July 30, 2003
GRAND BLANC, MICHIGAN
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Jim, thank you for joining us for a few minutes. You've had a great year, winning major championship, the U.S. Open. We have another major coming up and a lot of other special events down the road. Just talk about the rest of the year and then we'll go into questions.
JIM FURYK: Well, definitely I still have quite a few events left on my schedule and a few events that I really enjoy playing and really like. So still lots of good parts and some meat left in the schedule that I look forward to.
Also, I've played a lot of golf to this point. I'm going to take some time off in between. Looking forward to this event and getting ready for the PGA. I love the World Series and Firestone, and I'm probably going to play the new event in Boston to check it out. And after that I'm going to in hiding for a little while, probably take a month off and rest and relax a little bit and get ready for a pretty good finish for me. I'll play another four to five events after that. It will be a big year. I'll play 26 or 27 events this year, one or two more than I've been playing for the last four or five years, and that's it. Maybe an event or two in the off season and then we'll see what happens.
Q. You said you were going to take the month off; is that planned?
JIM FURYK: That actually was planned. The last couple years, I really haven't been healthy and I've still managed to squeeze 25 events in. This year my health has been great. Knock on wood, it stays that way. But I'm ahead of schedule and I just know that my body can't the way I practice, I hit a lot of balls. I practice a lot, and with that I'm good for about 25, 26 events a year, and past that, I start to feel it.
Q. Has it been hectic since you won the U.S. Open?
JIM FURYK: Not anymore. Everyone made such a big deal out of, how your life is going to change. It has been a little bit more demands on my time and I've had to manage my time well and better than I have in the past. I sign a couple more autographs and I get asked a lot more questions from y'all than I used to. For some reason, my opinion matters more now.
Other than that, it's a good problem to have and it goes with the territory. You realize that we all want to win major championships and win golf tournaments, and the more you do that, the more your time becomes in demand. That's part of it. You can't have both and you learn to deal with it. Everyone says: "How are you dealing with it?" It's really not a bad problem to have.
People want to talk to me because I played well and I've done well. It's a good problem to have. It's easier to become frustrated, so by the end of the day you're not accomplishing all of the things you want to. Sometimes you just have to say: "I don't have the time and I can't do it right now." I find that I'm definitely not keeping everyone happy. It was easier to do that before. Now, some people aren't quite as happy with me as they used to be because my time is a little bit more limited, but, you know, as long as my wife and my kids and my family are happy, then it doesn't really matter.
Q. Has winning a major affected your confidence? And could you talk about Ben Curtis's experience, winning the British Open, what was your perspective was on that?
JIM FURYK: The first part of that was, well, I've always had confidence in myself and felt that I could compete. It's not that I think I'm a different player from before I won the U.S. Open. Physically I'm not any better. Physically I'm not a different person. There's a comfort knowing that you're capable of winning a major championship rather than thinking that you can win a major championship.
Other than that, I'll be dead honest with you, I didn't watch a minute of the British Open. Missed the cut, and boom, Saturday, I didn't do a thing. Sunday, I think I was probably in the house and the TV didn't go on. It's what I do for a living. I have friends that are football players and they don't watch football when they are home, and I have friends that are tennis players and they don't watch think tennis when they are home. I do it for a living, so it's not what I want to watch on TV.
I'm happy for him. It's a wonderful story. He came out of the house on fire on Sunday from what I hear and hung on to win the tournament. It's a great story. I think it's pretty incredible what happened, and it would have been a dream for all of us. My 16th start on TOUR, to win a major championship would have been incredible. It would have been impossible for the game I had at the time. I built it up a little more slowly than that. He may have to face a few things he probably wasn't thinking he was going to face this week. It's a wonderful story. I'm happy for him.
Q. Outside of the disappointment, it has been a fantastic year, not just a major championship, but a number of Top 10 finishes. Do you allow yourself a thought process of maybe being the golfer of the year if you finish strong this year, or does that even come into play at all?
JIM FURYK: The reason I thought about it was because people mention it to me. When I won the U.S. Open, first thing I wasn't thinking, I could be Player of the Year. It's your management group, sponsors, the media; it's going to be mentioned and talked about.
Would it be a great honor if that were to be the case? Sure. I would have to play very well and I would have to win some golf tournaments on the way out this season. Yeah, it would be definitely a feather in your cap for the rest of the year. It would be a wonderful accomplishment, but it's not my motivating factor for the rest of the year either. I'm trying to win golf tournaments. I'm trying to play well for the rest of the year, and if I do so, then the other stuff comes about. But I really don't put the cart before the horse and I'm just going to focus on playing well.
Q. Do you like playing in the Pro Ams and what do you say to the guys you're playing with?
JIM FURYK: I had a very fun, fun group today with a local radio personality, one of the gentleman from Buick that actually does part of the sponsorship for the event and helps with that, and a couple guys in town that were in the auto industry. But they were fun. They all play golf quite often. I would not say they were great golfers, knowledgeable of the game, asked great questions, they joked around. I could poke fun at them and it happened vice versa, also. I had a lot of fun with the group. They weren't locked in that they had to win today and to play well. I enjoy the groups. They are there because they want to have a good time and enjoy themselves. Once in awhile you catch a group so hung up on, they have to play well or they have to play well that they have to forget a good time. It's not as much fun for all of us. So my job is to help them relax, if they shoot 68 or 98, it doesn't matter to us. Hopefully have a good time because that's what they came out for. That's fine, part of the job, what we do. You're going to be out there for a long time. It's a five hour day whether you like it or not, so might as well enjoy it while you're there and have a good time with it.
Q. You're well known for your precise preshot routine, how important is that to your steady play and how a preshot routine is a key in pressure situations coming down the last nine?
JIM FURYK: Well, for me, I work really hard from my address position and my setup. I work on my setup position a lot more than I do on the mechanical. And what a preshot routine does for me is it helps me get in a consistent setup. I do pretty much the same thing for every shot, the way I grip the club, the way I walk up to the ball, placement of my feet and placement of the ball position, and I do it in a very organized manner in order to get a very good on consistent setup position.
The only thing I really worry about is times when we talk about preshot routine is that people do things very slowly. They watch us on Sunday trying to win a golf tournament and they watch, the last group, pace of play sometimes slows down. They are not watching a group that goes out and plays in two hours and 45 minutes and is catching a flight home and almost getting there before the leaders finish. I think in talking about that, at times a preshot routine can be pretty quick and I can go through that routine and do it in an efficient manner and still play in under three hours. That's the only thing I would be hesitant in really grinding on a preshot routine. Sometimes whenever they get that, it kind of winds them up and locks them up and slows their play down.
Q. With the strong field that's here, does that help get you mentally prepared for the PGA in two weeks at all?
JIM FURYK: No. Don't even know who is in the field and don't even care. I don't think anyone really does.
I know that Tiger is here because his picture is on the front page of the paper. I know Phil is here because I saw his autograph on a few things today. Past that, I have no idea who is here. Ben is here, he played a few groups ahead of me; I saw it was autograph ball day. Other than that, it really doesn't matter.
I like the event. Some years we come in and everyone says, "It's a great field." And other years, some of y'all are writing articles and upset that the field is not as good.
To us, we want our favorites events to thrive and do well, but whether X player is here or not, it really doesn't matter to me. I'm preparing the same way and trying to have a successful week.
Q. There are so many highly accomplished young players, seems to be a direct contrast with the way you learned to play the golf, can you talk about that inaudible as a great, young teenage player, and what points that your dad gave you?
JIM FURYK: Well, great young teenage player that's a great question.
Q. Michelle Wie
JIM FURYK: I don't really know much about Michelle's teaching or how she was taught.
How could I sum it up? I'm not sure exactly how you're trying to ask the question, but I'll answer it this way. I feel bad for the guys that do this every week because they hear some of the same stuff all of the time.
But a good teacher in my opinion is someone like Harvey Penick because he taught Crenshaw and he taught Kite. And although they were the best of friends, you could not get two people in the world of golf that could be farther from each other in style of play. Ben plays by feel. He won the Masters, and he talked about Carl giving him a tip in moving the ball a little bit farther back or up in his stance, I can't remember which one it was; and all of a sudden everything clicked in his swing and he got in a good feel and good rhythm and he played great.
I've never been on the range when Tom wasn't working on the supination and the pronation in his wrist and everything is mechanical and the color of the dots or connect the dots. It's just so winded up and rigid, but that's the way he plays and he plays well.
What I think is interesting about both of those styles is they were both taught by the same person starting out. I've been told, and I've never asked either of those players, that Ben could not watch Tom's lessons and Tom could not watch Ben's lessons. I don't think that that makes Tom's upbringing or teaching style any more regimented or anymore better or perfect than it was for Tom. It just, they are two different if you want to say one is left sided and one is right sided in their brain, it's just two different ways of thinking.
I probably have a little of both in me. I approach the game like Tom, but I approach my swing like Ben. I'm not mechanical. I've never been. My dad and I tried. My wife would tell you, I'm very unmechanical because I don't do too much around the house and probably not capable of too much around the house. But I never was able to work on different angles and planes. But if you wanted me to do a hook, a draw, hit a fade, hit it high, hit it low, I would do it. There's things I did in my setup and my swing that I did more by feel or by technique. I'm sure I spent the same amount of time as those other players perfecting my game, perfecting myself or perfecting my swing; I just went about it in a different way. I don't know if it was any less regimented or precise. It just was in a different fashion.
I think a good teacher can take a good teacher is not someone who takes every student and puts them in the same bowl. A good teacher is a guy who using looks at us and although we are using the same basic technique and fundamentals you take what that student has and work with it. And you might have to teach everyone in a different way because everyone learns in a different war.
So I am not sure if I answered your question or not. It is quite interesting. The game has changed a lot, and the way we teach juniors has changed a lot, and everyone is talking about sending their kids to these academies that are basically high school; basically what they did with tennis like what Bolletieri did with tennis when I was growing up. Now they have the same thing in golf.
I guess time will tell if that really is a good or bad or indifferent or I don't know. I definitely I enjoyed the way I grew up, and I enjoyed the fact that I was a relatively normal kid; although, I got in an airplane a lot and flew and played junior tournaments. My closest friends to this day in the world are guys that I played high school basketball with; and that basketball team, half of it was at my wedding, a couple of the guys were in my wedding party. I lived a relatively normal life. I wouldn't have given that up for anything.
Q. Since winning the U.S. Open, have you had to do any out of the ordinary interview requests, autograph requests, requests for your time that you would not have had to do if you had not won?
JIM FURYK: Definitely. I had a few requests for autographs in very high numbers. I had to sign 350 flags. That one caught me off guard a little bit.
There's been a few, just a couple odd requests where I kind of scratch my head that I would not have done beforehand. And I spent a lot more time in here at the Western; I was in the media room after my Wednesday Pro Am for well over an hour. The day was kind of gone. I play my Pro Am and I come in here and I go eat lunch and I looked at my watch and it was like a quarter to 4:00; like, are you kidding me? I have to practice. I definitely had to learn how to manage my time and get out of here a little quicker.
Q. The last four guys that have won majors every year, how much deeper do you think the talent is on TOUR than when you first came on TOUR?
JIM FURYK: Well, it is only ten years, but it is deeper. There are a lot more guys that have an opportunity to win golf tournaments and I think that's going to continue to happen. They are still good players. You are looking at your Tiger Woods, your Phil Mickelsons, Davis Love, Ernie Els, they are still going to be the ten guys that really are at the top of that talent pool. But there's more guys that have an opportunity to win now, and that's going to continue to happen.
There's probably a million different reasons for it. I think you're right. I think every decade there's, through the history of the game, whether it's the 40s to 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, the talent level I won't say the best players. You can't compare players versus Hogan, Snead, Jones, back through different eras of time. But I don't think all the players are any better than they are now. I think there's more good players, more exceptional players and more players that have an opportunity to win, and that's going to continue. It's going to happen in the next ten years, 20 years, 30 years.
Q. Aside from the depth of the talent pool, is the mindset different? In other words, the guy is now thinking, it's okay for me to win, all of the other young guys are winning, someone had to do it in the first place?
JIM FURYK: When I was a rookie, Mike Hynan (ph) came from nowhere and won an event, and Dicky Pride I think won my rookie year as a rookie. There was always guys that are going to surprise you but they were really good players, had a good game, were able to prove that under pressure. It's always going to be the case. There are more good young players now and more young guys that are going to win, and that's going to continue, but guys are definitely ready to play at an earlier age now. I got here on Tour I was 23, I went to the Tour and I was like the third or fourth youngest guy on Tour at the time when I got here; and 23 seems old for some of these guys now.
It's definitely changed a little bit in ten years, and I think the younger guys that are coming out of college, used to be one guy a year would get his card out of college and usually come out here and kind of leave with his tail between the legs because it was a tough tough to keep your card. And now, there's a ton of guys doing it and they seem better prepared for it.
So definitely our younger players are better and mentally stronger than they were ten years ago.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim, for joining us.
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