Jim Furyk comes back to the Silverado Resort for the second straight year. He met with the media Wednesday afternoon, touching on a number of topics, including playing in both PGA Tour events and a Champions Tour event this year.
SHARON SHIN: I would like to welcome in Jim Furyk to the interview room here at the Safeway Open, of course our 2010 FedExCup champion and 17-time PGA TOUR winner following a T-17 finish at this event last year. Jim, what are your thoughts at being back at this event and how is the course playing?
JIM FURYK: Well, I’m excited to be back. Last year was my first event here, I had a pretty solid week. Conditions are a touch different this year than last. Last year it was really hot, really firm. The scores from the morning rounds to the afternoon rounds were drastic because of the way the golf course dried out. This year with the cloud cover, the sun not really being a factor, there’s a lot more moisture on the golf course. It’s playing a little bit different, but it’s a golf course I like. It’s kind of a short, windy, it’s got some defense on the greens where you have to put the ball in the right places. It’s not a power-driven golf course, so I thought having a guy like Cameron Champ, who obviously has as much power as anyone on the PGA TOUR, but he comes to a golf course like this where it’s really not a huge benefit and he was able to win last year, which I thought was very impressive. But it’s a golf course I think suits my game and I’m always excited about coming back.
SHARON SHIN: And you also won the Ally Challenge in your PGA TOUR Champions debut not too long ago. If you can talk a little bit about that what were your expectations entering the week and what was the experience like.
JIM FURYK: To be honest, I put a lot of pressure, too much pressure on myself going in. I wanted to compete and play well and got off to a little bit of a shaky start that first nine, but was able to knock in some putts and kind of salvage the nine holes and kind of settled in and played pretty well the rest of the week. Warwick Hills is a place that I loved. I won there on the PGA TOUR. I think they said I played 15 events there or something like that and I had eight top-10s, so it was a place I was really comfortable, so it was a great place to kind of make my debut. And enjoyed seeing some old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’m actually looking forward to playing out there quite a bit more as well.
SHARON SHIN: And Phil Mickelson achieved the same feat not too long ago. What were your thoughts on that?
JIM FURYK: Well, I don’t really have much to say. Like I like to poke fun at Phil and I like to tease him, but I guess after he’s won 43 times on Tour and I won 17, it’s really not that impressive that I won one first on the Champions Tour. I guess what I would like to say, it’s nice to see him out there and playing. You had a great group of guys already on the Champions Tour and then the group that I kind of we’ll say grew up with in the game of golf, like the Retief Goosens and Ernie Els, who turned 50 last year, you’ve got Phil and I and K.J. and Mike Weir and Rich Beem. Can keep going down the list of guys who are turning 50. So proud of kind of the era I played in, the players I played with. it seems like a lot of them now, you had Retief and Ernie already supporting the Champions Tour. I’m going out there pretty much full time this coming season. To see Phil out there is a big boost obviously. He’s a name that still makes the needle move on the PGA TOUR, let alone on the Champions Tour, so to see him go out there and being successful was definitely no surprise, but I’m excited to see him out there and hopefully he’ll play more on the Champions Tour as well.
SHARON SHIN: Now that you made starts on both tours, how do you plan to split your time and how do you set your schedule moving forward?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I’m definitely keeping my options open, but I’m really looking towards playing more on the Champions Tour. I would imagine I’ll probably — my goal is probably to play about 80 percent of my tournaments on the Champions Tour, maybe pick off a few of my favorite events on the PGA TOUR where length really isn’t a huge necessity and places that I just really enjoy playing. But we’ll see. Everything’s always subject to change and I can always change my mind, at least I have that option. But I’m really looking forward to playing the Champions Tour. I’ve been telling everyone my 4-iron is begging for mercy, it’s sore, I hit it too often and I’m looking to hit a couple of short irons and mid irons to par 4s and have a little bit more fun.
SHARON SHIN: All right. We’ll now take some questions from the media.
Q. Jim, thanks for joining us today. I’m hoping you can kind of elaborate on that Champions Tour versus PGA TOUR thought process and how you reached that decision, maybe the appeal of the PGA TOUR. You’re obviously back this week. What brings you back and how do you — as you sort of plot next year, you said 80 percent, how do you sort of reach that decision?
JIM FURYK: It was a guess on the 80 percent, but it was definitely going to be — I really don’t feel like you can play like a 50/50 schedule and do really any damage on either tour. The talent level is too great and there’s too many good players on both tours to feel like you’re going to play — spend half your time on one tour and actually be very successful, so I felt like I had to kind of pick and choose. And I guess the game is changing the way — you know, the equipment has changed, the way the players play the game now has changed, the way we’re setting up golf courses on the PGA TOUR has changed and it’s become a very power driven. It’s always been a power-driven game, but it’s becoming more of a power-driven game. Being 50 years old and a guy that was really never that long, I find myself just giving up a lot off the tee. I hit the ball straight, I think I led the Tour in fairways hit last year, but I’m still on the negative side of shots gained driving. I’m just giving up a lot of yardage. There are plenty of golf courses I think I can still compete on the PGA TOUR, but each year the number of courses that I can is kind of getting smaller and smaller and smaller. You know, at the end of the day, I play this game because I enjoy getting in contention, I enjoy waking up nervous on Sunday morning and having a chance to win golf tournaments, and I guess right now I feel like I’m going to have more opportunities, if I’m playing well and I’m firing on all cylinders, I’m going to have more opportunities to do that on Sunday on the Champions Tour because the golf courses out there kind of lend themselves maybe more to my game at 7,000 yards versus 7,400 and 7,500. I don’t know exactly where I’ll go. You know, there’s no assurances, but I’m real excited. I think the competition is really good on the Champions Tour. I think the golf courses are probably more suited to my length and off the tee and I’m excited to see some of my old friends and get out there and compete.
Q. Given all that, what motivates you or what still invigorates you about being on the PGA TOUR as you obviously are this week?
JIM FURYK: Well, I guess in one sense it’s not fun to be the old guy on Tour, but in the other sense, it kind of is. I played with — played in PGA TOUR events where Jack Nicklaus teed it up and Hale Irwin and guys that I really looked up to and now I also kind of bridge a gap with some guys that are in their young 20s and I’m walking out there this week playing with Jordan Spieth and Brandt Snedeker. This is where the greatest players in the world — the PGA TOUR, it’s the greatest collection of players in the world, so to still be able to be here to compete and play, I just have to kind of pick and choose my spots wisely And I feel that Silverado’s a golf course that I can still get it around and still compete. I finished 17th here last year and I feel like I can still play, I can still win on the PGA TOUR, but the opportunities aren’t as great as they used to be.
Q. One last thing on this topic. You mentioned power and length obviously as the biggest difference between the two tours. Phil obviously at 50 still has a pretty good amount of power. He’s obviously dealing with some of these decisions you are. Can he still compete regularly on the PGA TOUR, do you think?
JIM FURYK: Sure, sure, and I think those opportunities may be — at times may be a little greater because of his length, because of how much farther he hits it. The game’s changed and I would love to — you know, I would give up some accuracy if I could hit it 20 yards farther, it’s just not really in the cards at the moment. My game’s about getting the ball in the fairway and (technical issue.)
Q. And last thing, how would you describe the sky today?
JIM FURYK: Just strange. I mean, waking up and it was like the sun just wouldn’t come up today it felt like. It was dark for a long time. When there was a touch of light, the sky’s just been a really awkward yellowish grayish color. There was about a 20-minute window this morning where it was quite red, where you couldn’t really grab a picture of it on your phone, but I saw one of the photographers show me and a couple players the camera work that he got out of it and it was stunning actually. The picture was quite impressive. But it’s been — it just hasn’t felt real, that’s the best — a little bit like you’re on a movie set, to be honest with you.