September 11, 2002
TODD BUDNICK: We have Jim Furyk born just done the road in Westchester P.A. Jim has 3 top tens in his last 3 events in August, so playing very well coming into this week and, of course, two weeks from now will be playing in his 3rd Ryder Cup.
Start by telling us what you are looking for this week.
JIM FURYK: Tell you about what?
TODD BUDNICK: You have been playing very well the last 3 tournaments, obviously, coming back home you must be looking for some good things this week.
JIM FURYK: Yes, absolutely. I had taken a lot of time off before the last 3 weeks and really kind of grabbed some momentum, just playing better. Playing better at the Buick. My game improved. I played better at the PGA. I took a couple of weeks off to get fresh for this stretch right here and onto the World Cup Championships in Ireland and, hopefully, getting my game ready for the Ryder Cup in these 3 weeks.
It's nice to be home. I grew up in the Lancaster area and I have a lot of friends here, a lot of support, and it's a difficult golf course, so I'm looking forward to it.
TODD BUDNICK: A lot of players have been talking about the greens here, is that something you look forward to, these greens?
JIM FURYK: Not really. I think that -- you know it's like a lot of golf course in this area. The greens have a lot of slope. Although they are very big in spots, you are hitting the very small areas on the green to give yourself an opportunity to make a putt. And sometimes an opportunity to two putt. I think you are going to have to be always careful of this golf course. If they get the greens to fast, they are almost unplayable at spots, and the 9th green is a good example of that. It's about 40 yards deep but there is not too many pin placements. If the greens get too fast you can put the pin to the right so we will see 4 pins back there. That's indicative of the area. The golf courses were built way back when, the 30's and 40's. The greens weren't manicured as well then. You could have a lot more slope and still the ball would stop on the greens.
Now with today's conditions and the ability to cut the greens down lower, some of these golf courses, the greens can become unplayable. And I think they've done a good job this week. I was out there in the wind, you can putt the greens and play them. Even on a really severe day like today.
TODD BUDNICK: We'll take some questions.
Q. Jim, back in June you didn't think you were able to make it because of the schedule, the European and World Championship and the Ryder Cup, what changed your mind?
JIM FURYK: Well, I wasn't sure. I wasn't committing myself, let's put it that way. I was riding the fence. I wanted to see how my body felt actually, how I felt physically. I was nicked up and banged up a little earlier in the year. I wasn't healthier earlier. I had some dizzy spells and last year I was banged up a little bit with a wrist problem and I didn't want to come in here promising to come back and play at the event knowing I would have to be in Ireland and play the Ryder Cup after.
If I didn't feel healthy to play 3 in a row I wasn't going to do it. I finished that 3 in a row stretch last time. After two weeks off, I'm ready to go. I wanted to come back, but wanted to know I could come back to you.
Q. Jim, are you coming back to play specifically in Pennsylvania, do you know where else you might be taking another week off?
JIM FURYK: It would depend on the tour stop. I'm here because I grew up in this area. And I call southeast Pennsylvania home. That's where I grew up. That's where I learned to play golf. I wanted to support the golf in the area. Had this event been in Texas or California or somewhere, where I don't have that connection, then I would have weighed that event probably against the Canadian Open and figured out which one would be best preparation, and the best tournament for me, which had the biggest purse. Go through a number of different things and play that event.
There is places that I play every year, so if you stuck one of those events in here that was my favorite, like a Colonial or Memorial, a golf course that I really like, like Westchester, then I definitely wanted to play, health permitting.
But it being another event I would have weighed it normally. I put an asterisk next to this one. It's one I definitely wanted to make it to.
Q. Over the years have you been able to play some of the famous Philadelphia courses, Merion, Pine Valley, Aronimink?
JIM FURYK: I never played Pine Valley or Aronimink. I had an invitation to play Pine Valley a few times. I never have been able to do it. I would definitely like to get to Aronimink. I played quite a few great golf courses in this area. There is quite a few sleepers too. I played junior golf in the Philadelphia section. My dad was a club pro in this area at Westchester Country Club. I think that was his first pro job. He assisted in Edgemont and other places, and we moved out to western PA when I was young, then moved back to Langstrom. He was a sales rep. He sold golf equipment for a living. I knew most of the head pros. Or at least talked to them on the phone answering messages. My dad would take me around to play with some of the better players, and played some of the nicer golf courses. Instead of playing the same golf course every day, it was nice to branch out and play some golf courses.
Q. Can you remember the names of some of the courses you enjoyed as a kid?
JIM FURYK: Actually I enjoyed playing Edgemont. I think I won my first event there or one of them. But Lan Arc is a really good course. Rolling Green is one of my favorites. I lost there in college by one. I'm trying to think of a couple others. I'm blanking right now. I never made it to Saucon. I missed some of the really good ones.
Q. You played Merion?
JIM FURYK: I played Merion U.S. Amateur. We played Waynesborough and played at Merion. I've been there twice. I watched the U.S. Open when I was 11 and I played there as an amateur.
JIM FURYK: Yes, my dad took me there when I was a kid.
JIM FURYK: Following Jack Nicklaus every hole.
Q. Jim, giving your status as a Pennsylvanian and a loyal supporter of this tournament, what do you feel about the fact that this tournament can't seem to draw a lot of top names? Maybe because of its time on the schedule, what's your feeling about that?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think that is tradition here in Pennsylvania, as far as starting way back when Jones won the slam dunk at Merion. There could be a chance we could take off here in a second. I'm a little nervous. I'm just glad I'm finally done because the wind beat me up today. I think there is a lot of Rich golf traditions here. There is a lot of great golf courses. And this area has a lot of golf fans. And there is probably a number of different reasons that we're not drawing the best of fields this week. There is a ton of great golfers here and the Nike Tour field draws guys that can go out and shoot 62. I'm not knocking the field, but it does lack some of the star power. I don't know how many guys are here under the top 3rd of the money list but there is 9. There is probably a few different reasons for that.
The West Coast and the fall swing both kind of seem to not draw the strongest fields. I think it takes a tournament a while, too. This is its second year. A lot of guys will sit back the first time a golf tournament goes to a certain site, they wait to hear what people have to say. If it gets rave reviews, the course was unplayable, good shape, they treated us great, clubhouse phenomenal, food was good, whatever it is. They waited to hear those good remarks.
There are courses that I have never been to because I didn't go the first year and every player I talked to said the course is awful. There is a couple in mind, in particular that I wouldn't mention. I never been to those events because I heard someone say -- it doesn't paint the rosy picture that you are looking for.
And also, again, I don't want to signed like a spoiled athlete, the last is the purse. The purse isn't that giant. What is the purse this week? 3,3. I don't want to sound spoiled and scoff at $3.3 million. That's a lot of money raised and SEI has been a wonderful supporter of this event, and my event, so I am definitely not taking a shot at anyone.
They helped me out a lot with the Exelon Invitational and been a quite great sponsor in our event. I will say Phil Mickelson hasn't played an event at $3.3 million this year. Everything has been 3.3 or up. That has something to do with it also.
It's a shame we have so many events on tour right now. We probably have 40 events, some 42 weeks we can play.
The events are in competition as much as we are as players in trying to draw fields and trying to draw people in. It's tough for a young tournament, or a tournament that's only been around a couple of years, and from the fact it switches from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. It probably sounded like a great idea at first but it probably hurts in the fact that you are not playing the same golf course every year. Guys get in a rhythm on the golf course. The 9th year on tour, there is courses I can fly in on Tuesday night, if I need to because I need to be home with my family. I played the tournament two years in a row. I played over 30 turn rounds on it. After 50 rounds I can read some putts from the fairway and tell what you they're going to do or how they're going to break.
So you get used to playing courses and there is places that you like, you have good feelings about and you go back to.
So when I look at my schedule earlier in the year, I'm picking my favorite golf courses out. I'm picking out a Riviera, a Colonial, Memorial, Westchester, Doral. I'm going to get about a dozen of those and then I'm going to go and look down the list and I'm going to look at purses.
This tournament in Charlotte next year is going to have over a $5 million purse. Something ridiculous, 5.6. The top 30 guys, you can bet most of them will be going for that 5.6. I got to be there. The winner is going to make over a million dollars.
You are going to fill in with big purses, and you picked all of the courses that liked and you picked all of the events of the purses and field the events along.
I want to get blocks of 3 tournaments in a row, or two in a row, so I fill in the schedule.
Q. If somebody asked you 2 years ago, after you played here the first time, what's it like, what was the course like, what was the ambience like, did anybody ask you for your opinion?
JIM FURYK: I don't think so. I don't remember.
Q. How about this year, did they ask you anything about Waynesborough, thinking of entering?
JIM FURYK: Oh, you're talking about players?
Q. Players talking to you about what this course was like, what this tournament was like?
JIM FURYK: Sure, at home in Florida, people didn't come last time and say what's the golf like. I think it is demanding. I think it's a tough golf course. From tee to green it's a really good golf course. It starts once you get on the greens, too. So the greens are very severe. You have to keep the ball below the hole. I don't think you can fluctuate on this golf course. You have to hit some solid shots. You have to hit the ball on the fairway, put the ball on the green at a good spot. You can do it once in a while, but eventually you can hit some good shots.
Q. In your travels, Jim, do you ever find yourself defending Philadelphia as a great golf center with people that might not know about it? There is all these good super courses.
JIM FURYK: I don't think so. They are very knowledgeable about the game of golf. There probably isn't an area better than, you know, the New York City area, if you really use Balustrol, and throw it in there, and Long Island and up in the Westchester area. There is probably not a better area in the world for golf courses. But I think all of the Northeast really is a loaded into Ohio, Michigan. There is a lot of great golf in the northern part of the country. I think it was that era of golf design, 30's 40's, an older generation. I think people are knowledgeable about that, know that there is a lot of great golf courses in the Northern part of the U.S. People that are new to the game.
I live in Florida now, used to seeing TPC at Sawgrass, Pete Dye and railroad ties, and big mounds and a lot of water and they think of that being a great golf course. I'm not knocking it. It's just a different style.
I grew up here. I would much rather play at Donald Ross, Lancaster Country Club. I think someone was saying this is a George Fazio. Playing an older design golf course, that's the style I grew up with. That's the style I like. It's subjective. There is going to be players that come in here. No matter what one we go good. I like Country Club. I can't stand that place. There aren't many courses I play bad at. You know I like that place. After you shoot 75, you know I don't really like this place that much.
So, you know, it's all subjective, and guys favor their style of game. So you can't make everyone happy. But for the most, if it's demanding, if it's a test of your skills, if it rewards good shots, penalizes bad shots, it's in good shape, treats you well, guys will come to your event. I think you just have to get a time. A lot of it. And fortunately, unfortunately a purse really weighs heavily in that, too.
Q. Jim, there has been reports that a new sponsor has been found for this tournament and will be played 4 years consecutively at Nemacolin. It's only a report. What would you think if this tournament was pulled out of Philadelphia only after 2 tries? Is that a fair test do you think?
JIM FURYK: Well, it's not. I don't know anymore than what I read this week and you all have probably written it. I haven't heard officially from the tour. But that rumor has gone around. I heard the same things that you guys have written. I haven't heard it from Tim Vinson or Henry Hughes or someone that I would really trust. Not that I don't trust you all. Not that it's an official word that's come out. I would hate to see the golf tournament leave this area.
My guess is, and it's probably right on, we're in a time now in our economic world where a lot of companies have -- they're not tooling out to spend the millions of dollars it takes to put this golf tournament on which is probably like a 5 to $8 million of their budget. That it takes to sponsor an event, to be a sponsor. It's my understand SEI didn't renew the sponsorship and they didn't find a sponsorship for this site.
If that's true I guess they found someone in the western part of P.A. that wanted to sponsor the event and had 5 to $8 million to sponsor the event.
Q. SEI wanted to do it one year here and one year in Pittsburgh.
JIM FURYK: I'm not aware of that. We normally just go play golf. We read what we read and hear what we hear from the PGA tour. I didn't know that. I would hate to see that happen. And being from this area and having the Exelon Invitational, they are excited to see 4 of us to bring a tournament in here with 156 players on a nice caliber golf course like this. It would be sad to see it happen. I feel that way because I grew up here.
The guys from Texas, the guys from California, they are worrying about the events there.
Q. Leaving aside (Inaudible) and bearing in mind how in your field was for the British Open this year, what would you think of Merion as a U.S. open course?
JIM FURYK: You're saying take the corporate part of out of it?
Q. Yes, because that's the first thing they say?
JIM FURYK: Well, there is not. I don't know if you made the trip up to Bethpage here, it's definitely turned into a show. It's big business. They had the room to park cars. They have 5 golf courses there. We only played one. They had 4 golf courses and a park to put corporate, fans. The one knock I heard of Merion is the length issue. It's not a long course. Tiger Woods couldn't drive the ball around there very often, very few drivers. A lot of that is equipment issues. Merion was never long, Merion wasn't long in 1981. I think that was the last open there, wasn't it? Merion wasn't a long golf course in '81. There is lots of wonderful golf courses around the Philadelphia area that can hold this event. Not many have the space that Waynesborough has. The golf courses were built in an open area, surrounded by houses, trees. They are on 110 acres of land where they are jammed in, back and forth, fairways are close together. There is not a lot of places to put people on them. And Merion runs into that.
We hit an area where corporate dollars and sponsorships clarify different aspects. of the U.S. Open for the good of the game.
Q. Could Merion still test you guys?
JIM FURYK: The last time I played Merion, I want to say was '89, U.S. Amateur, 13 years ago, probably not. I'm going to give you the best opinion. Could they set it up? Would it be difficult? Absolutely. There is some events where we go to where they set the golf course up, they limit you off the tee. If it took drivers out of most of the players hands, then I think players would -- I struggle seeing a guy -- like we went to Olympic Club, and I think Olympic is a wonderful golf course. There was 2 players in the field not carrying a driver. I think you got to win the U.S. Open and hit a driver. You don't want to hit someone hit a 3-iron and 1-iron off the tees. You want to hit a 5-iron into the green and win the tournament. It was playing very firm and very fast that week and that's the way they had it set up.
I would love to go back and play Olympic as the numbers play because I thought it was a wonderful course. I want to see a guy winning the U.S. Open hitting a driver. And Bethpage was that course, I guess. They could set the golf course up. USG is good at that. They can set every golf course up.
Q. Jim, do you think the Ryder Cup is going to have a different feel to it and how so if you do?
JIM FURYK: Not particularly. I think that it's going to have a different feel early in the week as far as -- everyone is going to remember why today is a good day to talk about it. Everyone is going to remember why the tournament was postponed, why it was set back. It affected our country the most. But it affected the entire world. I think what we did was right last year, but I think once the gun goes off on Friday, I think the 2 sides are going to want to beat each other as much as they ever had and it's going to be a great competition.
I think there will be some differences early in the week, and even late in the week you are always going to remember why and what happened, and I think that's good.
But I don't think it's going to make it a lesser event by any means and I'm not expecting to go in there and have a lot of Europeans pulling for us either, if that's what you mean by changing things. It's always a boisterous crowd over there, still going to be, that's fine. You expect when you go over to the European side, and you play on their soil that their crowd is going to be boisterous and loud and pulling for them and that's part of their event.
Q. Jim, I'm sorry to harp on the same theme, did you ever make it to the White March Country Cub for (Inaudible)
JIM FURYK: I did. I was about 2 at the time. Johnny Miller's mom baby-sat me for a while.
TODD BUDNICK: That's for your time.
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