Furyk Moves on from U.S. Open Disappointment


After bypassing the Travelers Championship, Jim Furyk returns to action this week for the first time since the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in mid-June.

Furyk is playing in the AT&T National. The limited-field, $6.5 million event hosted by Tiger Woods starts Thursday at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

Entering the final round tied for the lead with Graeme McDowell, Furyk was in prime position to take his second U.S. Open title after his victory in 2003 at Olympia Fields.

But it was not be at the Lake Course, as Furyk joined the likes of previous Olympic 54-hole leaders Ben Hogan (tied in the final round by Jack Fleck and then losing in a playoff), Arnold Palmer (Billy Casper), Tom Watson (Scott Simpson) and Payne Stewart (Lee Janzen) and didn't win.

He closed with a 4-over 74 to end up two strokes behind Webb Simpson, who made up a six-stroke difference on Sunday and won the 112th U.S. Open by a stroke over McDowell and Michael Thompson.

Furyk still had a chance before stepping onto the tee at the USGA-shortened par-5 16th. But a duck-hook into the trees led to a bogey and, after a par on the next - also a par-5 - an obviously discombobulated Furyk bogeyed the last when he needed a birdie to force an 18-hole Monday playoff with Simpson.

"I've had my share of close calls, and I have myself to blame and didn't get the job done when I really needed to," Furyk told reporters Wednesday at Congressional about his reaction to that final round. "I think for the first couple days it stings a little bit more and it's tough to deal with personally, and I think you - what I've always done is kind of gone through in my mind about the things I think I could have improved on and what I could have done better and why exactly did I make the poor swing at 16, what was going through my mind, what caused the reaction on the last three holes, and then try to figure out how you can improve upon it. I've always been kind of good at putting it behind me.

"The difficult spot is I get reminded of it at least two dozen times a day where someone - I've had hundreds upon hundreds of people just seeing me in public, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, and I was rooting for you, I was pulling for you. You know, our commissioner was telling me yesterday our local drycleaner was trying to figure out, well, why did he hit that shot.

"Well, he wasn't trying to. Yeah, but he shouldn't have done it in that situation," he added. "Yeah, no [expletive deleted]. (Laughter.) I guess that's why you shouldn't break the buttons on my shirts, but it happens once in a while. I get reminded of it so often, and a lot of players in the field and friends will come up and say, hey, man, I was pulling for you or good playing anyway, I know it wasn't the result. So it makes it that much harder to put it behind you. But from a playing perspective, I have.

"And really, all those people that bring it up, they mean well, and I don't mean it in a negative way, but they're being very positive, and it's nice to see I've got a lot of support, as well."

Here's what else the 16-time PGA Tour winner had to tell the media during his Q&A. Furyk will be paired with Robert Garrigus and Jason Day in the first round; they'll be teeing off the first hole Thursday at 1:02 p.m.

MODERATOR: Let's welcome Jim Furyk to the media center at the AT&T National. Just talk about maybe being back at Congressional and expectations for the week.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've always liked the golf course. I was probably a little surprised in the setup in that you figure after a U.S. Open goes through, the mowing lines, the rough lines are usually brought in narrow for a U.S. Open, and they never pushed them back out. Obviously the rough is a little thicker than what the members see, but I would have expected like at Pebble Beach those rough lines kind of go back to where they were and make the golf course a little bit more playable. Here they've kept the golf course narrow. The rough is - I don't want to say it's the longest I've seen it, but it's very, very thick and difficult to play out of. And the greens still being somewhat new are very, very firm. It definitely has a U.S. Open style feel to it.

Q. Do you think it's because the membership is masochistic, or do you think the club is trying to make a statement about trying to get a major back here at some point?

JIM FURYK: I don't know. I don't know the reasons. I don't think this place has to justify or validate how good of a golf course it is in any way. I think it's always been a good golf course. It's very difficult. It was back in the '70s when they played the Kemper here; it was when we came in '97. They actually had to keep the greens somewhat receptive and take a little speed off of them for that U.S. Open because the golf course was hard.

You know, last year the scores here at the U.S. Open, anyone that knows enough about golf courses and the scores that we shoot are always indicative of the setup of the golf course, and with the greens pretty much dying with the heat and being relatively new, they had to keep them very, very soft and not that quick, and then you're going to have guys tear a golf course up. The guys out here are too good, and someone is going to find a way to play very well.

Obviously Rory separated himself from the field, but it's just - if you keep them that soft and relatively not quick, guys are going to make a bunch of putts and throw some darts with their irons. So scores were low. It's a shame that that's the way it was, and it had probably a lot to do with them being very new and then getting a ton of heat last year and almost losing the greens if not losing them after the tournament.

Q. How long did it take you to realize that it was as it was last year?

JIM FURYK: Well, I stood up on the first tee. In the old days of this event, or when we first started playing this golf course, the left cut, it was up by that left bunker, and now that bunker is 10 yards in the rough. I went, oh, wow, looked at my caddie and said, the cut lines are still the same as they were at the Open last year. And then the same thing on 3. I just started seeing it throughout the front nine. I went, okay, and then hit it in the rough a couple times, take a look at the lie you have. By 2, it was into the wind yesterday, I hit a 3 wood onto the front of the green and it ended up on the back of the green, and it was into the breeze. I said, okay, game on. Now I realize what I have to get ready for this week.

Q. Do you like it?

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I've always liked this golf course. You know, in my mind I've played more tournaments here when it wasn't set up like this, so in my mind when I think of 1, I think of hitting a driver kind of over the right edge of that bunker and getting it to chase up in front of the green. Now that's not the case. I kind of have to revert back to what I saw last year at the U.S. Open, which isn't too hard considering it was the last time I played the course.

Q. Temperatures are going to be mid to high-90s Thursday through Sunday. How is that going to affect you and the guys besides making you sweat a little bit more?

JIM FURYK: You know, I think it'll make it somewhat difficult for the field. I enjoy hot weather. I enjoy the heat. I've always liked the summer months, and the hotter the better to be honest with you. I'm more worried about how it's going to affect the golf course and the setup of the greens and can they keep them as fast and firm or are they going to have to put some water on them to help them out a little bit.

Q. How are you as far as dealing with something like what happened at Olympic? Do you put it behind you? How do you move forward from it?

JIM FURYK: Well, I think I've always been good at - I've had my share of close calls, and I have myself to blame and didn't get the job done when I really needed to. I think for the first couple days it stings a little bit more and it's tough to deal with personally, and I think you - what I've always done is kind of gone through in my mind about the things I think I could have improved on and what I could have done better and why exactly did I make the poor swing at 16, what was going through my mind, what caused the reaction on the last three holes, and then try to figure out how you can improve upon it. I've always been kind of good at putting it behind me.

The difficult spot is I get reminded of it at least two dozen times a day where someone - I've had hundreds upon hundreds of people just seeing me in public, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, and I was rooting for you, I was pulling for you. You know, our commissioner was telling me yesterday our local drycleaner was trying to figure out, well, why did he hit that shot. Well, he wasn't trying to. Yeah, but he shouldn't have done it in that situation. Yeah, no [expletive deleted]. (Laughter.) I guess that's why you shouldn't break the buttons on my shirts, but it happens once in a while.

I get reminded of it so often, and a lot of players in the field and friends will come up and say, hey, man, I was pulling for you or good playing anyway, I know it wasn't the result. So it makes it that much harder to put it behind you. But from a playing perspective, I have. And really, all those people that bring it up, they mean well, and I don't mean it in a negative way, but they're being very positive, and it's nice to see I've got a lot of support, as well.

Q. What answers did you come up with in your own mind?

JIM FURYK: Well, I was unprepared for the shot at 16 with the setup of the golf course. I was unprepared for the tee to be 100 yards up. That being the case, everyone else was unprepared, and from talking to people watching the tournament, the majority of the players lost the ball in the right rough. I had done that the two previous days, and it's a tough par from there. I made one par, one bogey, but I didn't want to lose it in the right rough. Because I was uncomfortable with my line and because I was unsure where to hit it, I made a very quick swing, which when I get short and quick and try to draw the ball, I hit it hard left, which is the swing that - that's the one swing I try to avoid at all costs. The two previous days I hung it high right and put the ball in the rough. I probably should have played the hole more conservatively, probably should have hit a hybrid off the tee, put the ball in the same place or even farther ahead of where I was from the back tee and then played a hybrid or such for the second shot and got it in the same place that I had been playing driver, 3 wood to for the first three rounds.

I think it was a lot of - a lot of it was more mental, I think, than physical. I made the poor swing because I made a poor decision. Again, a lot of that was due to they forced that issue upon the entire field with what I consider a very awkward setup, to put a tee 100 yards up. I think what he was trying to do was to get guys to go for it in two, which was extremely unrealistic for guys competing and trying to win the golf tournament, if that makes sense. Maybe for the guy going off at 9:30 a.m., it might have been fun, but not for the guy trying to win the golf tournament.

You know, like I said, I handled that situation poorly, and that stuff happens in the heat of the battle. You're going to make some quick or rash decisions, and there I made a poor decision.

Q. Can you talk about the policy board deliberation yesterday regarding the format or the point system or whatever you want to call it for the three event series, for the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour guys and why you decided to deliberate a little further before making a decision?

JIM FURYK: Well, we kind of narrowed it down amongst the Tour, the PAC and the policy members, we had pretty much narrowed it down to a couple systems, a couple ideas for what we wanted to do. The PAC had weighed in on what they thought, and they had picked one of those two systems pretty highly over the other. And going into the meeting, the board - I think it was still a matter of - I'm trying to put this in the best words. It was still a matter of if I had to pick one, I would pick plan A, not plan B, and I think 11 of the 12 guys that we talked to picked one plan or the other, but I don't think it was an overwhelming we love this plan, it was this is the one we like the best.

A third option - it was very similar to something we talked about months and months and months ago was re brought up in the morning before our meeting with the PGA Tour and the player directors, and it started to catch some - in hindsight, I think I liked it better than the two previous. I think a lot of the other board members did, as well. But we've always run things by our PAC, and not only our PAC but the Nationwide PAC because it affects them, as well. We've always run things by that group of players, and that's 16 people, maybe gives you a broader view of what the Tour is thinking, and as the player directors we weren't comfortable at the time of just approving it and then taking it back to the Tour and the players and saying this is what we did. We didn't feel like that was the right thing to do. We wanted the PAC to weigh in, we wanted some other players to hear about it and get their opinion, and if they give the approval and they like that plan better, then that's probably what we'll go with. But we want to hear more what they have to say before we make a decision.

Q. Is it critical to hear from guys who are more likely to be among those players who are going to be playing that three event series, what they think of it?

JIM FURYK: I think it's a matter of everyone. It's a matter of how you a lot of things are changing. It's not only the Tour school, it's not only the Nationwide Tour, it's not only the guys from 126 to 200. By changing the system and starting the year in the fall, we're affecting the whole membership. And I think I want to hear from all 200 players on our Tour and the players on the Nationwide Tour collectively rather than just - nor would I identify anyone as a journeyman that would be in that situation quite often, if that makes sense. What we're trying to do is make our Tour - there's a lot of different goals to this, but with the Tour school part of it, we're trying to identify who's going to be the best prepared and get some fresh talent and who are the best players that are going to be there to represent those 50 and affect the Tour the most positively.

Q. You've had a lot of success at this course before it was kind of transformed into the Open for last year. What adjustments are you going to have to make from last year's Open?

JIM FURYK: I came here last year playing poorly. I was really on a bad streak. I think I missed the cut at - if I remember, I think the missed the cut at Colonial, Memorial, had a week off, came in here really not comfortable with my game and was putting very poorly, and that carried into - that negative momentum carried into this event. You know, I think when you look at a course that you go to that you've played well in the past, and I've had places like Hilton Head where I've either missed the cut or finished top 5, I went like 5th, 2nd, 2nd, missed cut, win. It makes no sense. But I think the moral of the story is when you're playing well, you're going to play well on the courses you like. But if you're not playing well, sometimes it'll only lull you out of a bad place, but if you're not playing well, you're not playing well.

When I came here last year my game wasn't in the right shape, my mind probably wasn't in a good frame, and it was reflected on the scores that I shot. I feel like I've been playing pretty well this year. I've had a little time off in the last 10 days and spent the last couple trying to get some rhythm and timing back and carry that momentum I've had through the last couple months hopefully into this week.

Q. Back to the policy board, you approved the Fall Series for FedEx Cup points. I wonder if you could talk about that decision.

JIM FURYK: Well, if the year is going to start with the fall, we just felt it didn't make a lot of sense to - the season is starting there, so you're going to reward some points, and the debate was do you try to do 50 percent or 75 or 100 percent. To us it didn't make sense, to the PAC members, to our membership, it doesn't make sense to give a limited number of points. Those events now have gone through a bunch of years where they've got zero points and really have felt on the outside looking in and really not in the FedEx Cup season.

Now if you make them part of the season but make them worth less than full points, they're still kind of the redheaded stepchild is the saying. I thought that would have been a slap in the face personally, and we decided to go with full points. And honestly, we were also at the realization that if we kept them in a Fall Series where they weren't part of the FedEx Cup, we were going to lose some of those events. We had heard that that was a definite possibility. We were afraid that then if you - it was another slap in the face to not give them full points.

Q. Will it encourage players to play in those more?

JIM FURYK: I believe so. You have to realize, and I always say this to the PGA Tour, I've got X amount of events in me. Whether you give those tournaments points or not, my number is 26, which is a pretty high number. But I'm not going to 28 or 29 now. I'm going to play 26. So if I go play in the fall, that's going to take away somewhere else in the schedule.

Q. Where will you play in the fall?

JIM FURYK: I have played Vegas.

Q. When was the last time you played there?

JIM FURYK: Well, before the FedEx schedule. It's been a long time. I think '99 was the last time I went there. But I played a couple years ago and I lost by one.

Q. You go to the range at an event like this, tons of coaches out there, guys working on stuff. Have you been a guy over the course of your career that in the middle of a round you can feel something that's going wrong and fix it, or do you need time to practice to fix things?

JIM FURYK: I play a lot more by feel than other players, so for me it's not a mechanical switch, it's more of a - sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes things are off and you need to go to the range and hit a few bags of balls and kind of engrain a feel or to trust it, and other times you struggle for the first eight or nine holes and you kind of get it around and you're at even par but you're scratching your head going, I've had to be Houdini to this point, and you hit a shot on 10 and it clicks, and all of a sudden you hit it great on the back nine and you shoot 3 under, and you go, wow, that could have been a round that really got away from me but here I shot 69 and kept myself in the tournament in a good spot.

And usually during the course of a week when you win, you can always go back to one time in a tournament where you got loose for a few holes, things weren't feeling right, you got the ball up and down, you made a couple putts, some good saves, started hitting a couple in the fairway and on the green and eventually got the momentum going the other way. Sometimes there's just something little. But being on Tour for as long as I have, I kind of have some - I have a ball flight and a shot, and if things aren't feeling good, I try to go to, okay, uh oh, and then I try to revert into a little bit more of a conservative type swing until I get some confidence back. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

MODERATOR: Jim Furyk, thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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