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June 16, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
BETH MAJOR: Good evening. We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk into the interview room at the Olympic Club in San Francisco at the 2012 U.S. Open, 2003 U.S. Open champion who had an even par‑70 today and stands at 1‑under for the championship tied with Graeme McDowell going into tomorrow's 4th round. Can you talk about the conditions at Olympic?
JIM FURYK: The conditions weren't too much different than the first couple of rounds. It got a little firmer, a little faster. There were a couple of greens that started to get baked out and a little glossy, 15 being one of them. 18 looked that way to me.
But for the most part, the golf course was pretty similar. The wind blew from slightly a different direction. It didn't really blow today, it was just a breeze.
The first six holes were tough. Those red scores disappeared very quickly early on in the round today and a bunch of guys got over par early and it seemed like a couple of us were able to come back and play pretty well for the last 12 holes and make a good round out of it.
I got off to a little slow start being 2‑over for six. And didn't feel like it was that bad, seeing looking up at the board and seeing the rest struggling. But I kept myself in good position.
Q. Talk about the word struggle and how you deal with that from shot to shot, especially under the conditions out here and the mindset going into tomorrow knowing how consistent you've played so far?
JIM FURYK: Well, there are some places where you're going to struggle and you're going to hit some pretty good golf shots that maybe don't turn out. If you make a loose swing‑‑ I actually was fortunate today with a few of the bad swings that I made I got away with, notably I hit it left off of 4, which is pretty much a no‑no, and left with a pretty good lie and actually had a decent look for birdie at it.
I had a couple of good breaks today. There are other places like I drove it in the right rough on 16 and there's nothing over there, grass is really particular and deep. And I know at that point I'm playing to try to get it around the green in 3 and see where I can get it up and down from.
It is a little bit of a struggle at times. I think you have to bide your time and get through certain holes each day trying to make pars. And there will be a couple of opportunities you get. There are some‑‑ if you can drive the ball in the fairway, there are some places you can get short irons in your hand and there are some pins that you can attack. You just have to be patient and wait for those moments instead of trying to force them.
Q. Graeme McDowell yesterday referred, and he meant this with great respect, referred to you as a plodder. Do you consider yourself that, under his definition, and what is that?
JIM FURYK: I don't know what his definition is. But he actually saw me in the locker room and said, I don't know what they told you in the pressroom, but I meant everything as a compliment and I didn't want it to come across the wrong way.
I said, no, actually when I was there they had said that you said some nice words. I joked with him that I said some nice stuff about him, but if I needed to retract it I could always go back.
I like Graeme a lot. I have a lot of respect for him and his game. I enjoyed playing with him Thursday and Friday. I enjoy playing golf with him. I think it's a great pair for tomorrow. Did I answer your question?
Q. Is that a good thing? Do you know what he meant?
JIM FURYK: I think basically that on a golf course like this you have to go from spot to spot and it doesn't have to be‑‑ look or be fancy, it has to work. And I think we have styles of games where we put the ball into play, we put the ball on the green and take our chance at the putt and then move on.
When I'm playing well‑‑ when I'm playing well, that's the kind of golf you play at a U.S. Open usually, especially at a place set up firm and fast like this. And I think that's what he meant by his definition. And I believe it's a good one.
Q. Whether it's a Tour championship or a U.S. Open, what are the ingredients that go into making for a good closer in golf, somebody that can finish the deal?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think that you look at guys that close events off, they seem to, when they get that opportunity, someone like Tiger who gets the opportunity quite a bit, he seems to close out tournaments, probably higher than anybody ever alive.
But I think a closer is someone that just finds a way. Whether it's hitting that fantastic shot over the last hole or getting the ball up and down a few times when he needs to, knocking that key putt in. But a guy that more often than not‑‑ you can't win them all.
Nicklaus finished second more often than first. But the guy that gets the job done and wins his fair share of times and at a pretty good percentages.
Q. What are you expecting tomorrow?
JIM FURYK: Well, a solid‑‑ the greens are starting to look stressed. And 15 was one that came to mind. And I think it was because they moved that tee up so much. They kept that green pretty firm and glossy. 18 looked pretty baked out. I was nervous that putt was going to be quicker than it was.
I expect it to get firm. I expect it to get faster and the greens to be maybe a touch quicker. The golf course is going to play difficult. It looks like I need to kind of look at the weather report again and see how the wind is going to be tomorrow. If that wind gets up or it gets blowing 10 to 20 again like it was earlier in the week it's going to be a very tough day. Today it laid down a little bit. It was a lot warmer. Gave us more of a chance to score in spots.
Q. How much of the way the tournament shakes out depends on you and how much depends on how the course is set up?
JIM FURYK: Well, I don't think it‑‑ Graeme and I are tied for the lead, but there's a bunch of people piled up and close to it. Obviously I like being up front in the position I'm in. The golf course will take its effect on a bunch of people. And the guys that go out there and deal with the conditions and the situations the best and find a way to get through those difficult holes with par and limit their bogeys and take advantage of some situations where you can make birdie, those are the guys that are have some success and have an opportunity to win the last few holes.
I don't know if it's necessarily‑‑ I probably won't try to look at the leaderboard too much, I'll get a feel for how things are going score‑wise, but it will be more about trying to play the golf course tomorrow rather than trying to play Graeme or trying to play the guys trying to hunt us down.
Q. I wanted to follow up along those same lines. Veterans like yourself who have played some so many Opens tend to look at weather and things like that, and that idea of target score comes in. How much of that is a good idea, a real pro idea? And how much of it is kind of a snare because you can get caught on it?
JIM FURYK: A little of both. I tend to pick too low, usually. Nicklaus always talked about that. Seems to me he's the one that maybe made that popular. But he was really good at picking the score.
I think a lot of that happens when you get out on the golf course, you see how conditions are. You see how the momentum is going. And you can kind of get an idea that, okay, if I can get it in at X score I've got a good opportunity to win. And it also happens when you're trailing and when you get behind early, you kind of look up at the board and get an idea of I might need to make a couple of birdies on the way end.
And hopefully that person will make a bogey or two and I can catch them. When you're out front, someone grabs a two or three shot lead tomorrow, that target score kinds of goes away, becomes in my mind more about just trying to put the ball in the fairway, put the ball on the green, make your putt. It's about petting pressure on the rest of the field.
Q. Considering the status of the leaderboard right now, how far off the lead do you think a guy can be tonight and still challenge and win tomorrow?
JIM FURYK: It will depend on conditions, but I would‑‑ I'm not going to pick a number. But no matter what number I pick, I'm going to piss someone off that's one higher than that. I try not to do that too often. On a golf course like this if a guy can go out and fire‑‑ what was the low round today, 3‑under? 3‑under can make up a lot of ground out there. Someone could come from pretty far back, I believe. It's always depending on how Graeme and I and the guys piling up behind us. It's all depending on them.
Q. Curious to get your assessment on what went wrong for Tiger, having been so up close and personal today in that final group. And could you give us an assessment on his chances on how things went awry for him so much today?
JIM FURYK: We started the same. So he's 5 shots back. I think he's probably disappointed with the 18th hole. And 16, 17, 18 with the finish, being 3‑over par, if he gets it in with a birdie or so on the way in, he's only two shots back, to make two bogeys and maybe five back is probably disappointing.
He's come from farther back before. And I don't think he's really too worried about the disarray, or I forget what the other term you used, at the moment. He's probably already flipped the page and worried about what he needs to do to play well tomorrow.
I spent most of the day‑‑ you can really get caught up in playing with him just from the amount of media, from the amount of attention, cameras. He had to lay it up on 1 and the crowd is yelling, "Take advantage of it, Jimmy. Try to get ahead of him." And you have to realize that you're not‑‑ I wasn't playing Tiger Woods today. I was playing against the golf course trying to fire a number. It's hard to talk yourself into. I think the players, a guy like him that's won so many events and Major championships, he's trying to fire a number and put himself in a good position, not worry about other people around him.
I tried today not to worry about his game or how he was playing. I didn't watch him make a lot of swings. I felt like he probably could‑‑ from where he hit the ball, I felt like he could have got a lot more out of the round, he didn't get a lot of momentum with the putter and make a lot of putts out there, and that made it difficult to get things going.
I don't think he looked that far off. It's just stuff happens at U.S. Opens sometimes.
Q. How would you describe, in your words, what makes your game or your character such a good match with U.S. Opens, in particular?
JIM FURYK: I'm a plodder (Laughing). I just feel like when I'm playing well my strengths are getting the ball in the fairway and keeping it in front of me and eliminating mistakes, and being pretty tough mentally. If I have to get the ball up and down here and there, I'm able to do so.
When I'm playing well those are the things that I do well. When those all work out very well at U.S. Opens in tough conditions, you need to get the ball in the fairway and think your way through the golf course and put yourself in positions you can play from.
I made some physical errors today and made poor swings at times, which you're going to do. I did a good job today thinking my way around the golf course and keeping the ball in positions I could play from. When I missed spots I missed them in the right spots where I could get the ball up and down.
And I hope‑‑ I felt like I made a couple of mental errors the first few days as far as club selections and different things. And I learned from a few of those mistakes today and did a good job mentally around the golf course, and I hope to continue that tomorrow.
Q. Are you excited, or is that something you don't want to be at this moment?
JIM FURYK: I'm tired right now. I think when you first get off the golf course you have a lot of adrenaline going, not that you aren't at all that excited, but it's starting to rush out.
I'm very excited. I think that everyone‑‑ I'm nervous when I get to the first tee and excited about what I'm doing. Different people show it in different ways. I tend to get more subdued and more quiet; and I start to kind of get subdued more and quiet when I get excited.
Q. Right now, you seen what Tiger has done before. Is he still a contender going into tomorrow?
JIM FURYK: Absolutely. Five shots is not a lot to make up in a U.S. Open. Again, I don't know how far you go back in the field, but it's not that much to make up.
Instead of looking at playing with Graeme tomorrow or the people right in behind, I saw that Ernie played a good round and Freddie Jacobson played a good round. I don't actually even know the names or the scores or even who is behind, because I didn't do a lot of scoreboard watching. I kind of looked up at the numbers to see where everyone stood. I don't know the names that go with them, to tell you the truth.
But, yeah, how we play tomorrow at the top of the leaderboard tremendously affects who is still in the tournament and what score needs to be shot to win.
Q. How long ago does Olympia Fields feel to you?
JIM FURYK: One day shy of nine years. It does seem quite a while ago. I think in one respect it seems like a long time ago in golf perspective. It seems longer than nine years that I won that golf tournament.
But then I've got two kids over there and my son wasn't born and my daughter wasn't one yet. And that time has gone so quickly, watching them grow up. So part of it, when I look at my family it looks like four years ago. When I look at golf‑wise, it seems like it was 15 years ago, if that makes sense.
Q. How do you think you've evolved as a golfer in those nine years, as you say, golf years? Better player? Just the same player?
JIM FURYK: I think that I've always tried to improve year‑in and year‑out. And early in my career I was able to do so. I've taken a couple of steps backwards along the way. But I feel definitely more mature of a player. I think I've got a better attitude about the game and I think I've got a little bit more wisdom and a little bitten more shot selection I did than back in 03. That week was my week. The course setup well for me. I was playing well. Putts were going in. I felt really good about that week.
But as far as my game is now, people like to look at the fact that I'm 42 and someone called me middle 40s yesterday, over here, I can't remember who it was. I still like to think that I've got some good years in me. Like I said, there's a lot more good ones behind me than there are ahead of me, but I've still got a few more good ones and I still want to compete for championships and Major championships.
Q. How many drivers did you hit today? And do you think you're going to be doing anything different tomorrow as far as club selection? I know they are mixing up the yardages on holes?
JIM FURYK: I drove it off 1, 7, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17. Is that about seven? Probably a couple more than some players. I think that 10, 11, 12 stretch is whatever you feel at that moment. Some of the longer players hit a lot less. Tiger hits 3‑wood a lot in a lot of places where I hit driver, if that makes sense.
There's very few places on the golf course he can pull out driver and it can be an advantage to him over me hitting driver. There's just‑‑ you have to hit the spots on this golf course, you and can't hit it any farther than certain areas.
For me, that happens to be a driver on some holes. And a lot of times he hit 3‑wood to the same spot or even hit irons on those holes.
BETH MAJOR: Jim, thanks so much for joining us. We wish you well tomorrow.