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May 21, 2014

Jim Furyk


THE MODERATOR:  Like to welcome Jim Furyk to the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.  Jim, you're going to make your 19th career start here where you have two runner‑up finishes and you're coming off two runner‑up finishes on TOUR.  Go ahead and talk about your thoughts coming into this week, and then we'll have a few questions.
JIM FURYK:  I took some time off last week and relaxed.  Main focus wasn't golf.  Wanted to recharge a little bit after the previous two weeks where I played very well.  I felt a little drained after the last event, so it was nice to kind of get away, and not really pick up the clubs too much.  I enjoyed my family for the first half of the week, and went with some buddies on vacation in the second half.  So it was nice getting in here.
I've always enjoyed this golf course.  It's definitely my top five every year.  It's a place I really wish I would have won and hadn't yet.  Obviously, I think Watson beat me years ago, and I lost in a playoff with Bernhard and Rory one year.  But it's a place I've had some success at.  It looks good.  It's in good shape.  It sure is greener than ever.  In the last five years it's been a lot greener than it was 15 years ago.  The place used to be baked out, brown.  Ball chased into trouble it seemed like all the time.  It's gotten longer.  It's changed a touch, but it's quite green and quite softer.
I think with the bentgrass greens here, they have to keep a lot of moisture in there.  They're spot watering and syringing, so I would expect even though it's probably going to be pretty windy this week, that there will be decent scores because those greens are receptive and rolling very well.

Q.  You've won at Harbour Town and had great success here.  What kind of similarities do you see between the two courses?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I mean, they're different in certain aspects, but they're both not power dominated golf courses.  There is no need to overpower, nor can you overpower at Harbour Town.  I think here there might be a few holes where length is an advantage, but for the most part it's about putting the ball on the fairway and getting the ball on the right side of the hole and really placing your golf ball around here, which gets a lot more difficult in the wind.  Lot of crosswinds and hard to keep the ball in the fairway and hard to control it out of this wiry rough.
So the idea, really, is it suits‑‑ both courses suit a similar style.  Same style of game.  I think Boo Weekley has won three or four times on TOUR and I think it's been those events, if I'm correct.  No shocker there, I can see why he loves both courses.  He's a great ball striker.

Q.  The state of your game, obviously is very good.  Can you talk about continuing that form?
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, like I said, I feel like I'm kind of starting over a little bit.  After a week off I have a lot of confidence in what I'm doing and played really well not only for the last two weeks, but for about the last five or six, so I've got a lot of confidence in what I'm doing out there.  It's kind of a mental game.  Instead of‑‑ it's always hard to try to continue something, if that makes sense.  I finished well here, and if I just thought about it, I'd just want to stay where I'm at or I just want to try to continue to play well.  That's maybe the wrong attitude.  I want to keep improving.  There are things I could have done better the last few weeks.  I'm not really talking about the result where you can finish first.  I'm talking about there are things I could have done early in the week.  I had a bad Saturday finish at THE PLAYERS that, in hindsight, put me a little too far back.  But there are things that I could have done better on both of those both mentally and physically and just work on that.
But for me, it's important right now at this stage of my career, I've talked about it a lot, I enjoy those breaks.  Just refreshing, get away, get my mind off of golf for a while.  It just makes me want to work that much harder while I'm here on improving and getting better.  So I'm not really thinking about the past as much as in the future trying to get ready for this week.  I'm going to play this one and two more, and I have a big month off coming before the British Open Championship, so I'm really concentrating now on this three weeks, three out of four and trying to play well at these events.

Q.  So as far as the future goes and looking at the past, you've been on the cusp of being the number one player in the world a couple times in your career.
JIM FURYK:  I was never really on the cusp.  I was number two, but instead of being like baby step to number one, it was three giant leaps, a hop, skip and a jump, and hop in the car for another mile to catch where Tiger was.

Q.  Is it in sight this time around now?
JIM FURYK:  It's not or never will be or has been a priority for me.  I don't know where I am right now, but I'm not close to being in the top five, I don't think.  It's not important to me and it never was.  I said that once in London at the World Match Play, and the gentleman that started the World Rankings in the back, you could see him cringing and gritting his teeth.
It would be cool, I understand, to be sitting here now and say there was a week at one time in my life where I was ranked number one in the world.  That's pretty cool, but I'm past that where I'm ranked in the world.  As long as I'm in the top 25 to 50 you're going to get into basically every event you want to play in.  Coming down the stretch at THE PLAYERS Championship, whether I was ranked 20th or 8th, none of those guys matter.  As long as they see my name on the board and I can still make them a little nervous, I'm happy about it.

Q.  Are there still goals you have in mind, other majors or something?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I've had a drought from winning, so I think the goal really is I had my best career year ever in 2010, and my worst might have been 2011 back‑to‑back.  But I played very well in 2012, 2013.  Last year I had my ups and downs.  I was a little dry through the summer months and started playing really well late summer and into the fall.  This year I've played well in the spring.
So I've had good years, but it's disappointing to have three wins in 2010 and turn around for three years and not win.  I'm 44, and I've played on the TOUR for 21 years.  Lot of people ask what keeps you motivated.  Well, to wake up Sunday morning with a chance to win.  That's what's fun.  That's what keeps me motivated and trying to win golf tournaments.  It's disappointing I haven't been able to do that for three and a half years, whatever it's been, but that's the goal.  I know I'm capable of it, and I've had a lot of really good opportunities, but I haven't been able to do it.

Q.  Before this current stretch of good golf, did you do anything differently tweak anything?  Or is it a natural ebb and flow that you're in a good situation now?
JIM FURYK:  Well, I was playing really well in the fall.  I felt like through that the playoffs where I played well in Boston, I shot 59 in Chicago and had a chance to win there.  I can't remember how I played at the Tour Championship, but I played decent.  I played really well to end the year and took four months off.  That's going to be my schedule from now on.  I've done that for the last five or six years, so I usually use the west coast for trying to find my rhythm, get my feet wet, where's my game at.  I try to build through coming through Florida.  I start gaining some confidence there, hopefully, and I'm ready to go once The Masters starts.  Then I've got Hilton Head and Charlotte and THE PLAYERS and some big events.
I really didn't do anything that much differently this year.  I feel like I've worked really hard for about the last 12 months on my short game, really on some technique and getting back to some basics.  I feel like I've been‑‑ that's a huge strength of mine and really it's been for most of my career from 120 yards and in.  I felt like around the greens the last couple of years and in '12 and '13 I wasn't as good or as sharp as I needed to be or as good as I've been in the past.
So I went back to kind of some basics on technique.  The last 12 months really felt like‑‑ I felt good about what I'm working on, but it seems to have clicked this year.  I've gotten the ball up‑and‑down very well, and I think a lot of times that's the difference between a sixth place and a 15th.  That is the difference between winning and finishing third or fourth.  I think a lot of my finishes, and I've putted really well.  I had a bad back nine on Sunday at Augusta, but I've putted pretty well in spots this year.
My stats don't show it, actually, I guess, but I changed putters actually after Hilton Head after having a Top 10.  Well, I played with a putter for three weeks and I finished in the Top 10 twice and 14th at Augusta.  Changed putters, which I know to most people doesn't make a lot of sense.  I think I freaked a lot of people out, maybe even my caddie.  Then showed up and finished second with that putter two weeks in a row.  So I like what I'm doing with the putter right now too and I feel more confident than I have in a long time.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
JIM FURYK:  No, this is a brand‑new one.  A new one showed up, a new, heavier, longer version, of the Odyssey Tank.  I've tinkered with it at home.  Kind of was uneasy about it, put it away for a few months.  Then was working on some stuff, and my dad is actually putting with the same putter.  I started using his a little bit goofing around at the club, and I said I've got to take that one out of the garage again and give it a try.  And that is the putter I ended up playing so well with the last couple of weeks.

Q.  Did you buy a putter at a pro shop?
JIM FURYK:  In 2010.  That is the year I won, and that putter came back out for those three weeks.  That was the putter I was talking about.  It made a brief return.  It's only had brief moments.  It's never been in the bag for more than eight tournaments in a row, but it gets out once in a while.  I like to switch a lot.  I make no bones about it.  It's my one vice tinkering with clubs, I like putters.

Q.  On Monday an 11‑year‑old girl qualified for the U.S. women's open.  Don't know if you saw it or not?
JIM FURYK:  I saw it flash by on Sportscenter.

Q.  Want to know what your reaction to that is, and when you were 11 years old, did a pro tournament let alone a major ever even appear on your radar screen?
JIM FURYK:  I never played in a golf tournament until I was 12.  I think it's pretty amazing, and as a parent probably extremely scary.  Now that I'm a parent and I have a 10‑year‑old and almost 12, I don't know what the hell I would do with a child that was that good at 11 and where you would direct them.  That's what would scare me the most.
I think to a Jordan Spieth who is so good so young, and his parents did such a wonderful job with him as a person.  Picking the right time to play in certain events on the TOUR when he was ready, and playing college golf as long as he did and deciding it was time to turn pro.  I mean, it seems like maybe he made everything look great because he's such a good kid and he's so talented, but it would be really hard to have that prodigy to figure out which way to direct them.  That is the first thing that crosses my mind every time I see a kid that does something stunning at early ages.  Wow, as a parent it's a scary thought because some of those kids end up being Tiger Woods, and some of them end up being burned out and six years later they hate golf, if that makes sense.
I saw a couple kids growing up that I grew up with that seemed to be every bit as good as me and good competition, and by the time I got to 17 years old, they didn't play golf anymore.  They were done.  I'm amazed at what she's been able to do.
But I give her parents a lot of credit at this point for being able to do that.  It's a tough road though as a kid because, man, I would have missed‑‑ this kid could turn pro probably pretty young, you would think, and then you'd miss your childhood and go back to Jennifer Capriatti turned pro at 14.  She was obviously capable and able, but she missed high school and college.  I just wouldn't want to‑‑ those were some of the best years of my life.  I wouldn't want to give those up.
Everyone needs to grow up a little bit and be a kid and run around and enjoy it.  I think it's incredible, but the first thing that goes through my mind as dad now is, wow, I don't know what I would do.  My kids are just starting to play and they're beginners.  I'm on the other end.  I don't know how to teach them because it's hard to go back that far, if that makes sense.

Q.  Brendon Todd went to the University of Georgia, but I think he grew up in Pittsburgh.  Did your paths cross?
JIM FURYK:  Brendon Todd?  I wasn't aware he was from Pittsburgh.

Q.  Until age 11.  He might be a Steelers fan.
JIM FURYK:  I would hope.  Better not tell anyone from Pittsburgh if he's not a Steelers fan.  I didn't know that he was from Pittsburgh.  Then he moved south somewhere?

Q.  Yeah, to Raleigh, NorthCarolina.
JIM FURYK:  Yeah, I wasn't aware of that.  I don't know Brendon very well though, so we haven't had that is conversation.  I lived in Pittsburgh in that area for only about probably four or five years, age 2 or 3 to the age of 7.  Then we moved back to Eastern, Pennsylvania, Lancaster.  You don't see a lot of Eastern and Western P.A.
You wouldn't meet as kids in junior golf until high school at best.  Pennsylvania wasn't like‑‑ we had our Philly section stuff, and before I started playing more like AJGA nationwide, I did everything in the Philly area.  When I kind of felt like I was doing really well in that area, we moved out and started playing some regional and national events.
But the state of Pennsylvania is so wide, and Pittsburgh and Philly are so wide, that's part of the tri‑state section with PGA of America, and Philly has the Philly section with Delaware, so they're separate in golf.
THE MODERATOR:  He is a big Steeler fan.  You might be the only two in the area.
JIM FURYK:  That are Steeler fans?  You'd be surprised.  I bet I could find a Steeler bar within 25 miles of where we're sitting.  I promise you you're not going to find a Cowboy bar anywhere near Pittsburgh.

Q.  You talked about taking breaks and recharging.  Being part of the Pro‑am this morning and getting a chance to interact with the fans before you start an event, is there a form of recharging that goes on as you have a moment to relax with people who enjoy the game that you happen to play but also a chance for you to unwind before you can return to play?
JIM FURYK:  I look at it‑‑ I don't look at it that way.  I look at it is my job is to go out there and make sure that four amateurs have a good time.  They came out there.  It's easy too because four guys picked you to play.  They want to like you.  You just have to be somewhat personable and you'll have a good time.  They're not hoping you're an idiot out there.  They're hoping you're a nice guy.  So it's quite easy to do.
It's what I've always done throughout my career.  I've played this is my 21st year, so 20 years of Pro‑Ams before.  So I use it as a day to prepare, try to get my game in shape.  Not really bothered by what I shoot.  It's more do I feel good over the ball?  Am I hitting crisp shots?  So I feel like I have confidence going into Thursday.  I like to play Wednesday morning, so if there's something I want to work on, I can get it out of the way in the afternoon.
But I don't really see it as a release like happy‑go‑lucky the day before.  But my idea has been most of our guys, I think, are pretty good Pro‑Ams.  If I'm going to be out there for five hours, I might as well have a good time while I'm doing it and try to enjoy the company and the people.  But, really, it's about them and hoping they have a good time.

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