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May 31, 2005

Jim Furyk


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Memorial tournament. Just had a couple of great finishes here in the last month or so at MCI and then at the Wachovia Championship. Now you're back after the Bank of America Colonial. Why don't you just talk about the week ahead and how comfortable you are here with a place that's kind of like home to you.

JIM FURYK: Well, yeah, it is. Having my wife's family here, and she grew up here, I met her here, it's a good week for me. Now everyone kind of lives in the Florida area, even her parents, so it's kind of a homecoming for them and they get to see their friends. It'll be a lot of support out there for me this week, so it's a lot of fun that week.

Plus I've played well, I won in '02. It's a wonderful course, the fact that it's Jack's tournament makes it a special week. I look forward to coming to this event every year and it looks like we're going to see the sunshine for the next couple days. That's an added bonus for this event. I'm looking forward to the week. It's always a lot of fun.

Q. The beginning of the season you were not at Mercedes, well, you were there but not playing, had a tough 2004 and then you started getting it going in the right direction. Do you feel comfortable now that you've come all the way back from the issues you had in 2004?

JIM FURYK: I feel real comfortable, yeah. My health has been good all year. I've felt 100 percent or better. I've been able to do a lot more things as far as physically, actively, even just picking up my kids, working out, whatever, not any real issues with my hands. I'm not even really protecting anymore, which is nice. That's totally behind me.

Then the second issue was really feeling comfortable with my game again and getting back in the flow of things. I had some little spurts last year where I felt that I played pretty well, but I never really put it together consistently. I don't know if it was as much physically as it was mentally at points, not from a fact of confidence or anything like that but more coming back in June and realizing the first couple months was just trying to get my feet wet, test the wrist, see how it felt, try to put some good golf swings together, actually put a couple good finishes together in that time, but then as June, July, August wore out, I'm thinking September, October, I've only got six or eight weeks.

I just put I don't know if it was pressure but it just turned into "I've got to do it now," and I just wasn't patient on the golf course. I wasn't patient with what I was doing, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I felt like I was fighting a tough battle and that I was trying to compete with everyone that had a full season in a half. I pressed too hard, which was my fault. I didn't early on coming back because my expectations weren't very high. If I didn't make a cut at the U.S. Open it wasn't going to bother me, I hadn't played golf for five months, so I didn't really expect a lot going in there, and anything I did was gravy. I think that made it easier to perform. Then when I realized the season was coming to an end, then I wanted to play, play, play, try to get a win. I wasn't going about it the right way, and mentally I had the wrong approach.

So I looked at it a little bit in the off season and was just kind of happy for a couple months off to think about what I want to work on and improve and get better for this season.

Q. I wanted to get your opinion on why this tournament through its history has had such a strong list of winners. They say a lot of times that this course identifies the best player, and if that's the case, why, and are there courses that don't necessarily identify the best player, and in your case, why not?

JIM FURYK: I think one of the biggest factors is that this golf tournament always has a great field, which the fact that it's Jack Nicklaus' tournament, it's held on a very good golf course, has a lot to do with that. It's an event that everyone wants to win. A lot of events aren't dealing with that to start with.

If you only have three of the Top 10 players in the world at an event versus say eight or nine of the Top 10 players in the world at that event, that's where some of the numbers are.

But yeah, I think the shot qualities here are good. It's definitely a they've tightened it up the last few years off the tee, but it's always been known as a place where it was a little bit more open off the tee and very demanding on second shots. You know, there's not a lot of bail outs. There's not a lot of places to hit it. A lot of times you see water on the right 14 is a great example, a short hole, water on the right, if you miss it in the left bunker you're usually not getting the ball up and down. You're trying to figure out a way to keep it out of the water on the other side. It's not like I can bail out left and have an easy two putt. You have to suck it up and put the ball on the green and put it in a place where you have a chance to make birdie. I think that's going to identify good players.

Q. Knowing how much you like to talk about your wrist, but I promise this is probably the last question of my life that relates to it, but is there any chance of a recurrence on that type of injury, or is it done?

JIM FURYK: I don't think so. My biggest question was, all right, we're shaving part of that cartilage out, and there's a hole in the cartilage. Will it be stable enough? He said, well, yes. The reason I say that right off the bat is you've been playing with a hole in there for quite a long time. It was stable enough to hit the shots and stable enough to handle all the pressure; it's the pain that bothered me, the tear caused the pain. He had a good point there. I'm not hitting the ball any shorter. I'm not going at it, but I guess what you're asking is longevity

Q. The thing that caused it, could it cause it again is I guess what I'm asking?

JIM FURYK: My doctor has said no. It's very commonplace for all individuals to get a tear. He was saying for 30 year olds, 30 percent of the population has a tear in that cartilage. For 70 year olds, 70 percent of the population has a tear in that cartilage. Sometimes they're minor. Had I not been a golf professional, I probably never would have known about it. Maybe it never would have occurred, either, I don't know. But it wouldn't have bothered it. It's things that could have happened when I was growing up, could have just slowly progressed with golf over time and got worse. I think the problem is cured now because there is no tear there anymore. There's was hole, a flap peeling up in the middle, it was floating up, and it bothered me. That flap went down in its own hole and got stuck, so every time I made a certain move there was a very severe pinching for about a split second and then I kind of had to open my wrist back up to get the pressure off of it. I got to the point where I just couldn't play with that anymore.

Q. Obviously there's been a lot of focus on the schedule that they're trying to throw together for the next go around. Do you have any thoughts on some of the different things you've heard, and do you feel like the players' interest is being heard? Do you think a lot of players would like to see a massive overhaul, and has that been communicated to

JIM FURYK: I haven't really paid that much attention to the big changes. I mean, realistically, what do we have, a 43 week schedule now? Well, 52 weeks of the year, I realize that, but we have like a 43 week, I think

Q. 44 and 48.

JIM FURYK: No one in this room believes we're going to 32 tournaments. I hope not, at least. I never believed that. So a major overhaul, I'm not sure what that means.

Maybe they'll change the format around, maybe we'll have some sort of NASCAR point system, which I don't understand what NASCAR really does. It doesn't seem like it matters until the last race anyway, as long as you're in the Top 10.

Maybe something will happen, but it's not something that's been ever discussed with me by the Commissioner or by the PGA TOUR. Maybe it has by a few players. But as far as I think the comments you're referring to were probably Tiger and Phil mentioned shortening the season and not dragging it out, maybe having stronger fields because of it.

It's not worth right now for me to worry about it that much because No. 125 and No. 10 and No. 1 and No. 175, they're all going to have different opinions, and everyone's opinion is going to be obviously what affects them in the best manner.

Q. If they went to a schedule that ended in mid September and then the 2008 season started in late October, kind of like what they do in Europe, what would you think about that?

JIM FURYK: To me it seems silly, but I'd also have an open mind and give it a chance and maybe it would give a better finale to our tournaments. I think the Tour is always trying to grow. Obviously we're always butting heads against football, and I'm a huge football fan, so I understand. I want to turn the TV on Sunday afternoon late in the year, and it's not to watch Justin Leonard to come down the stretch at whatever tournament may be in the fall; it's to watch the Steelers on TV. I understand and I understand the struggles we have. I'm confident where we stand as a Tour, where we fit. I hope they all keep going on strike. It just makes us look better (laughter).

I understand where we stand, and I think our position keeps getting stronger and stronger. It seems kind of strange to me to do it like the European Tour does, to have guys winning tournaments in November or whatever and counting for next year's Money List, and then they have a big lump off and then they come back and play in China and all over the world. I guess we have an event in Canada, but it would be awkward for me to play all over the world on our Tour.

Q. Why do you play in the fall?

JIM FURYK: Because there's some good tournaments in the fall, courses that I like. You know, I have certain areas of and certain courses where I really like to play. For me it's always been playing on a good golf course where I have a good chance to win, playing in a good field for a good purse. There's some good event. When does fall officially start? Are you calling that after Labor Day? Boston is one right there.

Q. That's right before Labor Day, ends on Labor Day. What do you do after Boston?

JIM FURYK: Historically I've always played Las Vegas. There's a World Golf Championship this year in San Francisco this year that's going to be a great event.

September I'm up in the air because a lot of it is going to depend on The Presidents Cup and how I want to prepare for this tournament. Last year put me in a little bit of a weaker spot but I've moved up pretty good to where I'm in a position to make that team. If I make the team, then I'll play a little bit more in September. If not, I might take some time off only because I've played a lot of events. I'm on like Vijay's schedule right now, so I might just slow down.

October would be I've historically played Greensboro and Disney quite a bit, and Innisbrook is a great golf course. You can't play all the events, but I'll pick and choose the ones, depending on how I feel at the end of the year.

A lot of it is longevity. If you plan your schedule throughout the year from January through August where you haven't killed yourself, then it's easier to play in the fall. Some guys go at it really hard, have a real good year and taper off towards the end of the year and try to get fresh for next season.

Q. With you being in Jacksonville, what's your opinion on the rumored move of THE PLAYERS Championship to early May?

JIM FURYK: I'll believe it when I see it, how's that? It's been a rumor for a long time. It comes up every TV contract, and it's something we talk about. I think the weather would be a lot better. You know, I've been given the right now the condition of that golf course is reflected by what they want to happen the last week of March. At every cost they're going to make that place look perfect the last week of March.

We have a great superintendent there, Fred Klauk, and as long as he was given the leeway to do what he wanted to make sure the place is perfect in May, he would make that happen. He just needs the ability to do that. It might not be perfect the rest of the year, which it's not right now, either, but it would be different. It would have to be a little bit different setup and a different golf course, and I'm going to tell you right now, the golf course right now in May is the best I ever see it all year for me to play it outside the golf tournament. I have a feeling that Fred could do really good in May if he was given the right chance.

Q. They've lengthened No. 10 here by some 30 yards. How much more difficult is it?

JIM FURYK: About 30 some yards.

Q. Are guys still going to hit 3 woods?

JIM FURYK: Maybe someone that's really long. I think that with us gaining distance in the past, if the golf course is playing firm and fast, on the old tee I would hit 3 wood sometimes, and I'm relatively average length. So driver, 3 wood usually driver, sometimes a 3 wood for me. Now it'll always be a driver for me, I think. For most players it will be driver but maybe for the long bombers on a firm condition they might have to hit 3 wood, also.

The fairway used to pinch at maybe I can't remember the numbers. I scratched them out yesterday and I can't remember the numbers. If you hit it past 280, 290, it would start to really narrow in on the right side. So now that's going to be 310, 320, and there aren't too many of us that rev it up to 310, 320 quite honestly, so it's going to have to be playing real firm, real fast, for me to think about pulling out 3 wood. For the Tigers and the Phils and guys that can really move it, they might still bring it out.

Yesterday I hit a driver and a 5 iron on a relatively it was still pretty cool but the ball was running yesterday when I played in the morning.

Q. After all the talk last year at Shinnecock, are you expecting maybe a little milder setup at the Open or any effect from last year? I know the weather hasn't been that great for growing a lot of deep rough and things like that this spring. What are you expecting at Pinehurst?

JIM FURYK: I think the one thing I've learned with that golf tournament is not to really go in there with any preconceived notions or expectations. You know, I've read some stuff where the USGA certain members of the USGA said it got overboard and there were ways to make the golf course more difficult. I've heard some comments where they thought it was set up perfect. We're getting mixed signals from what I'm reading and hearing. One thing, there's always going to be a premium at driving the ball straight at the U.S. Open. There's always going to be a premium on being able to put the ball on the green, especially at Pinehurst, and not short side yourself around the greens.

I think they're very happy probably with the setup and the golf tournament they had in '99, and I think if you go back and look at that tournament, I would expect it would be played very similar to that.

Q. What are you expecting as far as just the whole return to Payne's Open and everything, the emotions that will go with that?

JIM FURYK: I think he had a lot of very close friends out here and also in the world of golf. I think it'll be tough for some people, but I think also it's a good way to I'll never say memories fade, but it's a good way to bring up some good old memories and a good way to remember a real class individual in our sport.

Q. Obviously as you said last year, you didn't have much of a chance to defend, even though you did play in the event. Do you consider this time around really your chance to defend?

JIM FURYK: No. This is Retief's time to defend. I played last year, and it's nice to stand on the first tee and hear that you're defending champion, or at least everyone knows and everyone is looking at you. That first tee shot was tough because I had only been playing golf for a couple weeks. The fire went over the hill on 10; defending the U.S. Open was pretty difficult.

But no, I don't look at it that way. I'm like everyone else, trying to tee it up and win the U.S. Open. I'd love to get my name back on the trophy.

Q. What did you think of apparently you don't read, but if you were to have read the papers

JIM FURYK: Papers or golf magazines?

Q. Either or. When you read about the comments out of London last week that Jack said the British Open would probably be his last tournament as it relates

JIM FURYK: I did read that. I thought we were getting into the Ryder Cup stuff again.

Q. No, we're saving that for next year.

JIM FURYK: I mean, I wasn't surprised. I mean, a lot of the comments he's made at Augusta, by all the comments that he's made, a lot of people would love to see him keep playing, but he's also let on the fact that his last tournaments are coming up. It'll be great to see him there. From some of the comments that I've read and quotes that I've read from him, it's one of his favorite places to play in the world of golf, so I think it's a fitting end for him in that tournament.

It'll be exciting. I think if I had the opportunity, if I'm there or around at the time, I'll definitely watch him walk up 18. I was in the clubhouse at Augusta one of the last times I think they paired Palmer and Nicklaus and Player together, and I grabbed my dad and went out to 18 because I thought it was a pretty special moment in golf. If I'm around, I'll watch. If I'm on the other side of town, then I won't. But I'd like to see it on TV at least. I think they'll get a big round of applause. It's always a pretty friendly crowd over there.

Q. What does he add to this tournament, and do you think he'll play next year and should play next year and the year after?

JIM FURYK: I think he's just about walking in. You could ask him if he's playing next year or not.

Q. Is he in the back of the room?

JIM FURYK: No, they don't leave me up here if he's standing in the back of the room. My time is measured by the time his foot steps in the door (laughing).

I don't know if he'll play next year, but this is his event, a place where he grew up. I'm sure it's a special tournament to him, and because he's here it's a special tournament for all of us, so it's nice to have him playing.

Even if he weren't to play in the upcoming years, he'll be here. It's his event, and just having him on site and individually seeing him is special, so it'll be good for everyone.

Q. Do you think too much is made about winning majors in golf today and defining careers by winning majors? Do you feel like a lot different player having won an Open?

JIM FURYK: No, I don't think you feel like a different player, but winning is we sit in rooms on the PGA TOUR, we're making rules and we're talking about exemptions. Athletics and sports are all about winning, so I don't think too much is ever made about winning. To define a player like Phil Mickelson who has over 20 wins and then he wins his first major, to say that he would have been a failure or wouldn't have been a great player without that major, I disagree with.

We're all going to get judged. There's players out there look at Andy North who's probably won three career events, two were majors; that's pretty special in its own right, too. Ultimately we're going to get judged on wins, and I think that's the correct way to do it. There's been some real consistent people, Cal Peete, who maybe didn't win as much, and that's good, but I like seeing guys that can win golf tournaments.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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