw, who has got the right idea?
JIM FURYK:  I think you have to hit both shots.  There are a lot of holes ‑‑ I think you have to hit both off the tee.  I am much more comfortable with, I would say the opposite.  If I had to get the ball in the fairway for my life, eight out of ten times I would cut it.
I have become a much better drawer of the golf ball and when I won the 2003 U.S. Open I was predominantly drawing the ball that week.  I hit about 95 percent of my shots that week right‑to‑left.
That's the way the ball wanted to go.  That's the way I was comfortable that week.  So I just played it instead of fighting it.  But most of‑‑ I would say 70 percent of my career has been a lot more of left‑to‑right and my swing probably looks more of a draw the way I loop it this way you would think of a cutter going over the top, kind of like a figure eight like more like Hale Irwin or Craig Stadler would be more of a cutter of the ball.  But I've just always been comfortable cutting it.  I've just locked you all up with that one right there, haven't I?
(Laughter.)  Bruce Lietzke, Stadler kind of take the club a little inside they loop turnover the top and they hit a cut.  That's the stereotypical cut swing.  Mine is not stereotypical, but there's nothing that I do that's stereotypical.

Q.  You've spoken about how you were disappointed with your season last year and you put more work into 2012.  Can you just elaborate on what that process was?
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, I love talking about last year action it was great.
No, I was disappointed.  You're always trying to find ways to improve.  I've done that my whole career and just because I've had some really successful years, whether it was 2003 or 2006 or 2010 were probably my best years, I always looked for ways to improve and last year I think I took the wrong steps.
The things I was trying to work on in my game didn't work out.  The things I tried to work on in my equipment didn't really work out.  And on top of it I putted bad I had one of my worst putting seasons of all time ‑‑ or for me.  All those put together ends up it wasn't a very good year.
So I, towards the end and once the playoffs were over and still had the Presidents Cup to really focus on, once ‑‑ that was a huge boost, to go there and play well.  Some of it was me playing well, some of it was the help of some partners, both mentally and from some good play.
That really was a big boost of confidence.  But I kind of wanted the season to end a little bit so I could sit back and reflect, and it took me a couple weeks to identify where I wanted to work on my game, how I wanted to go about doing it, and then I set off and I worked.  I've changed a lot of my equipment for this year.  I've gone to Callaway stuff.  I've gone to products that spin a lot more, which is what I've done most of my career.
Those don't really make the ball go as far as maybe I could possibly hit it but I feel like I can control the ball better.  I worked on my putting very hard.  I felt like last year I probably was a little lazy I was working on my game so much that I wasn't maybe as fit as I had been in the past.  I worked on that a lot in the off‑season and I was just anxious for ‑‑
I got to the point where I went, I can't wait until the off season to just kind of reflect and start working on my game but as I saw things change and saw those in more of a positive light I got to test some of that equipment at Chevron and liked what I saw I got to the point where I got excited about playing again and was anxious for the season to start, which is always a good thing.

Q.  You alluded earlier to the big names who are going to maybe miss the cut.  So could you reflect on like there are tons of super talented guys who have won Major championships who won't be here on weekend.  Could you speak to the mental process of these great players not being able to handle the frustration that you would think, you know, they're Major champions, etcetera, some are handling the challenge, so many aren't.  And speak to that?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I've been on I missed the cut last year at Congressional and it's just, you're not always, you can't always be on and you can't always be playing well and last year I wasn't on top mindful game.  I wasn't hitting the ball.  I was hitting it okay, but I was putting very poorly when I got to the U.S. Open.
It can snowball very quickly here.  It's tough to kind of put a tourniquet on it and stop the bleeding and get the momentum changed back in the right direction at this golf course because there's not or not at this golf tournament, because there's not a lot of let up.  It's not like you got to, rarely here do you say well I got a stretch coming up with a short par‑4 and a par‑5 where I know I'm going to have a wedge in my hand and a reachable par‑5 and you're like your chops that maybe you can make birdie or eagle.  That's rare.  17 gives you an opportunity.
But there's a couple disasters waiting there as well.  So it's just hard to turn on a course that's setup as severe as this is sometimes it's hard to turn the momentum around.  I've been there before and it happens to the best players, to be honest with you.  I'm sure Nicklaus, I think he missed the cut somewhere along the way in a Major Championship.  Tiger done it, although not very often, and it happens to some of the best players.  It's part of life.  We're not perfect.
BETH MAJOR:  Jim, thanks very much for joining us.
JIM FURYK:  Thank you.

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