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July 3, 2005

Jim Furyk


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jim Furyk, congratulations on winning your tenth PGA TOUR title this week at the Cialis Western Open. I'm sure it's got to be a thrill for you and you'll enjoy this one.

JIM FURYK: I will, I will. It was nice to come in after last week especially with a disappointing 2nd, to hang in there this week and play as well as I did. I had a couple runs at me today. Obviously got off to a little bit of a bad start bogeying two of the first three and Ben birdies two of the three first and all of a sudden you're four down. I was able to make it up on 4 through 6, and obviously Tiger made a run right there around the turn. I think for him it was holes 9 through 11, and I was able to make birdies on holes 10 through 12 and kind of hold that off. After parring the next couple of holes I had a four shot lead, so it was a fun day, a little bit of a roller coaster up and down, but it was a lot of fun.

Q. At that point after you birdied 10 through 12, it looked like things came into sort of a lull. Were you expecting more fireworks and have to respond at that point?

JIM FURYK: Well, there were some tough pins out there, too. 13 was accessible, but the pin at 14 was pretty tough. The pin at 16 was relatively difficult to get the ball close to, and 17 was right over the bunker, and 18 is obviously always a tough birdie. It's actually a tough par.

I think I didn't know on 13 on 14 the par 3 that Tiger had made a couple of bogeys. I still thought I was 2 up, maybe 3 up because I had heard some groans on the 14th green. But I didn't realize I was 4 up at the time, and I knocked in my little putt, asked my caddie where I stood, he said 4 up, and that's a good feeling with four to go.

I just knew I had to play solid down the stretch. I tried to I made 15 very interesting and played solid on 16, hit a perfect drive at 17 and hit another bad shot, so I tried to I made a couple of bad swings, about three bad swings there on the way in. I tried to make it interesting, but my short game held me in there. I just had to hit a couple of good shots on 18 and was happy to do it.

Q. Did you know that Tiger made eagle at 11 to catch you and what was your reaction at that time?

JIM FURYK: Well, I was in the fairway. I hit probably my best drive of the day off the 11th tee. I don't know why we didn't see their group for most of the day. That's the first time we waited on the tee and I actually waited to go at the green in two. I saw him roll in a long putt, saw his reaction. I heard the crowd's reaction and pretty much knew it was for eagle.

You know, I fully expect a guy of that caliber to put up a fight and make a good run today, which he did. I knew I was going to have to be aggressive and make some birdies and play hard on the way in, and that stretch 10 through 12 was one of the key stretches for me. I was able to I didn't make the putts at 8 and 9 for birdie but I birdied 10, I was able to make a key putt at 11 for birdie, and then I hit it about ten feet on 12.

He made a good run at me, but he played 4 under for three holes, but I fired right back with 3 under for three and held myself right in there.

Q. When you got to the 8th hole and Ben was you were talking about how you handled this whole thing mentally while everything is going on around you. On the 8th hole when Ben was in the middle of his adventure, what were you thinking at that point? What do you do to just try not to get lost in that moment?

JIM FURYK: Well, lost in the fact that I knew I'd be leading the tournament after that hole?

Q. I mean, just what do you do to kind of pass the time, if that's the way to put it, while all this is going on, just to kind of keep your own train on the tracks?

JIM FURYK: Well, it didn't take that much. I was actually surprised how quickly he hit that fourth shot from where he was at. I was also surprised that it's one of the better up and downs I've seen in my career. That was pretty phenomenal; I'll say that fourth shot he hit was incredible.

More than anything, I wasn't expecting to putt before him. There's no way in the world he was getting that fourth shot inside me, and he ended up hitting it like that (indicating about two feet).

Really it was good. I had a lot go in early in the round as far as I fell four behind after four holes and I made those up in the next four holes, and it was good to take a deep breath and put things in perspective and realize that I was right in there and I was in the lead or tied for the lead after that hole. I was thrown for a little loop early being 4 down so quick, just kind of thinking, "what happened?" Then to get those shots back and then be in control of the tournament a little bit there on 8 green with the lead, thinking that someone is going to make a run probably and I need to keep playing aggressive and make some birdies.

Q. When you got off to the shaky start and then Tiger caught you, was there any point where you said to yourself, "I've got to regroup here and pull myself back together"?

JIM FURYK: Well, for me it was kind of two different Tiger was still pretty far back because he only started at 7. So for me it was looking at Ben starting out birdieing 2 and birdieing 3 and he hit it stiff on both holes. I'm 4 back, and at that point I really warmed up well this morning, really felt comfortable with my game, I felt more comfortable with my swing going to the first tee today than I did all week. I hit a good shot at 2 and made bogey, bogeyed 3, and I'm a little disappointed in the start, but obviously the good news is there's still 15 holes, it's early in the day.

A key moment was driving it well on 4, hitting a good iron shot, getting the putt to go in. Made a good par save on 5. After hitting two good shots my 9 iron came up short and I had to make a seven footer on the way back for par.

You don't expect to birdie 6; I knocked it in there about six or seven feet. That for me was a key stretch, 4 through 6, to get a couple birdies under my belt, get back to even par for the day. I also ended up tied for the lead again, and then that run from Tiger came a few holes later. He probably birdied 9 and 10 and then eagled 11. But I birdied 10, 11, 12, so that kind of evened that out a little bit. He caught me by 1 and I was playing well, and I hit some good shots.

All of a sudden I ended up 4 up, which that, again, I was a little bit surprised. I probably didn't play as aggressive as I should have coming down the stretch. But I played very aggressive from holes 4 through 12 and that's where I won the tournament.

Q. Some people wonder whether it's you last week missing a three footer or Tiger backing up from 13 under this week or Ben Curtis kind of falling apart a little bit today, they would use the word "choke". Do you think that exists on this level, and if it's not choking, what is it when a guy backs up like that?

JIM FURYK: Well, I'm not going to say that Ben choked or that Tiger choked. I should not have had myself in that position last week. A lot of people said that it was unfortunate that the guy knocked in a 65 footer on you, but I made bogey on 16 and I missed a three footer or whatever it was, around three feet, on 17. That shouldn't have happened. That was my fault. I shouldn't have put myself in that position and I shouldn't have been there on 18 where that eagle putt would have mattered or made that much of a difference. I take the blame.

As far as I flat missed it, and I don't know if not a lot of guys like to use the word choked, but today I don't think you can say that about Tiger making a couple bogeys on 13 and 14. Those are tough golf holes.

Does that exist on our level? Absolutely. It exists in every sport at any level. Choked, it's kind of like a four letter word with five letters; how's that? It's something that no one really wants to hear or no one really wants to talk about, but in football, do guys drop passes at key moments? Sure, they do. Does a quarterback throw a bad pass at a key moment? Sure, he does. That's part of being in athletics and it's part of being in sports.

A good quote actually came, I was playing the Ryder Cup, and I was disappointed in a match that I tied one year when we were at the Belfry, which was a key point. I was upset with myself afterwards because I should have won that match that came out as a halve, and that extra half point could have meant something for us. I was upset with myself, the team knew it, and Tiger came over to say something to me and he said, "Hey, you gave it your all out there," and I said, "I should have won the match." He said, "But that's sports; you're going to win some, lose some, you're going to hit some key shots at key moments that everyone thinks are great, and you're also going to have so much pressure on you at key moments and not come through."

The best players in the world come through more often. The guys that aren't the best players in the world don't come through as often, and that's probably what separates the good from the mediocre.

Q. Because of the way last week ended up, does that make this victory more satisfying than others you've had or because of the length between victories?

JIM FURYK: Well, it's probably a combination of a few things. I was disappointed with myself last week. I was disappointed that I didn't win the golf tournament, and 2nd is not really that much fun, especially when you have the lead most of the day. This takes a little bit of the sting out of that.

I've tried not to get too frustrated, but I've answered a lot of questions about my wrist in the last year or so, and I've come to the media room after great rounds and talked about my wrist quite often, and I understand I've tried not to be frustrated by it. A lot of times our beat writers, the guys that I look at and I know by name and I see all the time, they've heard me say the same things over and over again. It's hard to realize you're in a new city and you're talking to people that haven't heard this before, so I try to stay patient and say, "Hey, my health is back."

Once we got over that hump, then it came down to, "Hey, it's been almost two years since you've won," so I've had to keep answering that question. I think you take the combination of last week, take the combination of going through surgery and not winning since surgery, you put all that together, it was a little bit of an emotional win and it was a lot of fun.

I'm trying to say that I'm healthy, I'm fit, and I feel like my game is as good as it's ever been.

Q. Do you think you'll have to answer those questions anymore now?

JIM FURYK: I don't know (laughing). This definitely was a big step.

Q. Can you talk about 6 a little? You had a shot pretty much on a string to a tough pin.

JIM FURYK: Yeah. It was kind of a good yardage for me. I don't know what the overall yardage on the hole was to the pin. It was probably in the 225 range. But to where I wanted to land the ball was in the 212 range. It was playing a little downhill, a little downwind. I thought that shot was probably playing in the mid to high 90s, and for me it was a good solid hard 5 iron. To land that ball, I had to hit a good shot, land it down on the flat near the bottom, let it skip up to the pin. It's a shot you're starting at the middle of the green and work it towards the pin. I hit it a little bit more at the pin, and if you hit that ball 20 feet and two putt for par, you're happy as can be.

But I got right of the pin. Normally you'd have a fast downhill left to right putt. I had an uphill left to right putt to seven feet for birdie. That was a bonus. I got to knock that in and regain a tie for the lead, which was fun after what I was muttering to myself walking off the 3rd green.

Q. Is there a difference if you have the lead between a charge and a Tiger charge because of the way the crowd gets into it? Is it something different than maybe most anyone else on the Tour makes a little charge like that?

JIM FURYK: Well, I don't know about that. I think that from a fan perspective, absolutely. Back in the days of Nicklaus and Palmer making a run, I think there was more of a there was more commotion going on on the golf course, guys were aware of who it was that was playing well because of it.

You know, that happens some today, too. You have another player making a run, I wouldn't have heard quite as much commotion up ahead. I wouldn't have had about a half a dozen people telling me that Tiger was coming to get me on the back nine. You know, it's kind of it was more funny than anything else because I wanted to say, "Yeah, I can read the scoreboard too and I can hear the noise."

Yeah, it definitely changes because it's him. He's so popular, he's the best player in the world; him and Vijay are the best players in the world. But he's the guy that everyone relates to, everyone is rooting for, everyone is pulling for. There was a lot going on up ahead, and it was fun. It was good to get in there in a duel with him a little bit and pull it out because he normally gets the better of most people.

Q. My follow up to that was how difficult is it I mean, you responded. Is that something that just the competitive juices kind of take over? Is it sometimes difficult to respond when that's ongoing?

JIM FURYK: Well, normally you're not playing I'm not out there playing Tiger Woods. It's not a match play event. Ben was still very much in the tournament off the 11th hole. I don't know where anyone else was at that time. I know that we were in the 13 range, he was around 11, and I can't tell you what anyone else in the field was at that point. At that point it kind of looked like a three man race, but I didn't look at the leaderboard very much to know.

Yet you can't really I knew Tiger was playing well, I could hear it, and I knew Ben was playing pretty well because I was watching him play. You can't focus on the other guy. You really have to focus on what you're doing up there and how you want to attack the golf course and how you're going to pick and choose your spots to be aggressive.

I had a couple good spots as far as club selection on like 12 was just a perfect club for me. It's a pin that I usually would not try to go after, but the way it ended up, it was a really good, full, hard 8 iron, and it was a place where I felt like if I hit a good shot, I could stop it in that little net. Had I been in between clubs or a little uncomfortable with the club selection, I would have played that ball out to the left a lot farther and played to the fat of the green.

I had some places today where the yardages really set up good for me. 14 was a place where I wasn't comfortable with the shot. I was right in between clubs, I tried to take a little off a 7 iron, made a bad swing, hit it thin out to the right, was able to get it up and down.

You kind of had those places and it happened for me in a good area, birdieing 10, 11 and 12, knocking in some key putts. Two key stretches for me were 4 through 6 which got me back in the tournament tied for the lead and then 10 through 12 where I maintained that lead and I wouldn't say held off a charge but definitely answered a charge that Tiger made.

Q. Just to follow up on that, Tiger was talking outside about what a great competitor you are and how you grind out there. What's your feeling when you go through one of these tournaments? Is it just a refusing to lose type feeling that you have?

JIM FURYK: Well, same attitude I had last week. I was trying to refuse, but it didn't work out. You know, I feel like he's it's a nice compliment. I respect him. He's a friend. I respect his game. I respect his work ethic. And I respect the way he's as tough as they come on the golf course. So to get a compliment like that from him means a lot.

You know, I feel like I grind it out, I feel like I'm a tough player out there, and I'm not giving in, I'm not quitting, I'm not throwing in the cards. You know, sometimes it's going to work out your way and sometimes it isn't. I made the key putts and made some key shots when I had to today, kept myself out in front, and it was fortunate enough like I said, I was surprised to get to 15 tee and be 4 up, so it was a good feeling.

Q. Now that you're obviously playing as well as you were in '03, how does it feel?

JIM FURYK: It feels good. It feels good. You know, I think that last year physically I didn't hit some of the shots I wanted to but mentally I didn't approach maybe the last quarter of my year I had a half of a year, and the first half of that half, the third quarter of the year, I approached it very open minded and just didn't put a lot of pressure on myself, and I played pretty well. Actually for being away from golf for five months, I played pretty well.

The last 25 percent of the year, the last half of my year, I played I didn't like the way I played. I wasn't happy with it, and I put too much pressure on myself. I expected to I was trying to compete with everyone else playing a full year. I was trying to do it with a half, and I just was impatient and I had to do it now, now, now because I saw the year coming to an end. I was just kind of getting ready, getting rolling, and counting down, I've only got four events or three events or two events left, and I approached it poorly. It's nice to more than anything after coming to the last event at Innisbrook was a deep breath and realizing, hey, I've got the off season, I know I'm physically healthy, I just have to get my game in shape, and '05 was going to be a breath of fresh air because I had a whole season to play against everyone else and I was looking forward to that.

Q. We've seen something different from Tiger this year in the sense that at the end of the Masters, at the end of The Open on the back nine here he made consecutive bogeys and he did it after he caught you. Does that surprise you or are expectations with him just so high?

JIM FURYK: Well, yes, I would say it surprised me because he's such a good player. But, you know, I guess that's the one negative of being the best; everyone expects you to be perfect.

If he makes a mistake, it sticks out more than anything else. People pay notice to it. People will mention it to him. He has to relive those moments a little bit more critically than everyone else because the spotlight is on him.

You know, he's human, but sometimes it doesn't seem that way. But he's human, and I don't know how he made those bogeys or mistakes. I saw that he was in the front bunker on 14, but because I was walking across 13. But yeah, he doesn't do it very often. Obviously he's got 40 some wins and however many major championships, so he doesn't make those mistakes very often, but I'm happy that I was on the receiving end of one, I know that. I'll take a mistake from him a couple times.

Q. Talk about your feelings about Chicago; it's been pretty good to you. And also, if I'm correct, this is not the first WGA event, you won the Western Junior. What kind of memories do you have of that?

JIM FURYK: Well, Chicago has been special to me obviously. First major championship, this win, the fans really I heard a lot of rooting and stuff for Tiger out there, but it's kind of a neat place for fans. You don't hear a lot of negative reaction from fans here, and they seem to pull for everyone, and I had my share. I mean, between the guys rooting for Tiger, which is normal every week, and then Ben wearing the Chicago Bears stuff today, that was like every week that's like piling it on for getting a few extra people to root for you. I really felt a lot of support in this city after winning the U.S. Open, and every time I come back to Chicago it feels very warm to me.

As far as the Western is concerned, it's a great organization. First Western Open I saw was I knew it was in the 1800s. It was 1899. I saw it on the trophy. It's a very old organization. People don't really realize what actually they do and the events that they run, and the Evans Scholar Foundation is incredible. I did, I won Western Junior in 1987 as a 17 year old where the age group for that event is 16 to 19. It's most older than most junior events go. It was a really big step in my junior career. It kind of made a lot of college coaches take notice and probably earned me a scholarship more than anything else.

I didn't play particularly well at many Western Amateurs, but I played three Juniors, the last of which was right here at Cog Hill. I played four Amateurs, and this is probably my first I only missed this event once; I had to withdraw on Thursday morning one year. My right wrist, the other wrist that I had surgery, when I was playing tackle football or whatever, whatever got written about it, but when I was goofing around with a parking lot football game, I hurt my wrist and I had some symptoms and I was getting some numbness and I went to get it checked out and withdrew from the event because I was a little nervous about it. I've been here every year I've been on Tour and I had to withdraw that one year, so it's probably my 11th Western Open. I've got a lot of friends and a lot of people I've met along the way from that organization, and I'm proud to be their champion.

Q. How set are you for going over to the British and how special is it that it's at St. Andrews and it's Jack's last one?

JIM FURYK: Well, the British Open is a fun and interesting event to start with, but it's always extra special at St. Andrews, and I'm looking forward to it. I talked earlier about the course this week. I've played there a dozen times. I still feel like I have no idea how to play it at times, and everyone says that about the golf course. It changes from day to day.

I'm looking forward to going over there. My game is in good shape. I'll work on some different shots at home this week, and I'll go over a little bit early and arrive on the weekend next week and try to get acclimated to the time zone, get acclimated and accustomed to playing links golf again, flighting the ball in the wind, hitting some bump and run shots.

We play the ball so much in the air on this Tour and over here in the United States, it's a totally different style, so I'll spend four or five days really trying to adjust myself and getting used to playing links golf again and hopefully I'll be ready to go.

Q. What about the fact that it's Jack's last one?

JIM FURYK: Well, it's special. If I have the opportunity to watch him finish or come up 17 and 18, depending on my tee times, I'll probably go watch him. I admire him and what he's done in his career, who he is as a person. So I'll probably if I can catch it, I'll probably try to watch him go up 17 and 18.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could just go over your birdies and bogeys today and we'll take a final question.

JIM FURYK: Bogeyed No. 2, an 8 iron in my hand. I hit it right at the stick. Actually hit a little behind the pin, skipped into the back rough and had a tough lie, just about a 12 footer for par.

No. 3, I drove it in the right rough, wedged it onto the green, released to the back of the green, and I had a putt where I was aiming 25 or 30 feet right of the pin. It was probably 60 or 70 feet. Actually hit a pretty good putt but didn't hit it hard enough, left it eight feet short, missed that for par.

Driver and a 9 iron on No. 4 to about 25 feet, knocked that in.

5 iron on No. 6, as we talked about, to about six or seven feet, knocked that in, got back to even par.

And then No. 10, I hit a driver off the tee and my 60 degree wedge to about 15 feet.

11, I hit a driver and was trying to hit like a hook 3 iron around the corner, just get it over there short right of the green, and I drew a bad lie again. I took a pretty big cut at it and it still came up about 20 feet short of the pin, somewhere between probably 20 feet. I was able to knock that putt in, which was key for me.

Then I hit an 8 iron to about ten feet on No. 12 and knocked that in for birdie.

My lone bogey on the back nine was No. 17, probably the best drive I hit all day, right down the middle. Had a little kind of an in between wedge and 9 iron. It was just a smooth 9 iron to the pin, and I just let up on it. I hit it too easy, hit it a little thin but not bad. It was just one of those adrenaline was flowing and I had been hitting the ball pretty far today and I wanted to hit one easy, and I hit it too easy and hit the lip of the bunker, came back in. I had a pretty easy bunker shot that I knocked about eight feet by. I would have swore three feet short of the hole I knocked that ball in the center of the cup, and it didn't even come close to the hole, so my read was pretty bad, but that was one of my best putts of the day, and it didn't go in. So that's part of it.

But I was happy to see I still had a two shot cushion. I would have liked to have three, but at least I still had two. I watched Tiger putt on 18.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If you could take us through 15, that was a good par there.

JIM FURYK: 15, yeah, I was trying to stay aggressive and I was trying to hit a good drive on that hole and I was trying to hit it down the right side and draw it, and I hooked it, knocked it in the left bunker under the lip, had to play out with my gap wedge, hit a really good shot, kind of high draw around the tree right in the middle of the fairway, in between clubs, had to hit kind of an easy 7 iron there and just probably the worst shot of the day, hit it in the one spot where I could not hit the ball over there left. I knew there was no green left of the pin and just hit a double cross, tried to hit it easy and hit it left of left and just made a good up and down. I went in there with my 60 degree wedge.

Usually when you hit into that back left pin you don't have much play. I had a good lie and was able to hit the bunker shot about three or four feet. It was a fortunate break and glad to get that one up and down.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: This last thing, I don't know about your season goals now, but I think you've jumped to 5th in the Presidents Cup standings. I'm sure you'd like to play for Jack again.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, obviously it was a goal at the beginning of the year. I've played on a lot of our teams. Hopefully I think this would make eight teams altogether. Starting off the year after finishing 100th on the Money List or whatever it was last year because of the half season and not playing all that well, I was way, way, way down on The Presidents Cup list, so to be able to run off a win and three 2nd places this year, I've got myself in good position and hopefully that will I think that will hold up, but hopefully that will hold up and I'll make another team. Playing for Jack, it'll be my third team. I played in Australia, played in South Africa, and it would be nice to play on home soil for Jack. How's that?

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Congratulations, Jim.

JIM FURYK: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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