home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 4, 2006

Jim Furyk


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Mercedes Championships. You missed out here last year. I know that was a disappointment. Bounced back this year with a great win at the Cialis Western Open. Talk about being back here.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've played well here in the past. A couple wins on this course. You know, it's one of my favorite vacation spots. It's always fun, always good to come back.

Yeah, with being hurt through '04, not playing very well at the end of the year, you know, it was a bummer to miss the tournament last year, but we're all trying, every one of us, to be in this event. But it's extra special. I enjoy the area, enjoy the golf course a lot.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions, please.

Q. Following on from that, the injury problems you had in 2004, how much more satisfying did that make last year, what you achieved?

JIM FURYK: Well, more than anything, and I said it when I won, I didn't have to answer questions about how my health was any more. I honestly have not gotten one question from the media since I won in Chicago about how my wrist was, is my game the same, are you the same player. I kind of said I was more looking forward to winning a golf tournament to quit hearing that question maybe more than I was to actually win the event.

It was nice. But for a while there, I had some close calls. I kept hearing, "You haven't gotten over the hump, you haven't won, you haven't done this, haven't done that. You're playing well, but how is your health?" Those questions just went away. It was a little bit of a relief. I definitely had the tape-recorder going, giving the same answer out a lot.

Q. Quite a busy off-season. Great win in Sun City. Do you feel you've had enough of a break before this year?

JIM FURYK: Maybe not (laughter). I'm going to -- the way I planned my schedule, the way the season starts, I usually haven't played a few events after Sony. The way the schedule worked out this year, I'm going to skip the three events after the Sony, then pick the TOUR back up at AT&T. I planned my off-season a little bit accordingly.

Usually I get a couple-, three-week gaps in there before the season starts. This one -- the second one will be before AT&T. I'll be charged up and ready to go by then.

Q. What do you think of the changes to the course?

JIM FURYK: Looks good. Really a shame we got the rain. I guess it rained hard on Monday. It really changed them dramatically. I wish the whole field would have seen them on Friday and Saturday when I played. They were very firm. They were much quicker than they are even today and actually very difficult but very good. They still are, but they're very, very good right now, and a vast improvement over the past.

But that being said, I wish the players would have seen -- they were even better before the rain. I think the staff was a little worried about the golf course getting burned up a little bit. They were getting some browning out on the fairways. They were watering it a lot before the rain. It's got some catching up to do. I think it kind of caught them off guard.

Q. Where were you a year ago on this day?

JIM FURYK: On Wednesday? At home. At home, Ponte Vedra.

Q. Was that hard to watch?

JIM FURYK: Actually, I was here on the weekend. I did television on the weekend. Came over to the dark side for a couple of days (smiling). I don't know if it was just Saturday and Sunday or just Sunday. I think it might have just been Sunday. I arrived either Friday or Saturday. Played a little golf, practiced a little bit, then did a couple hours of TV.

Q. You had gone, I'm guessing, six straight years winning.

JIM FURYK: Something like that.

Q. People on the dark side know that stuff.

JIM FURYK: Exactly. You're asking me that. You should be telling me (smiling).

Q. Six straight years here, having a home here. Was that difficult at all?

JIM FURYK: You know, it's part of it. I made my peace with '04 when the year ended. Towards the end -- I only had half a year, so I spent the first part of that half, let's say the third quarter of the year, just trying to get comfortable and feel pretty good about my game. I actually played all right, better than I expected. Then once I got that under my belt, I started thinking, "Gee, I've only got six events left." I started pressing, I started trying too hard. I wanted things to happen instead of letting them happen. I played poorly because of it.

By the time those few events ended at the end of the year, I was pretty much ready to be done with the end of the year, kind of get it behind me and start fresh. I realized I wasn't going to be here at the Mercedes. I was more looking forward to starting the year out last year on a fresh note, having a whole season just like usual, kind of fighting the battle against the rest of the field. I was trying to have a good year in 14 events rather than 22 to 25 events. It's very difficult to do, because I looked at it in a poor light. I was pressing, trying to make things happen. Really approached it poorly at the end of the year.

It ended. I was actually happy to see it end because I didn't like the way I played the last few events. Just get ready to come out in '05. I knew I was healthy, I was getting ready to come out and really have a good year.

Q. Better to be where you are now I guess is where I was headed.

JIM FURYK: Much better. Much better. You know, last year's over. When I approach this year, obviously I have some changes, and I'm excited about '06.

Q. Where you frustrated at the end of '04?

JIM FURYK: Oh, absolutely. I should say the end of the TOUR season. After the Chrysler Championship ended, I was a pretty happy guy. It was done with. I had a bunch of time off. I knew my game wasn't where I wanted it at that time. I kind of figured that out relatively quickly. I was trying -- I messed around with equipment a little bit, a driver in particular, that I was really struggling with. Went back to kind of the old driver in the off-season. Played good for two events. I had a lot of time to rest, relax, get ready for the season.

You know, the frustration ended when I walked off the -- I missed the cut at Chrysler. Walked off the green, drove home. Next day actually was the Florida-Georgia game. Had a good time. I was happy to be on vacation for a few weeks, get ready for a couple off-season events.

Q. A lot of "look back," hindsight. The process you went through of all the things you did before you had surgery, then having the surgery, looking back, would you have done it differently? Would you like to have seen it done differently?

JIM FURYK: I probably wasted some time not having the surgery right away. I was trying to obviously go with not having surgery, see if it worked. If I could go back and do it, knowing what I know now, once the doctor went in there, took a look around, he said -- I mean, there was no other decision. You could have rested for the rest of your life and it was never going to get better, you're never going to be able to play golf at the level you're used to or without pain. Had I known, I would have cut six, eight, 10 weeks out of the equation.

I think the way it went, I handled it properly. I tried to see how rest would do, see if it would heal on its own, see how things went. It did not. I had to have surgery. Actually, I came back quicker than I kind of allotted, kind of guessed that I would. It went well. It's just one of those things that came up. It happened; it's over with. I'm actually a lot healthier now than I probably was through '01, '02 and '03. I'm probably better off with my left wrist than I was then.

Q. Have you set any specific goals for yourself this year?

JIM FURYK: No. I rarely ever do, actually. I want to win golf tournaments and I want to improve. I want my game to be -- I want at the end of every season to look back and say I am a better player than I was last year, whether that's measured in wins or money or whatever. I want it to be -- I want to feel good about my game and have confidence in it. I'll know whether I think I'm a better player or not.

Q. Have you ever seen a step back in the 10, 12 years you've been out here? Are you honest with yourself, I guess is what I'm asking?

JIM FURYK: More honest than I am with you (laughter). I'm feisty early in the year.

I would say, yeah -- if I take '04 out of the equation, kind of battling back from an injury, yeah, I mean, I guess I've never felt worse at the end of the season like -- I mean, you go through peaks and valleys with your game, where you have a lot of confidence, not so much confidence, you're playing well or not. I think every year I've learned something. I might have finished fourth and third on the Money List, then finished 12th. You can consider that year obviously wasn't as good, as finishing third or fourth on the Money List.

In '05, I won one tournament, had a lot of close calls, finished high on the Money List, but that year wasn't as good as '03 when I won twice and won a major championship. That was probably the best year of my career. I think there's always things you can learn and improve on, whether it's something about your swing, whether it's something about your game, mentally, preparation. You're always finding ways to improve, to get better. Those are the little things I'm talking about. I'm always striving to find ways.

I was in an interview not too long ago. For the average golfer, a lot of times it's difficult to identify what they need to improve on. Once you do identify it, it's sometimes even tougher to fix it, if that makes sense. I'm always trying to identify. When I was a rookie on TOUR, I came out, I looked around, I looked at all the players that were better than me on TOUR. I tried to play practice rounds, tried to figure out how I could incorporate some of the things they did. Playing with a Tom Kite or Corey Pavin, just watching how they played a practice round, where they went and chipped, what pins they were looking at, just exactly how did they get around it, how did they prepare for the tournament, because they were guys that I respected and guys that I felt were very well-prepared players.

You just kind of pulled little things from different people and tried to learn and tried to improve. I was watching Faldo hit wedges at the Masters one year with my dad. He hit those 60-yard wedge shots better than I did. I looked at my dad, showed him, said, "Watch my flight, watch his flight. I want to learn to do that, help me out." He gave me a little lesson, told me what he thought I needed to improve on. I went to work on it for months, two, three, four months before I could hit the shots exactly how I wanted to, just slowly incorporate stuff in your game to get better.

I haven't really tried to copy or emulate someone's swing or style, but you can always pull bits and pieces. We're always trying to do that. You're always trying to figure out how you can improve here, improve there. You look around at other guys, you get some ideas, you talk to your friends. But everyone's going to do it in their own way and everyone's got their own issues to identify.

It's a difficult task, but that's what I try to do every year, is try to find ways of improving, try to keep getting better.

Q. You said you don't do goals every year. When you first came out, did you have some goals in mind for your career? Did you have some goals in mind where you wanted to be in the TOUR as you progressed along?

JIM FURYK: I never came out as a rookie thinking I'd have 10 wins and a major championship by the year 2006 sitting here. But it's kind of interesting, my first year my goal was probably just to keep my card, to play well enough to prove to myself that I belong on the PGA TOUR. I had that secured pretty much halfway through the season. It took about 140,000 back then probably to keep your card. I had made about 130 through like June or July. I felt pretty comfortable, I relaxed, I played pretty good, finished somewhere in the top 80 on the Money List, like 78th or something, if I remember. It was just to prove to myself that I belonged. I got in contention two or three times, had a couple shots to win tournaments. It was a lot of fun.

And then you kind of get greedier. You want to win an event. You want to finish so high on the Money List. You want to win more tournaments. You want to win major championships. As you progress, I think all of us, I mean, we're all greedy, you want to do more, it's never enough. Even for the No. 1 player in the world, they want to keep winning, they want to keep adding championships.

I guess when you lose that desire and that drive, then you retire. It's time.

Q. This will be kind of an odd question, but when you hear everyone say that anyone can win out here, it's deeper than ever, there's so many great players, which is true, right?

JIM FURYK: I agree.

Q. Then why is it that you always finish in the top 10 on the Money List and someone else is usually finishing in the 50th, 60th spot? What's the difference between you and him, if everybody's so good?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think the guys -- haven't always finished top 10 on the Money List. But the guys that finish the highest on the Money List either, one, win a lot of events, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love, guys that are winning four times a year, which is really difficult to do, I think. Since I've never done it, it's really difficult for me. Or guys that finish consistently. I think my record with finishing the top 10, top 20, top 25, making the cut, grinding it out, having a good week, kind of lends itself to that.

Early in my career, I finished in the top 10 a lot, maybe would win once a year. One year I think I had the most top 10s on tour. I was kind of proud of it, but kind of not. It's not a record I ever wanted. One year I actually had the most money won on tour without ever winning a tournament. I definitely didn't want to have that record. It got broken quickly.

But I think the point is consistency. The guys that finish in the top 10 on the Money List are guys that want to finish 15th rather than 20th or 10th rather than 15th, that can grind it out, and also are consistent from week to week. You miss less cuts. You plug it out. Seventh is always better than eighth, so on and so forth.

I think a lot of guys have that, but just being consistent. My rookie year when I came out on TOUR, I played 27 events, and I made like -- 30 events, and I think I made like 17 cuts. I was happy that I played well, got my card, but I also realized that I had a shot to win two or three events. I also realized, "When I'm playing bad, I'm really playing bad. I need to become more consistent." That was the goal back then.

Q. Is the difference between you and Retief and David Toms, et cetera, different from these guys because you have more shots, because you hit them better?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I think David and I have similar styles and similar attitudes as far as control players, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, keep the ball in front of you, consistent week in and week out. In my opinion, he's as good a ball-striker as we have on tour. As many rounds as I've ever played with him, I've never seen him strike the ball poorly one round, which is hard to imagine.

I just think consistent more days. You'll see guys like me my rookie year where 30 events, make 17 cuts, 50% of the cuts, but you have the ability to go low and play really good. When you're playing well, you're playing great. When you're not playing well, you're playing poor. I think it's just a matter of being more consistent are the guys that finish up there higher more often.

Q. Are there guys you play out there in a practice round, third round in a tournament, you cannot believe this guy is struggling to keep his card this year, can't believe he hasn't won yet?

JIM FURYK: If I answer yes, you're going to ask me to who.

Q. You don't know that.

JIM FURYK: Well, I'll just go with no and then you're stuck.

Yeah, I think there's times -- sometimes it's maturity levels. Sometimes it's a matter of a young player just kind of progressing. As they kind of understand the game, how to get things done, they figure out how to turn a 20th into a 10th, a 30th into a 15th, barely making the cut to finishing 20th or 25th, kind of having a decent week.

But, yeah, there's guys I see their game, see how they strike the ball. I kind of look. Sometimes it's just mental. Sometimes it's just how you prepare, how you get the ball around the golf course, the decisions you make while you're on the course sometimes can separate a guy that finishes 10th on the Money List from a guy that finishes 40th on the Money List.

Everyone out here has a lot of talent. Some more than others. Obviously, Tiger has a lot of talent, Phil. They can do things that other guys out here don't have the physical ability to do. But sometimes it's not even physical, it's just mental and how you go about things. I see guys that have a lot of talent that I think make poor decisions. You know, a lot of times it's usually young players. They eventually figure it out and become very, very good players.

Q. With the fact that you own a house on this course, where does this week fit in your priority list?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think having a vacation home here doesn't make it a bigger or lesser priority. I think just coming to a place, it's a special week. I look at it as a bonus for doing something special last year. Kind of like THE TOUR Championship is a bonus for having a good year. You get to play in an elite field where there's only 28 to 35 guys.

That being the case, you know, obviously I kind of have the major championships up there on a pedestal, then maybe some World Golf Championships, some of my favorite events. This is definitely -- if you can get in this field, it's definitely one of my top 10 favorite events to come to, that's for sure.

Q. Is there an advantage in the amount of times you get to play the course over a year?

JIM FURYK: No. I've played this course five times or less outside of the golf tournament. It's actually prepared differently. The greens aren't as firm. They're not as quick. It's a different golf course. It's like living at TPC at Sawgrass, playing THE PLAYERS Championship there. It isn't the same golf course for the other 11 and a half months. It's not like playing THE PLAYERS Championship. There's a tiny bit of an advantage just for sight lines, different things off the tee, but not tremendous.

Here I've played two or three Lincoln Mercurys, I don't know, six, seven -- probably close to 10 events. Looking at almost 40 competitive rounds around this place. If I haven't figured it out by now, it's never going to happen. I don't think it's much of an advantage. A lot of guys in this field have been here a lot. You get used to how shots play over the years. You're not always hitting at the pin at this golf course. You're kind of hitting it to a spot, letting it feed down to the pin. It's not that big of an advantage, that's for sure.

Q. What are the biggest changes to the course this year that you notice?

JIM FURYK: Well, some of the greens have been changed a little. I don't think you notice it so drastically. The reason I'll say that you don't notice the contour changes as much is that the greens have gotten a little quicker. They're smoother, much better surface, they're a little quicker, and they have a little less grain to them. All bonuses.

I think they mellowed some of the slopes knowing that they were going to get quicker and that -- I'm not saying they play the same, but if you had some drastic slopes that made the greens quicker, you would actually be taking pin placements away. I think they thought -- they were talking about adding more pin placements to certain greens with their changes. They probably got a few areas where they can. But I think they just restored some of them also because they got quicker and they were going to be able to use a little less.

I don't know if I made any sense there.

Q. That was good.

JIM FURYK: The greens -- I got to play the course on the weekend. The greens were quite firm. They were actually faster than they even were today. It was actually a treat. It was a lot of fun. It was to the point where I said, "Boy, if they get any firmer or faster in the tournament, they're going to have to be careful because there's going to be some shots that almost aren't playable."

It definitely turned the shot -- the shot value, you had to hit much better shots to play well, which I liked. Hopefully, with all the rain, they were watering quite a bit, it's kind of softened everything up. The course is playing long right now and quite soft. Hopefully the wind keeps up and we'll get a little more of that.

Q. Any of the non-green changes, like the bunkers?

JIM FURYK: I think 15, they did a wonderful job. That was always a very awkward layup spot, kind of not a great-looking spot on the golf course. The way they shelved that fairway, made it playable, it's probably going to make a bigger difference through the 51 weeks of the year with average play going through there. It made a better hole out of it.

16, adding the bunker. Still a lot of guys blowing it over that bunker. It's 278 I think over it. It's a little uphill. We got guys flying the ball 300 yards kind of regularly now.

Vijay doesn't actually even notice probably there's a change. For me, for the mid-length hitters, it's going to change the strategy. I'm not going to blow it over that bunker. There's going to be times when I'm just going to take a 3-wood up the left side instead of a driver and it's just going to add 10 or 15 yards to the hole for me. It's not really a big deal. I'm hitting a short-iron anyway. It's a nice look.

Q. Next week do you see Michelle Wie as a 16-year-old girl trying to make the cut or do you see her as one of 143 players you have to beat?

JIM FURYK: What was the first choice in 16-year-old girl?

Q. Trying to make the cut.

JIM FURYK: I guess both. How about answer C, all of the above.

Q. That would be D.

JIM FURYK: There's only two choices, right? I'll go with D. I think it's interesting. For some reason, I put a difference in amateur and pro. I like to see sponsor exemptions go to golf professionals. Not that I don't think there's deserving amateurs, and not that I don't think she deserved it, because she did. I have no problem with her being in the event in the past. I like giving exemptions to people who are trying to make a living, if that makes sense.

I guess there's US Amateur champs, and I understand those -- I understand why they get exemptions. There's also 75 TOUR professionals that can't get in the event that are dying because they're trying to make a living and trying to keep their card. I like to see sponsor exemptions go to golf professionals. I probably view it as a 16-year-old girl playing the tournament, a golf professional. Of course, I view it as she's trying to make the cut because I think she has not made a cut in a PGA TOUR event. That will happen obviously. It's just a matter of when.

Yeah, she's another player you have to beat in the field. There's 143 other people besides me and someone you have to beat.

Q. Do you look at her differently than you did before? She's a professional.

JIM FURYK: She didn't wake up one day and say, "I'm a professional," everything changed, all of a sudden she's a different person or player. I view -- I guess I view it -- Sony, it was the smartest move they ever could have done, invite her to play the golf tournament. The publicity. It was an event that I always felt was a very good event, one of my favorites to play on TOUR. They probably weren't getting the publicity that they deserved. Having her there at the tournament, raising awareness of the golf tournament, having guys like Ernie and some of the better players that come here go over, win the golf tournament, was a big bonus. I think it was obviously a great move on their part.

That being said, I love seeing -- I like the fact that she's a professional now getting an exemption. She's out there trying to have a career and make money. I don't know if "earn a living" is the right word.

Q. It's her profession?

JIM FURYK: It's her profession. I like seeing golf professionals get exemptions. As far as her as a player, she's obviously going to keep getting better, keep maturing, all those things we talked about. She's going to start figuring things out. She's been real close to making cuts. I would not be surprised at all if she made the cut next week.

Q. Have you ever watched her?

JIM FURYK: It's been a few years. I think when she was playing in the ProAm as an amateur, not playing in the tournament, I was just -- I mean, seeing a six-foot young lady that's 14 years old walk by. I mean, kind of looking eye level. "I want to see her hit it." She's got a very good swing, hits the ball quite hard.

Q. If people stop and watch, do they stop and watch because of the way she swings at the ball or because she's this age and hits the ball that way?


Q. Is it both?


Q. If she swung that way and were 24, would you stop and watch?

JIM FURYK: She hits the ball good. I wouldn't watch you. I'd watch her. How is that? I think both. Obviously she's got a great talent. I can't ever think of a 16-year-old girl that could hit it like that. I'll go beyond that. I don't know too many 16-year-old men that can go -- boys that can go out there and play in a TOUR event, have that much composure, hit the ball that well. She's definitely one in a million or one in a billion as far as a player. That's going to attract attention.

She hits it good. What can you say? She's come within a shot of making the cut at least a couple of times. That's pretty special.


End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297