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2013 PGA Championship Thursday Interview Transcript: Jim Furyk

KELLY ELBIN:  With his lowest opening round score in 19 PGA Championship appearances, Jim Furyk joining us at the 95th PGA Championship where his round of 65 today, 5 under par, putts him in the lead midway through the opening round. 

Jim, congratulations.  Comments on a real quality round out there. 

JIM FURYK:  Well, obviously I'm pleased with the round.  Just looking through the stats here, which I don't usually look at.  But just happy with the round.  Really felt in control this morning.  It was nice to get off to a good start birdieing No. 10.  Knocked in a nice putt from about six feet, knocked in a good par putt on 11.  Got off to a good start with the putter. 

I had some testy, 4 , 5 , 6 footers to start the day and I was able to knock a bunch of those in and get some rhythm with my putter, and I think that eased some tension with the rest of my game, as well.  Hit a bunch of fairways today, controlled my iron shots very well.  It says I hit 15 greens.  Felt good with the putter, so a fun day when stuff like that happens. 

KELLY ELBIN:  If you could quickly go over those six birdies and unfortunately that bogey at 9, starting with the birdie at 10.

JIM FURYK:  10, I hit driver off the tee.  I think I hit kind of a knock down 8 iron to six feet, seven feet left of the pin.  Knocked it in.

16 I hit driver into the right rough and it was the second cut, not the really long third cut.  I drew a pretty good lie in the second cut and just tried to put the ball in the middle of the green and made a bomb there.  Made about a 40 footer which was nice. 

18, I hit a 3 wood off the tee and I hit a 4 iron to a foot.  So any time you getta tap in at 18, that's always fun. 

Birdied No. 1 with a driver.  And I don't even remember now    maybe an 8 iron, we'll guess; 8 iron to about ten feet short underneath the hole and knocked in the 10 footer. 

No. 4, hit driver.  Laid up with a 6 iron.  Hit a sand wedge to about six feet right of the hole. 

Then the birdie at 7 was kind of fun.  I hit a hybrid off the tee and it didn't quite get out there as far as I wanted it to.  I was trying to leave a 5  or 6 iron into the green and left myself far enough back and had to hit 4 iron.  I hit 4 iron ten to 15 feet left of the hole and knocked that one in for birdie. 

The only bogey of the day was the last hole, No. 9.  You can't hang it right off that tee.  I drove it into the right rough and even from the right side of the fairway, that tree overhangs pretty good, so the only thing I had from the rough was a chip out, knocked a 9 iron up on the green about 20, 25 feet, and put a pretty good roll on it and missed it just low. 

Usually disappointed with ending the day on a bogey, but you know, 65, PGA, is not so bad, so feeling pretty good about today. 

Q.  You had two Top 10s in a row; did you start of see something like this coming, and two, how would you describe your play starting with the Masters and ending with The Open Championship? 

JIM FURYK:  I guess by chronologic order, it would be easier to talk about the Masters to the British. 

I felt like I played a couple good events in there from the Masters to the British, but never really strung four rounds together, or always had a lapse in the middle of the day that maybe ruined a round, but I did play some decent events in there.  Also, missing the cut poorly at the U.S. Open and missing the cut poorly in the British Open are probably the thorns in my side. 

A lot of it, didn't feel that many could for table with the putter.  Which I think it put a lot of pressure on the rest of my game, and quite honestly, I wasn't particularly driving the ball that well at the U.S. Open, as well.  I drove the ball poorly and I putted poorly.  That's a bad recipe at the U.S. Open. 

British Open, driver wasn't important, as I didn't hit very many of them off the tee.  But I really struggled adjusting.  The speed of the greens changed so much within a round, let alone from day to day, that I just struggled with speed and pace and getting the ball on good lines.  I felt like I've done a lot of work, both with the driver and the putter.  You know, basically two of the three most important components of playing well, and usually two strengths of my game, so I worked real hard at Canada and last week on kind of fixing those problems, and feel very comfortable with what I'm doing with my driver right now. 

Been doing some work on the putting, as well, and today was probably one of the best putting rounds, if not the best putting round I've had this year, as far as    I knocked in a bunch of putts today, but I'm not saying I made everything.  I'm just saying I really feel like I did a good job getting the ball on a good line where I was looking and I was able to manage where I wanted the ball to go and got it on that line and gave it an opportunity to go in the hole often today, which I wasn't doing, say, before the Canadian Open, for RBC. 

Q.  Did you have any idea that 64 was the course record here; if you make a par at the last, you would have tied Hogan, Strange. 

JIM FURYK:  No idea. 

Q.  Is this about as good a scoring day as you think you could have, especially at a place like this, the way it played today? 

JIM FURYK:  I don't know if I understand the question, other than I could have parred the last hole. 

Q.  The rain overnight helped the greens, slowed the ball   

JIM FURYK:  Oh, I see.  Not from a player's perspective; from a course perspective. 

Being the rough is already long and the fairways are kind of pinched in, yeah, I believe    we didn't get much breeze.  The rain helped soften the fairways, which in turn makes them a touch wider and definitely makes the greens a lot softer.  Somewhere along the line I spun an 8 iron back about 8 feet today and it really threw me for a loop.  I scratched my head, don't usually see that.  Most of them weren't that soft, but they allowed us to get very aggressive and get at some tucked pins. 

I would say that conditions are about as good as they were going to be for scoring, but it's just a difficult golf course. 

Q.  What would you say are the differences in the tests between this and the U.S. Open this year? 

JIM FURYK:  Between this golf course versus the U.S. Open?  So you want me to compare Oak Hill versus Merion, or you're just saying U.S. Open versus PGAs?  Oak Hill versus Merion. 

Well, Merion was interesting in that you had the really long holes and the really short holes, and even still, on some of the really long holes, like on 18, it was over 500 yards, but it really was more of a 3 wood off the tee.  I think, you know, both of them kind of have some blind shots where you're hitting over hills.  Both of them, there's an extreme premium on putting the ball in the fairway.  A little bit more rain at Merion, so it was a little softer, a little sloppier. 

You know, the setups were a lot different, and I think that's indicative of probably the way the USGA sets up their golf course and The PGA of America.  The scores here at this event, most of the time, are a little bit lower than they are at the U.S. Open.  Now, I think the one exception to that was probably Shaun Micheel's win here ten years ago    he was 4 under, so U.S. Open style score there.  And this golf course, yeah, it hosted U.S. Opens in the past and they have chosen the two years I've played to set it up more indicative of like what you would usually see at a U.S. Open.  I like the graduated rough.  If you're going to make it long and thick, I like the graduated rough where it's not so bad if you hit it off line, you're not too far off. 

Merion, it's not your typical course I guess in this day and age.  It was probably 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, but in a lot of places, it's gotten very short, so it's not your usual golf course. 

Q.  Surprised to see so many guys in red figures on a tough course like this? 

JIM FURYK:  I guess that's the question we had going back to the conditions.  I don't know how many people are under par, but a lot of it has to do with the conditions being good.  There's no breeze, the golf course is soft, you can get a little bit more aggressive. 

You know, probably would assume get a little tougher as the day goes on.  The greens will get beat up a little and start to firm a little.  Conditions were good today and that helped, but that can change quickly; that moisture can kind of get sucked up. 

Q.  Some of the big hitters are a little frustrated that they are not able to hit driver very much.  Does that kind of play into your game as a shot maker, not being the longest hitter out there? 

JIM FURYK:  That's kind of what I was hinting towards earlier.  Yeah, the fairways, the way they set the golf course up, they have pinched the fairways longer off the tee, and 18 is a pretty prime example in that it's a hole that's close to 500 yards and I'm hitting 3 wood off the tee, and then 4 iron for my second shot, because I felt like that was the best opportunity to get the ball in the fairway.  You know, you can hit driver if you wanted to, but the fairway becomes about two thirds the size, for me.  So, yeah, I can see    I guess my one thing, it's easier to get a 3 wood in the fairway than it is a driver and it's easier to get 2 iron in the fairway than a 3 wood, still, there's got to be some advantage to being long.  It's not the leaps and bounds, but rarely do we ever go to a major championship where the golf course is wide open and they just let you flail away and hit it again.  It's not that common. 

Kiawah wasn't wide open, but it definitely had a much more    there was a much better benefit to being long.  Bethpage is like that at the U.S. Open.  There's going to be gives and takes on courses.  This is not a short course by any means, but I can see where the long players    playing with Peter today, it was quite long, and he had to hit iron a lot off the tee. 

Q.  Just to follow, how many drivers did you hit today? 

JIM FURYK:  I don't know.  Do you want me to count them? 

Q.  Sure. 

JIM FURYK:  10, 16, 17, 1, 4, 8, 9.  Seven, so half the holes.  One hybrid, the rest were 3 woods. 

Q.  Are these greens the kind of greens that will, as they dry out, dry out somewhat uniformly, or are you looking at a circumstance, if they continue to dry out, what's a little bit of guesswork, depending on where the hole location is, as to whether the ball is going to hold or release on you? 

JIM FURYK:  No, I think    my guess, I mean, I don't know, but my guess would be they will dry out pretty uniformly.  Most of them are on a tilt one way, back to front., or back right to front left.  Those, I would think, tend to    the greens that dry out maybe not uniformly are kind of more of a new age, more man made type green. 

17 at TPC at Sawgrass comes to mind.  The back top gets real brown but the two lower portion stays real green because that's where the moisture runs.  Any time you have an undulation up and down    and you saw it I guess probably on TV at the British Open, I could see it better on TV than I could in person standing on the greens.  But you saw the low areas held the moisture and the high areas were brown, and that's part of links golf.  I would probably say here were everything is on a uniform tilt, it will probably all dry at a similar rate would be my guess.

You're asking probably the wrong person.  The superintendent would help you out with that one. 

Q.  When you were struggling with your putting, how much, if at all, were you fighting that feeling that you might never get your putting back? 

JIM FURYK:  On a scale of one to ten, one being    one I wasn't worried and ten I was really worried?  I'll give it a zero.  How's that? 

No, I feel like putting, even at your most hopeless point, even when you're out there on the course and you're really struggling, we've all been there before    every player has been in that position before.  And sometimes it takes a day; sometimes it takes a week; sometimes it takes a month, but eventually you get the putter in your hand and it feels great one day. 

Felt great today.  Doesn't mean it's going to feel great tomorrow, and whatever.  But I feel like I'm moving in the right direction, and I've always had a lot of confidence in my game and my short game has always been a strength.  But putting is streaky.  And I feel like I'm a very streaky putter at times where I've had some really good moments in my career, and I think great years with the putter, and I've also had my struggles, as well. 

But I think if you're out here for 20 years, you're going to go through that. 

Q.  Knowing there's still plenty of golf to be played, but at this stage of your career, does it still mean something to be up at the top or near the top of the leaderboard, or do you go right into it's only Thursday mode in your mind?

JIM FURYK:  Well, I'm happy that I played a good round.  Trust me, I'll be in a good mood the rest of today.  But I'm wise enough and been there enough that, it is only Thursday.  Right now we are jockeying for position.  I played a good round today.  I basically get to come to the press room and kind of cozy up to it for a while, and as soon as I leave here, it will be more about what I do I need to do to get ready for Friday, and thinking about trying to play a good round tomorrow and keeping myself in good position. 

But you don't win the golf tournament on Thursday.  I know that, and just happy with playing well and putting myself in good position.  But yeah, it always feels good to play well. 

Q.  After that disappointment at Olympic Club a couple years ago.  Did you feel like you let one get away, and did you wonder if you could get back into the hunt in one of these? 

JIM FURYK:  I would love to tease you    y'all are    I'm on a nice little high, but y'all are trying to bring me down.  Damn.  No wonder you guys are on that side.  You have bad thoughts too often. 

I forget the question because I already in my mind thinking about how I wanted to answer it sarcastically.  It was about, did I feel like I let one get away. 

Yeah, I guess I look back to the '98 Masters; I bogeyed 15 and hit it in the water and lost by two.  '98 Birkdale was tied for the lead coming down the stretch and didn't hit one bad shot and lost by two because I didn't knock in a putt.  U.S. Open at Winged Foot, the U.S. Open at Oakmont, the U.S. Open at Olympic; there's always    there was opportunities there. 

You know what, and all those events I just named, Freddie Couples is going to come up with the '98 Masters.  I played with David Duval and he should have won by five that day.  Brian Watts with Birkdale '98 probably feels he should have won.  There's a handful of guys that feel like they should have won a tournament, shoulda, coulda. 

Webb played beautifully that day.  Graeme McDowell was playing with me that day at Olympic and he could have won that golf tournament.  I really thought it was going to come out of our group because we were both playing very well and we just didn't finish it off at the end of the day. 

Yeah, it's disappointing, but it's like    this sport beats you up.  If I played 25 events a year and I win one event a year for my entire career, you would be a hell of a player, you won over 20 times on the PGA TOUR and you're going to lose 24 times a year.  You've got to take your lumps.  You're going to have your good moments and your bad ones.  I've always been very good at looking at the situation and figuring out how I could have made it better.  You know, never really feeling sorry for myself, but it gets me down for a while, and a couple days later, you get over it and start working hard to figure out how you're going to get better and make it better the next time. 

KELLY ELBIN:  Jim Furyk, 65, thanks again, Jim. 

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