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January 12, 2005

Jim Furyk


TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Jim, for stopping by, here at the 2005 Sony Open in Hawaii. Last year, a difficult year for you, you came off surgery, you don't win for the first time in six years. Is that a frustrating year, or did you know because of the injury that you were not going to be able to get a whole lot out of it last year?

JIM FURYK: I think a little of both. It's frustrating to, and I really was not back to full strength until probably August. And by that time you feel like the season is gone, pretty much is for the most part. And it's not that the season is gone but that you just get to play so few events that you feel like you're playing catch-up all the time. You really feel like I've got to do it now, and when you start out January 1 and you look at the season, I think there's just more calm about you and you want to -- you can be a little bit more patient and realize that it doesn't have to be this week; you have the whole season in front of you, and I think you can relax a little bit more.

I probably pushed a little too hard and tried a little bit too hard last year as far as I wanted to play real well, and I wanted to get my game back to the position I was in '03, and that's the best it was ever in my career. So I knew it was going to take some time, and when I evaluated at the end of the year, if you told me I was going to play 14 events and the Ryder Cup and still get to play three major championships after having surgery right before August, it would have been considered a great year.

So my golf wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good by any means and it was very middle of the road. And I worked on a lot of things and trying to get ready to have a good season but most important I'm just happy to be starting off on an even level with everyone else January 1.

TODD BUDNICK: That said, is everything better injury-wise?

JIM FURYK: The wrist is 100%, could not be better. I can work out and lift and do whatever I need to do with it right now as far as hit as many balls as I want. I have no pain in my left wrist.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about your outlook for 2005. Obviously that streak, you don't see many streaks that long like that, would you like to start a new one? What are we looking for?

JIM FURYK: I just want to get a return to form and get my game in good shape. I think that we all have fun coming out and trying to win golf tournaments, so I want to put myself in position and contention a bunch this year and give myself an opportunity to win some golf tournaments. I only got a couple times last year where I was in the hunt toward the end of the year. I did it again at Target where I was in the hunt come Sunday and didn't play as well was as I would have liked, but just keep putting myself in that position and get comfortable again.

That's what's fun about golf, teeing off, missing the cut or teeing off first on Sunday isn't really all that enjoyable as far as just no competitive juice flowing. Having trouble sleeping on Saturday night or a late tee time with an opportunity to win a golf tournament and having an edge about you and being nervous in the morning, that's what we worked our whole careers for, so I want to get back to being in that position as much as I can.

Q. You said you pushed too hard last year, did you come back too soon, did you put too much expectations on yourself?

JIM FURYK: Well I think I got -- I don't think I came back too soon. I came back when I was capable of finishing 72 holes. I came back as soon as possible time I could, U.S. Open. Had it not been the U.S. Open I probably would have waited another week or two. But I think being able to make the cut and come back under those conditions, I don't think I came back too soon, but I wasn't at that time able to play three weeks in a row. It just would have been too much. I can go a short distance at that time, but I couldn't run the marathon and I couldn't hit a bunch of balls. I couldn't go a bunch of weeks in a row.

So I think I kind of picked my favorite events, a lot of them were every other week, I played U.S. Open, took a week off, British Open a week off, Western, went back to Flint and on two of those first four events, I finished in the Top-10, Western and Flint, both places I played very well in the past. So it's nice to get back somewhere where I was comfortable.

I think maybe having those good finishes and playing so well, I got a little greedy, I wanted to be in that same form. I was in '03 and maybe pushed a little too much and just didn't let it happen as much, and maybe my expectations were not as realistic as they needed to be. But all that really doesn't matter that much. It was last year, last year's over. And when it ended in October in Tampa, from that point on, I kind of put it behind me and started thinking, I have ten weeks to reenergize, to work on things and try to get in a little better shape for this year.

I was healthy, tried to refresh a little bit and realize it's going to be a long year this year. I have the opportunity to maybe -- very much in the off-season that I missed or, you know, I felt like I'll just do what I usually do in the off-season, play a couple of times, pick two nice events to play, the Million Dollar and the Target and get myself mentally ready and refreshed.

I think this year should hopefully I won't be dragging like I usually would be towards the late stretch because I had a little bit of a lesser year last year as far as tournaments played.

Q. The time you spent in Maui, how much time do you normally spend over there, and do you just like to kick back and you don't like to play golf when you come out here?

JIM FURYK: You know, I guess it depends on what's coming up behind it. If I was coming out to Maui and going to be out here for two weeks with four weeks off, I wouldn't play much golf. I would enjoy going to the beach and playing with my kids and I like to go out and watch the guys surfing and do whatever, just hang low and enjoy what there is to enjoy in Hawaii.

But if I was coming over here and had a -- if I was going to be playing the Hope and going back for a week, I'm going to practice some. The facilities over there are getting quite nice. The academy is a great driving range actually now. I'll definitely spend some time working and getting ready for the Hope. So I think it depends on the situation.

But you know, I haven't spent a lot of time over there. By the time our house is ready and built, we kind of started having kids so it's probably been ready for over three years now but we have a daughter that's 2 1/2 and a son that's 1. And at the time they were both born, we brought my daughter over when she was six months and we vacationed quite a bit that first winter. Then we were there two separate times. The very next winter when we could, my wife was due and expecting with my son, so we pretty much missed that winter and now this year it's just been a little difficult, too, having a two-and-a-half and a one-year-old. You weigh, ten-hour flight versus staying at home, we took the stay at home for this year. We spent a few days over there before this event, and then we'll go back and then hopefully in the winters to come we'll spend a lot more time there.

Q. Were there any specific parts of your game you thought you had to focus on this off-season, and have you pretty much settled on your schedule leading up to August?

JIM FURYK: Yes, I've settled my schedule. I think that I neglected my short game a little bit last year, as far as I was trying to get my swing and my rhythm and my feel back as far as putting the ball in the fairway. And I neglected my short game a little bit more than I should have, and late in the year I was testing a lot of equipment, drivers, golf balls. Testing golf balls, at least you're working on your short game a little bit. But I was testing a lot of drivers and fairway woods and probably didn't work on my short game as much as I would in the past and it wasn't sharp.

We all know if that's the case, scoring, I had weeks where I didn't hit the ball that bad, but missed the cut by one. I look back, it's just a matter of getting my ball in the hole, and when I think of that, scoring, short game, getting the ball up-and-down when you miss a shot, and really, it takes the pressure off your long game. If you miss five greens and get it up-and-down four times, you're standing in the fairway with a little better feeling than missing five greens and getting up-and-down once thinking; that puts a lot more pressure on you. I needed to work on that more and will continue to do that.

I wasn't real happy with the way I was driving the ball towards the end of the year and I worked hard on that in the off-season and drove the ball very, very well at both the Million Dollar and drove it incredible at Target. If I could just continue on that pace that, would be fine.

Q. What's your schedule?

ERNIE ELS: I'm going to play the hope, go home for a week, play AT&T, L.A., Match Play, Doral, probably take a couple of weeks off, PLAYERS Championship, week off, Augusta. Pretty much the same schedule, the Hope is filling in for Kapalua. Pretty much the same number of events.

Still play Kapalua, Sony, and then go back to Maui for two weeks before going to Pebble and missing a week vacation. Going back to Hope and I want to get back to Jacksonville for the Super Bowl. Hopefully won't be the only time we have the Super Bowl, but just in case, I want to be sure I'm at it.

Q. If you're on Maui next week before going over to the Hope, how do you work on your putting and then take that to the Hope?

JIM FURYK: The greens at Kapalua are slightly different than the greens at the Hope.

Q. Your course, or do you go to your pool table?

JIM FURYK: That's the toughest part to work on. I will usually work on my putting up there downhill, downgrain above the hole and just for speed purposes so that -- the hardest thing for me is if I go from fast greens to slow greens, at least you're being aggressive so you're accelerating through the ball. But when you go from relatively slower greens to fast greens like they have at the Hope, it tends to make you tentative and you get a little bit of a decelling-type stroke, and that's not -- you're not going to make a lot of putts when you're tentative and slowing the putter down.

For me I'll practice a lot of putts getting above the hole and downhill, downgrain, so that I'm still taking the putter back relatively short and accelerating through, so that I'll keep some feel but I won't practice a lot. Even if I play next week, I won't hit a lot of putts outside of ten feet. Everything will be in a short range. I'll practice everything from about ten feet in, relatively short putts. And then immediately when I go to hope the first couple of days, I'll hit a lot of 20-footers and 25-footers for speed and just get comfortable.

The greens at home in Florida haven't really been anything to write home about. We're in a very, very much transition stage in Florida where they overseed and you have to keep them real wet and they want to get the grass real thick and growing. So coming over here to Sony for the first week, it's a matter of getting used to the speed because these greens are always very nice and quite quick.

Q. How bad was the wrist over here last year?

JIM FURYK: It was bothering me. I wasn't practicing. I wasn't hitting any balls after my rounds and I wasn't hitting the ball well but I didn't -- it was sore and it was very tender. I was in maybe a little bit of pain but that was my last hoorah for a while. I knew after this event, I went home and just decided to take -- talking to doctors, try to take some time off and through a series of taking time off and trying it and taking more time off and trying it, cortisone shot and trying it, just by the end of March, I knew that it -- just by mid-March, I said, you've got no choice now. You have to have surgery. So I ran through all my options first, and surgery is always a last resort. I waited and just needed to do it. Now, as quickly as I returned and as good as it feels now, I'm glad I did it.

Q. How tough was it to play that way out here at the Sony last year?

JIM FURYK: My game, '03 was the best season I had other than the Grand Slam. My fall wasn't really all that great, and a lot of that was due to my wrist was bothering me and I wasn't practicing. I wasn't able to practice. The Grand Slam really wasn't a great ball-striking attempt, got the ball in the hole and hit some good wedges and putts and got the ball in the hole real well. Then in the off-season, I really kind of laid low as much as I could from there I played the Million Dollar and Target and -- I played a few times, I can't remember what I played in, but I tried to shut it down before coming over to Kapalua and giving my wrist a little time to recover. Again talking to a doctor at home and just trying to let it heal a little bit. So my game wasn't that sharp when I got here, and then as I tried to practice and get it back in shape I realized I couldn't.

So I didn't play well probably wasn't prepared as well as I needed to be and I didn't play very well and that's part of it. Missed the cut by one. Thought I was going to slip in because I finished early on Friday, birdied the last hole and thought what was going to slip me into the cut and I ended up missing by one. The wind played down that afternoon.

Q. Last week, not playing, was that killing you? You've been there forever.

JIM FURYK: I made that peace end of last year. Finished up the year playing not well and made my peace with '03 and realized I wasn't going to be there. You can just build a house over there, you can always go over anytime you want; it works out good. It really, I made my peace with '03 and realized I had a nice stretch going and was real consistent, and that's part of it. You're going to have those peaks and those valleys and the injury didn't help. And I didn't play particularly well, but considering I got to do a lot last year that I never expected I would. I made my peace with it and I'm done, and ever since end of October I really look forward to starting out in '05. I'm excited about not only this week, but just kind of taking a deep breath and realizing I've gotten months to play which is a good feeling.

Q. You mentioned at Target, Sunday you said disappointed or surprised, about you were in the hunt and really didn't get it done. Something you can't really practice --

JIM FURYK: I'm not saying I was surprised -- go ahead. I'll let you finish.

Q. That's something you really can't practice. Talk about the things you actually can control, do you feel like you just need to keep playing to get yourself in that position?

JIM FURYK: Absolutely. Absolutely. It wasn't that I was really even uncomfortable. I hit the ball pretty good that day. I didn't hit it any different than I did the first three. I didn't putt well. I didn't score well. I made some bad decisions. Had a day where I probably had two of those three days where I hit the ball great and put it in position to knock some putts, and looked like one day where didn't hit it all that good but made the right decision, made some putts, squeaked a 3-under out of it. And Sunday was just one of those days where I didn't get anything out of the round, got frustrated and started trying to fire at pins and that's why I think I ended up shooting 1-over or whatever it was on Sunday.

Yeah, it was frustrating because I wanted to go out there and I felt like I was really playing well and had a lot of confidence in my ball-striking and didn't get it done. Some of that's rust, and some of that, sometimes it happens. When it happens so bad, I got in my own way a little bit.

Q. Material question for you. When you left high school headed for Arizona, did you ever imagine having the lifestyle that you have right now?

JIM FURYK: No. I think at that time I was looking ahead want to go play the PGA TOUR but I didn't even -- you don't realize what playing the PGA TOUR is really all about as a high schooler or youngster. You don't realize what all goes, sitting and just doing the things outside of golf. Just seems like you go out you play golf every day you practice and you go home, but there's a lot more responsibility to it.

So I probably didn't realize everything that went a long with it. Nor ever realized the nice lifestyle or just being able to do the things that we're fortunate enough to do. So, no, never really looked forward to it. Just wanted to be a famous golfer at that point.

Q. Hope that's not personal, and I'm not suggesting at all you take it for granted, but listening to house on Maui, house in Ponte Vedra, just wondering where you are now, and even coming out of college, at what point was there a wow factor? I imagine it would be early on in your career?

JIM FURYK: You know, I'm not, I've always really probably learning watching how my dad growing up and seeing how he worked, I've never been a person that sat back and smelled the roses too much. As far as I enjoyed winning the U.S. Open, that's probably most I ever sat back and said, wow, I'm on the U.S. Open trophy forever, that's probably the most I ever sat back but I never really looked at, to, me it's not really the check that you're winning as much as it is the place I'm finishing in the tournament. I don't really associate third place with $400,000 whatever it is; or you sit back and look at it, it's a heck of a lot of money but for me it wasn't, you know, 4th and 3rd was not 80,000, it was working hard to finish third. So I never really sat back and looked at, wow, we live in a nice house in Ponte Vedra and we have a nice house in Kapalua and half the PGA TOUR is flying around in a private plane these days, I never really -- I realize that we are, I'll use very fortunate.

Q. Was going to say rich.

JIM FURYK: We are very fortunate. We have a very nice lifestyle and I realize that, and I don't take that for granted. But I would have never realized the age of 18, it really was not about the wealth aspect of it as much as I want to be good at what I did. I wanted to be one of the best in the world at playing golf, and I never took that for granted, because you never know. There's a lot of guys I played with growing up through junior golf and college that are really good that are not out here and never made it out here that seemed like they were really good players, also. It never took it for granted I was going to be out here, but I always worked towards that goal.

Q. Do you feel like it's a good fit for Michelle?

JIM FURYK: Yes. I don't know her game at all, but I know that -- actually not knowing her game that's a difficult question to answer, but knowing that she's not probably used to playing 7,500-yard golf courses with forced carries of over 200 yards and hitting 3-irons over firm greens like we'll see sometimes this year. I think playing a golf course on this length probably is, playing long this week, it's not a real long golf course and it's probably not fazing her at all, because she hits the ball pretty far. I think it's a good suit. I think putting Annika on Colonial was a great suit. So I think it's probably a comfortable fit for her and also being here in Hawaii having the hometown, home crowd, can go two ways, you put a lot more she sure on myself but at the tender age of 15, I think she's probably very well-suited to pressure and having the home crowd and she's well, well, well beyond her years, well beyond a 30-year-old probably in a lot of ways.

Q. Do you think the acceptance level of her playing a PGA TOUR event would be different if she added another one, say a B.C. Open or something like that in the fall? Would guys be talking about, she's-taking-my-spot-type thing.

JIM FURYK: Well, see, that, I have a problem with that argument in that it's a sponsor's spot. It's not really their spot. ESPN asked me a question yesterday, was I surprised that she was in the field again this year, and I said, hey, if anyone was going to have a surprise, it would have been last year. After the attention she had gained and the notoriety that she had gained and the attention the tournament gained probably not only nationwide but worldwide, it was a no-brainer. You just expected that she would be in the field again because it was such good publicity and such a good thing for this golf tournament. I would expect that she would be here. If she played somewhere else, I guess instead of answering for the rest of the field, I don't really have a problem with it.

When I was a mini-tour player, it maybe would have said, geez -- I like sponsor exemption's when I was a mini tour player I liked sponsor's exemptions to go to golf professionals because those guys were trying to make a living, but an exception where a guy has won the U.S. Amateur or an exception like Michelle Wie, I don't care who you put in this field as a sponsor's exemption, no one will gain one third the attention that she's going to gain with her sponsor's exemption. So it's just a no-brainer that she's in the field. Will it bother some players if she got an exemption somewhere else? I'm sure it would. I'm not one of those people.

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