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May 28, 2003

Jim Furyk


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you Jim for joining us. You've had a chance to practice today, I saw the band follow you up 18. You had a great season so far and played really well the last couple of weeks with top-5 in 6 of the last 8 starts. Make a couple of comments about coming into this week then we will go into questions.

JIM FURYK: Well, I think my favorite stretch back-to-back are Colonial and the Memorial every year. I like both golf courses. Some of the bigger golf tournaments that we play throughout the year. I have been on a good run right now this year. The first five months have been great. I have been consistent, playing well. The one blemish is I haven't won a golf tournament. I'm still striving, working hard and would love to get myself in position. The golf course this week is in great shape. I think the one note, I think the greens are, with the greens being rebuilt, they are a little firmer than they have been in years past. I only played about 5 or 6 holes today. But in the Pro-Am yesterday they were quite firm. I think that will make the golf course play a little difficult if that stays. I know there is supposedly rain on the way. I saw a green blob on the Western Ohio border there covering the entire state. I heard some people talking about rain. So that could change. But right now I think the greens are quite firm and I heard Mr. Nicklaus complaining they weren't fast enough, so I wouldn't be surprised if they got a little faster tomorrow.

Q. No protesters or sideshows here or stories that everyone is talking about, is it good to be in a tournament where the players are the object at hand? What is your take on it?

JIM FURYK: I don't know. I heard there was an article today, there was a poll in one of the newspapers whether or not Vijay should keep his contract. So I guess it's not over yet. It will probably be a few weeks before we don't field any questions. I already answered. This is my third question this week on last week. So it will probably take a while to blow over. To me, I never really worried about it. I wanted to go out and prepare. The Colonial, like I said it's one of my favorite tournaments in a year other than playing a major, World Golf or Player Championship. At regular events, and events on tour, that one and this one are my 2 favorites. I wanted to focus on playing my game and getting ready to play Colonial. I look forward to that golf course. Her tee times couldn't have been more opposite than mine. I never saw her. I didn't get a chance to say hi to her all week. There was no issue for me. I didn't see her all week and I didn't see the crowd. I actually couldn't turn on the TV without seeing it. But to me it didn't matter. I just wanted to focus on playing my tournament and going out there and playing well. Kenny handled the rest of us that way. But it seems like Sunday we were all out there trying to finish second.

Q. Can you talk about your play this year? You have 10 Top-10s, are you fired up to be put in a position to win that much?

JIM FURYK: I have had a couple good cracks at it. There are a lot of times where I have been within 5 shots of the lead. Or even lost a playoff at Doral. I think I was within 3 at Honda. There are a couple of tournaments where I was within three or four shots of the lead. Probably only about three shots off of the lead at Augusta. I really put myself in a position and just haven't got over the hump. I think the real close ones, like Doral, they sting a bit because you got so close. I felt that tournament was right there in my grasp and I didn't win it in the playoff. So those are probably more frustrating. But an event like last week, where I played solid, finished tied for 5th. Realistically, I needed to go out there Sunday and throw a whole bunch of birdies on the front 9 and hope that Kenny had a bad day. But he played solid. He probably shot the worst score he could have and I didn't throw those birdies up early. That event is where I finished 5th. There is a good solid feeling. There are some things to work on. It's not a frustrating week.

Q. The good outweighs the bad, there is more happiness about playing well than there is about disappointment about not actually winning?

JIM FURYK: What would be the proper way to say that? I would always, always, rather play well and finish. I would rather finish second every week than 50. That's the obvious statement. Ultimately we are out here trying to win golf tournaments so I won't say that I haven't been frustrated. But I look at that. I have been frustrated but I look at that more positively. I've been a lot more frustrated when I played poorly through this stretch last year before this event. I wasn't playing well, I missed 4 out of 6 cuts. That's frustration. When you are mad and you try to find a good break or find a good round to get you going. That's frustration. You're flustered, you play so well and can't win, you got to step back and look at the bright side and say, I have had a very good year so far and just be patient. The good news is there is basically the events that have gone by, The Players Championship, The Masters, I finished in the top-5 in both of those. I got 3 majors to look forward to and a bunch of world golf championships. Although I played half of the events I'm going to play this year, the remaining half, there is a bunch of meat. A bunch of substance there, so big events. I wouldn't mind cracking through with a win in one of those.

Q. I was wondering if you find a comfort zone, dealing with distractions (Inaudible)

JIM FURYK: That would be hard because I played team sports in high school. But in golf, as a team sport in college. It's still an individual sport that you need to go out and fire your score and do it in your own way. No one else is going to hit the jumper for you at the buzzer if you're not playing well. But in a week like that, last week, it wasn't focussed on one individual. Someone like Tiger Woods week in and week out, deals with distractions. He has learned how to do it. Learned how to weed through the mess and get himself ready through these events. Last week it was kind of a free-for-all of week. Everyone was getting singled out. It didn't matter where you walk, there was media there looking for a Q and A. They had some questions they wanted to ask. For all of you out here on a weekly basis, and we see you all the time, I see some of same local people where I have played -- well, I know the people in Vegas, I know the people in Hawaii. You are used to it and comfortable but when Vogue and Cosmopolitan come out, you are kind of setting back a little bit, you're not quite sure. The questions that are coming aren't golf-oriented. That's where it got funny last week. People we are asking -- Nick Price walked out of the locker room, they were asking the caddies, is that Phil Mickelson? Is that Phil Mickelson? Not knowing some of top-5 faces in golf is a little interesting. That's where last week got humorous at times and a little different. But it wasn't just like that. Annika obviously had the brunt of it and she had a tough week just in dealing with it. Although it was positive. It's still a major distraction for her. But the rest of us in the field dealt with the same distraction. We are all treated equally and all in the same playing field. For her, that had to be a crazy week. She had to be tugged at all ends and it was -- she had a lot every distractions.

Q. Was Cosmo and Vogue asked about?

JIM FURYK: I wasn't there, I was told.

Q. What was the weirdest one you got asked about?

JIM FURYK: It wasn't strange, there was as Swedish newspaper there and the gentlemen asked me some questions before I hopped in my car on Monday night. Actually some pretty good questions. He was just -- I thought it was interesting that there was someone all the way from Sweden to cover a few days of the golf event. I don't think he stayed for the whole week.

Q. Jim, the 17th hole that Jack redesigned, does it favor a certain kind of player now than possibly before, or favor a different kind of player?

JIM FURYK: The old 17 versus the new 17?

Q. Yes.

JIM FURYK: My memory serves me, it's a longer golf hole than it used to be. There is a bunker out there from the tips is a 263 carry. It's a little bigger golf hole. It looks vast from the tee, but where there are downwinds, when you're driving it, it's relatively tight because you got to split those 2 outside bunkers. You've got to split. The fairway looks like it is 70 yards wide and it is maybe for a 10-yard stretch but down when we are hitting a funnel area. If we play that hole into the wind, wow, I can't imagine because a guy at my length is going have to hang to the right off the tee. Then there is that overhanging tee shot off the green, 50 yards short of the green, that we will probably have to have a little cut around. That green doesn't set up to come in from the right side than it does from the left side. It's a big golf hole into the wind. Downwind, I hit a driver, 7-iron, back to the end of the green. I'm an average length guy. I saw a couple of guys hitting 3-woods to cover that. We were 5 yards up. So 258 to carry the bunker. It's just players got so longer, bigger, stronger. Equipment has gotten better and that hole is a bigger golf hole than it used to be. It used to be a 3-wood off the tee, driver to tee, mid- to short- iron into the green. Yesterday, I had to hit a driver, 5-iron into the green. Today it was driver, 7, into the back. Maybe more downwind. I caught a little more roll. Yes, this golf course, in my opinion, is a longer players -- it's a power golf course. Jack describes it as a second-shot golf course. In my opinion a second-shot golf course is a power hitter's golf course. It used to be when I first started playing here 9 years ago, this was maybe one of the more wide open golf courses that we played all year. It's been tightened down quite a bit in different areas. But into the greens, there is some pinpoint accuracy needed with the irons. You have to hit it at certain spots. A green would be -- like the 6th green, has been made more severe in the back and sweeping down that back left pin. It's not very deep. It might only be 15 yards deep in some areas. But there are days when I need to be in there with a 5-iron and I only got 15 yards in it, and if I knock it over the green, you are not going to get it up and down very often. If you leave it short, it's in the water. It has to be an accurate shot. With me a 5-iron, give Davis, Tiger and Ernie a 7 or 8-iron. It's a power hitters's course. You have a much better chance of stopping that ball quicker and bringing it down soft there with a 7-iron than you do with a 5-iron. But that's what I think of the golf course. It doesn't always work out that way. There has been a lot of big players that have played well here in the past. They hit the ball fair. Hit the ball higher and softer.

Q. One of the reasons, the main reason he gave for redoing the hole was he thought it was a weak link, on what he wanted to do, a strong finish to the golf course. I wonder coming down the stretch last year, eagle 15, birdie 16, coming into 17, did you consider that a hole where you could just take a deep breath?

JIM FURYK: No. In fact, I bogeyed it. That's the only hole I got in trouble with pretty much all day. But I kind of got a little bit of a weird break. I hit the ball down the left side of the fairway. It landed in the short cut by the left side by that bunker. If would it have kicked one way or the other I would have been all right. It usually kicks to the right. The ball actually kicked to the left. I had to stand in the bunker with a good foot above my feet. It would have been fine, but I kind of got a bad break. I probably hit a stupid shot, too, but it worked out.

Weak link, I would consider it a weak hole. Downwind it could play relatively short where you hit a 3-wood and a short iron into it. But I didn't think it was bad golf hole or anything like that. It wasn't as hard as 16 or hard as 18. Those are pretty hard golf holes.

Q. (Inaudible)

JIM FURYK: I think they are going to have to worry about my length, I had another bunker out there deeper on 18, maybe cover 340 instead of 3 and a quarter. Tiger proofed gets thrown out there. I don't think the courses ever get Tiger proofed. Golf has become so power oriented for the most part. There are a few courses that power is not -- like Colonial is not real powering, but for the most part all of our new courses, and most of the courses that we have been on the PGA TOUR are very power oriented in this game and that's what I see on the 17th hole out here. It it's a little more power oriented than it used to be. It's a bigger golf course, longer hole. Close to 480 yards. But that's changing, the guys are getting bigger, the guys are getting stronger, the guys are getting better. There is more good players. Then the equipment issue, the new drivers, new balls. Balls specifically in my opinion go farther.

Q. Jack wanted to keep those power hitters short of those final bunkers, to keep them in the area where you also would be hitting in the green from?

JIM FURYK: Downwind, not into the wind. That last bunker on the left is 323 into the wind. There are not many people knocking a driver in there downwind. Today I hit the ball 300 yards off the tee today downwind and I am average. I could see Vijay or Davis or guys hit a 3-wood off that tee and put it where I had my driver. Downwind, playing fast, absolutely. The last time I saw this course fast was -- well, never. I didn't play here in '94 when Lehman won. That was the last time it was playing. We had a couple of fast days last year. I have some yardage marked down and some clubs I hit into some of holes that kind of opened my eyes as to how far the ball was going at times. I think after the rain on Friday it slowed down.

Q. Coming back here, you played well here in the past one or 2 years, do you come back with a sense of confidence when you come back to this course, or do you feel more pressure being the defending champ, how do you approach that this week?

JIM FURYK: I definitely don't feel anymore pressure. I love to come back to courses where I played well before and where I have had good memories. You can bet if I go to a course a couple of times and missed the cut twice, I check that off the list and don't really go back too often. I love coming back to places where I have won before and where I have had good events. It's a good feeling. You remember the shot you hit from the year before. I like this course. I make a few adjustments this week. There is some things I want to work on. But I think it suits my game just fine. I'm not a power hitter but do I like the golf course. But I do think this is a course that lends itself to a guy that hits the ball pretty far and pretty high. It doesn't mean just because I'm an average length player that I can't play well here because I had a good record here but I look forward to it.

Q. What are like two or three courses that you like because you always play well or seem to play well? Probably Westchester is one. What are two or three courses that you tried?

JIM FURYK: The courses I really like -- I never play that well at Riviera but I love Riviera. Colonial, I just love Colonial. My record is not great there. I had a second, lost to Watson. I had a bunch of top tens, top 15s. I love Hawaii, the Sony open. I love that course. I'm not a huge, huge fan of Las Vegas, of the golf course there. I would not be the stereotypical guy that would play well in Vegas. I like going there because I have 3 wins and 2 other top fives. Those are the ones that stick out in my mind. Actually one that is a sleeper, I like Flint. A lot of guys say that it looks like it goes back and forth, back and forth and back and forth, that's what I grew up on. The same thing with Firestone and to me that's may be the best golf course we played last year.

Q. There are a couple that you don't go back to?

JIM FURYK: Check the schedule. It's every year the same ones. You can check my schedule for the last 9 years. There is a couple I don't go to. I didn't play well in my rookie here. I don't have good memories. I try to go once or twice and I didn't like the look of the golf course. Some of them are good golf courses, couple are grass. I grew up on poa annua. I could have nightmares about grass. Although I played Pebble, played Riviera.

Q. You say you are not a power hitter, you won here and some other courses, is that a feather in your cap, or if a TOUR player plays well, you can play well anywhere or do you have to play better to win at a course like this?

JIM FURYK: No, I think that at one time I thought Doral was really a power hitter's golf course and over the years that's kind of mellowed out because we have gotten so much longer. Now, I would say a course like Bethpage last year, I would have had to play a lot better than a Tiger or a Phil, possibly, because that golf course was really long to the fact where at the 12 hole for me, I'm standing to the 12 tee one day looking at the yardage. It doesn't matter what I do. You could put a cannon on the tee, I can't carry that bunker. These guys are hitting irons with them and I am hitting a 3-wood. That wasn't me. That was 50 percent of the field. That bunker out there on 16, that's 260. On a day like today I carry it by a ton. Into the wind I'm going to be thinking twice about it.

There is a few places that length is an issue. Looking at players like Justin Leonard is not real long. Guys, if he plays well, he can compete on any golf course. And I feel like I can do that also, this event last year. I played well on a lot of courses where you would think length -- Firestone is one of my favorites. That could be my favorite golf course on TOUR and everybody talks about how long and how that's a power hitters's golf course and I love that place, and I have had a really good track record there. So I don't think that's not always the issue. It's a matter of getting comfortable on the golf course. I don't really feel like I'm at a disadvantage.

Q. You said the greens having been rebuilt there are firmer than they were, is that because it's a brand new base?

JIM FURYK: I don't know. I think that tends to happen. That happened at Bay Hill last year. They said -- I didn't play there. But they talked about the greens being firm because they were new. In our agronomy notes before coming here we get -- on our green sheet, they mentioned the greens could possibly be quite firm this year because of rebuilding the greens. I haven't done enough architecture work, or don't know that much about the construction, but I remember reading that coming in here and I hit some shots that the ball -- yesterday I was hitting a 7-iron into the green. I hit it nice and high and soft and it was hitting and going a good, 8, 9 steps after it landed. So I'm almost 30 feet from the place where the ball hits to where it ends up. I was a little surprised at times. Now with a sand wedge in my hand I can spin the ball back. There is an iron for every one, a trajectory, where all of a sudden the ball wouldn't grab but it was releasing quite a bit.

Q. I know Jack changed some of the contours in about half of the greens, too, I'm wondering about the putting from the standpoint of breaks?

JIM FURYK: I didn't notice a huge amount of contour changes. There is a few holes where I looked and said that pin looks like it might be effective because there are some areas where I think you can miss the ball before like on the back right of 8. If people would hit it in that right bunker in the back right of 8 and get it up and down, quite often it was pretty flat back there. Now it looks like there is a little mounding on the back right. If it rolls away from you it would be tougher to get the ball up and down. I notice a few areas like that. For the most part they look quite similar. I don't know if Jack mentioned it, but it's rumored that they are all sloped a little more from back to front than they used to be. So you don't have to know greens -- I have a good source on that one. His locker is across the thing from mine. They are pitched a little more than they used to be so they can get them quicker and easier.

Q. 8 and 12 is what he said?

JIM FURYK: 8 and 12, yes, that wouldn't surprise me. Actually 8 looked a little different. That's one that it was my first hole yesterday that I hit into the green. I looked at it and said this looks different. I looked at my caddy and then I went to a bunch of holes and didn't notice the difference. But they said we might have had a smidge more fraction of a pitch more. Jack wants the greens fast. He was complaining at the pro-am that they didn't have any fire in them. I'm like it's a pro-am. I don't want to kill these poor guys, I want to finish today. He wants them to be -- not where they are not playable, but he wants us to sweat it out a little bit and that's fine. I think that little extra pitch to the greens allows -- he was saying allows the greens to be a little faster without mowing them down. They were telling our amateurs the greens are rolling 13 or 13 and a half or something. And they didn't play that quick. That's what Jack was saying and I agreed with him there. I would have guessed 11, 11 and a half at the most. He wants them to be just a little threatening.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jim.

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