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October 22, 2003

Jim Furyk


JOAN vON THRON: Thank you, Jim, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.

You had an opportunity yesterday to play the course. You had an opportunity to play Magnolia this afternoon. Why don't you just talk about the courses and the conditions then we'll go into questions.

JIM FURYK: The reasons I wanted to come out, I played 15 holes today and 18 yesterday and the reason -- there was a few years I took some time off from playing the event, so I played last year, still not extremely familiar with the golf course, just wanted to come out, see where the pin placements were and get a good feel for the course. Looked pretty good. The greens, the Palm yesterday were quite quick, I was surprised. Greens at Magnolia are probably a little bit grainier. Not quite as fast. Downhiller going to be very quick; uphill they are very slow. It's kind of -- uphill in that green a little slower, I think they were a little grainier, not quite as quick, as the ones on the Palm. Last year the scores were really low. I am expecting with good weather the same, unless, you know -- I was looking over at a pin sheet last year and some of the pins on those Thursday/Friday rounds weren't quite as difficult as we're used to. I have a feel that probably not looking -- well, that 6-under cut could have made them a little bit upset too so we'll see how they set it up this year too.

Q. Is money list still out there for you? Is that a factor in showing up here this week or --


Q. -- now that you have got the family here --

JIM FURYK: I am destined to playing here for a long time. If money list were a factor I would be playing next week and a big purse of 4.8. Good golf course too.

So that's not really the driving force. I have played a lot of events this year. Couple of events over my normal which is 25. I will be playing 27 this year. I stayed at home. I didn't go out and take fees and play around the world and kind of wear myself out because I wanted to stay here and give it a shot for Player-of-the-Year and for the money title and that. So far it hasn't worked out the way I would have wanted to. I would have liked to have won another golf tournament or two and really put myself in the thick of things but I had feel like I needed to take that chance when I the opportunity. That's the reason why I played a really full schedule. Also I have been healthy this year; where last two years I hadn't been healthy at all and I squeaked it in. I was healthy the whole way. I had to pace myself because I could have even played more. I took a month off through September. I am real happy with what I did with my schedule but I will probably gear back to about 25 event next year.

Q. What is your schedule like -- I know you are playing in the World Cup and The Presidents Cup -- but aside from those two events after THE TOUR Championship?

JIM FURYK: Grand Slam which is December 4, 5, 6. Then my year is over at that point.

Q. You will just be staying at home?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, my wife is due again in mid-December, so I am also destined to change a lot of diapers in December. (Laughs).

Q. The change because you are a major champion, you are not travelling --

JIM FURYK: The fact that I am in the Grand Slam changed. You have to win to get in that event. Usually I like to play two, possibly three events in the off-season and so Presidents Cup and Grand Slam, that's pretty much my off-season. Any more than that it gets, you know, you have to take the time off somewhere. That time is going to be in January or February, if I start playing too much through December. But the fact that I knew I'd have to play any of my off-season events would have to come through November if I wanted to. Because I knew the baby was coming in December and with The Presidents Cup being in there, the Grand Slam being the first week of December, that left me maybe one option and the World Cup is so close. That's either a real short flight or a drive from Jacksonville for me, so it's convenient, I could take my family, one less week that I have to be away from them so that was the decision there.

Q. You have established yourself now as one of the top players in the world when people start making the short list. Do you aspire to being the best player in the world or is it just smarter to be the best player you can be and let that take care of whatever?

JIM FURYK: That could be the same in some instances. It's not -- I have never looked at goals like I want to finish so high on the money list or I want to win so much money or I have to win this amount of tournaments or I have to get my world ranking to a certain point - never set goals that way. My goal is always to keep improving and keep getting better. I have said that for ten years now and I want to always think of myself each year as a better player than I was the year before and try to keep taking steps forward, whether they are small, big, it doesn't matter, keep going forward with my game rather than regressing. So it would be nice to be No. 1 in the world? Absolutely. But I am happy with working hard and playing the best to my ability and if that's 3rd or 8th or 12th, I am quite content with that. I have never been real caught up in ranking systems. I have been a huge fans of ranking systems. I have always said that from the start too. I am not sure there's -- you know, it gets maybe easier to rank us. Ten years ago trying to rank me versus somebody in Europe, I played here predominantly and they played there predominantly and we see each other for three or four majors a year it's kind of tough to rank us against each other. Now golf may be on a more of a worldwide level, I mean, rankings really though are only important for getting in golf tournaments. Other than that, they are not all that -- whether I am 11th or 10th or 8th, or right now I think it 5th, it's not a huge deal. As long as you are in the top however many gets you in all the big events, that's what matters.

Q. Tiger makes the cut on Friday night, it is 113 in a row and ties a record that dates back to World War II. I am wondering can you get your arms around the kind of the magnitude of that?

JIM FURYK: Sending me a signal over there?

Q. No, I have got an itch. Allergies. Is it fair to compare what he's done to what Byron did? Is one any better than the other?

JIM FURYK: You mean the 113 streak? Is one of them any better?

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: I would probably have to brush up on my history on exactly what Byron -- his era, what kind of fields there were. Sometimes there's 25. That would be -- that would be interesting as far as -- I'd have to probably brush up on my history and I knew that they didn't have 156 player-fields (inaudible). I would have to see, compare the two. It is a different era. I have always been -- it's really difficult to compare eras, I believe. I would never -- I am proud of what my era has accomplished and what we have done. We have had some huge technology changes, equipment-wise; but we have also had, I think, some huge leaps in instruction and technique and physical fitness and a lot of things whether -- even the mental side, the mental aspect, with a lot of mentality coaches. I think that depth-wise my era is really strong but I would never try to tell you that Tiger Woods, the Phil Mickelsons, that they were better than the Sneads or the Hogans or the Nicklaus's or the Palmers or back to Byron Nelson and so forth. I think those players speak for their own and they would have been great players and Hall of Famers in any era. But I think what Tiger has done is fantastic considering that -- and I think it is a great record considering that he's played against very deep, very big fields and it only takes a bad day one bad round of 75, 76 to push you out of the cut line and he just seems to be very consistent and seems to fight through it when he's playing poorly and gets it done. Doesn't quit, which is admirable for a guy in his position that being in the 55th spot in one of the smaller events on Tour - doesn't play too many small event on Tour - but being in the 55th spot in the event, isn't really a lot of source for a problem with motivation for him, but he still keeps plugging away and gets the job done. It's important to him to show up and play his best every week even when he's not playing well.

Q. You mentioned the scores being low last year. A lot of players prefer tournaments where 4-, 5-, 6-under wins and some guys like the 25-under. Where do you fall as far as your preference?

JIM FURYK: I don't really care. As long as I am comfortable on the course. I am comfortable at Vegas, I know the course well, I know the greens well. I know I have to shoot 66 to really make a dent. And that doesn't bother me because I am comfortable there. There's other courses where 70 is a good score and I just look at the course and say, you know, I can't figure out where to put the ball off the tee and it just doesn't make sense to me. I don't visualize things real well there. I don't mind either way. I don't mind going out and having to make a bunch of birdies and I don't mind when par is a good score and I have to grind out and get the ball up-and-down a bunch. It's not really -- as long as I am comfortable on the golf course it really doesn't much matter to me.

Q. Has the Open Championship changed your thought of it as time has gone on or did you think about it more when you took that one month off, did you enjoy it more?

JIM FURYK: I really didn't -- I didn't think much about golf for that month especially for the first two weeks it was really clubs were putt away, don't want to look at them, don't even want to know where they are at that point. Then last couple of weeks I started chipping and putting and hitting a couple of balls and go spend and hour or two at the course just slowly work my way back in trying to get some rhythm. But as players, I don't want to use the word greedy but something I always wanted to accomplish and something always I wanted to do. While I am playing, while my careers is still going on, I haven't really sat back and smelt the nurse too much. Friends, my family, when I am pushing myself too hard, they are trying to relax me and think about where you were ten years ago and where you are now relax and let it happen quit trying to force things. As players, we're always -- you know, you accomplish a goal, you get to a certain level, you are not taking a deep breath and having a big smile on your face, you are already thinking about where we're going from here and set new goals and there's always things to improve on in this game, you are always getting beat up in this game. Even when you accomplish things -- I won the U.S. Open and won Flint then I still had to lose 23 other events this year. And get beat up in a couple of rounds and you are always trying to figure out how to get better. It a humbling game. I think as people are greedy by nature, you always want more, you want to keep going, and when my career ends when I retire and maybe I will sit back and think about what I accomplished and what I did, and I have always said no matter if it was a major championship or two or three or if I never won that major championship I'd a been happy to say, that I put out a good effort, I worked hard and I can live with it, whatever it is.

Q. Heard anything yet on whether there's going to be a Strata golf ball next year or not from those people?

JIM FURYK: Well, I don't know exactly the marketing. I know that the brand Top Flight is very important to them from what I am hearing. I don't know exactly -- I have heard rumors about certain players might be carrying a different bag or a different hat. I think that I have always carried a torch in that Strata brand and I expect to have, down path that I am going to represent the Top Flite Strata market whether that ball is going to be called Top Flite Strata; what it's going to be, I think that the Hogan Top Flite company was always really interested in letting us play the products that we were the most comfortable with and we felt the best about. They kind of worked products towards us. Hal was always -- that Hogan ball was kind of made for Hal's style. I looked it. Then the next year the Strata ball and that Tour Ace (sic) was kind of promoted towards my style and my number's on the launch monitor. They have always really made products for their players that they thought would work. Then we finetuned them and really worked with them. I think that's the avenue that they are telling us right now that they want to keep pursuing and that's what Calloway was probably most impressed with out Tour Department and hopefully they are saying it -- that's what, you know, what they want to do, keep it going on. As far as what is written on that ball, to me what is most important is the product is really good. I think I have always been that Top Flite Strata flagship so I think that's what I will be promoting.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: I don't have the slightest idea what is going on there. I don't know. The last I have heard it was in limbo and that it might not be a (inaudible) contract, it might be. I don't -- I would be speaking out of turn. I won't be -- I couldn't make an intelligent comment on that one.

Q. Golf obviously is different than other professional sports in that players think their own schedule and limit the amount of time they want to play. But is the golf season too long and with --

JIM FURYK: We get that question a lot recently.

Q. With the off-season game, is there a risk of getting just totally oversaturated as far as selling the product?

JIM FURYK: You know, I might not be the right -- again I haven't been asked that avenue the way you went, are we -- are we thinning ourselves out too much; if we saturate the market for sponsorship, that's a good question. I am not sure I can give you an opinion, but it's probably not the correct one or -- I don't think so. I don't believe we have oversaturated the market. I think that right now our economy was definitely struggling; seems to be coming back a little bit. Two, three years ago it sure -- we had the same amount of events and it sure didn't seem like we oversaturated the market. When the economy went down we lost five, six, seven sponsors that we struggled with. We plodded through it. We always had our events. The one right now that is struggling Las Vegas Invitational, struggling for a sponsor really bad. I talked to the media about it there.

For the most part, I think we're still putting a good product out. Our ratings are still pretty good and we're doing all right. I would really hate to see our season get any longer. Maybe a little bit from that product but also from the player's perspective, it's nice to have sometime to have -- to get away from golf to spend some time with your family. We're on the road a lot. The nice thing about it is we get to make our own schedule and play the amount of weeks we want to, but when we're gone, we're gone for seven straight days, for 14, or 21 days. When we're home we can always be there for our family, wives, and kids. You can plan your practice schedule, whatever you need to do golfwise around what they are doing. I know the guys at home that have kids, like Rocco take their kids to school, go hit some balls, do what they need to do and then they pick their kids up from school and then they are there if needed. So it's nice that when you are home you are home 100% of the time for them. But when you are away, you are gone, and I would hate to see it get any longer because guys -- Tiger is only playing 22 events. If we have a 50-week schedule, I am going to say Tiger is really only going to play 22 events. And the same thing with Davis and Phil and Ernie and the guys with the TV are out here to watch, the fans are out here to watch, they have a pretty much set number that they know their body and their mind can handle. I am stressing that number out for myself. I have always been a 25, couple in the off-season and I am happy. That puts me at a total of 27. This year, 27, 30 events. I won't say I am too old for that but I am getting there. I am going to tone it back down. That was just a product of playing a lot earlier in the year. I was excited about, playing healthy. I was playing great, and I kept after that and I started counting the events, I was like, uh-oh, if I keep this up I know I am going to be dead by the end of the year so I had to start planning accordingly. That's where that month of September got off just to get away from it which really helped me out.

Q. What do you consider the most impressive performance in golf history?

JIM FURYK: I am still really hoping that you know, I think there's right now you are looking at Tiger Vijay Davis and Mike, I don't know. I am looking for someone to really separate themselves. The money list is important, what is most important to me is win. I think winning golf tournaments and winning major championships is the most important. Winning big events is the most important. Number of wins then you are going to get sidenotes for money list, for scoring average, for -- if a guy is real consistent but that's probably reflected throughout the money list also. If one guy has four wins and is pretty high on the money list and doesn't really --another guy has 4 wins, but a couple second, couple of thirds, finish in the Top-5 a bunch of a times, bunch of Top-10s I think that's important. But this game always been about winning golf tournaments. I think that's what is important and winning major champs championships is definitely a boost.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: Honestly I am much more narrow-minded than that. Looking at the -- when I am home I'd play greens where I had to ask my caddie on Tuesday who won the tournament. I played, I know Shigeki when I left was in control, and but I was home and I was eating dinner. There was a football game on. I was watching Tampa Bay at the time, get killed, I was eating dinner, football was on, I never turned golf on. I didn't look at the paper the next day. I am just -- I don't know. If I am not playing, I don't know. And I couldn't name who won each event. If I was there, I could name it, I promise that to you, but I am if I am not there, there would be a few that someone told me that -- Vijay, does he have four wins this year? John Deere stuck out and I went, he won the John Deere, I say geez, I didn't even know he went. I am normally practicing next to him that week. I guess he wasn't there. I didn't know he won the John Deere. So I don't watch. Maybe I am a little narrow-minded. No, no, no, new course, everyone talks well about it, just has a bad slot right in behind the British all that.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: I don't think it matters. I think that is there anyone in the Hall of Fame that I would probably think didn't deserve to be? No. Is there maybe someone that got left out? Possibly. But it's an honor. It's a nice honor and something that you cherish the rest of your life whether the LPGA chooses and just because Annika recently was inducted and had to get the 10-year 15 events for ten years and you earned so many points for tournament wins and majors and then there's other special things in there, that you get points for that, I don't remember, but I wasn't aware of any of that before. I knew that they had a point system. I didn't know exactly what the points were. I think that's fine if there's definitely a merit based like you say, you have to play well and not too long ago I felt bad, there was an individual, I don't remember who it was, but one win whyveterans of the LPGA Tour was one win shy of becoming -- just kept dragging on for a couple more years, maybe Alcott. She eventually got to that level; is that correct? I am happy for a person like that. As far as the vote, I mean, I don't think there's anyone in the Hall of Fame that I would go, are you kidding me, what are these idiots thinking about. Never would I say something like that, and I think that -- it works either way. I don't have a problem with who's been inducted or not, and I think the process works either way.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: If my name is even mentioned as a possibility in the future and they are always thinking about me I would be happy. I am not really -- again I am not worried about the selection process. I just -- I have always been worrying about hitting the ball in the fairway, knocking it on the green, knock some putts in, win some tournaments and I am happy. I am telling you I am a narrow focused time person. I'll smell the roses and think about all that stuff later on. Now, I have owned the Player-of-the-Year and Rookie-of-the-Year comeback, I always think since I don't get to vote, I don't care --

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: Tiger won it for comeback, tough knee surgery. He comes right out and wins San Diego. He was telling me he was getting fat. I remember all the stories yeah, I am getting fat at home. I have to ride the threadmill. I joined the Tour de France and everyone was feeling really bad for him; then he won San Diego.

When that form comes in at the end of the year they always have three or four nominees. I will sit down -- I take it seriously. I think it is a nice award for someone to win and I think deserve, those people that are on there deserve the respect, someone taking the time and voting -- sometimes there's a lot of tough choices, whether usually the Player-of-the-Year is a standout person or Rookie-of-the-Year is sometimes closer a stand out but the comeback Player-of-the-Year there's usually a couple really good nominees if not more.

Q. A lot (inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: Great at Mercedes when it was at La Costa all the players there from the tournament, you know, 30 players in the rise, last one I remember was Tom Lehman and a great speech that he gave and thanking his wife. So I thought it worked well there. Now it's at the World Golf Village in November, December, sometime, if I am -- what do they do now? I remember them asking us to come like because we were local asking the guys from Ponte Vedra, would you drive down and I think I was in a tournament or playing somewhere and I didn't know what they did.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: The one factor that you have three guys coming off three separate -- if you pick a day in our 13-month schedule, seems like, from January 1 to November 7 we're pretty much booked so it's got to be some time after that. Literally other than maybe Christmas week, I can't think -- there's always events that I can play in and it is hard to get three guys' schedules with our regular season it's hard to get to nail that down. So I mean, if they are having a Player-of-the-Year banquet in New York black Tie, I guess I am going to feel pretty -- I am going to feel like I need to be there if I have won that award. But then is it fair to ask Tiger to be there if he wins it five years in a row. Probably not. So I don't know. Maybe there's an issue there. It's tough to -- you get three guys together and they are all in different cities and different places and times and it is hard to do.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: He's won it the most. Yeah, it might work out. You still have to SENIOR TOUR is -- don't they have THE TOUR Championship coming up? This week. Go I think just picking that day is very difficult and you might be hurting someone's schedule. You might be hurting an opportunity that they have. I don't know. I am sure there's a lot of logistical problems with it. If I win the event and they say we're having a banquet and in your honor, I am going to show up because I feel like I have to. But like you said if it Tiger wins it six years in a row, I don't know if it's fair to make him show up six years in a row.

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