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July 26, 2005

Jim Furyk


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room.

Jim, you're the all time leading money winner in this event, and I know you've been gearing up for lots of things. It's been a busy summer for you with the U.S. Open and the British Open, and coming up in addition to this tournament, the Presidents Cup and maybe gearing up for what might be Jack's last campaign as the captain. Maybe if we could get a couple comments from you about preparations for that and how this tournament fits into that schedule for you.

JIM FURYK: Well, I've played, I think I've only missed this event once. I think I'm in my 12th year. I only missed this event once in 12 years. This is on my schedule every year.

As far as the Presidents Cup, obviously both the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, two events that I would rather not miss, but I have to play my way on to those teams. And after being injured most of last year and not earning a lot of money for the half year that I did play, I really was pretty far down the list and needed to play very well this year. The points are really weighted towards I think we get double the money earned this year for points.

So I knew I had to come out and play good, and that was always in the back of my mind and one of the goals I wanted to accomplish because I knew I wanted to play well and have a good year to get on the team. It looks like that's going to be the case. I think I'm sixth on the list. Obviously having Jack as a captain, this will be the third time I've played for him, so I'm excited about that.

He's just an interesting guy. You know, he's everyone's hero, but, you know, he still kind of although everyone is a little bit, he's your idol, he's still a really good friend out there and someone that you look up to but that you can also talk to about things, and he's good at really digging the needle in and kind of lifting people up. I look forward to being on that team and being part of it.

Q. Were you aware that you were No. 1 on the Money List here?

JIM FURYK: I had a friend tell me that the day before I left, and he's not all that reliable. Until now I wasn't positive.

Q. When you guys play in the Presidents Cup, is there any way you guys think in terms of redemption of what happened at Oakland Hills, or are they two separate entities you don't equate?

JIM FURYK: They are two separate events. I think Ernie and Vijay and Michael Campbell and those guys weren't on the team last year; we were playing the European Team. I think too much is being made trying to compare the two events. Time will eventually give the Presidents Cup a little bit of tradition and history. You know, ultimately I guess it's like everything else; everyone wants to beat the United States. We're a target every year instead of every other year.

I enjoy both events, but they are separate and different. They are run by two different governing bodies. The points are accumulated two totally different ways. I have no problem with separating them and them being two different events.

The Presidents Cup quite honestly is more fun. We're playing against guys that, you know actually my first Ryder Cup, I didn't know a lot of the other team. There were some guys on the European Team I had never seen play, never seen hit a golf shot. Now because of the World Golf Championships and a lot of the Europeans coming over here, we're friendly with those teams. But there isn't a guy on the international squad that doesn't play; rarely is there a guy that doesn't play in the United States pretty regularly. Vijay is a neighbor. I practice on the same tee box with him at home day in and day out.

Although it's intense and it's a pride issue, you want to go out and play as well as you can and play well for your country. It tends to have a little bit more of a shake your hand afterwards and you don't hear too many bitter things happening in the Presidents Cup like there has been in the history of the Ryder Cup. I enjoy both aspects and both parts, but they are different. And the Presidents Cup, I think our team has probably played better historically in that because we've been a little bit more loose and because we've had more fun.

Q. You've been such a good player in the majors the last number of years, what happened at the Old Course?

JIM FURYK: Well, I didn't play well on the front nine going out and kind of put myself, dug myself in a hole, and a lot of it was being impatient, trying to hit shots out of bunkers that I should not have. I got a couple of bad breaks; hit a couple bad shots. Before you know it, I just added up and I got over par and then I pressed. It's difficult; you take some aggressive lines and try to do a little bit too much with the golf ball, you put yourself in more trouble as far as bunkers and such.

So I really didn't go over and feel like my game was in bad shape or I hit the ball terrible. I didn't play well obviously and I didn't manage my game well, and I played terrible on the front nine both days and I played pretty good on the back nine both days. I dug myself a hole going out and I tried to climb out on the way back. I was playing great up to that point. Obviously with Westchester and Cog Hill, the Western, going in there, some of it could have been a little bit of a deep breath out and I never recovered.

Q. This course and this event is always on your schedule, is there something special about this place that maybe brings out the best in your game? Obviously top of the Money List shows that.

JIM FURYK: Well, I've enjoyed coming here. I think top of the Money List is kind of unimportant for the fact that someone has obviously played well in the last four or five years is going to be on top of the Money List because of the way the purses have increased so much in the last five years. So you can win one tournament now and win more than somebody played in the 70s and 80s played their whole career; you can make in one tournament now.

I enjoy it. I've always enjoyed the golf course. It's not a place where power is going to dominate golf course. You can take advantage of some of the shorter holes here and possibly drive the 14th green in dry conditions, but it's still a place where you have to place the ball, keep it in the fairways. The fairways are very tight.

I think guys that are good with their wedges, short game, guys that are good from 100 yards and in can really do well here. And when I'm playing well, I do all of those things. I'm not a power oriented person. I drive the ball pretty straight and I'm a pretty good wedge player from 100 yards and in. When I'm playing well, this golf course suits my game. That's why I tend to keep coming back.

Q. You mentioned Vijay, obviously the defending champ, just curious if it was hard at first for him to let you into his inner circle as far as becoming a friend, and why don't you think he's more embraced by the fans considering his story and where he's come from?

JIM FURYK: I've always got along with Vijay. I think he has, you know, he's a serious person when he's working. He practices hard, he works very hard; I respect that. I see the work that he puts into it at home. I think he's always got a very serious, kind of also an intimidating type way about him and maybe it's hard for some people to relate to that. He's not always got a smile on his face and he's not always joking around. Doesn't make him a bad person. I'm a lot that way myself. I've worked very hard, and I'm not a Peter Jacobsen or a guy that's out there hamming it up, Fuzzy Zoeller. You lend yourself to being that way to the fans and the people outside the ropes, but that's just kind of not my nature. I think once I'm off the golf course, it's a little bit easier for me to let my hair down well, not really, (laughter), but it's a little bit more easy for me to loosen up and lighten up and joke a little bit more. On the golf course I'm a serious person, as well, and that's the way I feel I play my best is when I stay focused.

I think both myself and Vijay over the years have kind of he's seemed to loosen up a little bit. He actually is quite funny and quite personable and helps a lot of guys out here and has quite a few friends. I think that I don't know why. I never really sat down and thought about it. That's definitely not my job. He's a friend and I admire his work ethic and the way he'll go out of his way at times to help people.

Q. When did you last play with him and what did you see in his game?

JIM FURYK: In the first two rounds of the British recently. He didn't putt very well at the British Open the first two days. He hit the ball exceptionally well. I'm sure I played with him somewhere else he beat me in a playoff at Wachovia; he wasn't too frustrated that day. Finished that out 66 and won the golf tournament. I think when you're looking at players of that caliber, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, the best players in the world, he's obviously a great ball striker. It's kind of like watching Tiger a little bit when he's not playing well and he's not in the tournament, they are always talking about the opportunity he missed with his putter and the putter is going cold. If I looked at anyone in this room, and I said: "You had a 10 footer for your life, who would you have putt it?" Tiger Woods is in the Top 3 on that list.

So for a guy that gets criticized about his putting, he is one of best putters in the world. They tend to give themselves more opportunities, both players, because of their dominating length, good ball striking ability; and as good as they are, they have more opportunities than most players. So I think, you know, their putting gets scrutinized a little bit more than others because they have so many more chances.

Q. How gratifying was it to get the win a few weeks ago, given the fact you went through such a tough year with the injury last year and you were so close, I think two or three second-place finishes this year?

JIM FURYK: Well, I've got to say, it's nice to come to an interview for the first time and not have anyone ask about my wrist, so I appreciate it. I think that win probably had a lot to do with it.

I was a little frustrated and I felt like I was considering a very good year before I went to Westchester, or a pretty good year. Maybe not quite getting as much out of it as I could have. I had some close calls at Wachovia. Played pretty good at Hilton Head where I had a second. I felt like my game was in very good shape and I had been playing very consistently with a lot of Top 10 and high finishes and a couple chances to win, yet a lot of people wanted to talk about my health and "when are you going to win again." Just after a while, that frustration level mounts up and the only way to get rid of it is to actually win a golf tournament.

I played well and had an opportunity at Westchester and I let it slip, but it was nice to get that opportunity again the very next week and go ahead and take advantage of it and win. I said in the media room afterwards that I was looking forward to the first interview where no one talked about my wrist, so this was it.

Last year was a little bit of a long year in that missed the first half, I used the second half just to really I kind of split it into months. I used the first couple of months to make sure everything was sound and the wrist felt good, no expectations. That's what I played pretty good.

Then a month or so to try to get ready for the Ryder Cup and play as well as I could. That didn't go so bad.

I had about two months left in the season, and I pretty much put a lot of pressure on myself and tried to jam a whole year into just a couple of months. I got impatient and played terrible because my expectations were really high and I went about it all the wrong way. The bonus was I knew that I was healthy, I played real well in the off season when I played, and I really look back and said, you know, if you had told me I was going to play 15 events in March when I was having surgery, it would have been that would have been, you know, not a miracle, but I would have been just ecstatic about that opportunity and to know that I would be ready to go in '05.

So I knew starting out this year that I was healthy and ready to go. I wanted to kind of prove it because quite honestly, you know, a lot of the national writers are out week in and week out, and some of y'all are here for a couple of events a year. And so I kind of had the same questions every week about my wrist, which I realize it's a new face every time on the other side asking a question. So that's your job and I understand, but asking the same question time and time again can get frustrating at times, so I was hoping to put that to an end with the win.

Q. On that short list of three guys who you wanted to make a 10 footer, who else is on there besides Tiger?

JIM FURYK: Well, if it's my life I want to putt it. If it's your life, I'd go with Tiger and Faxon would be a good pick and probably Loren Roberts would be a good pick.

Q. You took my follow up, which was, I figured you'd give me Faxon and Roberts and somebody, and I would say, "Well, what about you?" Can we put you on that short list?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think that it's awkward, everyone there isn't a person in the world that's going to look at you and say that they are the best putter because everyone feels like they are streaky and they have days and weeks where they really putt well, and others days and weeks where it feels like they have a sledgehammer in their hands. No one else knows that. Tiger is not going to tell you he is one of the best and Faxon isn't going to tell you he's the best; no one is going to say that.

So I have confidence I'm a good putter. It's kind of interesting, I've gotten the reputation a lot of times because I putted real well early in my career and I think I had I won the putting stats in maybe '95, my second year out here. So everyone just assumes that I hit it terrible and putt it good. You know, my best statistic, which I'm not a big statistics guy, you look at them, my best statistics are ball striking stats. My putting for the last five, six years has not even been close to my ball striking statistics, so it's kind of interesting how that all works out.

I feel like my game, to be consistent and play well week in, week out, year in, year out, you have to be pretty consistent throughout all areas. There's stuff that I want to improve on, but I feel like I'm pretty decent in all areas. But I wouldn't, you know, put one above the other. I'm always up pretty high in greens hit and I'm always up pretty high in fairways hit, and this year I think it's a little better, but in the past I've been 50th in putting quite a bit. So most people would assume that it would be the other way around.

Q. You mentioned the consistency and leads me into this a little bit, you've been so consistent for a long time, and that's why you're a great player and you're ranked in the Top 10, but does it amaze you sometimes as you look out each events, each time you go and you see so many new places and so many good young golfers coming out? Just today walking around, I didn't recognize half the faces and it seems like that's the case more and more now; that there's just so many good young golfers coming out.

JIM FURYK: Well, I don't know, last year when I missed half the season, I showed up in June and I walked in the family room like Chicago on the first of July and I went, my God, I don't know half I'm looking at kids running around and wives and I'm going, I don't know these people. I missed half the year and there's always 30 or 40, got 30, 35 guys coming off the Q School, 15 or 20 coming off the Nationwide and you've got 50 people half of those guys might be brand new to the Tour, 25 new faces that have never been on tour before. You might know the name, but there's always that dozen guys that it takes you a couple of weeks, and you start meeting with them, you start playing with them and start seeing them around a lot and you get to know them.

But yeah, really honest, early in the year there might be some people you don't know. That is a sign of age. (Laughing.) That means I'm not a rookie anymore. When I was a rookie, I watched everyone on TV play, and I knew all the young guys getting their cards because I played mini tour and college golf with them. Now being out here, I don't know a lot of the guys coming up. I read about them, guys like Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore, guys I've read about that played well in college and amateur golf. Like myself I wasn't a world beater coming out of college but flips out here. And all you have to do is get on the leaderboard once or twice and everyone knows who you are.

Q. It seems like the learning curve is shorter than it used to be for new guys coming out on tour?

JIM FURYK: Well, I still think there's a learning for most guys there's still a bit of a learning curve and experience. I came out and my second event, I was tied for the lead after the third round in Tucson and had a chance to win. I'm not surprised because I think junior golf is better than it used to be. College golf is better than it used to be. Guys are ready. But there is still a big step from college to the PGA TOUR and there's some mini tours in there. There's the Nationwide, there's mini tours and you've got tours like the Hooters Tour and the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR. There are some steps in there, but just some people are good enough and have the ability to jump steps. There's more people that can jump straight from college to the tour now.

Like when I came out, it was, you know, Robert Gamez made a big step and Phil Mickelson was ready and Justin Leonard, but it was once over two or three years a guy would come straight from college and compete on the Tour. Now it happens more frequently.

Q. Any event Tiger is in, he's the focus of a lot of the galleries; does it amaze you or impress you how he's able to deal with that part of his life or his career?

JIM FURYK: With all of the people around? You get used to it. We've all played golf tournaments our whole life.

Two things about that. We all play golf tournaments our whole life. You grow up in juniors playing in front of a hundred people and college golf a few hundred people; big Amateur events have a few thousand. I played on the Nationwide, you get 3,000, 4,000 people following the last group and then you go out on TOUR and all of a sudden you're in Phoenix and there's 80,000 people or with you 100,000 people on the course in a day. You just kind of grow up with it. Rarely do you get shoved out there on Sunday after shooting 83 out there on Saturday when you have no confidence. You're out there when you just shot 16 under for three rounds, you've got all the confidence in the world and you feel like you're going to go out there and do it again.

The guys that are going out first off on Sunday and trying to catch a flight to get home and see their families don't have anyone watching them. There's 12 people out there at that time. But the guys that have the big galleries are the guys that are playing well and have a lot of confidence in their abilities. It's actually the more people out there, the better because it becomes a solid wall of people. So if people move, there's still a buzz. There's more going on; you don't hear one little things. If there's eight people behind and you one of them happens to move, you see it right away because there's movement. If there's a wall of 300 people behind you and one person moves around, you don't see it because everyone just kind of blends together, if that makes sense. So the more people back there, the easier sometimes it gets.

Q. On the subject of preparing for majors, it looks like you've done it a couple different ways like you don't really ever play Atlanta; you play Westchester when it's the week before the Open. What are the pros and consequences of taking that week off?

JIM FURYK: Pros and cons of taking the week off before a major? Well, I'd like to play my way into shape. But if I don't really like the golf course or I don't think it suits my game or I don't think it's good preparation for the event, then I just won't go. I'll work at home and I'll practice or I'll get into the tournament site a little earlier over the weekend and practice there.

Westchester or Congressional this year, are great places to prepare for a U.S. Open. It's good preparation. I like those golf courses. I've played well at both courses, so I definitely want to play the tournament. I've never been to Atlanta so I honestly can't say. I've never been to that site.

But THE PLAYERS Championship, the Masters, basically two weeks apart, I'm kind of spent after THE PLAYERS. I like to stay home and get ready for Augusta. I like to go to Augusta on the weekend and have some fun before there's four billion people walking around the practice rounds and enjoy it a little bit. It just all depends. When this tournament was the week before the PGA, I played it every year because I wanted to get ready for the PGA on a course that I liked.

Q. Making site visits, especially to places like Baltusrol, you're got to be able to go in there, how many days early?

JIM FURYK: Well, I'm sure if you called, they would I don't know. I'm sure if you call, they would let you come in any time.

Q. How early will you go there?

JIM FURYK: I'm more of an in the present type person. So I'll go in, you know, I'm planning on going up there probably Sunday morning and probably doing a little practice on Sunday. But depending. If the weather is just terrible in Florida and we have a hurricane bearing down on us, I'll get out of there and go up to Baltusrol. If I'm enjoying being home a little too much, then I'll go up Sunday night. I don't plan too much more than tomorrow ahead.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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