Q/A with 2010 Transitions Championship winner Jim Furyk

Jim Furyk is a native of West Chester, Pa., who attended Arizona. He is a diehard Steelers fan with a home in Kapalua, Hawaii. Until March 2010, Furyk was known around here as the guy with an unusual swing who won the 2003 U.S. Open. But when he made a tap-in bogey for a one-shot win at the 2010 Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, Furyk became a de facto local. He will always be known by bay area golf fans as the guy who won the Palm Harbor tournament, like Retief Goosen, Sean O'Hair, Mark Calcavecchia, K.J. Choi, Carl Pettersson, Vijay Singh, K.J. Choi and John Huston before him. It was his first win since 2007. Furyk, 40, parlayed the victory into the best season of his 18-year career. He also won the Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C. and the Tour Championship in Atlanta, which came with a $10 million bonus for winning the Fed Ex Cup Championship. Overall, Furyk pocketed $4,809,622, second on the PGA Tour money list behind Matt Kuchar. As part of the Transitions Championship media day this week, Furyk talked about a variety of topics via teleconference from Los Angeles, where he is playing in the Northern Trust Open.

How much did the win at Transitions factor into the season you had last year?

After going so long without winning, there's a saying that the next event is always the hardest to win because the pressure keeps mounting. I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I probably made it a little bit harder on myself to compete week in and week out because of the pressure I put on myself.

If you look at a tape of the (Transitions) tournament, the first emotion you see is relief. Then after that, it was happiness. It was nice to get that monkey off my back. It let me relax for the rest of the year.

Absolutely winning that event helped me win two more times. I was a lot more relaxed at Hilton Head and the Tour Championship. I started having more fun and not putting so much pressure on myself and letting every outcome determine whether I had a good day or a bad day. It was definitely a relief; certainly a stepping-stone for the best year of my career.

You haven't had much success on the Copperhead course before last year. What kept you coming back?

In choosing my schedule, it's very simple. I choose the golf courses. I pick the places where I have the best opportunity to win. I don't think it's a huge secret to success.

But one thing tournaments struggle with is having a good date. You can get stuck in a bad part of the schedule where it's difficult to draw a good field. Usually, the best courses with a large purse tend to draw the best fields. I think the Copperhead course is one of those courses, and it has a very strong field.

I'm honored actually. I'm looking at the past champions, Retief Goosen, Mark Calcavecchia, Sean O'Hair, Carl Pettersson, Vijay Singh, all guys that are tested and have done very well on the PGA Tour. So to join that list is great.

What about the course do you like?

It's a difficult golf course, but it's pretty straightforward. There's a few holes you need to see a few times to get comfortable. I'm thinking about the par-5 fifth hole. The second and third shots are interesting. It's a difficult course; probably in the top 10 or 20 percent that we play on the PGA Tour. I think Tampa is a very fair golf course. In no way have I heard anyone say it's unfair.

Do you think scheduling conflicts between the European and U.S. tours is causing a problem and hurting golf in America?

I've always elected to support the PGA Tour. This is my home, and this is where I always wanted to play as a kid. I always made it a point to play most of my schedule in the United States. So much so that this is my 18th year on Tour and I've only asked for two releases throughout my career.

Golf has become a worldwide game. There are more household names (from Europe) than there were 20 years ago. We know the European tour as American fans where 20 years ago we did not. We had that competition years ago with your Sandy Lyles, Ian Woosnams, Bernhard Langers, Seve Ballesteroses and Jose Maria Olazabals. But it just didn't come up in the press as much.

But I will say that the U.S. tour is still the best in the world. Most of the foreign players are members of this tour. They do have to play at home. That's part of it. A few have rescinded their memberships, I understand. Is it an issue? Absolutely. Is it a problem? No, I still think we have the predominant tour around the world.

Have you gotten many alarm clocks as gifts this year? (Furyk was disqualified from The Barclays in August when his cell phone alarm clock didn't go off and he missed a Wednesday pro-am.)

As a joke, I received a lot of them. A company I deal with … sent me a nice travel alarm clock. It was funny. I enjoyed it.

Rodney Page can be reached at rpage@sptimes.com.

.FAST FACTS

Transitions Championship

What: PGA Tour event

When/where: March 17-20, Innisbrook Golf Resort, Palm Harbor

Course: Copperhead (par 71, 7,340 yards)

Purse: $5.5 million ($990,000 winner's share)

Fed Ex Cup points: 500

Defending champion: Jim Furyk

Tickets: Single-day tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the gate. Weekly passes are available for $89. Those 17 and younger and military personnel are free. For ticket package information, go to transitionschampionship.com or call (727) 942-5566.

Q/A with 2010 Transitions Championship winner Jim Furyk 02/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 2:07pm]

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