What they said: Jim Furyk

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April 12, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: RBC Heritage transcript archive MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Jim Furyk. He was the 2010 winner of the RBC Heritage. You got to 3-under today, talk about your conditions and the round, and we'll have a few questions.

JIM FURYK: The conditions were tough this morning. The weatherman was spot on; it was chilly, quite breezy and gusty this morning. And it seems about the time we made the turn it started to warm up a little bit, players started to take their sweaters off. I won't say the wind laid down, but it didn't blow as hard on the backside, and it lessened and is supposed to be lessening as the day goes on.

I'm happy to get in with the score I did, 3-under. Looking at the weather report last night, looking at the greens yesterday in the Pro Am, they were very firm and very fast. It looked like a Sunday afternoon in that Pro Am. And staff did a good job of putting a little water on the greens, and making them a little more receptive and playable in all that wind. And they're very stressed out right now as far as still haven't had three days to go over them with how dry and how firm they are.

I think the staff did a good job, made the golf course somewhat playable. I was hoping, looking to get in it. I thought anything at even par or better would be a good round this morning and keep me in the golf tournament.

Q. How is it playing when it's a little colder than it normally is this time of year? Does it make any difference in how the course plays?

JIM FURYK: Not really, it just makes conditions a lot tougher. You don't have a lot of feeling in your hands. And the chipping and putting, the touch around the greens is more difficult. The ball wasn't going as far this morning and it's hard to compress it. It wasn't snow or anything. It was more the wind. And I think having -- being out on the range was really cold this morning, a little more out in the open. Once we got down 1 and 2, you could see the treetops moving, but the wind is coming from the northeast, it's cold, and that's what made us feel so cold out there. Once we got in the trees, the wind kind of died out at ground level and it was a little easier to stay warm.

Q. I know you are a fan of the golf course, what have you thought of the changes??

JIM FURYK: There's a couple I really like and there's a couple that I like the other way better. But no matter what change you make, there's going to be 50 opinions on it, 25 one way and 25 will be the other.

The 15th tee, no big deal, not much different. I think the two most drastic changes are probably the third tee being moved back and the 16th tee being moved back. But I'm trying to go back in my mind and think where those tee boxes have moved. 3 moved. 5 was a nice change; I like the bunker down the right. Matches what was there previously and added a little length to the hole. I like the tee box on 6 as far as it's a different angle, but I thought it fit right into the course well. 7, I know, changed. 8, minimal. 9, nothing.

And then your back tee at 15 is not -- it's 15 yards, it makes it, I think, a significant difference because it's a very difficult layup. I think it's one of the harder second-shot layups on the PGA TOUR, and they've added probably 15 yards to it. I think I went in with a little longer iron than a mid iron, or at least I am.

And 16 I think is probably the most drastic change on the golf course.

18 doesn't seem like we're going to use that back left corner this year, and especially not in the wind like it was today.

Q. Have you ever seen the greens sort of that firm this early in the week, here in all the years you've been coming here? And secondly, the changes, the word at least a couple of guys used was "unnecessary". Where do you fall on that side of it?

JIM FURYK: I avoided that in the last question. I guess you were a little bit more direct. I think 3 and 16 are unnecessary, yes.

Q. Well said.

JIM FURYK: I tried to dodge it, you just didn't let me.

Q. In terms of the green speeds??

JIM FURYK: The greens are stressed right now and maybe not quite as healthy as they've been in the past. They're very thin in grass and the root structure isn't very deep into the greens right now, and they looked dusty yesterday. I was quite taken aback. And it was kind of a shock. Usually you go in the Pro Am and the golf is playing pretty mild and general, and the pins are in the middle of the greens, and yesterday it was a smack in the face. And I'm sure the amateurs had a difficult time because of how quick and firm the greens were.

It did look like a late Sunday afternoon. Usually the golf course on Thursday and Friday is somewhat playable; you have 132 to 156 guys you have to get around in a decent period of time. You're trying to beat sunlight in some events. And Saturday it firms up a little bit. And Sunday late afternoon you start to see the shine on the grass, and you know that everything is baking out and getting firmer and faster. To see that on Wednesday afternoon, and as I said, the greens don't -- since they've redone them here or whatever it was, I guess, eight years ago, they've been fantastic. It was a huge, significant improvement to this golf course and this tournament. They just look a little like they've been stressed out this year.

They're thin on grass. There are some areas around the periphery that are kind of sanded in that you might not see on TV. But they're thin. They roll nice but they're stressed. And so I was very surprised to see the condition they were in on Wednesday to be so firm, so fast and so overly stressed on a Wednesday, knowing we still had to play four tournament rounds on them.

Q. It's supposed to warm up a little, do you think (inaudible)?(inaudible)?

JIM FURYK: I think it's going to depend on the blue skies and the wind. And then I'm not an agronomist, so I have no idea what they can do in the meantime. Yesterday when you hit a pitch shot to the hole, you could not make it check. Today you could do that, I won't say easily, but it was a significant change. The first pitch I saw, by one of my partners, hit I went, kind of saw it pull up, and he left it six or seven feet short, because he was surprised and it was kind of -- that was the green light telling me that, okay, they've thrown some water, they've changed the greens significantly overnight here, which is hard to do with all that wind. So they had to throw some water on them and probably not cut them, as well. They're still quick, though.

Q. When it's cold like it was this morning, do you have to take another club??

JIM FURYK: It's kind of a feel thing, really. It's hard to hit it high and far. But it's more just a feel. If I'm 167 and that's usually a nice 7-iron, it might be a good 7-iron. I probably wouldn't have -- it didn't snow this morning (laughter). Mark Wilson was wearing a ski hat, but it wasn't that cold. We were probably in, what, the low 50s, I would guess. So it wasn't terrible, but it adds to the difficulty. I love hot weather. 70 is better than 60 and 90 is better than 70. I'll take 100, to be honest with you. The hotter the better. Things don't seem to hurt as much.

Q. It's just a number, of course, but I've seen you fall to 46th in the world. I'm sure you'd consider yourself a better player than that number.

JIM FURYK: I've actually climbed to 46. I was down to around 60 somewhere.

No, I wasn't happy with the way I played last year, and disappointed. I made some mistakes mechanically. I think I made some mistakes in the way I was preparing for golf tournaments, I made some mistakes in equipment. I had some time in the off-season to kind of assess -- kind of towards the end of the year, the season couldn't end quick enough, to be honest with you. I wanted to kind of see it out and play well, and I played real well in The Presidents Cup, which was a big boost of confidence. I wanted that time off to kind of assess where I went wrong in 2011 and how I was going to basically make a plan and how I was going to fix it in 2012. And I worked real hard in the off-season. I was a little rusty on the West Coast because I took so much time off, but that's kind of common to me. Once I got to Florida, I was very confident about my game and what I was trying to do. And now the results for at least the last few weeks have been pretty good, two 11ths and loss in a playoff in Tampa.

When I was No. 2 in the world for 18 months I used to make the World Golf Rankings people really mad when I said, I really don't care where I'm ranked, and I'm not going to be hypocritical now. The only reason I care now because it matters whether I get in some golf tournaments or not. I wasn't able to get in the Doral, the Cadillac Championship because of it. I was able to squeak in the Masters and do some good there. And as long as you're in the top 50, it seems like everything works out for you.

Q. Seems somewhat intriguing that a guy that's been around as long as you have, to make all those changes. Can you go into where you went wrong last year??

JIM FURYK: They weren't major changes. In trying to hit the ball a little farther, which is probably the one frontier that is my biggest weakness, that I'm very average length. In trying to hit the ball farther I basically fit myself in products that didn't spin as much as I needed to. I like to hit a lot of shots, like to hit it high, I like to hit it low, I like to curve the ball a lot, left to right and right to left. In order to do those things, you have to spin the ball. I'm not a guy that stays back on his right foot and rears back and slashes at it and goes and finds it and hits it again. That's just not my style. Mine has always been more trying to put the ball on certain spots in the golf course, and take advantage of my strengths. I think I got away from that a little bit last year.

And I'm happier right now with my equipment than I've probably been at any point in my career. I give Callaway a lot of credit for that, for helping me, and helping me to get fit in December. I learned a lot. I was there for basically two full days before the Chevron event, for Tiger's event. And basically left there with a brand-new set of irons with different shafts and a driver, and pulled every club and put them in the bag and played them that week to see how they were. And actually I like them. I haven't changed my driver or my irons since that event.

Testing equipment and putting stuff in play was a painstaking process for me in the past to be able, to do that all in two days. I haven't done that in two months before, let alone two days. So I think I got back with some people I was very comfortable working with, Nick Raffaele and Dean Teykl run the program there at Callaway for the Tour. They were with Hogan and Srixon in the past. Those were products I played with very well in the past. And a lot of it has to do with Callaway Golf and also with the people running and the familiarity with me, and how I like to play and fit equipment, and also my familiarity, being familiar with them and trusting them to help me.

I had a lot to do with my off-season. And then a lot of it since then has been getting my confidence back. In this game you can kind of fall off the cliff quickly and lose your confidence very fast, but it's a longer climb back up the mountain to gain confidence where you're at. And I'm starting to get to the point now where I feel pretty good about my game and I've got a lot of confidence back.

Q. Tell us what you did from like Sunday evening to Wednesday to recharge after the Masters. Is it any tougher to recharge after that event than, say, playing in any two Tour events back to back??

JIM FURYK: I could write a book on that question.

Ten years ago it was almost impossible for me to come from the Masters and play this golf tournament. Augusta was wide open, before the changes there, and before the changes here, Augusta was wide open, the huge greens, and the greens were as fast as we played, overly fast.

Augusta has since tamed their green speeds quite a bit. Because the golf course is so much longer and so much harder and so much more punishing from tee to green, they don't need the greens to be the defense, as much. And they've also tightened up Augusta quite a bit.

This golf course, of course, is as tight as can be with tiny little greens, and 15 years ago they used to be some of the slowest that we putted on Tour. And so the difference from one to the other was so drastic, I really had a hard time just getting ready and actually making that change. Obviously Davis didn't, because he's always done well no matter when this tournament was. I struggled doing it.

But this golf course when they redid the greens years ago they got much firmer, much faster, and the change in putting wasn't that big a deal to me, and when Augusta tightened up, and it wasn't just try to sit back and see how far you can hit it. And I now have to play at distinct spots in the fairways to catch some angles, to be able to hit the iron shots in the greens. So I'm working on hitting the ball straight there, as well. Coming here hasn't been such a big deal.

What I did in between, the last three years, this is the third year I've done it, I went up to play the Hootie and Blowfish event up in Myrtle Beach the Monday after the Masters. I hope they're washing my car out there. I've gone and played that. We got there Sunday night, met some friends, had some food and cocktails, enjoyed ourselves. I went and played Monday, with Darius and some of his friends and some of the people that have helped their charity a lot, and really had a great time. It's a six-hour round, but it's as much fun as you can have playing golf. I enjoyed the guys I played with. We had a concert. I played Monday night, and I got down here Tuesday afternoon. I putted a little bit and we had our a PAC meeting.

Q. If it's a six-hour round does that mean the last hour you're (inaudible).

JIM FURYK: I heard that a lot the last day. I had to get to about hole 3 and then maybe make sure I could get through the rest. You've got to pace yourself.

Q. Considering as many dynamics as possible, can you tell us what makes this golf tournament unique, possibly special on the PGA TOUR??

JIM FURYK: Well, there's a few things. First and foremost, I think, it's unique, and it's not the only one, but it's unique in its history. Early in Pete Dye's career, one of Jack Nicklaus's first, I think possibly his first dabble in golf course design. Arnold Palmer was his first champion. One of only a few events to give out a really ugly jacket to the winner (laughter). The green one is much prettier, from what I hear. I wouldn't know.

Until this year it's a golf course that probably has gone pretty much unchanged for 40 years, 50, how long has it been, 40 years since it's been designed? So that would have been the most probably unique thing about this golf course or this tournament, is that I can't imagine any golf course that we've played, since I've joined the Tour 19 years ago, that hasn't changed. And this one definitely has withstood the test of time. It didn't need to change. Now obviously things happen, and they want to give it a facelift here and this and that. It's a golf course that has stood 40 years through tremendous different equipment changes and still it's not an easy golf course, and no one goes and tears it up. It's a tough place to play.

But then you've got Hilton Head. It's very family oriented, and I think a fun place. I enjoy it here. I enjoy coming. I like the grounds and the people here and it's got a different atmosphere about it. It's a small footprint for the golf course, it seems more and more we're putting golf tournaments on these giant venues where you can fit a lot of corporate hospitality and people and parties. Here they've got to get kind of creative. It's a small footprint. It feels a little more quaint and a little bit more like a little party, rather than a huge bash, if that makes sense.

MARK STEVENS: Thank you, Jim, good luck tomorrow.

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