July 2, 2003
TODD BUDNICK: We thank Jim Furyk for joining us today at the 100th Western Open. Jim, of course some great memories from a few weeks ago capturing your first U.S. Open, first major championship. Let's talk about your year, 11 top-10s and 15 out of 16 cuts made. It's been a really phenomenal year for you.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's been real consistent. I've driven the ball well, putted pretty well this year and have just given myself a lot of opportunities. I was happy to definitely take advantage of them at Olympia Fields, and it was a big win for me. I don't think a lot of it has worn off yet, and then coming back to Chicago where I just won the event in this area, it's definitely put more media attention and more fan attention still, so it definitely hasn't worn off yet. It's exciting to be back.
Q. I saw you talking on TV yesterday just talking about how busy your schedule has been since winning the U.S. Open. Could you just sort of walk us through what the demands on your time have been like the last three weeks and if there have been any sort of instances, I guess, of being recognized more in public and stuff like that?
JIM FURYK: Well, sure. I don't think I've ever been asked to come here on Wednesday. So that will add another 30 minutes to the day. There's more media requests. I think coming back to Chicago this week even adds a little extra attention because this is where the event was. Yeah, going to the grocery store, you know, I think normally for me when I've played well in a tournament, whether I won a tournament or maybe it was in a playoff and there was a lot of media attention, a lot of television time, for the month or two after that the recognition was probably a little bit greater and then it would wear back to normal to where golf fans recognize you but it's not an everyday. Now after the U.S. Open and the newspapers and different things, there's a lot of people that maybe don't play golf but they'll watch the U.S. Open or watch it with their father on Father's Day, and I'm getting a lot more recognition that way.
But as far as the time demands, definitely I have to plan ahead, and just realize that things usually work in a certain order for us. We're used to doing the same things on Tuesdays, Wednesdays. The times never seem to change. You pretty much go in the same routine, same pattern because we do it week in and week out. I know I'm going to have to leave for the course a little earlier and I'm going to come home a little later because there's going to be a few extra questions and just a few extra demands on your day, and that's part of it. It's a good problem to have, and it's just a matter of staying patient and realizing you can't rush, can't get anywhere quickly and you go about your own business.
Q. Just to follow up, have you had to alter your practice schedule or anything to accommodate?
JIM FURYK: What do you mean by that?
Q. I don't know, just practicing at different times to avoid any --
JIM FURYK: No, I always practice pretty late on Tuesdays just because the course is less crowded. I feel like I can get more work done in less time, so I always kind of play late Tuesday rounds anyway, normally only nine in practice. I haven't really changed my schedule. At Westchester the week after my practice schedule was altered. It was zero. I basically got to the golf course, played, did what I needed to do and by that time there wasn't a lot of extra time. There was more demands. I think the farther we get away from the U.S. Open, the more and more it'll return to normal, and like I said, it's a good problem to have. I'd rather win the U.S. Open and I'm definitely not complaining. There are more time demands and that's part of it. I'm definitely not complaining about it. I'd love to go win another major and have to worry about it again.
Q. Some players in the past who have won a major for their first time have said they now feel they have to live up to something. Do you feel like it's like that for you?
JIM FURYK: No, not at all. I think a lot of it more is -- after the U.S. Open, my game was in great shape. Obviously I went to Westchester. My focus wasn't as sharp as it could have been, which is understandable. I made quite a few mistakes there and I finished around 20th, but I really felt like I should have played better the way I was hitting the ball.
More than anything I just kind of wanted to get away from it. It was just golf, golf, golf for two weeks, and just couldn't get even away from the course and couldn't quit focusing about it. It was nice to get home last week and get away from golf. I didn't practice that much, I put the clubs away and wanted to get mentally refreshed so I was ready to come out here and wanted to be here and wanted to play golf.
But as far as expecting a lot or expecting any more of myself, I expect a lot of myself anyway. I always put, if anything, too much pressure on myself to perform. We all do, though. We don't have a boss that tells us when to practice or when to work hard. I think there's a lot of drive in the individuals that play our Tour for a living. I don't expect any more out of myself now. I'm not any different a player than I was three weeks ago.
I proved something to myself, and mentally it's a boost to have that confidence knowing that I can accomplish that, but I don't expect any more out of myself now because of it.
Q. Do you did you give any consideration to not playing here, especially after winning the Open, not coming back to the area in a matter of three weeks?
JIM FURYK: Like I said, if anything there was maybe a little bit more -- I'm definitely going to sign a few more autographs or something like that, but for the most part that's people rooting for you and cheering for you and being a fan of what you do for a living. I like the Western Open. I didn't play last year because my daughter was born the week before, and I felt like I needed to be home helping out, and I wanted to be there. I wanted to spend time with my newborn, my first child. Two years ago I pulled out on Thursday morning with an injury to my wrist. I had some shooting pains going up my wrist and I just wanted to make sure everything was fine and wanted to get it checked out. I didn't think it was bright to keep playing. Other than that I've played every year on Tour here. I think it's a wonderful golf course. I have a lot of respect for the Western Golf Association, I played in the Western Juniors, Western Amateurs and a bunch of Western Opens, so it's a -- one of my top ten events of the year. I slate this on the schedule every year. So no, no thought of not coming.
Q. Do you feel, Jim, this course is suited for you?
JIM FURYK: I like the golf course. I had a lot of really good finishes here through the late 90s and into 2000 with a lot of top-10s, top-5s. I like the golf course. My game is in okay shape right now. I've got to make a few adjustments for this afternoon and be ready to go hopefully.
Q. You talked about the time demands, how that changed since you won. How does being more famous as a result of winning the U.S. Open suit you? Do you like being recognized? Do you like the attention that you receive?
JIM FURYK: I think I'll choose my words carefully here just from -- there's a lot of different avenues that can be written about. I'm going to give you one of our typical answers, how's that? I'm going to give you a yes and a no. It's nice. It's always nice to be recognized and nice to have people out there pulling for you and recognizing you and wanting to come up and say congratulations. I appreciate that. It's done out of the goodness of their heart and they're fans of the game and they're fans of yours, so I appreciate that.
There's also something to be said to be able to walk into a restaurant and sit there with my family and my wife and my daughter and actually be able to spend quality time with them, and I think for me I'm relatively fortunate. I don't think that I'm not going to be able to walk into a restaurant in the middle of a crowded area and not -- I've always walked in and I can hear people say that's Jim Furyk or people pointing at you. Sometimes you feel like -- we're inside the ropes, sometimes we feel like we're at the zoo because people are saying, "Look at the golfers, honey." You feel like animals in a zoo.
It's nice to kind of -- I mean, I think it's nice to be in a position like I'm at where you're going to get recognized some but you still have a lot of your privacy and people I think respect that. For a rare few people like a Tiger Woods who really probably struggles to lead a difficult life at times. I read an article that at the U.S. Open he worked out at a local club and didn't get recognized by a few people and everyone made such a big deal out of that because five people didn't recognize him, and I got a kick out of that. It's really -- they made a big deal out of him being able to live a normal life for a couple of hours during the day. In that instance I guess that's part of it. That's what goes with fame and fortune and that's part of it. You move on and you definitely don't complain about it. There's only a rare few people that probably even have the right to complain because their normal, everyday life gets altered and I'm definitely one of those people. I never complain about it. I appreciate the fact that I also have my privacy at times. It's nice to have a little touch of that fame, but if it gets blown out of proportion like an Arnold Palmer or a Tiger, then it becomes difficult at times. I wouldn't know how to react to that.
Q. Jim, earlier today Tiger Woods was talking about the COR issue and the non-conforming issue and said he knows of a player that's knowingly using a non-conforming club. What's your reaction to that?
JIM FURYK: I guess in that instance it would be -- if that's the case, I think that player needs to be checked. I've tried to do a little investigating myself because three weeks ago -- say three, four weeks ago when this matter came up and they started talking about possibly testing next year, although it's not really testing, it's voluntarily testing, which I don't quite understand. I mean, it's like voluntarily testing a track athlete and saying if you'd like to give us a urine sample, if not just go by. I don't really understand. I don't understand the voluntary issue. If people think there's an issue -- I never thought there was. I didn't think companies would want to risk the embarrassment of putting out illegal clubs. Players obviously -- I don't think any player would willingly use an illegal club, I honestly don't. But if players -- and if they are and that gets found out, their career is done, it's over, from a respect issue. I don't think players would do that. Maybe that's the case, I don't know.
I never would have thought that companies would do that because they're risking their reputation and this game, but if there is an issue, and I've talked to -- I've gone out and done a little investigating and companies are pointing the fingers at each other is what I'm seeing so far. Company A is charging Company B, Company B is charging Company A, they're kind of pointing the finger. Maybe there is an issue. Yesterday after talking to some people, I might have said I don't think there's an issue. Today I'll say maybe there's an issue, I don't know, but if anyone has got a question why don't we put everyone's mind to rest. Why don't we start testing. I've talked to a couple of the companies and none of them really have a lot of -- no one really believes in the testing. No one thinks it's real accurate. So let's use it, let's try it, but I'm not sure that the testing is a perfect test yet, but let's do it. It can't hurt.
Q. But if he knows of somebody do you think he should turn that person in? Would it be against protocol to do something like that?
JIM FURYK: No, it's not against protocol. The game of golf, I mean, we kind of police each other. Basically the rules of golf, I believe, say that if I see someone that breaks a rule and I don't mention anything, then I'm at fault, also. In fact, that happened to me at Tour School where I was at Tour School before I got on Tour, there was one of the guys I was playing with chipped in and the ball was kind of half in the hole, half not, maybe under the lip, I don't know. I was worrying about playing my own game. The guy went and picked the ball out of the hole, and the rules official said if it wasn't totally in yet, then there should be a penalty. The rules official looked at me and said what do you think. I said I couldn't make the call either way. The other guy in my group said I'm not going to penalize a guy in Tour School. The rules official said if he's wrong and you saw it, you're just as at fault as he is. If you don't turn someone in for breaking the rules, you're just as much at fault. I said I didn't see it. The guy next to me said I didn't see it, either. I'm not sure if he did or not.
Basically I think you have the obligation to -- if you see something is wrong you've got to mention it to them. I'm not sure how you handle that. If I see something wrong in a tournament I'm going to go to that player and tell him he did something wrong. It'll be his choice then. I'm going to say that everyone is going to turn themselves in then, but I'm going to tell that player I think they had done something wrong and you need to fix it. I think you're doing them a favor because if they don't know, they sign their card and it comes up later they get DQ'd.
Q. What do you mean by nobody believes in the testing? Does that mean that manufacturers and players have an issue --
JIM FURYK: I never used the word nobody. I said manufacturers. Nobody of the manufacturers -- I said the manufacturers, none of them. Well, I shouldn't say none of them. I've talked to a couple. I won't mention who they were. I obviously didn't talk to all 50 companies that make drivers, but let me be very specific. I've talked to more than one company about testing drivers, and they said that when you test the COR on a driver that you have to hit an exact spot in the face to get that number, and if you miss that spot by just the tiniest of margins the number goes way down, so the testing is very difficult. How do you know you're hitting the right spot in the face? How do you know you hit that exact spot to give you the highest COR? They're saying it's not an exact science. I haven't even seen the test. I didn't know it was portable until a few months ago. I've heard from a couple of manufacturers that it's not an exact science. Manufacturers make their face thicknesses to a certain amount and they must be able to gauge them very, very accurately because if they get too thin they go over the COR.
Q. Are you familiar with the pendulum tester at all?
JIM FURYK: I have no idea what the test is.
Q. It's just a little pendulum thing they can do inside, gives you a red -- the USGA is developing that.
JIM FURYK: Is that what they're bringing out next year? It's been criticized by more than one company. Personally I have no idea. I'm just saying I've heard from a couple companies that it's not really been accurate. It's a good try, but they're saying it's not 100 percent accurate because if you miss that spot, it's going to give you a completely different reading, so you could have an illegal driver that if they miss the spot it would be legal. I don't know how hard it is to hit that spot. I don't know what the USGA's answer on that would be.
Q. The USGA hasn't even fully developed it yet. They're expecting to come out with it this fall.
JIM FURYK: I don't understand the voluntary. That's the part I don't understand.
Q. Assuming that you know the feel of your clubs, is it possible that you wouldn't know if you're using an illegal club?
JIM FURYK: You'd have no idea.
Q. You may have already answered this but I'll ask it straight up so I'm sure I get your answer right. Are you saying that you would prefer mandatory as opposed to voluntary testing?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think if you're going to test, would I prefer mandatory over voluntary? I wouldn't really actually prefer one or the other. I don't really understand the voluntary because I'm sure -- sure, if all the guys are willing to test their drivers I'm going to want to get mine tested just to make sure, but it's not solving the problem. Now you're testing all the guys that want to be legal. If there's one person out there that wants to be illegal, and I think we have a pretty good, solid foundation for players and people that want to abide by the rules, but if there is one bad apple, you're not catching him, and that's the whole point. That's why I don't understand voluntary.
If people think we have a problem, then I think we should go to testing, but if -- otherwise I'm going to sit here for the next eight months and we're going to have the same darn discussion so you can write down the same quotes and see how you can twist them. Not that you're trying to twist them, but everyone is trying to get a specific wording. I think it's a pretty easy situation. I really don't see the big fuss, and if there is a problem -- the only thing I can say that could make you all happy is if people think there's a problem then let's test, get it out of the way and we won't have to answer these questions a year from now.
Q. I don't know whether there's a problem or not because I'm not familiar with how that testing works, either, but I'm trying to get a feel from you, how leaning one way or the other -- if you had to choose between mandatory or voluntary, how would you choose?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure how serious the problem is. Two weeks ago I'd say I don't really think it's a big deal. Now that it just keeps coming up and coming up and coming up, maybe there is. I have a hard time believing -- my life, my reputation, my livelihood, my family's livelihood depends upon what I do for an occupation, and I couldn't risk all that by using an illegal driver, by knowing and willingly knowing. There's no way unless a company tested it and hands it -- I've never been handed a driver that had a number on it. I've heard you can go to the plants and they all have a number on them that they've come up with for a COR and that you can pick a head out with the number on them that are all under the .830. You can pick a number out, but most of the companies like to keep it at a relatively -- most of the companies like to keep it in that .825 or under range so as not to get too close. The difference between .829 and .831 is so little it's not going to matter. You're looking for someone that's getting up there above the line, and the companies should know better. I think it's their obligation now to put them out there legally. It's their obligation because they're making the clubs and we respect and depend on them.
Q. So not to put too fine a point on it, but are you saying that you're a little bit apprehensive of saying you're in favor of mandatory because if you do then somebody might take that --
JIM FURYK: And write it?
Q. And say that somebody is knowingly using an illegal club.
JIM FURYK: No, this was a non-issue a month ago. This is something that just came up. I never even assumed or imagined that there could be a problem on Tour with drivers because I think the companies have an obligation to make legal drivers, especially if they're giving them to people that are playing golf for a living. And selling them and everything, they have an obligation to make legal drivers and sell those and hand those out to us.
We as players, if we would willingly know that, we obviously have an obligation to play inside the rules and you're risking way too much to go out there and do that.
Taking those two things into consideration, a month ago I never even in my wildest dreams imagined that there were illegal drivers out there or that players would use them willingly.
Now that this issue has come up and a month later has gone by and I keep hearing, obviously Tiger is the one that get singled out because he's the best player in the world and he's been mentioning I think there's illegal drivers out there quite often, it's come up. The press is talking about it and every magazine and every paper and everything you pick up every week on golf, it's mentioned. It keeps getting beaten down. I started asking questions yesterday. People were saying congratulations, and I said let me bend your ear. I wanted to hear what the companies had to say. There's a little bit of finger pointing at each other. No one would ever admit that they had an illegal driver out there. Everyone is definitely saying not our company, but I think maybe over there they might have a couple. I'm sure that's just the way it goes. They're competitors.
What I'm saying is I don't know. Maybe because it's become such a big issue and people have talked about it so much, maybe it's time to say hey, let's get tested. Do I think that will ruin the spirit of the game? No, I don't think so. I keep hearing the spirit of the game mentioned, that it's going to hurt the spirit of the game. I've had rules officials crawl into water hazards to make sure I didn't ground my club. That's not really the spirit of the game. I'll tell you if you ground it, I promise. If that's the issue, I don't quite get it. What I'm saying is I don't know. A month ago I said you've got to be kidding me. Now I'm saying, well, everyone keeps bringing it up, maybe there is a problem. If that's the case, then I'm saying -- if there's enough people on Tour that are saying I think there's an issue, then I think yeah, let's just go mandatory and do it. If everyone on Tour, if we get together as a Tour and everyone says, well, come on, this is getting ridiculous and it's not just two people pushing, it's 125 or 150 are saying that's stupid, then I don't care. I don't care what we do.
If we start getting a big number saying let's test it, might as well, I'm in favor. I'll hop right in line. For the voluntary one, I'll get in line eventually, but I won't be the first guy. I'll do it because I want to make sure I'm fine. I still don't know what the machine tests. I'm afraid it's going to hurt my driver. I'll have 50 guys go through it and tell me it's not bothering them.
Q. Who's pointing fingers at whom?
JIM FURYK: Companies. I'm not singling people out. Obviously I have friends and people in there and no one is going to tell you bad information. I didn't talk to a company that really A pointed at B and B pointed at A, but you knew who they were talking about because they're all competitors. There's only, what, three or four big players in the driver industry.
Q. What is your sense, why did the policy board make it voluntary, Jim, instead of mandatory?
JIM FURYK: You know, I don't know. I'm not on the pack anymore so I didn't really speak about that. That's a good issue. I don't know. I guess what I would say is I would say not testing at all is the basement. Voluntary is just above that, and mandatory is up here as far as getting real results, being honest to get real results. Voluntary is better than none. Mandatory might have sounded too harsh months ago. Now that it's coming up, we can always switch things if needed.
Q. You mentioned earlier first of all about last week you went home and kind of to get away from it all, from the U.S. Open hype. Did you do anything specifically to get away from it? I guess the second question is on the course you said at the Open winning the Open is not going to make you a better golfer, but do you feel like at least from a mental standpoint or confidence standpoint there's a boost there?
JIM FURYK: Physically there's not a difference. Mentally I think there's a confidence that goes along with the difference between thinking you can accomplish something and knowing you can do it because you've proven it to yourself and have done it. There's a difference there, and it's definitely a confidence boost.
As far as last week, I had a charity outing on Monday after Westchester in my home down of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We had a Central Counties Junior Tournament that I lend my name to and try to help out with a little bit every year. That was on Tuesday. I got to fly home on Tuesday, and it was my daughter's birthday, we had a little party for her, and I'm really good at killing time, so I killed a lot of time from Wednesday to Sunday, which I'm very, very comfortable with doing. I can waste time with the best of them.
Q. Did you watch any golf on TV?
JIM FURYK: That I guarantee I didn't do, not even a second. I don't watch a lot of golf when I'm home. I've hung out with other players from different sports, and football players don't watch football on Sunday when they're hurt or if they're off or their career is over, a lot of them don't sit in front of the TV and watch what goes on. No need. I'll flip it on for 30 minutes to see who wins the tournament if I happen to be by the TV, but I don't go out of my way to sit out in front of it. I'll go out of my way to watch football but not golf.
Q. You set scoring records at Olympia Fields and there were other scoring records set. A lot of people associated that with the course and the weather, but do you think that may be a sign of the way the game is going and we should just expect better scoring and maybe USGA or tournament directors shouldn't worry about what the course gives up so to speak?
JIM FURYK: Can I tease you for a second? Will you take it humorless? It wasn't me, it was all my equipment (laughter). I'm just joking.
Q. Well, it was just you, but after Olympia we had a lot of guys.
JIM FURYK: Obviously we had the ability to attack the golf course on Thursday and Friday, and that was due to conditions rather than equipment. Olympia Fields is not long when it's playing firm and fast. It's 7,140. That's kind of a scary thought in itself, but it was playing very firm, very fast. I was hitting drives that were going -- on No. 9 I was hitting the ball 350 and 360. It wasn't a COR or a ball issue. I was flying the ball 270 downwind and it was rolling 80 yards. If you got the ball in play it would go a long way. Because of that, if you could get the ball in play you'd have a lot of short irons and could score.
A think more of it was an issue that the wind -- not as many people mentioned the wind. The wind was a big issue in that tournament in that it blew from the wrong direction. It blew in a direction that the course became more scorable. The wind usually blows from the south here; is that correct?
JIM FURYK: It was north, northeast, I believe, and the golf course played a lot shorter because of it because now all the long holes were downwind. All the shorter holes which didn't matter were into the wind, so you hit a little extra club off the tee and you're left in the same spot with a little less club. On No. 9, 490 yards, I hit 7-iron, 8-iron, little wedge, little wedge. On 18, although I played gap, I never hit more than a wedge into that hole. Hit a gap wedge one day. On 16 I hit sand wedge in there one day, flipping little gap wedges in there. The most I hit in there was 8-iron and that's because I hung it out to the right and hit it in a bunker.
JIM FURYK: Well, 6 was driver, 3-wood or driver, 4-wood. I was hitting a long iron in there, not to mention I didn't have to kill a 3-wood on 17, which was nice. All those holes that were really difficult really got more mild and all the shorter holes that didn't much matter were the ones that played in the wind. Sometimes that helped because you could take a short iron into the wind and make it stop. I think that tended to hurt the course as far as scoring, but you know, in the same identical wind as it got firmer, faster, all of a sudden only four guys broke par in the U.S. Open, and that's pretty much standard every year. It just happened to be that I shot 8-under, Stephen shot 8, and then I think we had a couple 1s and it looked just like a U.S. Open. They can pretty much dictate what they want from the setup of the golf course and the scores they get. They kind of got caught in a tough spot Thursday and Friday and it was a little moist, cloud cover, of course didn't firm out as much on the greens, although the fairways were still rolling pretty decent and it allowed us to score. Like all U.S. Opens, I didn't expect 14 or 15-under to win after the first two days. I expected -- I played very well on the weekend to shoot 1-under par, which is U.S. Open golf.
Q. You just got done playing a round of Pro-Am golf. Do pros still look forward to playing Pro-Ams and hanging out with the fans?
JIM FURYK: I don't mind playing in Pro-Ams at all. I enjoyed it. I had a very, very friendly group today, guys that were decent golfers. They had fun, they were trying to get better. I helped a couple of them out with their swing and with putting a little bit. I had fun. I think the only time that golf professionals don't really look forward to the Pro-Am is the length of time. You're there for five hours plus, and even the amateurs get a little frustrated, so we're always trying to find ways to make it quicker so we and the amateurs can enjoy the round a little bit more. When I go home I play with friends that aren't golf professionals. They like to play golf and hang out, and that's the nice thing about our sport, you can enjoy it at all levels.
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