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June 15, 2003

Jim Furyk


JIM FURYK: The early part of the day, actually, was the key to the whole day. A lot of people got off to a very slow and very poor start today. It took a lot of pressure -- I didn't look at the board until about the 5th or 6th hole and realized that Vijay, Nick, a bunch of the closest guys, other than Stephen had started off poorly. So basically I was looking at my playing partner was the one I had to stay out ahead of.

I played 1 just how I wanted to, missed an eight-footer for birdie.

The second hole was very huge in getting up-and-down, making about a 20-footer for par, there. The 5th hole, I drove it in the left rough, hit it up in the rough short right of the green, and pitched up to about ten feet, and the ten-footer had about two feet of break. So those holes were basically the key to the day getting my day off starting well.

I bogeyed 10. I hung a 3-wood out to the right and got too close to the bunker, so I laid up with a pitching wedge, hit my 60 degree wedge too hard, about 25 feet behind the hole, and two-putted for bogey.

12, that was just a very difficult pin placement. I pulled my driver a little bit and hit it in the short cut on the left. I think my best shot of the day was the second shot I hit there. I rifled a 5-iron right at the stick. I was licking my chops and thinking about how good a shot it was, and it landed four yards short of the green, and ended up 40 yards from the pin. So I went from my best shot of the day to really struggling to make bogey. I hit a pretty good wedge up on top of the green, about 30 feet behind the pin and had to hit a great putt to lag it down about a foot by and knock that in for -- actually it was a couple of feet by, and knocked that in for bogey.

14, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and a pitching wedge to about three feet. And that was -- it left the club, and first thing I said was be right, because I thought it was the perfect golf shot, and I was hoping it would be close. And that pretty much gave me the buffer I needed for the rest of the day. I played solid the rest of the way in.

17 was difficult today. I got a little geared up, I hit a 3-iron over the 17th green, and I just physically can't do that. I can't figure out how the ball went so far. I pitched it short, which I should have knocked it by the hole, and the first putt went six feet by. I was a mess at this point. But I knocked a six-footer in, made the bogey and went to the 18th tee. I asked my caddie what we needed to hit off the tee. I was thinking like a lofted fairway wood, but he thought about it a while and said 3-iron. And I thought, you know what, that's a heck of a play. I couldn't believe how far the 3-iron went, and I ended up hitting 3-iron, 7-iron from the back of the green, and then lost it emotionally.

The concentration was gone. I knew that I could pretty much do anything on that green and still win the golf tournament. I knocked the first putt pretty far by, but had an uphill coming back and couldn't focus on the second putt, I just wanted to get the golf tournament over with and win the tournament.

Q. Yesterday you talked about sleeping on the lead and coming in today, and you said you were going to follow the same routine. How much tougher that was than you had expected or was it pretty much what you had expected?

JIM FURYK: Well, it was a little tougher than I expected. I was a little nervous Saturday, but I definitely found a way to blow all the time in the morning. I was able to sleep maybe a little bit longer Saturday morning. The time seemed to float away a lot easier. Today the worst part about today was a 3:00 tee time, and waking up at 8:00, 8:30 in the morning, and trying to figure out what I was going to do to kill time until 12:30, 12:45 when I wanted to leave for the golf course.

So that was the worst part of the day, trying to figure out -- I watched a movie this morning. My daughter was running all over the place, but pretty much I was quiet, and I think my family sensed that I was a little tight this morning, and no one really said a word to me, and that was probably all the better for me, because I was pretty nervous.

Q. Can you put the emotions that you were feeling coming down 18 into words?

JIM FURYK: The whole part of me just wanted to stay focused. I just didn't want to get ahead of myself, I didn't want anything funny to happen out there and really -- I really didn't lose any concentration or lose my mind frame until I hit my second shot on 18, and then at that point -- I really felt like -- I felt like when I woke up this morning that -- I felt like I was playing good enough and I really felt like I was going to win the golf tournament.

And then once I hit my second shot into 16, Stephen had missed the green, I was thinking, you know, all right, you've won this golf tournament, just keep your head in it, play smart the rest of the way in. But I didn't really lose my focus until I hit 7-iron on 18. That was probably -- that was probably a darn near 200-yard 7-iron, by the time it was over with. I lost it at that point, emotionally. I waited for my caddie, so we could walk up together. It's a wonderful feeling, people cheering for you, a dream coming true. It's an awful nice feeling, having a four-shot lead, I've never done that before, where I could just kind of coast in and smell the roses along the way.

Q. Is it true that the Bettinardi putter that you were using this week is a prototype that's manufactured only a few minutes away from here, that that putter was put into your hands Monday morning by Bob Bettinardi?

JIM FURYK: Yes, it is.

Q. And second of all, what percentage of Bettinardi putters do you now own?

JIM FURYK: You know, I've never putted with a Bettinardi putter this week, and I've had a relationship with Strata and Ben Hogan. And Ben Hogan bought Bettinardi putters this year, I've been working with them a little bit. I needed to find a new putter this week. And I liked it for alignment purposes, has a big line on the top. I gave a try and was in there working with Bob's rep all week, just making little adjustments, making adjustments, getting the line and loft. And I felt like I was real comfortable with it and I putted very well with it this week. I made some key putts and some great putts.

It's kind of an interesting story, you put a club in your bag on -- for this week, the first time, and your putter is probably the most important club in the bag. So to turn around -- I didn't see Bob today, but I saw his rep, and I yelled over to him, Baby Ben, because I think that's what the prototype is going to be called, and he had a smile on his face.

Q. Your dad outside said you've been on Ryder Cup teams and President Cup teams, but this win completes your career. Do you agree with that?

JIM FURYK: I'm not retiring or anything (laughter). I think to this point, your first win is always a special moment. My first professional win was on the Nike Tour, and that was a very special moment. Winning my first tournament on the PGA TOUR in Las Vegas, it was really special. And then I thought the most excited I'd gotten ever in my professional career was probably the Ryder Cup. And at the Country Club, what a great comeback, and coming back from nowhere to win that tournament. And this certainly ranks -- it's hard to try to rate where everything sits or falls, but this is the most special day. And this means the most to me right now.

Q. Is it hard for a grinder to appreciate his own accomplishments because they come so hard, and even in the hour since this has been over, has it sunk in how much you've accomplished?

JIM FURYK: No, it hasn't sunk in. I'm elated and overjoyed, but it hasn't sunk in, all that goes with it, what to expect for the next couple of weeks or couple of months. None of winning the U.S. Open has sunk in. I'm excited my name is going to be on the trophy, it's always going to be on there, you can't take it off once they engrave it. I'm really excited. But I don't know if it's any harder for me to appreciate because of the style of play I have, but I'll sit down 40 years from now and think back, it will definitely be the best part of my career, playing-wise, the best part of my life golf-wise, this day will be the best part of that.

Q. Did you consider yourself among the top echelon of players, and do you think winning this U.S. Open and the way you won it will change the perception of how you look at yourself?

JIM FURYK: I have confidence in myself that I was capable of winning a major championship and winning this tournament. Do I consider myself a top echelon? I think a few guys have separated themselves from the field. You look at a guy like obviously Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, and Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, there's a select few, a handful of guys that have maybe pulled away from the field and separated themselves because of the major championships they won or the amount of tournaments they won.

I consider myself in the next level of players, and I have a lot of confidence in my ability, to be able to do what I did today or this week. What was the second part of that question?

Q. (Inaudible.)

JIM FURYK: I'm no better a player today than I was yesterday, just because I won the U.S. Open. But this is definitely a -- you hit definite levels and steps in your career, and this is a big step -- I always felt I had the game, but now I've proven it to myself. So not physically, but mentally it's a big step. I should be able to use this experience for positives in the future. And if I don't believe in myself right now, I never will. I think from a mental standpoint it's definitely a big step, and I'll even have that much more confidence in myself.

Q. Can you just talk about your father's contribution in the sense that he had you putting left-handed all along and never wanted you to change your swing?

JIM FURYK: Well, I've talked about this for the last hour or so, having them here, having my wife here, having my daughter and mother and father on Father's Day, those people have made a lot of sacrifices for me and done a lot for me along the way. This is a team effort. And being able to share that with them this evening is what's so special. From the golf standpoint, yeah, having my dad here, this morning I had a hard time telling him Happy Father's Day, because I knew I'd get choked up.

I knew it would be a big day, not only for me from a career standpoint, but I knew he was going to be out there, my mom is going to be out there and my wife is going to be out there, and it's hard for them because they can't hit a shot. I got to hit balls and loosening up when I got to the range, and they had another five hours of nervousness. What I've done as a person and as a golfer, I owe to my family. They've done a lot for me, made a lot of sacrifices for me and allowed me to be here. It's a special moment.

He's always been my teacher, he's taken a lot of criticism along the way, which I never heard, because no one is going to criticize a junior player, but he took a beating as my teacher in teaching me my swing. And me making it on Tour was kind of his validation. And this is just a step forward that's something we can share together.

Q. I know you said yesterday you were not consumed by winning a major as a lot of players are perceived to be. You've got a lot of friends in those locker rooms that have been grinding for a long time and haven't won majors. Now that you have won, even though it's -- you haven't had a lot of time to think about it, is there any relief at all? Now that you have that under your belt, is there a sense that you can go on and maybe win more?

JIM FURYK: I was never consumed by it, no. I don't want to be critical -- I don't really understand what you all do for a living, you probably can't totally understand what I do for a living. I generally get the idea. And I realize you have to write the story and there are some players out there that have phenomenal careers and haven't won a major championship, and they get the label. I was never consumed by it, and I said last night, sitting here in the same chair, if I played my entire career and never won a major championship, I could live with that. And I meant it. I work hard. I do my best out there, and if it never happens, it never happens. I've been very lucky in what I've been able to accomplish and what I've been able to do because of golf. I would have been fine with it. It's definitely icing on the cake. And we get judged by players, but that tournament's won.

I get that -- quite often I get the whole top-10 thing. I have a lot of top-10s and I'm consistent and that's a great point. But I don't win enough. And that's part of it. You can bet I'm not out there trying to finish fifth every week, I'm trying to win. And I would give all those top 10's away to win the U.S. Open. Ultimately we get judged by tournaments won and major championships won. And that's true. You finish fifth every week, it's great. But winning the golf tournament is what we're all trying to do.

I'm thankful that today -- this week was my week, and today was my day, because I got a lot of great breaks early on, a couple of good bounces. Things just fell into place for me this week, and I think that's part of it. I played very, very well. I had a lot of control over my swing and my emotions this week. I hit the ball where I wanted to. I knocked in some great putts. I got some great bounces along the way, too, and that's part of it.

Q. It seemed as if the galleries were really behind you this week. I heard a number of calls today, "Jimmy it's your time," "Blue Collar Jimmy". Did you hear that kind of stuff? If so, do you think it helped you at all?

JIM FURYK: I didn't hear the Blue Collar Jimmy. I was definitely claimed a lot this week. My dad grew up in New Kensington. I heard go for New Ken. I'm a Steeler fan, and I heard Steel City a lot. I heard Lancaster a lot. Today was the first time I ever heard my hometown, which is Ponte Vedra. Arizona, where I went to school. I was claimed by a lot of people. Westchester, where I was born, that's about the seventh one.

I was claimed by a lot of people today and felt a lot of -- I felt a lot from the Chicago crowd. And maybe part of that was being the only American at the U.S. Open in contention, playing against -- although I don't really consider -- Vijay is a neighbor, Nick Price is a wonderful person.

Stephen Leaney -- this Tour has become so worldwide now, I don't consider foreign players and American players, because a lot of those guys are my neighbors. But I think the fact that being one of the only American players in the field you're going to get -- not in the field, but in the last few groups, with a chance to win the golf tournament, I think you're going to get extra support and a lot of people cheering you on. And yes, the Chicago crowd was definitely behind me today. And I felt a lot of support from them over the weekend.

Q. Can you talk about the woman who approached you on 11 and how you just -- how you didn't let it become a distraction the rest of the way?

JIM FURYK: My back was turned when she -- I don't know how she got out there, ducked the ropes or whatever. My back was turned. I heard a fan yell out, "You've got to be kidding me." And I thought that was strange that -- what's going on? So I immediately looked to my playing partner, to see if something had gone wrong or if he had done something. And Stephen just was looking behind me. He had a blank stare on his face. When I turned around she was right there in front of me, six feet away, trying to hand me a flower.

I didn't really -- more than anything it's an embarrassing situation, you're on national television with a streaker trying to hand you a flower. You don't know how to react to that. I didn't want the flower. I'm trying to play golf, focus. It was more of an embarrassing situation. I think unfortunately at that point for me, the fortunate part was I had a tap-in for par, and I had five minutes to prepare for my next shot. It wasn't a distraction. There was no way it was going to bother the way I played. Stephen had an important putt, had to calm things down while he was reading his putt. It may have taken a little time before he got ready. It may have been a distraction to him and cost him maybe that putt, I don't know. That's the only unfortunate part about it.

Q. Fluff said you were more relaxed this week than he had ever seen you. Why was that and how big a factor was that for you this week? Did you have a sense that something big was going to happen this week?

JIM FURYK: Not after the first nine of my Thursday round. But coming in this week -- yeah, I was pretty relaxed. I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I would have liked to on the weekend before coming here, Monday, Tuesday, not great. But every day I just kept improving, kept getting better. My whole goal was -- I talked to my wife a couple of times last week, Thursday, Friday, and I talked about winning the golf tournament. And I really -- I've had such a good year. I've had some confidence in my game. I really wanted to come in here, not focusing on playing well, I wanted to come in focusing on winning the golf tournament and what I needed to do to do that.

In the past at the U.S. Open I played a bad round at Pebble Beach, I played a bad round at Southern Hills and at Bethpage, for the last three Open championships, and I let the conditions, I let the course setup, I let things bother me and I didn't play well because of it. I came in here this week knowing that I would have to improve on that if I wanted to play well this week. I felt the physical part of my game was in pretty good shape. I felt like my mental attitude has been good all year. But if I was going to improve on my play in the last three U.S. Opens, I had to have a better attitude. I was going to have to improve on my attitude and it showed this week. And I think my dad told me I was a little more relaxed during the week. In fact I asked him if he thought I was, and he agreed. It's interesting that Mike says that, but he picks up on things like that.

Q. On a lighter note, is my memory correct, the first event you ever played as a professional you had a hole-in-one, didn't get the car, and does this erase that disappointment?

JIM FURYK: I forgot about that disappointment a long time ago. That was the St. Louis open was my first professional event. They were awarding a car, probably about $10,000 to the first hole-in-one, and although I made a hole-in-one, there was one about an hour and a half before me. That money was worth more than the first prize check. I definitely wanted the cash. Yeah, it definitely -- I forgot about that a long time ago. Someone asked me about that. I've made quite a few hole-in-ones, I never got a darned car for it. I've also been lucky, I haven't had to buy too many beers, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

Q. One of the places that claimed you, speaking of some people, Media Heights Golf Club in Lancaster. You were a junior member there at 16, is that correct?

JIM FURYK: Yes. I didn't get the first part of the question, actually. You talked about Media Heights. I was a member at 16, but I didn't get the rest of it.

Q. Can you talk a little about your time in Media Heights? There's some stories about marathon practice sessions and descriptions of the course being kind of tight and narrow?

JIM FURYK: I'm a hard worker and that showed, I think. My father is a very hard worker and a perfectionist, and I inherited a lot of that. Sometimes for both of us, probably to a fault. But, yeah, they tell stories about guys playing the front nine coming by and I was still in the same bunker when they teed off and holed out in 9. And they played the back nine and I was in the same bunker, but I was in the same bunker when they finished. I'm sure some of those stories got embellished. I know the course superintendent wanted to wring my neck a few times. I'd hit putts and practice from the same spot and wear holes. It was a great club to join for dirt cheap, it gave me a great practice facility. It was a relatively short golf course but was manicured very well. And you did have to manage your game well to play it. So I definitely learned to -- for the last couple of years of high school, I learned to play around that club quite a bit.

RAND JERRIS: Jim, congratulations.

End of FastScripts....

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