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March 13, 2013

Jim Furyk


DAVE SENKO:  Jim, thanks for joining us, winner here 2010, runner‑up last year, maybe just talk a little about, you've had some success here on this course and where your game is right now coming in here.
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, it's nice, I always say it's nice to come back to a place you've played well before.  I've liked this golf course since I was a kid.  Played here at the age of 16 or 17 in a couple of tournaments, and I think it's one of the better courses we play during the year.
I think it's the best course we play in Florida.  I've said that all along and I just enjoy coming and playing it, and know that it suits my game when I'm playing well.
I think the state of my game right now is close, it's okay.  It's not exactly where I want it.  I was rusty going to the West Coast, as usual, and took pretty much 3 1/2 months off and away from tournament golf, and came out actually, what I felt, pretty good, for all that time off.  I played pretty well at L.A.  got beaten in my second match at the Match Play, but didn't play poorly.  Felt good about it.
I was a little disappointed with last week.  I think that I did a lot of things right, I did a lot of things very well.  I didn't score well and get the ball in the hole very well from around the greens short game‑wise.  I felt mechanically in my swing, I hit a lot of really good golf shots but some of my misses were too far off.
A couple of my bad shots were really bad, which I'd like to contain, and I'm still seeing a little bit of that this week.  I'm hitting a lot of good golf shots but still missing some that are too poor.  You're going to hit some good golf shots and poor golf shots and I can accept that, but trying to reign them in and tighten it up a bit.
I do like the golf course, it played very difficult today with the wind.  Thankfully there's still some moisture on the greens and we were able to start the ball pretty easily.  If they start firming up at this point, it could be a difficult test.

Q.  Is there a pattern to the stray shots, and what's the fix?
JIM FURYK:  If I exactly knew the fix, I wouldn't be hitting them anymore.  I'm working on it.  I think my balance is a little off right now and it's messing up my timing.
The pattern, on the range it would tend to be hanging it right but on the course it tends to be a little bit of a double‑cross on the cut, which is a shot that I don't particularly care for.  That's my‑‑ if I had to pick one shot, I don't want to hit it left.
So on the golf course, I hit a couple, four or five‑‑ I hit a shot or two a day last week that got me in trouble and it was usually a left shot.

Q.  You said this course suits your game; what kind of game does it take to play out here?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I think I'm comfortable, one, on a lot of tree‑lined fairways, you have to hit some good drives to put the ball in the fairway.  The greens are small and some of them have quite a bit of slope on them.
So you're playing a lot of breaking putts and diving the ball into the hole.  It's similar to the style of golf course I grew up on.  This doesn't really look like your stereotypical Florida golf course.  It's not flat.  There are not houses on both sides of the fairways.
You know, right now, we're in kind of an over‑seeded period here, so we are almost dealing with grass you would see up north.  We are dealing with the rye and overseed, which I like playing on, as long as they are dry conditions, you can get it nice and firm and fast, which is fun to play on.  That's a start.
Like I said, you have to hit some shots to put the ball in the fairway, just not going to tee it up and bomb it here.  You have to think your way around and play to certain spots of the fairway and hit some crisp iron shots and hit some greens here because there's a lot of them that aren't very deep from back to front or very big from left‑to‑right, so the green complexes are small.
I just feel like if it's a place where you can tee it up four inches and rear back and let it fly and go find it, hit it again, is probably a place where I'm going to take the week off.  Not my style.

Q.  When you first played this at age 16, did you find it to your liking then, as well?
JIM FURYK:  I thought it was a great golf course.  It was a difficult golf course for a junior to play at the time.  When I was a kid I hit the ball pretty long for most kids and I hit the ball kind of crooked.  Now most people laugh when they hear that.
When I went to college, I was going along with some of the guys on my team, and when I left college, I was very average length at best, so kind of over time have become a better player and hit the ball straighter in order to do so; definitely took some distance off my drives.

Q.  Did you ever play the mixed team?
JIM FURYK:  I did twice, with Kiggins (ph) from northern Cal.

Q.  It's interesting, you're a U.S. Open Champion; Payne Stewart and Curtis Strange were long drive champions in college and they scaled it back, too.  For you, when do you realize you needed to scale it back?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I think early in college, I had a pretty good go, and played well my freshman and sophomore year.  I had a bad junior year.  Wasn't striking the ball very well.
Went through some just learning curve in golf and life, as I think every college kid does at one time or another.  I think going into my senior year, the light probably went off and I said, you know, oh, shoot, next year I'm supposed to get a job.
I realized I have to start playing a little better, and started working on the things I needed to improve on, and I thought driving the ball straighter was going to be one of those.  It took me until probably my second, third, fourth year on TOUR until I really felt like I became consistent; to where driving the golf ball was a strength of mine.
Even my rookie year, I'm not sure that was the case, but as I got older in the game, as I put more focus on hitting the ball out of the fairway, just everything kind of‑‑ finally my swing became a little tighter, a little more compact and I wasn't hitting the ball as far as I was before, but I had a lot more control over it and hit a lot more shots.

Q.  Do you miss those days?
JIM FURYK:  No.  I hit it in the rough a lot, man, a lot (laughing).

Q.  Wasn't it fun to stand on the tee, though, and know that you were one of the big boys as a driver?
JIM FURYK:  I was a kid.  I think what happened, too, when I was a kid, my sophomore year of high school, I was 6‑1, 175, 170 pounds.  I wasn't really, from that age till now, I'm maybe ten pounds heavier and half an inch taller.  I was a really big kid.  I think a lot of the fact that I was hitting it far was I was a lot bigger than most kids my age and I was playing against men and playing against guys older than me.

Q.  Lanny Wadkins thinks Curtis would have won more than 17 times had he remained a power player.  How do you think you would have fared out here had you remained a power player?
JIM FURYK:  Well, not‑‑ you know, I did what I had to.  I wasn't that long in college.  I wasn't Bubba or I wasn't‑‑ obviously I would hit it farther now if I was.  But equipment has changed, style of game has changed.  I did what I had to do to improve and get better and that's the only way I know.  I knew certain things were certain ways in my swing and I don't show a lot of emotion on the course and I don't first‑pump.  And really everything do I, there's a reason behind it; it's the way that I believe I'm going to play the best.
But the game has changed a lot since the equipment's changed.  Had I gone to school, if you can move it back 20 years, I might have come to the TOUR more of a power player and a guy that hit more on the upswing off the tee and bombed it, found it and hit it again.  I was always a good chipper and putter and was always good around the greens scrambling, so it suited me to be able to do that.
But equipment was a lot different back then.  We could hit more shots and do more things with the golf ball.

Q.  When did you first‑‑
JIM FURYK:  High school.  In college I tinkered with‑‑ I can remember tinkering with the Persimmon stuff and I think I played a Persimmon 3‑wood in college a little bit.  But for the most part, when I was a kid, TaylorMade had come out with the Burner drivers and almost every high school kid had one.

Q.  Do you have a system or a plan that you do to prepare for the majors, specifically the Masters, and is it something that you had to experiment with over the years to get to your liking?
JIM FURYK:  For me it depends on the event the week before.  If I like the tournament, if I like the golf course, even if it doesn't suit the same style, I'm still going to go play.  I like to play my way into shape.
But if I know I don't like the golf course, I've been there before, I'm not going to show up at a place to try to prepare.  I haven't been to Houston, so I don't know but everyone that I talk to about Houston says, yeah, it's great‑‑ is it long, a guy that can fly it a long way, hit it right‑to‑left and something else, and I go, well, no, no, no‑‑ no, I guess no.
Just every friend I have tells me:  You want to hit it long, you want to hit it high and you want to hit it right‑to‑left.  I'm pretty much 0‑for‑3.
But a lot of the guys will go because of the shape around the greens and the style of the golf course.  I haven't been there, so I don't know, really, but not being there I don't want to go experiment.  I know how to try to get ready at home and what I will to for Augusta this year.  I changed my schedule, I didn't want to take two weeks off really before Augusta because the schedule has changed so I'm going to head to Valero this year.
The reason I'm not heading to Houston is because it's spring break‑‑ well, I shouldn't say it's the only reason‑‑ golf course, spring break, I've never been to Valero, either.  I've heard it's tight so maybe it will suit me a little better.

Q.  Talk about as a Hall of Fame candidate, what was your take on‑‑ do you see what Raymond Floyd said?  He was a member who was protective saying, you should win two majors and have more than 20 victories and so forth.  What was your thought on that?  Not dumb it down was basically his theme.
JIM FURYK:  Well, you know, Raymond has the one key trait and character that he can make those statements:  He's in the Hall of Fame.  I respect him as a person and like being around him and he's definitely‑‑ he's definitely entitled to that opinion.  He's earned that right to have that opinion which I respect.
That being said, Davis Love is a very close friend of mine and he's won one major, and has 20 victories and I can't see anyway that Davis Love isn't in the Hall of Fame.

Q.  Kind of deep in the year to be asking this but I haven't asked it at all this year so I thought I would.  From when you left last season and all of the wrong things that went on last season, what was your off‑season like and what was your outlook coming into this year?
JIM FURYK:  I think positive.  It was a totally different off‑season than the year previous.  2011 was a poor year playing‑wise.   I really had a chip on my shoulder to get back after it and to improve and get back to playing the type of golf that I had years past.  So I worked really hard more mechanically on my game.  I worked out a lot trying to get stronger.
But I was very driven.  This last year, I really tried to get away for a while, if that make sense.  I was really happy with a lot of things I did well in 2012, but it was going to be a frustrating, disappointing year to look back on just with the finishes and not being able to finish things off, and in a lot of ways, it was better in 2010 in all the unimportant way, the statistics, but all of the important things, finishing off tournaments and winning, it was a frustrating year.
I thought about it, I reflected on it.  I tried to figure out where I went wrong and what I could have done better and how I could have fixed it, and then you can't really dwell on it if that makes sense.  Just at that point, you just kind of beat yourself up over and over again.
At that point I tried to get away from it.  I tried to, I don't know, blow off steam, but I really tried to get away and really get my mind fresh and get away from golf.  Spent more time with the family.  Watched more football on TV.  I vowed to go fishing more with my dad and we didn't get a chance to do it as much as I would have liked but just tried to get away and have a clear head and come into this season fresh and put everything behind me, which is something I've been able to do very well.

Q.  After 2011, did you use that time‑‑
JIM FURYK:  I was really pissed off after '11.  I was miserable, I wasn't happy with the way played and wasn't really much fun to be around, I knew that.  But I knew that wasn't going to change unless I started playing better until I got after it.  Last year, the mistakes I made weren't physical.

Q.  Or consistent?
JIM FURYK:  Mental errors.  Every event that I lost or everything that I wasn't wrong, it was all due to making poor decisions rather than poor swings.  That actually in the long run makes me more mad because I like to really consider myself as someone that's very prepared and ready for those opportunities and situations and I made poor decisions and it cost me.

Q.  You said this is your favorite Florida course.  Does this feel like the kind of place that you can even move past all that here and maybe earn some redemption?
JIM FURYK:  I'm never a guy that's looking for redemption or trying to get back.  It was nice when I won here in 2010.  I had been on a victory drought for a while and it was kind of a monkey off my back and something I could quit talking about.  It was really a sigh of relief and a deep breath.
I enjoyed the Hilton Head win and the TOUR championship win a lot more because this one was more of just a relief, it was done.  I had fun but I enjoyed the other two a lot more.
And now, I'd like to win soon, but whether that's this week or this year, we'll see, that's why you go play and that's the joy of preparing and getting ready and what's behind me is behind me.  I have no issues with that.

Q.  How do you compare the way you're playing with last year?
JIM FURYK:  On West Coast I was far stronger than I was last year.  I my game was a little sharper.  I was a little more surprised by it but I was probably forcing things a little more on the West Coast last year and a little too hungry to be patient and let things happen.  It was nice to come here and play well.
I played good down the stretch and I lost in the Playoffs, but it was still a boost of confidence that under the gun, I hit some good shots and played well.
You know, my game right now, I'm sitting right on the fence right now.  I see a lot of good things happening, but I need to turn a few of the bad things around.

Q.  When you go to Augusta at any point, practice‑wise, do you ever think about shots you've seen or heard about, like Tiger's chip‑‑ are you going in the woods this year?
JIM FURYK:  No.  I don't know where it was‑‑ if I was playing with Bubba, I know everyone in the group would say, well, you've got to show us where‑‑ for the rest of his career, he's going to have to go stand on the spot and say it was about right here.  But I would love to go see where it was, because it's hard to recreate that on television.
But that's the beauty of Augusta, really, in that the only major championship that's at one course, you have that history and the build up; you cross the bridges and you look at what all the great players of years past did during the Masters to win the event.
You think of guys my era, I was 16 when Nicklaus won, so you think of the shots down the stretch on 16, 17, 18.  We always talk about it in practice rounds.

Q.  Do you ever try the shots?
JIM FURYK:  Oh, yeah.

Q.  Have you gone to, like the pines at 13 where Mickelson hit it off behind the pine straw?
JIM FURYK:  No.  I think younger in my career I might have, you go take a look.  I'm not sure I would have thrown a ball do you know.  But the putts you've seen go in, Nicklaus happened to 2‑putt from the back right on 18 and almost holed it, three inches short right in the cup, pretty incredible.

Q.  What about Mize's chip?
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, everyone hits that one.  I pretty much know that with the club I'm going into with that green now because it's always a long iron or hybrid, I'm pretty much going to be there three or four days anyway so might as well get used to that chip.

Q.  On 10, minus wherever Bubba played from, wonder if you can talk about that hole, what is the hardest part about it?
JIM FURYK:  10?  Well, you can snap off a drive, for a right‑to‑left player‑‑ if you don't hit the tree, if your ball doesn't hit the trees, it's almost impossible.  It can be done but it's hard to do to hook it too much there.  I mean, as long as it doesn't hit the trees short.  It has to kind of be‑‑ as long as it's hooking later in flight, it will be fine.
I've hit so many drives there where I've said, well, that one is definitely going to catch the left rough and maybe one or two, I've got a foot into the left rough.  I've hit 10 where I thought I've hooked it too much and eight of them were in the fairway and a lot of them by five, eight yards.  So it's hard to really hook it too much on that hole as long as it's not a quick hook.
And then the second shot is difficult, especially if you don't get it down to the bottom of the hill, now you've lost your angle and your distance.  If you can hook it, I can get a 6‑, 7‑, 8‑iron in there and get a good angle into the pin, because that green sits from right‑to‑left.  If you can get it over there to the left, you get a much better angle to hit it.
If you don't get it down the hill, now you've left yourself any from‑‑ I've seen in wet conditions, hybrid in there, 4‑iron, 5‑iron, 6‑iron is the best you're going to do; if you're coming in from a terrible angle or the green sits‑‑ there's a bunker right there, you kind of have to fly it over the corner of the bunker.
But the greens sloping away from you, the green shrinks up tremendously.  There's very little space that you can land the ball on, maybe a five yard by five yard spot that I can land the ball on from the right side and you can hold it onto that green when it's firm.  So it's just an assessment, you've got to get down the left side.

Q.  What's the worst pin?
JIM FURYK:  You know, there's probably a toughest one to make‑‑ the hardest one to make par or the hardest one to make birdie, it might change.  I would say that front right pin is really tough.
But, that being said, if you do bail left, you have a shot at getting that ball up‑and‑down.  It's hard to hit it all the way to the back of the green, the back center, the back left, whatever you want to call it, everyone is always putting 30, 40 feet short.
I would say maybe the back right pin or the middle‑ish back right might be the hardest to hit close, but it's the easiest place to get the ball up‑and‑down.  Anywhere short left of the green, you have a shot at making four.  There's other pins that it might be hard to make three but it's the easiest one to make four.  There's other pins you might be able to get at easier but harder to make par.

Q.  When you go into an off‑season and it's a physical issue or swing issue, you work on it.  When you have an off‑season like this one or going into it where you've said, there's mental mistakes that really cost me, what do you quote, unquote, work on?
JIM FURYK:  Well, you've got options.  Some guys are going to go to a sports psychologist.  Some guys are going to go to the bar.  Some guys are going to, whatever it may be.  I like to run the events through my mind, think about what happened, what I could have done better, how I would have handled the situation differently if I had the same opportunity.
Basically treat it as a learning experience and learn from those mistakes, if that makes sense.  If you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, there's an issue.
But I guess it's really not that much different from a physical mistake in that you have to identify what the mistake is.  You have to figure out a way that you're going to improve on or what you would do better and how you're going to do better, and a physical mistake, you're going to go out there and beat some divots into the dirt until you figure it out and get comfortable.
Other than running through mind how I had improved on it and saying, hey, I'll be better for it the next time when I get in that same position, I think I can handle it better.  When you get down the stretch and under the heat, you're going to hit some good shots and you're going to win some golf tournaments.  We are all human, we are going to hit some bad shots and lose some golf tournaments.  Could have mixed it up, a little here, a little there, no one would have thought too much about it; one year it was great; one year it was frustrating.
I would much rather have it that way to be honest with you.  I would rather have that one great year stick out and do all right, and I can handle the‑‑ I can take the beating and I can take at abuse when things don't go well.

Q.  One last one on 10, that has to be a negative hole, right, Bubba's great shot, Crenshaw's put back in '84, Len Mattiace, Hoch; is it a memorable hole on the good side or the bad side, do you think, overall?
JIM FURYK:  You know, for every Len Mattiace, I think Mike Weir would look at it as a positive, if that makes sense.  It's a punishing hole, and so is 11, that stretch, 10, 11, right in a row, you get out of there with 4‑4 on Sunday, and you're happy as could be.  If you can make three on one of those two holes, you feel like‑‑ if you go had 4‑3, you're still a shot and a half up on the field.
I would say it probably has more of an uh‑oh connotation rather than an opportunistic, but that's just because 4 is such a good score.  And as you said, there's been some wrecks there, but it's understandable.  It's a hard, hard golf hole.  Especially when you get in a playoff, guys are looking at opportunity.  They are not tending to play it safe, if that makes sense. 
You have a back left pin and maybe on Sunday, with a one‑shot lead or tied or one back, you probably say, smart play to probably hit 30 or 40 feet under this hole and take your 2‑putt out and get out in four, hit it just a little farther right.  Guys are thinking birdie, they are thinking about winning golf tournaments and hitting aggressive shots, and sometimes when you do , that it doesn't always come off as planned.  If you’re long to that pin, because that seems to be where that Sunday pin is a lot, or it is when Mike won for sure, you hit it a little long there, and it gets left, you get in a lot of trouble real quick.
DAVE SENKO:  Thanks, Jim.

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