Grand Slam of Golf

News Conference Transcript: Jim Furyk, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel

JULIUS MASON: Jim Furyk wins the 21st PGA Grand Slam of Golf at -9, 68 today. Mike Weir finishes second at -1, a 71 today. Shaun Micheel +1, 70 today and Ben Curtis at +2 73 today.

If you wouldn't mind, Mike, give us some thoughts on your round today, please.

MIKE WEIR: Well, you know, it kind of mirrored yesterday, I guess. I guess I made a couple of bogeys and maybe three birdies today. But really, along with Ben and Shaun, I didn't make anything at all. That was the big difference. I didn't play very well either, but I just didn't putt really good at all. That was really my day.

JULIUS MASON: I don't know how many times you've given this story but you've got to talk about the 7th.

MIKE WEIR: The 7th, sure. I believe it was 149 yards, and yesterday I hit a wedge that flew about that distance, and today it just for some reason the wind knocked it down a little bit and it spun back in the hazard and I was between two rocks. But there was probably eight inches of the ground right in front of the ball, so I had just enough of a curve between the rocks that I could curve my putter and my toe in and try to pop in the back of the ball and hopefully it would come up in the air.

It came out a lot better than I thought. I was hoping just to get it out on top there, just to have a little chip to get up-and-down, and the thing came out great, and then I only had 12 feet or something. Didn't make it.

JULIUS MASON: Try anything like that in competition before this?

MIKE WEIR: No, I haven't, no. I haven't had a ball kind of come back and get caught between two rocks like that.

JULIUS MASON: No pun intended.

MIKE WEIR: Right. It was just, you know, using your imagination a little bit and try to make something happen. Because, at the time, you know I think I was only four behind and I felt like you know if I could get my putter hot at all, maybe I might have some kind of an outside chance.

JULIUS MASON: Shaun, some thoughts on your round today, please.

SHAUN MICHEEL: I think after playing with Jim yesterday, I really didn't have much of a chance. He was playing so well. And actually, he didn't putt very well either, I didn't think.

But it was nice for me to finish out the back nine the way I did. It was really frustrating, you know, not to have too many birdie opportunities yesterday, and then today I finally hit a couple of nice shots, made some nice putts and I was just a little disappointed that we ran out of holes. I was actually beginning to have fun.

No, it was a great week. When you come over here, it's competition and we all wanted to win. I think you saw some long faces because we do want to win. I'm sure Mike -- we're all happy with certain things that happened during the week, but we want to win and that's ultimately why we play golf and that's just what we do.

But I'm very pleased with the ending today. It was, you know, a lot more fun towards the end. I think we had a nice time, and I'm speaking for all three of us or all four of us, but I've love to have the opportunity to come back and figure out these trade winds.

JULIUS MASON: There's a way you can get back again, but we can talk about that later.

SHAUN MICHEEL: It's not shooting 75 - 70, for sure.

JULIUS MASON: We'll let the tournament director know you want to turn this into a four-day competition.

Ben, your thoughts, please?

BEN CURTIS: I had a lot of fun out there today. Kind of frustrating with the putter. It seemed like I hit a lot of good putts but nothing went in. I hit the ball fairly well and I could have made a good run there at the beginning of the round and I didn't.

But, you know, life goes on. I had a good time. It's a little frustrating, but that's the name of the game. Sometimes it doesn't go your way.

Q. Mike, what kind of score did you think you would have to post today to come out on top?

MIKE WEIR: Well, I really wasn't thinking about that. I was just trying to, you know, try to get a little closer earlier in the round. But Jim was playing so well, you knew he wasn't going to back up, so obviously it would have been really low. I was just hoping to play better than yesterday. You know, as consistent as Jim is, you know he's not going to falter too much.

To answer your question, I wasn't really thinking about a number. I knew I had to take it down and you knew you had to get off to a good start with a bunch of birdies and it just wasn't happening. When you're not making any putts at all, it makes it really hard to do.

Q. Ben, you came in last place, but on the bright side, you go home with $150,000.

BEN CURTIS: I don't look at it as last place. I look at it as fourth. (Laughter.)

Q. Did you learn anything from watching -- being the youngest and learning, watching these guys play throughout the two days?

BEN CURTIS: I think every time go out and play in every event, you learn something. I think playing with the other three gentlemen, I think you learn that, you know, you've got to play good. You can't just shoot it over par and expect to do something. I think -- I wasn't think that, but, you know, you know that no matter how good or bad you play, you know you've got to shoot a good number to win.

I think as good as Jim played, I think if there's a normal Tour event here, obviously I think he would be on top of the leaderboard. I think you've just got to make more putts, more than anything. I know the three of us here could attest to that; if we could have made some putts, our scores would have been a lot lower. We had so many putts that went right over the edge.

But, you know, I had a good time. The only goal I had this week was just to have a good time, not really worry about my game. I'm comfortable with where it's at. I know I just need a little more practice here to start the next year and I'll be fine.

Q. All three of you are first-time winners, all four of you actually. Are you comfortable being in the company you're in now or is it still a little bit surreal? Has it sunk in good enough and do you feel you belong where you are, or is it just a little bit tough yet to feel in that mode?

SHAUN MICHEEL: It might be a little more different for me than Ben because I've been out here; this was my sixth full year on the Tour. I felt like it's taken me a couple of years to kind of get adjusted and to get a chance to really meet and get to know all the guys.

You know, I think any time you win a major championship, you're in good company and that certainly holds true this year. You know, I'd just like to go on and win a few more golf tournaments. No one really expects you to win your first PGA TOUR event as a major, and after the year is over, I'll sit back and reflect on some of the things that happened to me this year, some of the things that maybe need to be improved. And hopefully that won't take too long because I still would like to enjoy what has happened. I really have just been so busy the last few months.

I'm just happy to have finally done something. I struggled for a few years always worrying about keeping my card, and I think now maybe I'm getting over the hump a little bit and I think that's certainly going to help me with my confidence.

BEN CURTIS: I think for me personally, it's been five months since then. I think I feel a lot more comfortable in that role now that I've had ten or 15 probably ten starts since then. I think the more I play, the more comfortable you get in that situation. I think playing with these three guys, you kind of like everybody is looking at you the same, but if I was playing just a normal Tour event, a lot of times, you're the only one that's won a major that year. So obviously the crowd is more on your side than anybody else, whereas the six months before I won the Open, it wasn't that way. Everybody was talking about everybody else in the group and kind of overlooking me.

You know, I got comfortable with that. I had a good college and amateur career, so I know what it takes. It's a lot different but it's not kind of the same principle. It's just that you have more fans than before.

MIKE WEIR: Well, you know, I think my game has maybe been a steady progression last few years. I got on Tour in '98 was my first year and had my first win in '99. You know, just kind of worked up the ladder. I won a World Golf Championship event, which I felt like was a big step, against some great players down the stretch. Then I won THE TOUR Championship. So I always felt like, you know, in the bigger tournaments, I seem to play well. I felt like I was very due to at least contend and start to contend in some majors.

After getting off to the start I did this year, winning a couple of times early in the year, I just felt like I was really ready to do it, at least being in contention, which I did, and fortunate enough to be able to pull one out.

Q. Mike, were you surprised at all with the Canadian turnout?

MIKE WEIR: No, not really. Canadians, they love to travel. They love golf. You know, when I'm playing events, there's a lot of Canadians around. They come and follow me, which is great. Especially this time of year, they are trying to get out of the cold, they are trying to find warm places. They go to Florida, California, and Hawaii. They are trying to get out of the snow. I'm not surprised to see some familiar faces and a lot of Canadians down here.

Q. When Jim started to run away with this thing, do you guys still feel like you're chasing him really hard, or are you now three guys playing for second place?

MIKE WEIR: Well, I think, yeah, we were playing for second place, probably after the start of the back nine, really, after Jim made a couple birdies on 9, 10 or 11.

But, yeah, for myself, I can't speak for these guys, but I was just trying to play getter and spring some better shots together out there and tried to play some more solid golf and hopefully make a couple of putts. At that point we were playing for second place unless something crazy happened. You never know in this game, but as well as Jim was playing, he wasn't going to mess that up.

JULIUS MASON: Ben, Shaun, do you agree?

SHAUN MICHEEL: Yeah, I do, like I said earlier, we are all out here trying to win. I don't think that any of us really gave up. It's a lot of money that we're playing for, but ultimately we wanted to be the one on top.

After Jim started making those putts, it was pretty obvious to me the way he was hitting his irons and driving the ball that there was just no way we were going to catch him. The three of us were in a little bit of a battle and I didn't really think much about it until I made a few birdies. I was thinking, well, let's see how far I can move up and maybe get an opportunity to maybe make an eagle on of the last hole and maybe all three of us could tie or something. I thought that might be a nice way to end.

MIKE WEIR: We all played probably about the same.

Q. Have you guys formed a bond at all, being first-time winners and coming in here this first time ever in Grand Slam history, four first-time winners, do you find that to be a special bond at all?

MIKE WEIR: Yeah, there's a bond there, for sure. We all did it for the first time. You know, a lot was made of that when we all did do it and it was good to get together this week and reminisce a little bit. It was great to watch the video last night. I'm sure we all, you know, finally got to sit back and take it in a little bit. So it's been fun, I'm sure, for all of us.

BEN CURTIS: I think Shaun and I kind of came in a similar position, other than Jim and Mike have obviously been out there a long time and won some tournaments and had some success. Shaun and I were just trying to win any tournament, let alone a major. I think we come more from a similar background.

You know, they are three good guys and we had a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun to be in this group.

JULIUS MASON: Our contestant may not have walked away with the Big Kahuna, but they get a big parting gift. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Jim?

JIM FURYK: I played pretty solid. I didn't hit the ball as well as did I yesterday. Struck the ball very, very well yesterday and today found a way to get in the hole and made some putts. I got the ball up-and-down when I needed to, and, you know, that stretch, again, 9 through 12, I kind of got out to a big lead and just keep the ball in play in between the trees and get it done with.

Q. Do you think your experience over here on these greens helped you a lot, a little, against these guys? Everybody else seemed to have a little trouble with the putting.

JIM FURYK: They are tough. They are tough greens to putt. Obviously it's tough to get a real grainy Bermuda as fast as what we see like at a major championship. We were hitting the ball a little harder than we are used and you have to get used to the speed downgrain, into the grain.

They were difficult. I think the putting was really a big key for me. I got off to a slow start with the putter yesterday, the first six or seven holes and from that point on, I really had a good week with the putter. It makes the game a lot easier. These guys feel probably a little frustrated and didn't see nearly as many putts go in and that was a big difference.

Q. You broke the string of Tiger Slams here.

JIM FURYK: I guess we're all glad he wasn't here. (Laughter.)

Q. Would you like the option to have him here to try to defend his title?

JIM FURYK: As long as he didn't win the U.S. Open, it would have been nice. How's that? (Laughter.) I think we always wants to play against the best players in the world and that's undeniably him right now.

This is a great field. I think all of us really appreciated what happened to us this year and what we accomplished and what we did. Definitely not tainting it for me. This is a wonderful field. These three guys are world class players. I might have been playing a little bit more to this point and I didn't really maybe have the family to wanting to go around -- or Mike actually had his family, the 12 guys, that drug him around to the pool and probably got him drunk half the nights. I kind of had a little bit more relaxing week and I had played a lot of golf coming into here, so my game might have been in a little better shape.

Other than that, it's a good field, good three guys. I think we all had a good time out there, whether we played poorly or not. And whether Tiger is here or not, it was a good tournament.

Q. You flashed the shot of "hang loose" as your putt went down, is this your trademark after you win a tournament in Hawaii?

JIM FURYK: No, I've just had a lot of fun in Hawaii and now four wins. Every time I come, I definitely get quite a bit of support in Hawaii I think because of the success I've had, but also building a vacation home over here and my family spending a lot of time. I don't know, someone called me Kamaaina the other day which is pretty interesting. That's almost , that's an honor, kind of calling me that I'm from Hawaii, so it was fun. They always like to see that in the fans, just having fun with them.

Q. Where does yesterday and today's rounds rank with other back-to-back ground, not so much scoring but being consistent, striking the ball?

JIM FURYK: Well, yesterday was real consistent. I had a lot of birdie opportunities and it seemed like every hole I wasn't in trouble. I hit a lot of greens. Today I drove it in the rough quite a bit more often. Hit a couple loose shots. But, you know, it was fun. I've never - - until the U.S. Open, I was never involved with the tournament or a win where I really had a big jump or a big lead. The U.S. Open is the first experience I had there. I've always been kind of neck-in-neck. Most of them, I had a two-shot lead down to the 18th tee and it seems like that guy always birdies 18 on me. That's happened about four times. It's fine. Definitely those last four or five holes, you know, coming in and taking a little bit of the pressure off and just having fun and play.

Q. What's more fulfilling, victory with a lead or winning in a playoff?

JIM FURYK: Definitely, if I had to pick, I've been in a playoff and been on the wrong side of quite a few of those. So this is definitely a lot more fun or a lot less nerve-wracking. It was fun.

You know, they are both rewarding. I think any time that you can get a victory in any event with such a good field, whether it's on the PGA TOUR, major championship or an event like this, it's a good feeling.

Q. The tournament has a history with match-play. Are you happy with the format the way it is?

JIM FURYK: Well, I'm not complaining. If I win and complain there's a problem. We can't control that and we don't really have much input there.

I've always believed, if I had my choice, I prefer medal play, but I like match-play, too. I love the couple of events, whether it's the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup or a World Golf Championships, that you can play a little different style. If doesn't really matter to me either way, but I probably prefer medal play a little bit.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

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  • Scaling golf's major mountains (12/1/03) — Four times a year golf's best gather to try and climb that final rung to greatness on the ladder that will define their career. Jim Huber, Turner Sports' Emmy Award-winning essayist, examines what separates a major champion from the rest.
  • Left alone to flourish (12/1/03) — When Mike Weir was a promising junior in his native Canada, he wrote a letter to the great Jack Nicklaus asking if a young left-hander should try to learn the game right-handed. The Golden Bear wrote back, and the advice he offered made Weir a Masters champion.
  • Furyk finds home in Hawaii (12/1/03) — Considering the career success he's enjoyed in Hawaii -- two wins and nearly $2 million in winnings since he joined the PGA Tour in 1994 -- it should come as no surprise that U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and his wife built a second home on the island of Maui.

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