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June 30, 2004

Jim Furyk


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jim Furyk, thanks for joining us. Your eighth appearance at the Cialis Western Open, you've had four Top 10s and some success here. Let's first talk about your return to the PGA TOUR at the U.S. Open. You made the cut so had a good positive week for you your first trip back since your surgery.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's been -- it was a long time not playing golf, not playing competitively. It was five months after playing just for the first two events of the year out in Hawaii. I was happy to get off to a pretty good start and put myself under pretty tough conditions at Shinnecock to be able to go out there and make the cut and get to the weekend. I was happy with the week.

I'm working on my game. I have to be patient. It's going to take some time to get back to where I was at the end of last year. I feel good about my game and I'm looking forward to keep trying to improve and hopefully play well.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about the golf course. They've redesigned a couple holes and a lot of players have made some positive comments on that as well as the condition of the course.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think it'll do well. There are some changes. I think the two noticeably are on the 5th and the 9th tee boxes where 9 has been extended back to play 600 yards or more. No. 5, tee box has been moved up and it's a long par 4. I think it makes a heck of a good long par 4. I think the changes are good.

The 9th hole, the difficulty has absolutely been increased. The drive is more awkward now. It's a much narrower spot you're hitting it to. Guys my length can't fly it far enough down the right side to hit that cut like we used to. I used to try to just get it in the right side of the fairway. Now the best I can do is get it down the center. I have to hook my second shot to get it to lay up, hook a 3-iron.

The golf course I think plays more difficult that way, and I think the 5th hole was a good addition. The green is plenty big enough. It doesn't have a lot of huge undulation in it. It receives a mid- to long iron if need be, and I think it makes a good par 4.

Q. You said at Shinnecock that kind of the big test for you would be seeing how the wrist held up playing eight, nine days in a row. I was just wondering, how did it feel coming out of that and are you still sort of on a play a week, let it rest a week schedule?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, my schedule and the way I usually play these events allows me -- I never play the week before or after the British Open just for travel purposes. I like to go over there a little bit early and I'm worn out coming back. The way it works out with my schedule, I'm going to take next week off, play the British, take a week off, go to Flint, and then I have to decide -- I'm defending at Flint. I have to decide what to do with the International because I want to play the PGA and NEC right behind it. I'm probably going to take the International off. It's going to work that one on, one off for a while, and I think towards the end of the year you'll see me hopping into three weeks on, a week or two off, three weeks on and try to get a little rhythm before the end of the year.

The wrist is feeling fine. I've been asked that a lot. Eventually I'll get a sign on my bag saying "The wrist is fine, thanks for asking." It's everyone's question, it's understandable. I appreciate everyone being nice about it.

It's holding up. I just can't go out and bang 150 or 200 range balls after I play. I have to be very wise about the amount of time I put in right now, and I'm very capable of playing 72 holes and finishing the tournament but not beating balls every day. I can't go out and hang out with Vijay all day (laughter).

Q. Was there a fear that this was going to be a chronic thing or even a career-ending thing?

JIM FURYK: Any time you go into surgery. I knew how bad it was feeling back in January, and then in early February I got to the point where I couldn't grip the club. I was trying to practice late January and early February after some rest, and it got to the point where it started hurting in swings. I would stop and try the next day. It got to the point where I started gripping the club and I couldn't do that anymore.

Yeah, I was nervous. You're going to have surgery, you never know what's going to happen. The worst part is the not knowing. Before surgery, not knowing exactly what's wrong -- an MRI gives you a pretty good indication that there's a tear, there's a problem, but to what extent and how severe I wasn't sure, and once I came out of surgery and got pretty good news from my doctor and he was real happy with the way the operation went. He said it was real easy to locate the damage. He fixed the damage, it was just going to take time to heal, and from that day on I've been real positive, but for a while, not knowing, I was a little worried.

Q. Did you give any thought to what would happen, what you would do if the wrist was going to be a real big problem? Did you have career alternatives?

JIM FURYK: Well, I don't know. I'd figure something out (laughter). I wanted to really focus on really the task at hand, to get well and to get better and think about golf. I've had a relatively good career out here with some wins and one at the U.S. Open, so I think that hopefully, if needed, I could have fell back somewhere within the golf business and industry with some of the experiences I've had.

Whether that would lead to TV or what it may be, I don't know, but I really didn't focus on it that much. I knew that may be an option, might be an issue later on, but I wanted to kind of let everything run its course and not jump to conclusions.

Q. There were some reports at one point that this was going to be your first tournament back, so in essence by playing in the Open, did you come back ahead of schedule, and if so, do you feel good having a tournament under your belt at least coming in here this week?

JIM FURYK: What you're saying is I used the U.S. Open to prepare for the Cialis Western Open?

Q. That's right, this is a big tournament (laughter).

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I really didn't think way back when, that I was really targeting this event as my first one. The U.S. Open was a pretty -- I was getting calls from the USGA mid-week before saying we're thinking about doing the pairings, is there any chance you're coming, and I said at this point I can't tell you whether I'm coming or not, but as soon as I know, I'll let you know. I didn't make the decision really until about Friday afternoon before that I think I have a chance at doing it. It's worth going up and giving it a shot.

You know, the more events I can play, the more comfortable I'm going to get with my game. It's really playing golf and playing under the pressure where you really -- going out with your buddies and messing around in a better ball or play around in match play and just having the pressure, the excitement, and that edge isn't there, so getting out and playing competitive is going to help my game get better. As many events as I can get in healthy will be better for me the rest of the year.

Q. You're regarded as one of the best putters on the Tour. Did putting always come naturally or was it something you worked on extra hard in the development stage?

JIM FURYK: I think the putting always kind of gets blown out of proportion as far as who the best putters are and who aren't. If you look at the guys that finished high up on the Money List every year, there aren't too many bad putters, considering it's such an important part of our game and scoring.

I think that great putters, when you look at a Ben Crenshaw or Brad Faxon or Loren Roberts, I think that they're born with a natural talent but also work hard at it. I think anyone can get better and become a relatively solid putter if they work on the right things in practice, but in order to have Loren Roberts' touch or Ben Crenshaw's touch, I think you're born with a lot of that natural talent, as well.

Q. When a Pro-Am partner asks you for some help with putting, is there one tip that you might generally give them?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, speed first, no matter what. Always read your putts with speed in mind, hit your putts with speed in mind only. Everyone wants to focus on the line, where the line isn't half as important as your speed. Especially on breaking putts, the amount of break and the line is so dependent on the amount of speed that you give the ball. So you have to read your putts and think about that. I always tell amateur players, when you three-putt, if you three-putt often, it's not because you usually miss eight feet right or eight feet left, it's because you hit a 30-footer and you leave it eight feet short and then knock it by. Even if you miss the line a little bit, if you knock it up there speed-wise, you should be able to knock it in. Everyone focuses so much on the line.

Q. With your recovery period, how much of your practice regimen has been shortened? Do you have to green light yourself to do more? Do you have to wait for your doctors?

JIM FURYK: Last week I had a day where I practiced a little bit hard. It got tender. I won't say it got sore, I still went out and played a few holes the next day. I feel my way through what I am capable of and not capable of at this time. I'm still just a little over three months after surgery, three months and a week today. He was hoping that at three months I'd be playing golf and at six months I'd feel like I'd have the feeling that that injury never occurred, that I'd be back to 100 percent. So we'll see, and time will tell. I'm going to keep in touch with him on a regular basis.

It used to be once a week or twice a week, now I'll give him a call once a month to keep in touch. Now we're pretty good friends. I know enough about his family and he knows enough about mine.

Q. Looking ahead to the British Open, I believe Americans have won like seven of the last nine. Do you know why Americans have fared so well at the British Open?

JIM FURYK: I will say it doesn't hurt my feelings, put it that way. Why that is, I don't know. We don't play on that type of golf course very often, ever. Shinnecock was about as close as you can get. Why that is, I'm not sure.

I just think things run in streaks. For a while the Europeans were really doing well at The Masters, and I'm not sure why that would be. You would think that some of the Irish and English and Scottish players would have the best luck over there because a lot of them probably grew up in those conditions and those style of courses more often than us, but I don't know. I know there's a lot of talent, big talent pool to draw from from American players. Tiger has probably won two or three of those himself that didn't hurt the mix.

It's probably just streaky. It just happens to be that way for right now. Of course being from the United States, more power to us. I'm happy to see it.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself during the recovery period, like you don't enjoy daytime television or did you start gardening or anything like that?

JIM FURYK: No, nothing much there. I've never watched a soap opera in my life. I know that we have a lady that comes and helps out with our kids a little bit, a nanny, and my wife, they tend to like home and garden television, and it's like torture (laughter). They shouldn't approve that for prisoners. I'm not going to watch that all day.

I had plenty to keep myself busy. I had some other business ventures outside of golf itself that are related to golf. I had my children, and I spent a lot of time helping out with the kids at home and kind of getting our family into an everyday routine at home, which was a lot of fun because we had never been able to do that before.

We had the birth of my second child, our second child, in mid-December, a little boy that's now six months. So being able to be there at home more than we were the first time around and being able to help out more than I was able to the first time around was a lot of fun and rewarding.

I kept myself busy, and I wasn't bored. My friends would laugh at your question about my yard and yard work and things like that. There's no green thumbs in my family, that's for sure.

Q. I was more worried about whether you became a Dr. Phil fan or something like that.

JIM FURYK: I'm all sports. I kind of go from ESPN to HBO, and every once in a while I can stand the weather station for about five minutes just to see what it's going to do the next day. That's about it.

Q. Going back to the British Open, you were talking about the different style of golf played over there. Do you have a philosophy? I know you said you never play a tournament the week before. Do you like to go over early and sort of customize yourself?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think I make good use of the time change, and by the time Monday rolls around I want to be getting rid of the jet lag, feeling good, just physically healthy. I like to play a few rounds of golf over there just to get used to seeing the ball roll 40 yards downwind after hitting a 9-iron. It's difficult. It's a little adjustment. I just flight it down a little lower, hit it a little flatter, keep it out of the wind, hit the ball right to left, left to right. When I come back I need that next week to get used to hitting the ball in the air again. If I'm playing well I can hit the ball higher than this tent with a wedge, and I have to get my body back in the right positions to hit those shots.

Q. Also, was it difficult stealing Fluff away from Michelle Wie this week?

JIM FURYK: He worked for one week and said that he had a real good time, had a lot of nice to say about her and her family and her folks, was really impressed by her game. He gave her a call while he was off. He kind of jumped around on Kevin Na's bag a little bit, Dan Olson, I think he had Fax at The Masters. So he kind of jumped some bags and they gave a call and it was kind of piquing his interest, much like he caddied for Tiger when he was young. It was a good opportunity to see how good she was and kind of see firsthand. He was impressed. He was impressed by her game.

It's just amazing at age 14 how young some of these gals are. The guys are coming out at 18, 19, 20 and they're making it, but gals can do it at 14, 15, 16, it's pretty impressive.

Q. Now that you've won the U.S. Open, if you had to rank the three majors in terms of what you're most likely to win, where would you rank those, and where would you put The Players Championship?

JIM FURYK: The Players Championship is fifth. I think that the majors, obviously, historically they had that weight, whether it's through the players, the media. There's only four major championships. The Players Championship is as close as you're going to get. When they do, I'll put it right in there because it's the toughest field. I actually would probably put The Players Championship ahead of the World Golf Championships. It's that important. The fact that it's in my backyard, in the town I live, it helps, but it's our Tour's major championship basically. It's a chance for the PGA TOUR to showcase its best stuff for a week. That's second.

As far as the other majors, I always said I wouldn't be greedy. Everyone said what major would you like to win first. I won't be greedy, I'll just take one. It doesn't matter which one. Now that I have a U.S. Open, I won't be greedy, I'll take one of the other three. I'll take another U.S. Open, that's fine, too.

I've always had a soft spot for The Masters. I think just growing up and watching it as a kid, that was the one that was the most fun to watch. That might be one that I feel in my heart I'd like to win. I'd like to win this week. I'll take any tournament. I'd just like to win.

Q. People would probably put the PGA last on that list. Is there anything that the PGA could do to make it more higher up that list, give it more prestige, just going back to the match play format or anything like that?

JIM FURYK: I don't think the match play is a good idea personally, but I think that PGA actually has a stronger field than the U.S. Open, than actually probably -- a lot of times it has the strongest field of all four majors. So the fact that -- I guess it's dependent on how you figure that format. Of the top 100 players in the world, more of them are at the PGA than any other major championship. Since the last year that might not be the case. The Masters might have caught up, but it has a stronger field, stronger than the U.S. Open or British Open.

Taking that into consideration, I think that the U.S. Open always kind of struck its identity be even par being a good score in severe conditions, and players have been whining for hundreds of years or a hundred years since they've started that event. They have their style.

Augusta has its style. It's the only major championship at the same course every year. Augusta is apart from every other golf course, different setup, different design. Guys like it.

The British Open has the links courses. It has its style.

I guess the knock on the PGA is that -- what's the PGA style? Personally I like it. I think they change different style of golf courses from year to year where you throw a Winged Foot and a Valhalla and Oak Hill into the mix and go, aha, it doesn't look like the other courses, so it distinguishes itself. I've never been to Kohler where we're playing this year, but it's going to have a totally different look than most major championships do.

Most of the time that tournament is set up a lot like the U.S. Open without as much of the complaining from the players. I think we like the setup. The scores are usually a little bit lower. 10-under usually wins at the PGA. It's a tough and depending setup, but it allows the players to play, like Sunday at Shinnecock where there wasn't much ability to play.

I don't know why that is. Maybe the British Open has got its own, everyone has got its own style, maybe the PGA hasn't had a similar style for every year. They've kind of matched setups for courses but I think they've done a good job of setting up fair, demanding, difficult golf courses. It just doesn't have the respect. I don't have an answer for you any better than that.

Q. How did you hurt your wrist?

JIM FURYK: It wasn't really a specific shot. It was just wear and tear. It was just something that off and on from mid to late 90s, I had gotten sore there when I hit a lot of balls and different things, and last year it just started bothering me as early as the British Open last year off and on. It would hurt for a little bit and then leave and get a little sore, but the frequency started coming up more often and the amend of pain -- the pain level was increasing as it would come back, and it just got to a point where I wasn't able to play anymore. I kind of played that, rested as much as I could and then got to the point where I couldn't go about my business normally out here.

By the end of last year I wasn't practicing like I needed to practice, and that wasn't helping my game.

Q. Where is your scar?

JIM FURYK: They scoped it so I have two little one-centimeter incisions on top, and it's not much of a war wound, put it that way. You have to look close where you can find it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jim Furyk, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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