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Ambassador’s Corner | Jim Furyk
Full Swing Simulator owner, Jim Furyk, opens up in this exclusive interview to reveal what it’s like to play for and coach a Presidents Cup team.
Q: What got you excited about having a Full Swing indoor golf simulator? Has the feedback been helpful for you?
Furyk: I think first and foremost I originally got interested in the company and the product. I did a little research and I really felt like it would be something fun for the family and that the kids would use it with their friends. The graphics look great! I was really interested, I’ve been able to hit on it and I’ve enjoyed it. The numbers a pretty great, I don’t do a ton of work on launch monitors, but I have a good idea with my drive and irons on the speed, launch angles, spin. So, Full Swing gave me good feedback, very similar to what I see outdoors on the driving range, so it’s pretty cool and I have enjoyed working with it! We don’t get too bad of weather down in Jacksonville, Florida, but when it is bad it’s nice to get in there and stay loose and work on my swing in the indoor golf simulator.
Q: How do you feel with the Presidents Cup right around the corner?
Furyk: Excited! You know there has been a lot of build-up for the event. We had our team qualify weeks ago, picks were made, so I think a lot of it is just anticipation. The Tour just finished out their season with the playoffs and the FedEx Cup, and it was an exciting finish. But I think especially as a captain, and one not playing in the Tour Championship, it has been a lot of sitting around a lot and waiting and watching some golf on TV. So, we are really anxious to get these guys out there and get started.
Q: What do you think it’ll mean for Kevin Chappell’s career and some of the other Rookies to make the team for the first time?
Furyk: Yeah, we’ve got five first-time team players, six at the President’s Cup. Brooks Koepka played last year in the Ryder Cup. So, I think it’s great, for someone like Kevin I’m sure he’s looked forward to making one of these teams for the last few years. He’s been playing wonderfully, and what an exciting finish as it came down to a tenth of a point between him and Charlie Hoffman. So, it’s great to have both of them on the team. They were close down the stretch with those guys who were close to making the team and there was a lot of stress on them with the playoffs. So, it was nice to see them make the team, and I think surely the captains and players were all really excited to welcome them on because they have been playing so well.
So, I think for these young guys, you think about it at first from a competitive nature. You want to get out there and test your game against the best players on a huge stage like the Presidents Cup. But it’s also about the camaraderie, the team room, and building relationships. I think you learn a lot in practice rounds playing with the other players, and together it’s just a good bonding experience with the friendships you make and the people that you spend time with. And not only the players, but their wives, their girlfriends, and their families. It’s a blast, and it’s something that I will cherish for the rest of my career. So, I kind of know what these young guys are feeling and thinking about, and I think I kind of know twenty years from now how they will look back on it and cherish it.
Q: When you have an event with two teams of 12 of the best players in the world, how much can what’s done off the course impact what happens on the course?
Furyk: Well surely, I think it’s important. We have a great captain in Steve Stricker, he’s done a lot of work now for two years preparing for this, getting ready. You know the idea for this is to try and provide an atmosphere where these guys can succeed. Strick’s worked hard, and I’m honored that he asked me to help out. Obviously, it’s fun to be with great friends with Steve, with Davis, Tiger, and Freddy.
There is a lot to learn, this being my third time as an assistant captain in a team event. Obviously looking to next year and the Ryder Cup, so I have a lot to learn this week as many of these same players will be playing for me next year. So, it is a lot of work off the golf course, and we’re following Strick’s lead right now and trying to provide that atmosphere and give these guys every chance to go out there and succeed and play well.
Q: You have been an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup previously. What is your approach in serving that role?
Furyk: Well, I think first I’ve had a captain that’s always been a real close friend of mine. I’ve worked alongside Davis, Jay Haas, and now Steve Stricker who are all good friends of mine and folks that I have been close to, admire, and respect. I think first and foremost you want to see what their vision is, what they’re trying to accomplish and do everything you can to help them out. I’m not a big rah-rah cheerleader – I’m relatively quiet – but I think you try to speak up when it’s needed and try to help out as much as you can.
You know, an assistant captain definitely can’t have an ego. You see Davis Love making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for guys, and it kind of freaks the young guys out at first because he’s someone they have looked up to and is going into the Hall of Fame this week. But he’s a guy that has no ego, would do anything for anyone on the team, and I think that epitomizes what we do this week. It was always an honor for me to play on these teams and have [captains] Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Paul Azinger, Corey Pavin, Davis, Tom Watson, all the assistants, and some amazing Hall of Fame players and folks that did everything for us while we played. It was incredible. I was blown away by how hard they worked and now being named an assistant it’s kind of my turn to do the same for the next class of guys and give them every opportunity as I’ve said before to succeed.
Q: As an assistant captain, what do you do on-course during sessions of play? Strategy? Encouragement?
Furyk: I think it’s some encouragement. Really more than anything else we’ll have an assistant with every group on the golf course. So, we are kind of Strick’s eyes and ears. We’ll keep an eye on the groups, who is playing well, matchups that are working, matchups that may not be working, maybe some ideas on tweaks, and strategy. But we are all talking, we have walkie-talkie earpieces so we’re all communicating and getting an idea of what’s going on. Just trying to feed as much information that we can to make the best decisions we can make for the upcoming sessions.
Q: What do you see as the U.S. Team’s biggest challenge heading into the President’s Cup?
Furyk: Well I think there are a lot of moving parts. The International Team is a strong squad, but I think we’ve got a lot of talented guys on our team as well. We have some youth, but I think that’s good. I think that provides a spark and energy. It’s always good for some of the veteran players to see the excitement and see some young guys come in and provide a different look to the team. And you need some veteran players out there to kind of give them an idea of what to expect. Also, if things do get chaotic you always have veteran leadership in Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, and other guys who have been there who can right the ship and calm things down. So it’s nice to have a good mix.
But I think really on Thursday the biggest thing is just jitters. Guys are nervous and excited. There has been an anticipation, a buildup, so I think the quicker you can get them calmed down and just back to playing golf and their own game the better.
Q: You’ve played in seven Presidents Cup events and have been extremely successful. Which one of the victories holds the best memories for you?
Furyk: Wow. You know I think we’ve been fortunate, and a lot of Americans have had a good record in the President’s Cup because we’ve been successful and won a lot of them. Each team is special, different, but I guess 2011 Royal Melbourne was a great memory for me. I didn’t have a very good year in 2011, kind of squeaked onto the team as the last guy to qualify, and went out and had one of my best matches ever. It was fun to share it with Phil Mickelson. I played with him for three of the four team matches. A guy that I grew up with, played golf against him since I was sixteen, played golf against him in college as I went to Arizona and he went to Arizona State. So, to go out there and be successful, play with him for three matches, and win all three was a lot of fun.
The President’s Cup in Korea was a different experience for me. I got injured, wasn’t able to play, and was fortunate enough that Jay asked me to come over and help out as an assistant. It was kind of healing for me, I was bummed not to be there, was bummed not to be playing, but I still kind of got to hang out with the guys and help out and be a part of it. To watch is way more nerve-racking than to play. Seeing that last group go up the fairway, watching how nervous Captain Jay Haas was with his wife seeing their son in the final group with the entire Presidents Cup kind of relying on that last group was special for the Haas family. It gave me a little bit of a feeling of what my wife has had to deal with for over 20 years watching me play golf, so it’s a lot harder to watch.
Q: As you look towards your future in golf as a player, where do you see yourself in the next few years? And is the TOUR Champions on the horizon for you?
Furyk: Yeah, right now I have to get healthy. I played the last couple months of this season injured, still hurt right now and not playing golf, so I need to get healthy and back to 100% physically. I really still do, even at 47, feel like I have some really good golf left in me but I have to get healthy first. So, I am looking forward to doing that and that process.
And you know what, I think I will be motivated to really try and do well on the Champions Tour so I think I will play some out there. I surely will miss some of the young guys out here, we have such a great core group of players on the tour right now and it’s fun to see them do well. It’s fun to be able to hang out with them this week. I will miss them, but I do think I will play some on the Champions Tour.