January 2, 2002
TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Jim Furyk, defending champion, Mercedes Championships. Jim picked up his sixth win, and was 13th on the Money List.
Tell us about your feeling coming back as defending champion.
JIM FURYK: It's always a good feeling. I have good memories. Also won an event back here in '95. Maui has been pretty good to me. My wife and I both enjoy coming here a lot.
It's a great place to start out the year. Look forward to coming back.
TODD BUDNICK: What kind of things do you look forward to here?
JIM FURYK: Wind (laughter).
TODD BUDNICK: For the coming season.
JIM FURYK: Coming season, I took time off in November, December, so I'm pretty fresh. You know, I always wear myself down. By the end of the fall, I'm pretty grouchy, not always looking forward to playing as much as I am early in the year.
Right now I'm kind of ready to go. I look forward to waking up every morning and getting to the course and working on things.
TODD BUDNICK: Questions.
Q. You always win Vegas, so your fall is not too bad.
JIM FURYK: Well, it's not that I don't enjoy the fall. In the past, especially early in my career, I had a little hard time just pacing myself. I've been cutting back events, not really -- well, just because I'm feeling it a little bit more body-wise.
I just think the older you get, you're going to play less events. The better you play, the harder it is to play a lot more events. It's hard for Tiger to play. If he plays 22 times, seems like he has a chance to win 16 of them. It's hard to be under the gun that much, then try to go out and play 30 events. Not going to happen.
JIM FURYK: Mentally it's exhausting. I've just gotten myself, I think early in my career, I didn't pace myself as well. I've been doing that a lot better. That's a long year. By the end of the year, you start -- you're just not as patient anymore. You hit a few bad shots, it upsets you more than it would early in the year, you know, in January. I think my mental state of mind is normally a little better this time of year than it is in the fall. Maybe something I can work on, be a little more patient late in the year.
Q. This is kind of strange that in an off Ryder Cup year, you're just playing golf. In a Ryder Cup year, if you're bubble-ish, you're thinking about making a team. What is it like this year when you're already on the team, now it's nine months away?
JIM FURYK: My understanding, you guys could tell me, is this year just a wash, no points at all?
Q. Instead of points, double the points, now it's a fraction of the original. It's a three-tier system.
JIM FURYK: In a regular, non-Ryder Cup year, 75 for a win, Ryder Cup it's 150. This year it's like 37 and a half.
Q. 75 and 150.
JIM FURYK: That makes sense.
Q. You would have been coming in to this year thinking about Ryder Cup?
JIM FURYK: I honestly don't think, no matter what year it is, it's not like every week I look to see where I am on Ryder Cup points. Still in a non-Ryder Cup year, I keep an eye on it once in a while. There are lists, whether it's in the locker room, you see it, you happen to figure out where you're at.
I don't think you can worry about the points. I mean, you're still focusing on -- whether it's a Ryder Cup year or not, I still want to win golf tournaments, still want to finish well.
Q. You didn't nail your spot on the team till early August.
JIM FURYK: It looked great till the summer, didn't play that well through the summer. My wrist was bothering me before the British. I took a bunch of time off. Before I knew it, I missed the cut at the British. Took a week off or couple weeks off, then going to Flint I think I was 11th. I had a real strong finish at Flint, jumped up to about eighth, then I went to the PGA, finished in the Top 10 again.
Q. There's that flow, in your case, you've made the team, team is set, then a month later you go play. Now we're in January, the entire team is set, it's a matter of waiting nine months. Is it something you're thinking about?
JIM FURYK: Kind of nice to plan for it. Now it's on the schedule. It's like the PGA this year, it's on the schedule. Don't have to worry about being qualified or not. It's nice to know it's there, to prepare for it that way, instead of just saying -- you're going through your schedule, "I'm in The Ryder Cup, hopefully. I want to be qualified for that." More than anything, you don't want to jinx yourself (laughter).
Q. One less thing to think about?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, one less thing to think about. Normally both teams are playing real well, the guys have qualified. Everyone is pretty much in top form. This year, guys might not be playing well, might be playing great. You don't really know.
Our team was playing very, very well through August last year. We were really playing well. That doesn't mean we're all going to play well in September.
Q. That's true.
JIM FURYK: You never know.
Q. Could it be a distraction if, for example, someone like Tom or Justin plays lights out this year, wins a major, isn't on the team?
JIM FURYK: I don't know if it's a distraction. It's just the way it is. You can't take the team -- if you qualify for the team, I don't think you can take people off, start over. You know, it's just the way it is.
Unless I think something is really wrong, I don't really take much opinion to it. I just accept things as they come. That's the cards we're dealt. I haven't really thought about it too much, to be honest with you. If they did something where I didn't really agree with the decision, might be more apt to talk about it. Seems like a rational decision to me. Seems like everyone is pretty happy with it. Never really thought about it again.
Q. You could have just said, "No comment."
JIM FURYK: Wouldn't be as fun (laughter).
Q. How is your wrist? Never seemed to go away last year.
JIM FURYK: It did. I can't complain about it, other than I try to play four events in a row, starting with the US Open, Buick. I added Hartford to my schedule at the last second. Then I wanted to go to Chicago. I was practicing a lot. I was playing a lot. I just played too much. I started wearing it out.
When I went to Chicago, I played the ProAm, I basically had like a shooting pain down my arm into my elbow. I couldn't figure out -- my two fingers were pretty numb at times. I couldn't figure out why. I decided to withdraw there because, one, it hurt. It's kind of scary to see it feeling that way.
I went to the doctor. Really there was just some inflammation in there. There's a nerve that runs, like your funny bone, through that arm, down that part of your wrist, to my two fingers. That inflammation was pressing on the nerve a little bit. More than anything, it's just rest. I found out a little more about it, what was wrong. Some further tests showed and gave me some confidence it will be all right.
Q. Are you still taping it?
JIM FURYK: No. I quit that actually pretty early last year.
Q. You went back to it at some point, didn't you?
JIM FURYK: No.
Q. Am I hallucinating at this point?
JIM FURYK: I might have tried it at one point. Might have actually tried it.
Q. TOUR Championship maybe?
JIM FURYK: Might have tried it in Chicago. When I went to see the doctors, they told me to quit doing it because they felt like the compression was going to farther place some pressure on that nerve, said it was probably -- probably wasn't hurting. If anything, it was hurting, definitely not helping.
Q. How is it now?
JIM FURYK: It's fine. At the end of the year --.
Q. Compared to then?
JIM FURYK: A lot, not even close. I was afraid to pick things up. Not even till fall would I pick up a suitcase with my hand or pick something up right-handed. Just cautious. Now I'm still a little ginger with it because I remember. Probably made me stronger on the left side because I did everything left-handed for a year. It's fine. It really -- I have no complaints. All year last year it didn't bother me. It didn't hamper my game.
It started to bother me a little bit at Westchester, didn't bother my game, but I could tell it was wearing down. For some reason, I wasn't patient enough. I wanted to add Hartford to my schedule. By the end of that event, it was hurting. Chicago is one of my favorite events. I went to the Western, and I just couldn't do it.
It was more me just not being patient enough and giving it rest when my body was telling it to.
Q. Are you in your house here yet?
JIM FURYK: No. It's supposed to be done sometime in March. It's coming along well.
Q. Are you going to live there most of the year, part of the year?
JIM FURYK: No, just part of the year. I think it will definitely be -- I'm not planning on living in Hawaii. My home is in Florida right now. I'm planning on staying there. This will be more of a November, December, maybe some off weeks through the West Coast, January, February, a place for my family to come. My mom and dad are going to spend quite a bit of time here. Hopefully we'll have someone in the house quite a bit, a good percentage of the year, rather than just maybe a few months.
Q. You have a good reason to come here in January every year.
JIM FURYK: That would be wonderful. Yeah, I would say next year, throughout the winter, I'm going to be here, whether I'm in this event or not. I'm coming out and enjoying Maui a little bit.
Q. How often does your dad come to tournaments?
JIM FURYK: Last year not as often as in the past. This year he's planning on traveling a bit more.
Q. Did he have like a badge, credential?
JIM FURYK: He has a teaching credential. In the past -- two years ago, I think the teachers, they had their own money clip type of credential. Now they have a badge similar to yours.
Q. Tabitha, too?
JIM FURYK: The wives have a badge much like that.
Q. Security thing?
JIM FURYK: Do you want to field that maybe? I don't know, to be honest with you.
TODD BUDNICK: Yeah. My understanding is we've kind of switched, for security measures, ever since September 11th.
JIM FURYK: They had the family's picture or her picture, but doesn't have my name or the family name on them. There's some sort of number or something that relates back to us. It's not like -- I think some of the players are worried about their kids walking out with these tags. Whether it says Jim Furyk or Furyk, fans would know who they were. I go and hook one in the water. Some fan looks at your kid and says, "Your dad stinks."
Tabitha puts up with that. I know from past experience. She's learned a lot of stuff like that. Because they know, they'll see her, whether it's on TV at Kapalua, if I win, my family for the most part people just want to say hi. But if I'm not playing well, if I'm going for a big fun, there's always that two or three people that know they can get under their skin. They'll try.
Q. She doesn't strike me as the confrontational type.
JIM FURYK: Who is that?
Q. Your wife.
JIM FURYK: She's not. I wouldn't want to upset her too much (laughter). We're married. We're going to obviously upset each other. We get along great. She's very sweet and she's very nice, but she's feisty. I wouldn't press your luck. She'll hold her own with you.
Q. With your local knowledge of the course here, how unusual is it playing right now with the Konas blowing?
JIM FURYK: Today was an extremely strange wind. I almost wouldn't even consider it -- early in the day, might be more of a Kona now, it was almost between the Trades and a Kona. I've never played it in this wind. It's a little strange. It's interesting.
I guess you just kind of wake up here and take what you get. The golf course is more fun in a Trade Wind. It was designed to be played that way by the slopes, by the way the holes are situated. It was designed to be played in a Trade Wind. You just get up and take what you get.
For the most part, I felt like I played the course in almost all the conditions I could see. Today was a little awkward.
Q. What does your West Coast swing schedule look like? Does the Steelers Super Bowl possible appearance have any effect on it?
JIM FURYK: Yes, it does. I will promise that I'll be at the Super Bowl. You can figure out where it is in the schedule.
JIM FURYK: If they're in the Super Bowl, that's obviously an if, I'm going to the Super Bowl.
Q. What about the rest of the West Coast?
JIM FURYK: By like to play AT&T otherwise. I have every year except last year. I'm planning -- I'm not going to the Hope. I'm coming back here to Maui. I'm not going to go to San Diego. I'm planning on playing the other weeks.
Q. Sony next week?
JIM FURYK: Yes, absolutely.
Q. Your season tickets guarantee you tickets?
JIM FURYK: No, they don't. Guarantee me playoff tickets if they're at home and a lottery for the Super Bowl. But I'll find tickets (smiling).
Q. Has that registered with you, that pro golf is getting younger?
JIM FURYK: I think so. When I was a rookie on tour, I was pretty young. I was one year removed from college. I graduated -- I finished my eligibility in '92. The '93 season I played the Nike Tour. '94 was my rookie year on tour. I was about the second or third youngest guy on tour that year at 23, turning 24. Now that would be a joke as far as there would be a lot of people younger than I am.
It's definitely changed. I think other sports, like tennis and such, it's a younger man's game as far as it's more athletic, the pounding your body takes running around. Golf was always considered more of a thinking game. You wouldn't hit your prime until your early 30s or mid 30s. That's changing face a little bit.
I'm not really sure what's reason is. I think there's probably more routes and more avenues for preparation for younger players now. There's more places to play. Junior programs are better. College programs are better. But it's a major leap. I mean, college golf to the PGA TOUR, you definitely skipped a lot of steps in between. You skipped mini tour golf, a Nike or buy.com Tour to the PGA TOUR. There's a lot of kids now that seem to be prepared for that. They not -- used to be if you could jump from college and keep your card, that's a pretty good feat. Now these guys are going out and winning tournaments, making over $1 million.
Q. How many chances can Ty Tryon get?
JIM FURYK: I couldn't figure it out. Quite impressive. I think more than anything, the physical part of that that is pretty impressive, but the mental, actually to stand up there against that competition, to stand up against David Duval on the first tee when you're 17 years old, that takes some guts. He's got guts.
Q. Between the West Coast and the Masters, the schedule tweaked a little bit this year. Do you know what you're doing?
JIM FURYK: Well, I do. Let's make it clear. I really don't know what the heck I'm doing in three weeks (laughter).
JIM FURYK: That's my tentative West Coast. I'd like to play Doral, Honda. That would give me four in a row. The Honda is probably going to depend on the match play, how many rounds I play there, how my body is feeling. I'll probably take Bay Hill off this year if I played Honda. THE PLAYERS Championship. Help me out with the schedule after that. There's two events from --.
Q. Houston and BellSouth.
JIM FURYK: I won't go to Houston. I'm going to play Augusta, MCI, Greensboro back to back.
Q. Called WorldCom now.
JIM FURYK: Hilton Head and Greensboro. Most of the events, just have to figure it out. It's been called WorldCom for how many years?
JIM FURYK: I didn't go last year.
Q. Still MCI though.
JIM FURYK: I should be politically correct. I appreciate the thought. Don't you have a deadline (laughter)?
Q. The majors for you this year, when you look at your chances at the four sites, is this something you go?
JIM FURYK: Obviously, Augusta is the only one that stays the same. Never been to Bethpage, so I don't know. Might be a nice idea to get up there. I tried actually to go play. It just never worked out. The one day I had a chance to play, they had an outing on the golf course last year. They wanted to work me in, but I felt weird. I felt like a pain in the butt. Wanted to go up and it didn't work out for friends I wanted to play with. I didn't make it.
I've never been to Muirfield is the British. Never been there, but heard it's a wonderful course.
Is it Hazeltine?
JIM FURYK: Don't know. I don't know.
Q. It's in Minnesota.
JIM FURYK: I know that. I'll make my own opinion. I won't take Mr. Hill's.
Q. Wide open for you?
JIM FURYK: Yeah. I don't know. I would like to get in and maybe play a few rounds before. I pretty much know what to expect at the US Open and the British Open and Hazeltine is pretty much an old traditional course from my knowledge, has a US Open feel to it. I know what to expect. The course, you're right, I've never been to. I don't know.
Q. Is the logo new?
JIM FURYK: Exelon was on my right sleeve last year. They're a power company from Philadelphia area.
Q. You've been with them for a while?
JIM FURYK: I have. They're a partner with me. They're my title sponsor. Via Skins Game in Philly in June this year. It's the Exelon Invitational. We kind of partnered up. They're my title sponsor and financial aspect the event. We team together to help donate some money to charities in the area.
Q. What was there last year?
JIM FURYK: Johnnie Walker. This is their logo.
Q. Did the deal end with Johnnie Walker?
JIM FURYK: The deal with Johnnie Walker, I was supposed to wear their clothing at least through this year, maybe next. I have to think back. But they decided they're just not producing the clothes this year. They don't have a clothing line in stores this year. PGA TOUR, when I originally signed that deal, was worried that I would be wearing a Haley shirt and putting Johnnie Walker on it. That would be promoting liquor. The Johnnie Walker came out with the clothing line, promoted it, tried to sell it. Now that they're not promoting and selling, to wear that Johnnie Walker logo again would be promoting liquor. It's not allowed on tour.
Q. Was that an economic decision on the Johnnie Walker thing?
JIM FURYK: I might be putting words in someone's mouth, but I would say yes. I'm not exactly sure if they were losing money, making money, how they were doing. The clothing actually was -- it started out pretty good. It actually kept improving from spring to fall, spring to fall, kept getting better. It was a nice line.
Q. Any other deals reworked for you?
JIM FURYK: I would say still with Hogan as my equipment and Strata golf ball. Everything is pretty much the same.
Q. Some of those things had to start over?
JIM FURYK: I did that last year. My contracts, a lot of my contracts were up after the 2000 season. If you remember, I was carrying a different bag, playing Hogan irons. I redid everything with Hogan, Strata, signed for a five-year deal. I'm with them for this year and three more.
Q. Do you have any different clubs in your bag from last year?
JIM FURYK: Pretty much all the same. I play all Hogan irons. My wedges, I have a Cleveland 60. I played a Titleist driver last year. My putter is, as always, it could be anything. This week it's an Odyssey, I believe. I've changed on Wednesday afternoon a bit.
Q. The J driver?
JIM FURYK: Yes. I started with that here last year, won the first event. I played it all year.
Q. You tested the JVS or LFF?
JIM FURYK: I have. I like the J.
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