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June 18, 2003

Jim Furyk


JAMES CRAMER: Good morning, I appreciate everyone's patience on this rainy day. We have our reining 2003 United States Open Champion, Jim Furyk, joining us. But prior to him joining us Peter Mele, the executive director of the Buick Classic, who would like to propose a toast to Jim in congratulations.

PETER MELE: This is a treat for me. This is the first time I've ever been able to toast the U.S. Open Champion. I'm delighted to have Jim here this week; he's been a great supporter of the Buick Classic for many years and we are all pulling for him. Just want to toast the champion.

JAMES CRAMER: Has it begun to sink in yet?

JIM FURYK: No, it really hasn't. I'm definitely happy to be here, though. This is my 10th year on TOUR, my 11th Buick Classic. I played here once as an amateur as a Monday qualifier a long time ago. I enjoy the golf course. I hear it's rained a little bit, that was the word we got at the U.S. Open, but I'm looking forward to the week and glad to be here.

Q. Is it going to be hard at all to keep your concentration this week after winning at Olympia Fields?

JIM FURYK: Yes, probably. The good news that I haven't really even realized it's raining yet today. I'm still in a very good mood. Not too much is bothering me.

Yeah, it may be a little more difficult to hold some concentration or focus, and I'm not sure how long that will last but it's well worth it. You never know, though. My game, I had to play Monday, actually in an outing in Chicago that was pre-scheduled before the Open, and so I tried to use that day to actually play a little bit so I could take yesterday off. I flew home with my wife and daughter on Monday night and kind of got that situated and then came up late last night.

So yesterday, the clubs never came out of the garage and I didn't even really do anything. I took a few clubs out and I came up here with a little lighter load and that was about it. It may be a little more difficult to concentrate, but my game is in good shape and hopefully I can focus.

Q. When you won Sunday, after everything was done, did you have a chance to sit back, get a quiet moment for yourself and figure out the magnitude of what you accomplished?

JIM FURYK: No, I really didn't. We basically -- I stayed in a house less than five minutes away from the course, and with a 7:00 finish, the awards ceremony, over two hours worth of media, we didn't get home until 10:00 or after. I had a bunch of family and friends, and we probably had about 20 people there with me and they came over to the house and everyone seemed to leave in the 1, 2 o'clock, even stretching past that range. So, "quiet," didn't really happen. Then I had to get up at 6:00 to go play.

Q. Have you had a chance to reflect?

JIM FURYK: Yesterday was really kind of alone-time. I never left the house yesterday. Just hung out with my family. It was a little bit of time to reflect but I don't think it's quite caught up with me yet.

Q. Having won the U.S. Open, did that allow you to come here with a little less pressure, more relaxed, more confidence? Can you talk about how that mentally affects you?

JIM FURYK: I'm definitely more relaxed. I spent, really, after Sunday night -- having to get up early to play, I would have loved to have slept in and flown home, but I had a previous engagement. I only slept for three or four hours. So really, the last couple days, really the last two nights, trying to focus on getting some sleep and some rest, and that's probably allowed me to relax a little bit. I've really taken it slow. I haven't done too much other than play that round on Monday, which was a very relaxing day as it was, anyway.

I tried to kind of slow things down and calm down a little bit and make sure when I teed off here on Thursday that I would be well rested.

Q. You said 10, 11 Buick Classics; what keeps you coming back here?

JIM FURYK: I like the golf course. The pizza is pretty good, but I like the golf course, mostly. I grew up in southeast Pennsylvania on old golf courses. This has a feel -- it's better than I think almost -- I would put it on the Top-10 of the courses we play on the PGA TOUR. I like the old traditional course, keep the ball below the pin, keep the ball around the greens. It's got a couple quirky holes, like No. 7, but I like those old, traditional courses. Any chance we get I normally play those on TOUR, like a Riviera, Colonial, here. I like the Flint course; it's an old golf course. Those courses I play every year.

Q. As much as you like playing here was there any thought of just saying, it's been such a rough past week, did you think about not coming this week at all?

JIM FURYK: I didn't. I think a lot of people expected it, but I had some friends -- and my family said they were okay with it, but I'm not sure if anyone expected me to just throw in the towel and take the week off and relax. But I had expected to come and I like the golf tournament and the event and I've done well here in the past. I felt like, you know, eventually I was going to come and sit in the media room and sign the autographs out there and do the things that go along with winning the U.S. Open, so might as well just jump in, do it, and not really get it out of the way, it's not like I dread it or don't look forward to it, but basically, you know, go do the things I need to do. Probably next week I'm taking off and things will return close to normal by the time the British Open comes around. Things will be back to normal, and I can focus and get ready for that event, instead of putting it off. Eventually it's going to happen. Eventually the questions are going to come, so might as well go do it, take care of it and enjoy it while it's there.

Q. If you want a little pressure, both Hale and Ernie Els won here the week after they won their Open.

JIM FURYK: I remember Ernie. I finished second or third in that one. I played with him on Saturday when he shot a really low round, took about an eight-shot lead. I was paired with him in that last group.

It's quite a feat to hold it together. Obviously, you know, I feel good physically about my game but I think it's quite a feat to hold it together emotionally and keeping your concentration like we talked about before.

Q. Did you have to take your game to another level, winning the Open, and if so, was it a mental thing or a technical thing or both?

JIM FURYK: Well, a lot of it was a timing issue. I played very, very well. I'm not sure I took my game to another level but I felt real confident with my game all year. I really -- it might have been a little better level mentally. I really went in, focused -- I had even talked to my wife about winning the golf tournament. I made it a point to think about winning the event before I went.

I've let the U.S. Open get the better of me the last few years. I played one really poor round at Pebble Beach on Saturday in some tough conditions. I just started making a bunch of bogeys and couldn't stop. I did the same thing at Southern Hills on Sunday when I was in really good shape in the tournament. And last year at Bethpage, I played a poor Friday round in that Bethpage. Again, I started missing fairways, started hitting the ball a little crooked and that can happen in tough conditions on a severe golf course, you start missing by a little bit and that can snowball on you. I felt like a lot of it was probably my attitude; that I let -- I considered myself a grinder and a guy that sticks it out through thick and thin but I let a few of those rounds get best of me. Didn't stay patient. Got on a bad train but kind of got out of my game plan and I wanted to really focus on having a good attitude going in, realizing it was going to be a tough week, but just keep plugging away and accept it.

Q. Do you have any plans of going to Japan and if not, would you accept an invitation to go to Japan?

JIM FURYK: Possibly. You know, I've tried -- last year, I tried, actually, and I've always said in the future I would like to play events in Japan. It makes it nice. We have a winter home in Hawaii and it makes it a pretty short trip over.

This year, my wife is due in December, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to travel. But I would not be opposed to looking into it. I know I had my management group look into it last year. I wanted to at least try to set some groundwork and go over and play. It's been a while. I think '95 and '96, I went over for a couple weeks each year and played four different events. My wife loved it over there. I enjoyed it. My wife loved it over there, just loved the travel. So, yeah, I wouldn't be opposed to going over and playing some events. I had a couple I really liked over there. Dunlop Phoenix is one of my favorites.

Q. Before you had won a major, how did you look at the stature of those who had won them, and how does it feel to look at yourself that way?

JIM FURYK: I guess, you know, it doesn't -- I know it doesn't change me as a player, make me any better of a player this week than I was last week before the U.S. Open. It's definitely a nice mark on my record. But physically, I feel like I'm the same player and mentally I'm still the same player, but I think what you gain from it more than anything is a boost of confidence.

Now I know that -- not only my thinking, I always thought I could win a major championship; that I had the game to win. But now I've proven it to myself. I think that's a boost of confidence. It's an experience along the road that I can draw from. I never had a big lead like that in a major championship. I had a big lead at Vegas one year that got erased pretty quickly. I probably drew from that experience a little bit. I never had a big lead like that to protect and to go out and still try to keep playing aggressively and not worry about it.

It was nice that Stephen definitely tried to put some pressure on me but it was nice that he never got any closer than three shots along the way. It allowed me -- if I hit a bad shot -- it allowed me to kind of put it out of my mind quickly. I know I had some comfort and some room to pad there.

Q. Now that the U.S. Open win gave you more confidence, how will you approach the British Open, any differently?

JIM FURYK: No, not really. Almost every year, I've gone to the British Open a little bit early. I try to play some links golf at other places and really get adjusted to the time change and get adjusted to that style, playing in the wind, hitting the ball a little lower, hitting some bump-and-run shots, just getting used to the conditions over there.

From a mental standpoint, I'm pretty much -- we make our plans pretty early to go over there. I'm leaving in the middle of the week the week before, and my plans will stay the same. I want to play the same way, and I really don't know much about St. George, so really, trying to get in there a little early and get used to the golf course and prepare.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts....

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