An Interview With: JIM FURYK
September 19, 2006
SCOTT CROCKETT: All right, everyone, thank you very much. Jim, welcome as always. Thank you for coming and joining us. Welcome to the 36th Ryder Cup. You're a veteran of four of these occasions; just give us your thoughts as you embark on number five.
JIM FURYK: Well, obviously it's an honour to be here and representing my country for the fifth time. Our team is excited. I've been here as many of you know for a few extra days. The team just arrived yesterday. So I've been lonely, it's been nice to see some familiar faces. I was waiting for voices yesterday morning, just to hear some people show up and get a chance to see my wife and the friends on the team.
So I'm excited that the week has gotten started, and you know, these days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, seem like they take ten days, and Friday, Saturday, Sunday usually flies right by. We're all excited to get these days under our belt and it's good preparation and everyone is excited for Friday.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You played some this morning and obviously partnered with Tiger. Tell us about that.
JIM FURYK: We played 18. We actually rotated some partners throughout our group. But I did partner with Tiger quite a bit today. We had fun.
I think our group got off to a little bit of a slow start this morning. I was a little bit groggy with jet lag and didn't make any birdies on the front but had a little bit better time on the back side and enjoyed ourselves. We had a good time. We had a fun group.
Q. Both captains have talked about not hesitating to sit players out during the first few days if they feel like that's the right thing to do. What's it like for a player when you're obviously so eager to get out there and play an event like this, you know, when you have to sit out, and what do players do when they are not playing when the matches are going on?
JIM FURYK: Well, I think it would be I can't remember it happening no, it did. I remember Steve Pate actually sat out Friday at Brookline for the entire day. What's probably more difficult is having to sit out both rounds on a Friday and having to start on Saturday, because you've anticipated the day and want to get out there and get started.
But I think you can prepare mentally if you know you're going to sit Friday morning. You're pretty much told that in advance and you know it's coming and you know you're probably playing Friday afternoon. I think you just prepare like a tee time like you would for any other tournament; I'm going to be going out sometime between 1:30 and 2:15 and you get a little afternoon tee time and probably get a little extra sleep that morning, which by that time everyone can use after the functions and some of the early wakeup calls. It's probably not all that bad.
But having to sit both matches would make someone very anxious on Saturday.
Q. You mentioned you played with Tiger, and a lot has been made about his record here and finding the right partner for him. He says he likes playing with you. What do you think it is about your game or your personality that he likes partnering with you, and does that bring any sort of pressure?
JIM FURYK: Probably likes watching my swing, I would think (laughter).
Yeah, I think we get along well. I enjoy his company. I enjoy his sense of humour. I had fun with him at the Presidents Cup. We had never played together. That was our eighth team together, counting Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. We haven't had the opportunity.
But our mentalities are a lot the same. We try to on the whole, length is not an issue. We attack a lot of those holes similar ways. We read putts very similarly. You know, I think our thought processes are a lot alike. Obviously he can attack the golf course from different angles than I can because of his length and power, and that also helps because we get into four ball type of competition, we're playing some holes differently, and in different styles. So we have some similarities, we have some differences, and we get along pretty well.
And hopefully we partnered well at the Presidents Cup. There's obviously no promises, but hopefully that continues. I enjoy playing golf with him, and I'm excited because I feel like that's going to happen this week.
Q. Tom talked about wanting you guys to have fun in the practise rounds and trying to win over the crowd here. What did you guys do; did you sign a lot of autographs today or did you interact with the crowd much?
JIM FURYK: We did. We did. It's an excited crowd out there. There was times where it was tough to get from some greens to tees with some of the ropings, even like the 18th green to the clubhouse.
But I think we wanted to be as cordial as we could. We wanted to sign some autographs but you also don't want to get out of the rhythm of what you're trying to do out there in practise. We signed autographs from greens to tees, on the way from the first green to the second tee and so on. And as I walked on I took hats or whatever it may be and signed and tried to get three to six, seven, eight of them in between holes and tried to be as friendly as you could, but also wanted to get some work done.
The crowds, unbelievably excited, and it's a good crowd for a Tuesday. Obviously it's just going to keep getting bigger, and the noise and the excitement is going to grow on you. It's going to be incredible by the time Friday comes around.
Q. It was often felt in the past that other people who played with Tiger on the American team looked intimidated to be in his company. Do you think your partnership works together because you feel at ease on the golf course? Is that part of what you need to have a successful partnership?
JIM FURYK: Well, you know, I'm sure we always joke that we've had captains in the past that have asked us to maybe fill out a sheet form, tell him who we might want to play with, who we were not comfortable with, and we always joked that we had 11 guys that had Tiger Woods written on the sheet. Maybe that was the case; maybe some people are intimidated by that.
I doubt that our captains would stick someone out in an uncomfortable situation, or maybe guys are afraid to say that, you know, that's just not where I really want to be. I think, and you can tell as a captain or a person, that this person's comfortable or he's not.
I don't know what the reason would be for those guys maybe not playing as well as they could have with Tiger. Whether I play poorly or I play great, it's really that's not going to have any bearing. I've played enough golf and I've known him enough of my career and enjoy the company. That's not really an issue.
But obviously, you know that when you're paired with him, you get to see what a day in the life of Tiger Woods is like, and it's quite a bit different from the most of us as far as the attention, as far as all of the eyes looking at you. When you're part of his team, you become part of that. I guess you can either enjoy that part of it or not like it at all, and it makes more sense just to enjoy it and ride it out and be a part of it for a while and at the end I'll just go back to being Jim Furyk.
Q. In foursomes, how difficult was it to adjust to Tiger's game or for him to adjust to your game in the Presidents Cup? You talked about the different styles, and there's theories about pairing long hitters with long hitters so they kind of see the golf course the same. What was your experience like at the Presidents Cup with you guys adjusting to each other's games on the golf course?
JIM FURYK: Not really. It's not that much of an issue, because, you know, we're just trying to put the ball in the fairway and put it give the guy a makeable putt and keep going. I'm going to play from a few shorter distances than I might be accustomed to, but you know what, it not real hard to hit 8 iron to a green you're used to hitting 6 iron into. You tend to get over it pretty quick.
Tiger is going to play from a few farther spots than where he would hitting drives where I'm hitting them, but as far as he's been hitting the ball well, he's been playing great, he's the best player in the world so you want to put him in positions where he can take advantage and play his game and play well. You're still going out there and playing golf.
When it came to holes, when we were at the Presidents Cup, came to holes where you could be aggressive off the tee with a drive or you could lay up over here with a 3 wood or just put it in play with an iron or whatever it may be, you know, we just hit the shots we were comfortable with. I'd rather put the ball in the fairway and put 9 iron in his hand than try to force a driver and maybe put a wedge or sand wedge in his hand, if that makes sense.
So put the ball in play where you're comfortable putting it in play and the guy will play from there. We tend to play those holes very much the same, maybe different clubs. Maybe I hit 3 wood off the tee and he hit 2 iron off the tee, but we tend to put the ball in the same spots on those target oriented holes and attack the golf course the same way, so I think that's what made us comfortable.
Q. To this point to what extent would you be you're teammates, you're teeing it up for the old Red, White and Blue as opposed to teeing it up against an opponent that has been formidable and has been dominant playing in recent years.
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure I understand.
Q. The difference in your emotion and your feeling about teeing it up for the USA, as opposed to you're teeing up against an opponent that, you know, your team has not done well against these opponents.
JIM FURYK: I understand what you're saying.
I think because of the dynamics of golf, because when you play match play versus medal play, in match play, you're playing an opponent a little bit more than medal play. But you still have to focus on playing the golf course. If you start focusing too much on your opponent, it doesn't work so well in match play.
And I would liken your question to saying, you know what, if we focused a lot more on the positive, the fact that we are very fortunate to represent the red, white and blue of the United States, that's kind of what Tom is getting at. He wants us to look at the positive side, how fortunate we are, how much fun and how much fun this could be and what we could accomplish, rather than worrying about who we're playing and, you know, they have won the last two Ryder Cups.
I think your question is a good one and we should be focusing on going out there and playing for the United States and being proud of that fact and having a good time with it, not worrying so much about our past record and who exactly we're playing, because you really can't control how they play. All you can control is going out there and playing as best we can, and if we go out there and do our best and play well, we have a good chance for the outcome to work our way.
Q. Two questions. One, what's the most intimidated you've ever been playing with or against somebody, ever?
JIM FURYK: How far back can I go in my career?
Q. As long as it's a good story, you can take us back as far as you want.
JIM FURYK: My senior year of high school, I qualified for the sectional part of the U.S. Open, so one more one 36 holes, if I make it through, I'm in the U.S. Open. I'm a 17 or 18 year old and the closest site was at Woodmont right behind the Kemper Open. Showing up in the morning, Craig Stadler, Peter Jacobsen, Dave Stockton, I got paired with Bob Gilder as an 18 year old. I was a little intimidated. My scores reflected it (laughter).
Q. Secondly, can you describe your relationship with Tiger from a social perspective off the golf course? Do you hang out much, do you do dinner, all those things?
JIM FURYK: Describe it. (Laughter.) I'm trying to think of a I would say that we are good friends and that I probably talk to him more by phone or text or I keep in touch with him more on the phone, you know, wish him well or talk to him that way a little bit more.
As far as dinner, when I'm on the road, I usually right now with my kids being young, I have my family and my wife, my two kids, and I'm spending a lot of time with them. And obviously Tiger is a pretty private person, so it's not like we get out to dinner that much on the road. But do I keep in touch with him quite a bit and hear from him quite a bit.
Q. Do you guys do anything at Wentworth last week?
JIM FURYK: Well, our exit was a little more rapid than I think we both figured (laughter), so we didn't have as much time. We didn't do anything we had a function on Wednesday night, we both arrived somewhere on Monday. So we didn't do anything on Tuesday and then we lost Thursday and that pretty much ended our week.
So had that week extended out, would I have liked to have done some stuff. It's a neat area, and I'd really like to get back and play that event and play something in the Wentworth area. I like the golf course and like the area.
I played pretty good, actually. Robert just played better. He played super.
Q. Tiger has not won on the opening day since his debut. Has that had a tangible impact on the team in the team room?
JIM FURYK: Well, I guess it yeah, just easily looking at it, you want your best player to go out there and obviously play well the first day and make a statement. It's also been a team event. But yeah, I think, you know, obviously with him and Phil going out the first day in the last Ryder Cup and not winning the matches and being our two best players, obviously that's a boost of confidence for them and a shot for us, so definitely made a difference.
It wasn't a stat that I was aware of, so obviously, mentally, I would say it has not been a it's not something we focused on or that any of us were worried about. But I think when you look back at the history of events, in the last four Ryder Cups, the ones that I've played in, we've tended to get behind quick, get behind early. The only one where we hung on and it was tight the whole way was The Belfry, we had a lead going into singles and we lost. The other three Ryder Cups, we got behind and got behind a lot very quickly. So with all of us going out there and not playing well the first day, it's had a tangible effect.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Jim, very good luck as always.
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