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Furyk Comes Close Again
Though it was nowhere near as painful as when he stumbled down the stretch at the 2012 U.S. Open, Jim Furyk still left a major championship with a sour taste.
Entering the final round of the 95th PGA Championship with a one-stroke lead over Jason Dufner and two over Henrik Stenson, Furyk wasn't able to get it done Sunday at Oak Hill Country Club in the final major of the year.
The 43-year-old Pennsylvanian closed with a 1-over 71 for an 8-under 272 to finish two strokes behind Dufner, who shot a steadily spectacular 68. It was only the latest disappointment for the 16-time Tour winner.
Furyk was the 54-hole leader at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last year and was still atop the leaderboard through much of the final round. But he bogeyed the 16th and 18th holes, giving Webb Simpson the opportunity to win 2012 U.S. Open title.
Coming Sunday at Oak Hill in a similar position, Furyk said Saturday night he had a good attitude. "(Sunday) is an opportunity, and that's exactly how I'm going to approach it, as an opportunity. I'm going to have fun with it."
He reiterated that feeling Sunday night after finishing second to Dufner; Furyk now has 20 top-10 finishes in majors, including three runner-ups and a victory in the 2003 U.S. Open, a record any touring pro should be proud of
"You know, I think what I said (Saturday) night was, I was going to go out and have fun today. I was going to enjoy the round and I knew I was just going to come out and play my heart out and let it all hang out. I did that . . . I played good this week, so I do have a lot of confidence right now that, I know everyone - this game's kind of a mental battle as it is anyway.
"I feel like the last 12 rounds I've played have been very solid, very good under pressure. You know, I feel good about my chances in the future. I'm disappointed it's been a while since I've won, and I've had some chances to close the door and haven't done it, but I guess it's days like this that will make the next one sweeter."
Here's what else Furyk had to say to the media Sunday evening at Oak Hill.
MODERATOR: Jim Furyk, the runner up in the 95th PGA Championship joining us in the interview room. Jim completed play today with a 71,72 hole total of 8 under par 272, two strokes behind the champion, Jason Dufner. Comments about the round and overall comments about the week.
JIM FURYK: Comments today, I would say the front nine, again, I got off to a little bit of a rocky start ball striking wise. Didn't feel like I was way off but I missed some fairways into the second cut of rough, even the long cut. Even when I did hit the fairways it was up the left side in that left short cut. Had a little bit of a double cross going early on and took me a while to work out of it. I really started to gain some confidence on the back side. I hit some good shots - hit a great shot into 11, 12, played 13 aggressively, made good swings at 14, 16. I think when I look back now, obviously 9 was a tough bogey. I was dead center of the fairway after probably what was my best drive of the day and kind of got a little indecisive in between clubs and didn't really commit to that 6 iron and left it short right.
Jason was in trouble and made a great up and down, so where it looked like I could possibly pick up a stroke, I lost one. After that I just wasn't able to really put a bunch of heat on him. I look at holes 13 and 14 with wedges in my hand, I made two pars. Would have liked to give myself some better opportunities. I hit the one on 13, I kind of slid the club underneath it a little bit. I had a really good lie and I misjudged it. And 14, I was licking my chops; I thought the wedge I hit in there was going to be perfect and it came up just long and actually caught a little piece of the hole on the putt. I was on the front, knocked it in for birdie on 16 - kind of hanging in there, and I don't know what to say about 17 and 18. Yesterday, I made birdie at 17 and hit a bad drive on 18 and made a great par and kind of worked out. And today, I hit some really good shots that just didn't work out. I made two fives.
Drove it a little right off 17, and I had it in the fairway, I was thinking off the tee it was going to be perfect but never got to the crest of the hill. So that tree was in the way and had to kind of carve it around the tree a little bit and I just couldn't get it to cut over that uphill lie and hung it over there to the left, tough to get the ball up and down out of that stuff. 18, the drive wasn't that bad. I mean, I hung it just five, six, seven yards to the right and it took a real hard kick into the rough. So I got a lie where I just, it was just a little too far for me to dig a 5 iron out of there. I would have been a lot more comfortable with, say, a 7 or maybe a 6 iron but couldn't have got either one of those to the green and had to go after a 5 iron and had to make kind of a home run swing to get it on the green where I could make a putt and just wasn't able to gouge it out of there, not strong enough. Wish I could have put a little heat on him and made him work those last two holes a little bit harder, let him go bogey, bogey for a two shot win. Wish I had made a couple pars, at least, and put some heat on him, but wasn't able to do it.
Q. Can you talk about what you noticed about Jason today, what made his round so solid?
JIM FURYK: What I think he did that was so solid? He didn't miss very many fairways, and he hit some really good iron shots. I look back to, he hit it a foot on 5,8 and 16. I mean, tap in birdies. So pass that down the stretch, he I hit some really good shots. He drove it right down the middle on 16, hit it a foot. Drove it right down the middle on 17, knocked it on the green, tough hole and hit a pretty darned good drive on 18. It's just hard to hit the fairway and kicked right into the rough for him. He hit the ball in play very solidly and made enough putts to separate himself from the field.
Q. Despite your disappointment today and what you've heard here in the media room, how do you feel about your chances in the future, in future majors? Do you feel quite optimistic when you do get a chance?
JIM FURYK: You know, I think what I said last night was, I was going to go out and have fun today. I was going to enjoy the round and I knew I was just going to come out and play my heart out and let it all hang out. I did that. I came off a summer where I wasn't really playing my best. I played very poorly at the U.S. Open, very poorly at the British Open, was putting horrendous, was putting a lot of pressure on the rest of my game. And my confidence was lacking to be honest with you. It was nice to turn it around at Canada and finish ninth at the RBC. Go into Bridgestone, finish ninth at the World Golf Championships. Come in here at a golf course that really suits my game, major championship; I felt good about my chances.
I played good this week, so I do have a lot of confidence right now that, I know everyone - this game's kind of a mental battle as it is anyway. You lose your confidence quickly after two or three good rounds, and then you kind of gain it slowly over time. I feel like the last 12 rounds I've played have been very solid, very good under pressure. You know, I feel good about my chances in the future. I'm disappointed it's been a while since I've won, and I've had some chances to close the door and haven't done it, but I guess it's days like this that will make the next one sweeter.
Q. Given how Jason played, obviously, and how you played, does that make it any less difficult to get over today?
JIM FURYK: I'm not having really a hard time with the way I played. Like I said, I think my attitude and my idea of going out today, I said last night, I was going to have a good time today; I was going to have fun; I was going to basically play my heart out, and I did. You know, I'm disappointed that I didn't win the golf tournament, because I really felt like I played well enough to do so, and I played well enough in key areas of the golf course to do so. So I'm disappointed by that. But yeah, I also have a lot of respect for the way Jason played and how well he struck the ball. He seemed to be in the middle of most fairways. He seemed to be on the green with a chance for birdie on almost all the greens, and heck, if he got hot with the putter today, who knows what he would have shot. I have a lot of respect for him and the way he played today. I don't know if it makes anything easy or less easy, but I don't look at it as I lost the golf tournament. I look at it as I got beat by somebody that played better today.
Q. Yesterday you talked about having that cornerback's mentality, trying to forget about it. Given that this was the last major of the year and it's going to be a long time obviously until the next one, do you feel like this one will linger any longer maybe?
JIM FURYK: No. I have a week off. I've been on the road for seven weeks. I haven't seen my house and my bed for almost seven weeks, and so I'm going to enjoy my week off, have a good time. On one happened, yeah, I'm disappointed, but I'm kind of reenergized right now. I'm playing well and enjoying playing golf, and through the summer, I wasn't, to be honest with you. I was tired; I told you I was worn out and I wasn't having fun out there, and that makes your job kind of a bummer, and right now, I've got some energy and I'm looking forward to getting to the Playoffs and playing there.
Q. Obviously you're grinding to win, but then at the end when you know Jason has it, you seemed genuinely, obviously happy for him. No one can relate to going through that and getting that first major; can you talk a little about that, that moment for him now, knowing that he's broken through.
JIM FURYK: It was a heck of a moment for me. It was basically the highlight of my career. I know what he's feeling and what he's going through, how much work he's put into it along the way. You know, when a tournament ends like that, you've just got to take your hat off and shake the guy's hand, and basically, I told him I was really impressed with how well he played. He played his rear end off today and he won the golf tournament.
Q. Oak Hill is obviously an historic golf course and great Rochester fans that came out every day for the tournament. How would you feel about having more events in Rochester or at Oak Hill?
JIM FURYK: Well, I've played two here. I think it really fits our tour well to be in a kind of mid sized city. You can draw from so many different areas here in New York to get a lot of fans here. It's a beautiful golf course. I like it because I've played well here twice. It definitely takes the driver out of the longer players' hands and makes us all play from the same spot, which is a lot of fun for me, to be honest, instead of looking at everyone's back side for four days, I get to hit from the same spots in the fairways, so I like it. You can tell when we come to an area like this same thing with Louisville; get to Minneapolis, that's a big city, but get to areas we don't see very often; the major championships, The PGA of America, even the Tour does really well in those areas. People are enthusiastic. We don't get there very often, and they are excited to see golf. It's fun to play in front of fans like that.
Q. You led after the first round; Jason led after the second round; you led after the third round and when it came down the stretch, it seemed like match play. Did it feel like that to you?
JIM FURYK: Not really. I wasn't really thinking of it as match play. Seemed like when we were on 14 or 15, Stenson and I were tied. He must have made a bogey somewhere in there at 16, 17 and I birdied 16; all of a sudden, we were two or three ahead. He might have bogeyed 16, 17, now that I think about it, just by looking at the card. But I really wasn't too worried about I really wasn't scoreboard watching. I knew where I stood. I knew where everyone was, but I was so focused on the next shot and trying to, trying to hit the right shot for me and put myself in position where I can make a run. I wasn't able to do so, but I gave it a heck of a shot.
Q. You've talked a lot the last couple days about looking at this as an opportunity and trying to have fun. Were you able to do that today? And are you able to do that now more so than at an earlier point in your career?
JIM FURYK: Yes. I did have fun today. I tried to soak it in a little bit, watch the crowd, enjoy everyone cheering. I mean, that's what we've worked hard for our entire lives as kids, and we sat over putts pretending we were Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer this is to win the PGA or this is to win the Masters. I got to go out there and live that today. So I had an absolute blast. I wasn't able to do that early in my career and I didn't do that when I won the U.S. Open, I'll be dead honest with you. When I won, if you look at my face, I'm happy, but it was a relief in that I felt a lot of pressure in that event because I think I had a three or a four shot lead taking it into Sunday. I knew that it was a great opportunity to win and I was trying to view it as an opportunity to win and it was my tournament to win. But in the back of your mind, you're fighting the idea that, wow, this might be my tournament to lose, as well, because you're so far ahead.
I think it was just a big relief at the end of the day. If you start the day three or four back, and you file a number and you win, you never really battle those emotions. And I didn't really look at today that way with the lead, because we had a crowded leaderboard and I wasn't way ahead; I had a one shot lead, so I knew it was going to be when I saw the conditions soft, I saw the greens out there holding, I knew it was going to be a little bit of a gun fight and I was going to have to fire under par today.
Q. Seeing you now, and seeing you a little over a year ago after the U.S. Open, how much do you take away from this versus that and how much easier is it to recover from a situation like this versus that?
JIM FURYK: Well, last year, I felt like and I don't mean any disrespect to Webb, he played great; he played better than anyone down the stretch. But at the end of that tournament, I felt like I lost the tournament. And that was - I walked off 18 with that feeling; with back to back par-5s on 16 and 17, I went bogey, par, and then wasn't able to birdie 18. Ended up, basically I need to play those last three 1 under, and I had two par 5s, and 17 was reachable. I felt like it was my tournament to win, and I wasn't able to do it. Today, I feel like I got beat. I didn't beat myself, I don't think. I felt like I got beat by Jason. Yeah, I think my attitude is a little down now, too. If I continued down the same road with the attitude I had ten years ago, it wasn't as much fun as it needed to be I just didn't want to be that way anymore, so I've kind of made a commitment this year to start trying to enjoy myself and have a little better time on the golf course. Does that make sense?
Q. I'm comfortable with it.
JIM FURYK: (Laughter).
Q. Both at Merion and here, the final two holes, you had to play an exceptional shot or two, just to even have a chance at a birdie opportunity, and length was rewarded in both those circumstances. Even though you can't affect it -
JIM FURYK: I disagree with the statement already. I don't think length was rewarding anyone on 18 at Merion. I think all the long hitters had to hit 3 wood off the tee. I don't think length was rewarded on 18 at Merion -
Q. Would you prefer to see that birdie is still a very reasonable possibility on those closing holes if you were setting up a major championship?
JIM FURYK: I think if you get the ball in the fairway at 18 here, birdie is a reasonable option. The hardest shot is putting the ball in the fairway. I chose to play with a 3 wood two days this week. I actually made birdie on Thursday hitting 3 wood, 4 iron, because I felt like the fairway was the fattest. Today with two back, I've got to putt some heat on him. If I drive it in the fairway, I might get a 6 iron or something in my hand and might be able to stop it to that front pin. You know, I don't know. 17 is the hard hole. It's a par 5 converted to a par 4. The green doesn't really accept a second shot very well because the front end of the green slopes away from you. It's a par 5 green. That's the most difficult hole here on the finish. Merion, 17 will reward some length. 18 here rewards accuracy, for sure. Merion, the 18th hole there, honestly, the way they set it up, it's a great hole. The way they set it up, I'm not sure it rewarded anyone, I've got to be honest with you (chuckling). Does that help? Thank you.
Q. Given the difficulty and the history here at Oak Hill, what was it about the course that made you feel so comfortable out there? You said you were going out and you were going to have fun, you felt relaxed; what specifically about this great course just made you feel comfortable?
JIM FURYK: I grew up in Pennsylvania, so I grew up on courses built in a similar time and I love this older style of architecture. That being said, the golf course looks good to my eye. You know, I step on the tees, I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm supposed to put the ball. There's some kind of windy, snaking fairways here. There's some awkward angles off the tee, but I felt I could pick targets really easy and knew where I wanted to hit the ball. And also, I think in the way it was set up, they limited some of the power hitters, if that makes sense. They took driver out of a lot of guys hands, because they narrowed the fairways in. The longer you went, the narrower the golf course got. So any time they do that, I'm happy, because I'm not that long, and it pulls those longer guys back to the same spot and now I get to play even with them on a lot of holes. You know, that's fun for me.
Q. You mentioned on TV that you failed to birdie 13 and 14 with a wedge in your hand. Looking back, do you think that was the key moment, or was 9 the key moment? What do you think was the key moment today?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure there was a specific moment. 9 is disappointing, but you still have nine holes to go. I think I look back, 9, missed the putt at 8 and 9, 13, 14, I could have started to putt some heat on him. You know, Jason played and I probably would have played it the same way did he in his position with a two shot lead. He played 13 very conservatively and I knew I was going to take 3 wood over those bunkers and hung it just enough right to get in the smaller cut of rough. I would have liked to kept the ball in the fairway and been able to spin the third shot, which being over in the rough, I did draw a good lie but it leaves you guessing a little bit. Birdie at 13, birdie in 14, somewhere in that area, I could have put some serious heat on him and I wasn't able to do so and I could never close that two shot gap.
MODERATOR: Jim Furyk, thank you very much.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.