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August 15, 2002

Jim Furyk


JULIUS MASON: Jim Furyk, ladies and gentlemen, atop the leaderboard at 4-under in the first round of the 84th PGA Championship. Jim, some thoughts on your round, please, and we'll go to Q&A.

JIM FURYK: Well, obviously, pretty pleased, pretty happy with the round. Good start. I think the golf course just kind of kept playing tougher as the day went on. The wind is blowing a little bit harder, the greens are starting to dry out, getting a little firmer, a little quicker. I think when we went back, after the rain delay, the wind was not blowing quite as hard, and that's definitely been not when I played my best. I actually started playing when the wind started kicking up a little bit. I'm happy with the round and happy to be in right now because the wind is howling right now. I started on the back side. I bogeyed No. 13. I hit a 3-iron that landed towards pin-high, but rolled through the green and I didn't get the ball up-and-down. I missed about a 15-footer for par. I birdied No. 16. I hit a 6-iron to about four feet and knocked that in. Then went over to the front side and had four birdies on 1,2, 6 and 7. No. 1, I hit a driver and an 8-iron to about six or seven feet. No. 2, I hit a 3-wood and an 8-iron to about ten feet. No. 6, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and an 8-iron -- 8-iron is looking pretty good, actually, right now. It was a good 25 feet, probably, behind the hole. I got a good look at Jerry Kelly's putt on almost the same line and got that one in. Then I hit a sand wedge to about six feet.

Q. Your year has been all over the map, you've had a lot of Top-10s and then you've had missed cuts in the three previous majors. Can you sort of describe the season so far and how it feels to get back here?

JIM FURYK: Well, it's been a good year and a frustrating year, I think, all in one. I got off to a good start here, on the West Coast. I played really well at Kapalua and Sony. I think I had chances -- had my chances to win those tournaments and just didn't get things done. I wasn't putting real well. I went through some time where I was injured, had an inner-ear problem and fought some dizziness for about a month, through March, and then ddidn't play well for a while. Just as I started to get it back at the end of May, I won the Memorial, played great at Westchester and then pretty much collapsed at the U.S. Open, not exactly sure what happened then. From that point on, my wife had a baby and I took a lot of time off golf. Then I went to the British Open and felt like I was prepared, I had played a bunch of golf at home, but played poorly over there. Now I've taken a couple of weeks off again and played well at Flint. So, it's been kind of a roller-coaster ride. When I've played well, I've played very well, put myself in position, and I've also missed a bunch of cuts. I've missed more cuts this year than I have probably in the last three or four years. It's been a little inconsistent, but I guess as long as you're taking advantage of the times, at least if I can still keep putting myself in position -- I won a golf tournament this year, and still some golf to play. So, try to look at the positive parts of those years and not worry too much about the negatives.

Q. With all of the Top-10s you've had over the years, the past four or five years, behind Tiger and Davis, I believe, there's so much focus on Ernie, David Duval and Sergio and others, do you feel you get the respect you deserve? And secondly, what would be the most interesting description of your swing you've heard?

JIM FURYK: Well, as far as the respect issue, I really -- I'm not affected by it. I don't feel like I'm underestimated or however -- if I'm not getting the credit that's due to me, I think that all of the players you mentioned, Ernie Els has won three majors, David Duval has probably won close to 15 golf tournaments and a major championship. All of the players you mentioned deserve a lot of credit. And I'm comfortable with where I stand among that field, and also, I think if Ernie and David and Sergio walk through the door, I realize that I'd be able to kind of slip out the back door, through the cracks, and that's a positive, too. (Laughs). My swing, probably the only ones -- David Feherty is probably the only one that's tried to be all that funny with the octopus falling out of a tree or a man trying to kill a snake in the phone book. David is a friend, and I get a kick out of stuff like that. So it's actually going to put -- been put to rest for quite a few years. My first few years on TOUR, I could kind of push the tape recorder and spit the same garbage out every week about my swing and got used to it. I don't hear it too much anymore.

Q. I think it's 11 out of the last 14 winners, it was the first major that they walked away with, and a lot of those guys like Toms, last year, were guys who had won frequently on TOUR and you would certainly fall under that category. Does it make you feel better, standing here, in this tournament, knowing that it's got that kind of history and the guys sort of -- your profile, success in delivering the goods?

JIM FURYK: I say, I like the way you're thinking, I'll put it that way, but I don't think that's going to -- I don't think David looked back last year and said that's what won the golf tournament for him. He won the golf tournament himself, made the shots, made the putts. I'm not really sure what the reason for that is here at the PGA, I don't know. I've kind of read some interesting stuff this week where they thought that the course setup was most like PGA TOUR setups and I've read a number of different reasons. Kind of didn't really think any of them stood out as a great reason or a bad reason. Everyone has an opinion and I'm not sure what that reason is. I would definitely -- like I said, I like the way you're thinking, I would like to go out and put myself in position the next couple of days, but I don't know. That history probably isn't going to help me too much.

Q. How do you expect the course to play the rest of the week if conditions remain the same, and predict for us what you think it will take to win, from your experience?

JIM FURYK: Well, if it continues to blow this hard and stays this windy, then I think that the scores are only going to keep going up and up and up. The golf course is going to get baked out, very firm. Yesterday afternoon, the golf course was extremely difficult. I think it's working it's way towards it right now. But if that were to continue, they wouldn't have to worry about the golf course being hard enough. They would actually have to put some water on it, keep it alive and make sure that it would be playable, because it would get that tough. It's going to be a lot of weather-dependent. If the wind kept blowing real hard and everything got dried out, I could see even par being a good score. But if it rained a little bit here and there and guys were able to get a little bit more aggressive with some iron shots, then I could see a little bit of a more under-par win, like a 10 or a 12. But it's going to depend on the weather. So, I'll set a good wide range for you and make sure I cover them all. (Laughter.)

Q. With the new addition to your family, sometimes what changes people's focus or how they approach the game. You're playing for three now instead of for two?

JIM FURYK: Well, I just have one more to root for me, too, so that's good. It's been a great experience. It will be a never-ending experience. I didn't know if it would change my outlook. It definitely, I guess, will change your outlook on life. It puts a lot of things in perspective. I'm not sure how much -- I was hoping to be a little bit more happy-go-lucky on the golf course, but I didn't practice all that well probably on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was out there pretty grumpy and grouchy on the practice tee with my father the last couple of days, so I guess it didn't really change me too much. It's been a wonderful experience. It's nice walking off the golf course. My last few rounds, my wife -- she can't walk the golf course like she used to, but she's brought the baby out to the 18th, the scoring trailer, and it's nice to give her a little kiss. Whether you play good or bad, she doesn't know the difference, so it's a lot of fun just to play with her.

Q. You mentioned that the wind picked up when you started playing better, but then you were happy to get off the golf course. Could you describe what goes through your mind when the conditions change like that?

JIM FURYK: I think, gradually, as the day went on, it just wasn't like you flipped the button on and the fans turned on. It gradually arose. We are not in the wide open say on 5 or 6. There's cover through the trees. No. 7, the tee, you don't really start to feel the wind too much. We got on the eighth tee and it just seemed like it was howling. It made the eighth and ninth holes a lot tougher. It was blowing, but it depends. Standing on the first tee, you're pretty wide open up on top of the hill and not a lot of cover. You get back in the trees on some of those holes and you don't feel it so much. It's gradually increased throughout the day. Whether it will continue to do that, I don't know, but if it does, it's going to make the golf course a lot more difficult.

Q. Describe to us where you were when play was halted, what you were seeing weather-wise, and also, did the rain affect the course any; did it soften it up?

JIM FURYK: I was on the 12th hole. I had just hooked it in the green-side bunker short right on 12. The weather was strange this morning. It was cloudy, but it seemed like it wrapped around the golf course for a while. My directions probably aren't real good here, thinking about it. Probably it came from the west or some sort, but it seemed to wraparound the golf course. It kind of got on top of us pretty quick. It was in the distance for a long time and then the horn blew and it kind of snuck up on us.

Q. Did the rain soften the course up?

JIM FURYK: I would not say it softened it. The ball still is rolling quite a bit on the fairways. The greens were not anything really soft. It might have just took a touch of speed off the greens. They were still quick, but I think that this afternoon, you had to be a little careful if you got a little aggressive or lost your train of thought for a second. It would be pretty easy to blow a putt from pretty far back.

Q. How important is it to hit fairways here, and once the wind starts blowing, how difficult is it to accomplish that?

JIM FURYK: Well, it's important, it's most important, too, when the wind is blowing. It's going to firm up the greens and make it much harder. Out of the rough, I think that there's times when you have to play to the green, but there's not a lot of opportunities where you're going to be able to fly the ball to the green, control it and stop it. You're going to have to bounce some shots up. It gives you a chance though, at times. A lot of times you are not just turning side ways and chipping out with a sand wedge. You have an opportunity to hit an 8-iron or 7-iron or 6-iron sometimes and advance the ball, but it's hard to control the wind. It's that much more important to keep the ball in the fairway, so you can get a good lie and control the golf ball and spin it the way you want to, control the ball through the greens and in the wind.

Q. About this time a year ago, you had the long playoff with Tiger Woods in the NEC. I wonder if, looking back on that now, if there was any negative to that or a positive or any influence on you for the season?

JIM FURYK: The one negative was that I lost, first of all. It burned me at the time. I was pretty mad. I think -- I wouldn't say that I learned, that now I'm in such a better position or a better train of thought or I understand that situation better. I think you learn from all your experiences, whether it's playing well and winning the golf tournament, and that one, I played very well, but I ended up losing the golf tournament. I lost in a playoff. I think the more times you can put yourself in that position, the more comfortable you are there and the more you learn from those experiences. I probably learned just as much in quite a few other golf tournaments in contention. You can learn from doing things well and hitting good golf shots and trying to recreate those situations, but you can also learn from doing things that were not so good in poor situations, where you can go back and think about the things you've done wrong, that you can correct the next time.

Q. Do you feel that this golf course might suit your game better than Augusta, the way it played this year, and Bethpage, or would you not agree with that?

JIM FURYK: Yes, a 110 percent. I liked Bethpage very much. I thought it was a wonderful golf course. It was set up in a fashion that definitely -- although I'm not sure Bethpage would always favor a long hitter. It's probably the longest golf course I've ever played. Medinah was also very long, but I think Bethpage, in the conditions we played in, that wet, cool weather, it definitely played as long as any golf course I've ever played. Augusta, definitely, there's a lot of arguments for or against taking away the short hitter. I was definitely on the side that said it really hurt the short hitter. Although they tightened up some of the fairways, for the guys that bomb it 300 yards, you know, now instead of being able to be aggressive with an 8-iron or a 9-iron, on some holes, I've got 5-iron, 6-iron in my hand and I just can't be aggressive. I can't go at pins. One of those holes would be 14, where you put the pin on the left side of that green and now I have a 5- or a 6-iron in my hand, I can't even think about trying to hit it at that pin because I can't stop the ball. But with an 8-, or 9-iron, it crossed my mind, if I hit a good shot, I could stop it up there. I think it's going to be more of a hit it down the middle, hit it on the green, 2-putt and get out of there, rather than the birdie, birdie, bogey, double-bogey, eagle. Guys my length, especially are not going to be that overaggressive and are not going to try to go that extra mile to maybe squeeze a shot in there and make a bunch of birdies.

Q. What do you do to fill a three-hour time delay?

JIM FURYK: Pretty much read all the stuff you guys wrote last week. I read the paper this morning, the sports page, of course. I read a little bit of Golf Week. Whatever was in the locker room, I pretty much read. I watched a little SportsCenter -- although we had the sound off. We had Golf Channel on one TV and SportsCenter on the other. I think I saw Hal win the '83 PGA. When I left, Zinger was winning, the '93 PGA. I don't know, there was two or three before that. We were making fun of everyone and the clothes we wore back then. I would have liked to have seen SportsCenter a little bit more, but the volume was not on. So I could kind of see what happened yesterday in the world of sports, but I had to do it without sound.


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