Jim Furyk discusses his new event, successful career in Q&A
‘I’ve always enjoyed getting better’
October 06, 2021
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- im Furyk is hosting his first PGA TOUR Champions event at this week’s Constellation Energy FURYK & FRIENDS.. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jim Furyk is hosting his first PGA TOUR Champions event at this week’s Constellation Energy FURYK & FRIENDS. He compared his hosting duties with competing in a major championship because of the excitement and nerves he felt when he woke up Monday.
“I think it will be an emotional week,” he said Tuesday. His inaugural event has attracted a strong field that also includes Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Steve Stricker.
Furyk, 51, has won three times this season on PGA TOUR Champions, including the U.S. Senior Open. He sat down with PGATOUR.COM at Timiquana Country Club to discuss his new event, as well as his decorated PGA TOUR career. He talked about the role that self-belief had in his progression from a solid college player to a 17-time TOUR winner, as well as the most important shot he hit that no one saw. He told the story of how watching Nick Faldo hit wedges at the Masters changed his career and described playing with Tiger in his first win, a scene he described as “chaos.” (Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)
PGATOUR.COM: What made you want to host an event?
JIM FURYK: Well, we had our event that we called Furyk & Friends for 10 years and we had a nice little niche and we were raising about half a million dollars each year for charity. We were raising some good money, but we also didn't have a formula for growth.
It was an opportunity more than anything else. It was an opportunity that Tabitha and I talked about and an opportunity for us to really showcase our city in Jacksonville and then also raise more money for charity.
PGATOUR.COM: You moved to the Jacksonville area in 1996. Did you expect that you’d stay 25 years and, on a professional level, did you think the next 25 years would hold what they did?
JIM FURYK: I bought a townhome and it was just kind of a, ‘Let’s just see what Jacksonville has to offer.’ I had heard a lot about the water, the practice facility at TPC, the cost of living and the quality of living. It just became home. We raised our kids here. Our foundation’s here. But no, I never had the idea that in 1996 that this would be like my permanent home.
As far as my career, I was a good junior player and highly recruited. I was a solid college player, but, even on my own team, I wasn’t the can’t-miss kid or the guy agents were seeking after. Some of that was a blessing for me. I didn’t sign a big contract with an equipment contract and feel pressure to come out and be one of the top players on TOUR. I got to improve at my own rate. By the time I won my first event, I felt like I could handle it. In 2003, I won my first major and people asked, ‘What’s different now?’ and I was like not much.
I always felt like I was lucky in that whatever I accomplished I was ready for. I didn’t go out in my second year and back into winning a big event and like, ‘Uh oh.’ I was ready for it. But I never imagined leaving college that I was going to have an almost 30-year career, win 17 times, play in nine Ryder Cups, be the Ryder Cup captain. I couldn’t have even dreamed of that.
PGATOUR.COM: What’s the most important shot in your career that no one saw?
JIM FURYK: The most pressure I ever felt in my life was in Q-School, and that includes major championships or Ryder Cup. In my second Q-School, in the finals in 1993, I made the four-round cut on the number and I got my TOUR card on the number (Note: At the time, Q-School was a six-round event with a 72-hole cut). It was a stressful, stressful week. We were playing in Palm Springs at PGA West.
I made the fourth-round cut on the number, making a 15-footer for birdie on the last hole, thinking I had to two-putt. What happens if that doesn’t go in and I don’t make the cut?
In the final round, the second-to-last hole was a par-3 with water short. One of the guys I was playing with, we were tied, he hit it in the water and made double. I scraped it up on the middle of the green somewhere and two-putted. I hit an OK drive on the last hole – think about how long ago this was, and I can remember the shots – and I had to hit a 4-iron into this green. Pin is front-left on a lake. I hit the ball 30 feet long and right of the hole. With a 4-iron, it was a pretty good shot. I had a putt coming over a ridge and it lipped out. I had a tap-in for par but I wasn’t sure if I had to make birdie or par. I was the first group out and I had to wait two-plus hours for scores to come in. The top 40 and ties earned their TOUR cards and I tied for 37th.Jim Furyk during his Rookie season in 1994 at the Las Vegas Invitational. (Sam Greenwood/PGA TOUR Archive)
PGATOUR.COM: What was the secret to your longevity?
JIM FURYK: I was able to stay pretty healthy. I do things differently than a lot of players, but I think the belief that it was going to work, and sticking by it, was able to give me the longevity. I had to refine it, I had to get better, I had to get more consistent, but I had the belief that it was good enough.
My goals were never all that short-sighted. I wrote goals down during my career, but I never wrote down that I need to win two tournaments this year or win $1 million. They were never even that I need to hit 70% of the fairways. My one goal each and every year was to improve and to look back 12 months from now and say that I’m a better player because of X, Y and Z. There was always this quest and search for how to improve.
It’s easy at times to identify your weaknesses. It’s really difficult to put your finger on how to address them, though. My dad was always very good at helping me get better at those things and creating a path or a way to do it. Sometimes, you can’t get it tomorrow. It may take six months.
When I first went out on TOUR and played my first Masters in 1995, I remember watching Nick Faldo hit some wedges next to me in that old practice area. He was hitting this beautiful, low, driving wedge shot that landed so soft. I didn’t want him to see, but I was watching what he was doing. He walked away after about 15 minutes and I asked my dad, ‘Did you see that? That’s how I want to hit wedge shots.’ I knew that if I wanted to take the next step I would need to get better from 100 yards and in. And so, I worked on what my dad said for two years, relentlessly, in that back area of TPC and turned myself into what I thought was one of the best wedge players on TOUR. I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own. I would identify that I needed to get better but he helped me get there and I put the work in.Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in 2007 at Thousand Oaks, California. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
JIM FURYK: The TOUR was totally caught off-guard by his presence and the chaos it created at golf tournaments. It was almost unsafe. It was like we had to fight our way from one green to the next tee. It was total chaos. And I think that led to hiring the security staff we have now. At the time, we were using like concert security that didn’t know much about golf and the plans for us around the golf course weren’t that good. My day was a mess. I was just frustrated. It took awhile. We just didn’t understand what his presence was going to mean, even then. We were naïve. I think Tiger was probably more prepared for it than anyone.
PGATOUR.COM: What is it about the game that you’re still grinding at 51?
JIM FURYK: Early in my career, I would have told you something different. When I was 25, it was a fear of failure. Larry Bird used to wake up and he’d had a dream that he went 0-for-28 and couldn’t make a shot. That fear of failure kept me driven. Now it’s just pride. The guys out here have had great careers. We just have a lot of pride in our craft. I put the work in because I don’t want to put a product out there that I’m not proud. I have a lot of pride in what I do.
I enjoy practicing. I enjoy trying to get better. I enjoy being going off by myself with a bag of shag balls and hitting flop shots, trying to figure out different ways to do it. I’ve liked the serenity and peacefulness. I can get lost in it. An hour can go by and it feels like five minutes. I’ve always enjoyed getting better.