Q&A: Jim Furyk's 'first day of school' in 2017
Just under a month ago, Jim Furyk was officially appointed to serve as Ryder Cup USA Captain for the 2018 matches in Paris.
This week, the 17-time PGA Tour winner and 2003 U.S. Open champion is making his first start of the new calendar year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Before the tournament teed off, Furyk had a press conference to announce the qualifying process for the American team over the next two seasons, featuring some minor tweaks from 2016.
After the presser, we had a chance to catch up with Captain Furyk for a Q&A.
PGA.com: What has your first month as Captain been like? Is there anything that has surprised you?
Furyk: I think it was a little honeymoon phase early on. I found out about it in December and had to keep it a secret for about a month, which was tough. We had the official announcement about a month ago, so I had time to prepare for that. This is my first event since the announcement. It's like the first day of school. I'm seeing a bunch of the guys for the first time, so there's been a lot of congratulations.
Since the announcement -- Ryder Cup business-wise -- the committee worked to come up with the new points structure. We didn't tweak it a whole lot from 2016, but there were some changes on how the players qualify and the timing of the Captain's Picks. So, it's been a little busy making those minor tweaks.
PGA.com: You mentioned being asked to captain the team in December. Your dad has played a massive role in your career. What was it like to be able to share that with him over the holidays?
Furyk: It's funny. I spent some time with my mom and dad at home in the middle of December and we had an early Christmas together. But they're in Tuscon and I haven't actually physically seen them since I found out. We've had phone calls and everything, but haven't seen each other. I know they're both incredibly excited though. My dad knows how much this means to me and he knows how badly I wanted the opportunity.
PGA.com: There's so much young talent on Tour now. Are you surprised at how quickly these younger guys are winning now? There have been a bunch already this season.
Furyk: I'm not surprised at all. It's amazing how prepared and how seasoned some of them are at an early age and win and compete at such an early age. It never ceases to amaze me. The talent pool seems better. I'm not going to say the players are better than the Watsons, Hogans, Nicklauses, or Floyds, but I think it's just such a deep pool now. There are plenty of grizzled vets our here that can still hang, but there's a real good group of young guys carrying the torch.
PGA.com: Have you been in touch with Tiger Woods since his return and then the setback in Dubai last week?
Furyk: I did have a chance to speak with Tiger. It was a lot about the Ryder Cup Committee stuff with the timing of the Captain's Picks and not much about his health. I mean, I acknowledged what he's been going through and let him know I hoped he was feeling better and felt bad he wasn't able to finish in Dubai, but there was really no further conversation about it. I know he's scheduled to play in LA next week and so am I. I hope he's there and healthy. I wish nothing but the best for him.
PGA.com: This week is your first event of the calendar year. What is your playing schedule looking like for the next couple of months?
Furyk: This is the first of four tournaments I'm planning to play in the next five weeks. I think that will happen -- four of the next five. I'm planning on about a couple events every month. That should have me playing 18-20 this year, which is just about the right number for me.
PGA.com: I know you're a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but I have to ask you -- what did you think about Super Bowl 51? Did what the Patriots accomplish remind you at all about what you were a part of on that final day of the 1999 Ryder Cup?
Furyk: They're two totally different sports, so I wouldn't say it reminded me of 1999.
As for the game, it's going to be hard for any team if you give Tom Brady a chance. Just when it looked like they didn't have much of a chance at all, they turned it around. That's a well-coached team with phenomenal players. What they did was amazing.
I was watching with some friends who are Atlanta Falcons fans, so it wasn't much fun for them.
PGA.com: Back to the Ryder Cup. What's next for you in the coming weeks and months in terms of behind-the-scenes preparation?
Furyk: Well, in just a few weeks the first chance for accumulating points will happen in Mexico at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. I think we have nine events for points this year and that'll be first, so I'll be keeping an eye on that.
Other than that, it's just dotting the I's and crossing the T's and really getting everything set up for 2018. It's going to get busy in a hurry and 2018 will be here before we know it.