What they said: Jim Furyk

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March 17, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: Transitions Championship transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Jim, thanks for joining us for a few minutes, 5-under 66 today puts you right up at the top of the leaderboard in the final round of the Transitions Championship tomorrow with Retief Goosen, who incidentally is who you played the final round with in 2010 when you won here.

Just some comments on the round today, obviously not the until finish but overall a lot of circles on the scorecard today. Just some comments on the round and we'll take questions.

JIM FURYK: I got off to a fast start, birdieing four of the first seven and I made two good birdies on par 5s, driving the ball in the rough. Felt good about what I was doing and hit good some putts, and hit a couple others that caught a piece of the hole and just really played solid on the back nine.

I didn't get it going quite as fast, and missed about an 8-footer there on 10 for birdie but played well, hit a bunch of greens today and of course I ended up 3-putting last but felt good about the drive I hit and the iron. The iron just caught that, I could see from the fairway and kicked right and caught that ridge. And I kind of guided the first putt, didn't hit a good solid putt like I wanted to. I left it short of the ridge. It was kind of an evil pin, really.

That green has changed a little bit since the past. That pin placement didn't exist before this year, and left of the green is no bargain, and right over where I was is no bargain as far as getting down in two. So you really had to hit one up the center of the green there and leave it short of the pin.

Q. You scored better today than yesterday; does that mean you played better necessarily??

JIM FURYK: I kind of view playing as scoring, if that makes sense. Lots of guys swing at it well and not that many play real well, if that makes sense.

So the scoring and the playing today had a lot to do with, I knocked more putts in, and I actually hit a bunch of really crisp iron shots. But I think yesterday when I missed a shot, it either ended up in a bad spot or I really missed it. I put myself in a bad position. Today my misses, I didn't hit a lot of fairways. I think statistically that probably was a bad day for me. I only hit two on the front, I know, that and shot 4?under.

So obviously I was playing very well. I hit less than 50 percent of the fairways today, which I've been hitting the ball really straight off the tee and I've been hitting the ball in the fairway a lot, and maybe not getting as much out of it.

Today when I hit it in the rough, I was always in a decent spot. I made some birdies out of the rough today, and was able to knock some putts in and keep the round going. I played I think very patient, and when I struggled there from like 8, 9, 10, 11, no putts were going in, didn't let it bother me; and made probably the toughest putt of all on No. 12 for birdie and kind of resparked the round a little bit.

Q. 15??

JIM FURYK: Probably the best swing of the day. I hit a 6-iron there to about three or four feet. That was just a good, full 6?iron for me. Perfect yardage and a very, very good swing.

Q. When did the putter come around? You were searching at the end of last season. Do you feel pretty good with it now?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I'm still working on it. I feel a lot better than I did last year. I'll always be working on it. I have an idea of what I want to do now. When I went to -- the week before The Presidents Cup last year, I kind of committed myself back to the short, regular?length putter.

Started working on something the week before The Presidents Cup that I really liked as far as just did a very simple drill with two tees and trying to get my putter to go between them and hit the ball solid. When I was putting poorly last year I was not hitting putts solid, and it was frustrating, considering you make a full golf swing with the driver and hit it in the middle of the face; and the putting stroke, you've got eight inches back and eight inches through and I was missing the center of the putter. I was a little frustrated by that.

I started working on that drill, and really, I won't say I changed my setup; I figured out what I had to do in my setup and maybe in my putting stroke to hit the ball consistently more solid. It gave me kind of a method and a way to practice, where I didn't have to sit on the green for two and three hours at a time and getting nothing out of it. I was spending 20, 25 minutes on the green and getting out of there feeling like I accomplished something. So I still have some improvement to go and I'm still working on it. But I feel a lot more comfortable about what I'm doing now and I have kind of a focus.

Q. Were you irritated not being at Doral last week??

JIM FURYK: I wasn't irritated. You know, I put myself in the situation by the way I played last year. It was only my fault. Irritated is probably not the right word.

It's somewhat disappointing in that I really like playing Doral. I've won there. I've lost in a playoff there. I enjoy playing the golf course and I think it suits my game well. So I know the course really well, so it would be a place that I, if qualified, or just a regular TOUR event, I would be there every year. So I was disappointed not to go.

Q. Along those lines, is there any sense when the year closed its books last year and you finished right at 50 or just inside the Top?50, was there any sense of relief as it relates to the Masters, or were you not even thinking in that regards, because you wouldn't be eligible otherwise at this point.

JIM FURYK: At the end of the year, talking with my management group, I saw myself sliding very quickly. I hung in that low to mid 30s range for a long time, and then all of a sudden every week I started making some major jumps south. They mentioned that at the end of the year, Top?50 would get in the Masters. And I played pretty well at Chevron and I played well the last round, actually, to jump up in Chevron.

That actually probably kept me in the Top?50 to be honest with you in hindsight. I was looking -- I was on vacation, and I was out in Utah and I guess they had figured out the World Rankings the week prior to Christmas and I found out a few days before Christmas that I was going to end up exactly 50th. That was a good present.

I knew I was in the U.S. Open. I think I was already qualified for the British and the PGA. So I think Presidents Cup, I was already pre-qualified for those. So that was nice to get that fourth one out of the way and know that I would play in all four majors.

Q. These were things you didn't think about maybe two or three years ago.

JIM FURYK: I haven't thought about those for ten years, maybe even more than that. Again, it's my fault. I played -- that's the position I put myself in last year. Yeah, I haven't read tournament criteria for a long time. But it is what it is, and I was surprised actually last year that I was not in -- I was shocked, actually, I wasn't in HSBC. I was 29th in the world at the time.

Q. Alternate??

JIM FURYK: I got in as an alternate, that's right.

Q. You said you went to a shorter putter??

JIM FURYK: I went to a regular-length putter, because I had the belly putter for three months last year.

Q. And that didn't -- I don't know, results weren't there.

JIM FURYK: It was a short?term fix. The results were better immediately than what I had been doing with the regular-length putter. But over the course of three months, I found myself still hitting some of the same bad putts I was hitting. I was hitting a putt kind of out in the toe when I hit it bad and was kind of pulling putts, and I was starting to hit some of those same putts with the belly putter, as well.

And that's when I started scratching my head saying, okay, wait a second now, I'm starting to make the same stroke with this putter, what's going on. And so it kind of drove me to figure out, again, I wanted to hit the ball more solidly, which sounds easy but I wasn't doing a very good job of it.

Q. Have you done the tee drill or is this the first time??

JIM FURYK: When I was a kid I used to use those Pelz clips you would tape them in on the putter and would go flying off. So no, not a lot; a little on and off. But no, not as much as I should have to be honest with you, but I had tried it. That's something, that I guess the first time I ever saw somebody do it with the tees is Tiger. He used to do it all the time, or do it one-handed a lot, which is pretty difficult.

Q. A lot of guys when you go to them talk about, you're not in the Masters or you're not in an event and say, you know, what I'm not thinking about, that I just have to play better. You were in the situation; maybe not getting into Doral and you said you had not thought about getting into the Masters or any of the events or majors for a long time. Does it weigh on you, even though you're not telling us it weighs on you??

JIM FURYK: No one likes to play poorly. What do you mean by.

Q. They will say, well, you know, if I played better, I'll get in. But in your psyche, what is it really like? What are you really feeling, what you're not really telling us??

JIM FURYK: Obviously I'm pissed off. I don't want to play poorly. I haven't played poorly for -- actually I've never played like I played last year on TOUR. Maybe my rookie year but I was excited, I finished 78th on the Money List, I was excited, I had a card, I had a job, I was 23 years old, couldn't have been happier, 24.

Yeah, I was excited. So last year, yeah, you're pissed off about the way you're playing, but I think that I'm disappointed, I was upset, I was cranky on the golf course, I was harder on my caddie, I was harder on Mike last year than I've ever been. I think I'm a pretty easy guy to work for and there were times last year where I wasn't, and I realized -- I tried not to take it home. I tried when I show up at the hotel room, I try to pretty much put golf behind me, because the kids don't know any different. You're still dad at home, whether you shoot 79 or 59.

I tried not to take it home and hopefully I didn't but sometimes it's hard. But I think had it happened to me probably when I was 31, or 32, and I would have had a bad year there in the middle, I would have taken it a little harder. I lived and breathed my golf a little bit more at those times. And as I got older, other things in my life have become as they should, should have been when I was 31, but there's other things in life more important and that's my family and my kids.

You put it in perspective, and I think now I'm able to kind of at the end of the day take a deep breath and instead of focusing on, I played poorly, the focus is on, OK, what are the next steps to start playing well. That's really what I've been doing for the last few months.

And I needed kind of the year last year to end to be honest with you. And I had to keep playing at the end of the year, because I didn't have a very good year and I wanted to get the World Ranking up but I needed the time off, take a deep breath and refocus my goals and what I was trying to accomplish and how was I going to go about doing that, and that I needed some time to work on that.

I had about eight weeks to kind of get away, to refocus, to think about what I wanted to work on and get to work. I feel like I have not had a lot of starts, and my results maybe probably don't look good on paper but I feel good about the way I'm playing. I've been playing much better golf this year than I was last year.

Q. You said you were 29th before HSBC in the world??

JIM FURYK: When the cutoff date was for HSBC.

Q. Could you understand how you could fall from 29th to 50th, and you didn't really play that much in that stretch.

JIM FURYK: I don't know how the World Rankings -- it is what it is. Again, I'm not going to argue.

Q. It seems so odd to fall that fast in that short period of time.

JIM FURYK: It was strange in that every week I was losing -- it looked like I was losing four or five spots a week. But I guess that was all the points that I had accumulated in 2010 were getting less and less value and I didn't accumulate a lot in 2011. So I don't really know how it works.

That I don't worry about. I just go play golf and if you play well, you're in the Top-50, you get in everything you want.

Q. You had some time off and wanted to regroup. At what point did you target this tournament, or if you did, here is a course you've always played well and this probably was a tournament you've been looking forward to all year??

JIM FURYK: I always look forward to this tournament. I always look forward to -- I like playing Pebble Beach, all of the events I play, I look forward to, Pebble, Rivi is a great golf course; the Match Play, I went to school in Tucson so it's fun to get back and visit.

I've won at Doral and I love getting back to the East Coast where there's actually some humidity in the air and my hands aren't bleeding. It's close to home. I don't mind playing the Honda. I enjoyed it. I didn't play as well as I would have liked this year. But I've won here. Bay Hill is close to home. Usually my family is there and the kids have a blast. You have Augusta, Hilton Head, Harbour Town is probably my favorite course on TOUR, one of the two.

And then Wachovia, a place I've won, I'm home at the PLAYERS, go to Colonial, my other favorite golf course on TOUR and then Memorial. The stretch as soon as we hit March, I start getting really excited about golf because of the courses we are playing and places that I have won and I'm more of a hot weather guy. I like the summer months. The 86 degrees out there is feeling quite nice to me. I'm done with the high of 62 and 42 in the morning and sweaters and West Coast.

Q. Good thing you got out of Pennsylvania when you did.

JIM FURYK: Well, I went to Arizona for one semester and pretty much called dad and said, I don't think I'm coming back. It's too cold.

Q. It's easy to attribute your problems last year solely to your putting. Did your ball?striking fall off at all?

JIM FURYK: I drove the ball pitiful last year. That's probably the worst driving year I've had. And I don't credit it all to putting. I putted poorly last year. I drove the ball poorly last year. That's two of the three most important parts of the game. You're not going to score well at that point.

So I switched drivers at the end of last year in December. Started working with a Callaway driver right before Chevron and enjoyed -- I liked what I saw. Started working with a different golf ball with actually Phil, when I played with him at The Presidents Cup, started using his golf ball and really liked it.

Basically what I was seeing was a combination of the two products, I was creating more spin on the golf ball, and I got away from that a little bit last year. The ball launched a little bit higher and had a little less spin; I could hit it far, but I'm not a high?spin guy and because I'm a guy that wants to hit a lot of shots, hit it right-to-left, left-to-right, hit it low, hit it high, and I need spin to do that and that's how you control the golf ball.

I had made some mistakes and in what I was doing with my equipment and I made mistakes fitting myself equipment that I could have done better. And it was a product of maybe trying to get a little bit longer, maybe trying to find new ways to improve and maybe then hurting my strengths, if that makes sense. Trying to make my weaknesses better but in doing so, hurting your strengths, which is rule No. 1. You don't do that.

Q. You're not playing any of the same equipment you had when you won the FedExCup, are you??

JIM FURYK: 3-wood, Callaway wedge. That bunker shot I hit was with a Callaway wedge. Played with Callaway wedges. I did switch irons. There are no more of those irons left. I had to switch. Played them last year.

You know, that season -- no one's playing the driver they were playing two years ago. I was playing a Callaway driver for a lot of the season and at the end I was playing TaylorMade. I guess the Callaway wedge and 3-wood probably would have been consistent. That 3-wood's been in the bag for a long time. Keep trying to get rid of it.

Q. But no deal with them??

JIM FURYK: I represent Callaway.

Q. So you got out of the last one, the one that?? are we allowed to name?

JIM FURYK: I represented TaylorMade last year in ball and driver, and I really appreciate the hard work, because I worked really hard with them on trying to fit drivers. Went through a lot of product last year and probably frustrated them a little bit.

But I have nothing but good things to say about the people there. I played college golf and junior golf against Keith Sbarbaro, spent a lot of time with him last year. It was kind of a very nice -- you don't see a lot of parting of the ways. It's very amicable, and this was as professional as I could ever imagined it and I'm very appreciative of that.

DOUG MILNE: Thank you.

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