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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 8, 2008
DOUG MILNE: Today we're joined by Todd Demsey, who, in light of a final round 64 in Q-school, has made a return to the PGA TOUR in 2008 which gets underway this week.
Todd, if we can just get a few general comments. Obviously, we know that golf has taken a secondary status with all you've had to deal with, but you're back on track. Just a few general comments about the state of your game and mindset as you approach the 2008 season?
TODD DEMSEY: Well, obviously, I'm very excited to be back out here. It's been ten years since I had my card. I got my card pretty much right out of college, so I thought it would be easy, and I thought I'd be out here a while, but, obviously, that hasn't happened yet.
But I feel good about my game. Everything's in order. My health is good; so just looking forward to a good start.
DOUG MILNE: You had mentioned outside a few minutes ago that your wife is expecting again in just a couple of months. You have an 18-month-old, so things really seem to be looking up for you as you head into the '08 season?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, everything's taken a turn for the better after a tough few years there with my health and everything. We have an 18-month-old girl and a boy on the way. Everybody's doing well. I got my card back, so there are a lot of good things going on right now. So I just hope I can capitalize on it and have a good year.
DOUG MILNE: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Can you run us by, in Q-School you talked about having an MRI and further tests; can you run us by what happened with that and will there be any further radiation or further treatment?
TODD DEMSEY: Actually there was an MRI taken early in '07 that showed possible regrowth, enough to have some type of radiation. So when I went in two days after TOUR School to get an MRI, it was actually sort of a prep for the radiation.
Luckily, it came back good with almost -- they think maybe their there was some shrinkage, actually. So as of now, nothing needs to be done. I just need to go in in probably five months from now and get another MRI and see what's happening. But as of now, it's looking pretty good.
Q. Can you talk about the state of your game and how playing golf is different now compared to before you had the brain tumors? What are you able to do? What were you able to do then that you can't now? And where's your game heading back on to the Tour?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, luckily the two surgeries I've had haven't given me any side effects or anything. I mean, physically I'm 100%. I think my mindset is a lot different than it was before all of this, but, physically, I'm fine.
I'm definitely not as long as I used to be probably. But I think that's probably just my back problems and age a little bit. But I feel like a much smarter player. Physically, maybe not necessarily better than I was last time I was out here, but just I'm a better all-around player. So I feel a lot more prepared this time around.
Q. Congratulations. What kind of realistic goals do you set for yourself after having been away for ten years with the kind of challenges you faced as you look toward this season?
TODD DEMSEY: I don't really put result-oriented goals. I don't really set those. I just try to be the best player I can be. I don't like to limit myself or set goals too high.
If I just play each shot to the best of my ability and don't get in my own way, and just try to stay positive and play good golf. Really, whatever happens as a result of that is fine.
All I can do is be the best player I can be and hopefully, that involves winning a tournament or who knows. But I really can't worry about that. That's just sort of a result of playing good golf.
Q. At any point during this past decade did you mentally write yourself off as a professional golfer or feel tempted to do so?
TODD DEMSEY: I really didn't. I played 200 Nationwide events or so in the meantime. So I've been able to sustain myself on the Nationwide Tour, which is probably the toughest money in the world as far as incredible competition. Money's not great, though it's gotten a lot better.
No, I've always believed in myself. You start to wonder if you'll ever get back out here, but I just felt I could do it, and luckily I was patient enough to stick it out.
Q. A lot of accounts you were sort of on par with Tiger and Phil, Justin Leonard as an amateur. I'm just kind of wondering how seeing those guys take off and you were, I guess, sort of left behind, what that made you feel like? If you felt like, hey, you know, I should be out there with these guys? What was sort of going through your mind as that was happening to you?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, yeah. I mean those guys did have incredible amateur careers. They had a leg up on me from the start. But, yeah, of course I was disappointed and felt like I should be out there. But I really don't let that stuff bother me.
I've been able to play golf for a living for 12 years now. While I haven't reached where I want to be, I feel pretty lucky to have been able to do that. Thanks to the Nationwide Tour I've had a place to play.
Yeah, it's been disappointing, but I don't -- I'm just happy to be doing what I'm doing, and looking forward to this opportunity.
Q. Is it easier for you now after what you've been through to deal with a bad shot or a missed putt or a poor tournament? Do you look at that sort of thing a little bit differently than you would have say ten years ago or even six, seven years ago before all your medical issues?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, it's definitely different. I don't know if it's the health things or starting a family or just getting older, what it is. But it's not as big a deal as it used to be when I don't play well or have a bad week.
So I'm not really sure why that is. It's probably a combination of all of those things. But, yeah, again, I just -- I'm losing my train of thought here, sorry. Again, I'm just happy to have this opportunity.
Q. Were you or are you aware that Paul Azinger is a cancer survivor and past champion at the Sony in Hawaii where the Tour is this week? And also, at any point during your battle, did you talk with him or take any inspiration from what you might have known about what he went through?
TODD DEMSEY: Well, again, I think I need to clarify my brain tumor is benign. It's always been benign. There's been some confusion there.
But, yeah, of course I see a guy like that that had so much success early, and then had the health problems. He's gotten through that, and he's competing again. Yeah, I've always looked at stories like that and it's inspiring. But his is a little different.
I've really had two tough surgeries, but I've never had to go through any chemo or that kind of stuff which really can knock you out. Again, it's a little different, but, yeah, it is a great story.
Q. I assume you're in Hawaii now, and when did you get there?
TODD DEMSEY: I got here Sunday night.
Q. What are kind of the apprehensions of going into this first tournament, and what are the emotions on the high end? What are you feeling right now going into this first event?
TODD DEMSEY: Well, it's exciting, obviously, to be back in this atmosphere. It's a lot different than Nationwide. There's a lot more stuff going on.
It's a fun change, but it's just another golf tournament, really. I need to just try to realize that and just play golf as if it's another nationwide event or TOUR School or whatever. But not put too much importance on it.
Q. Easier said than done out the gate than to dial back on what you're feeling?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, I think I made the mistake of putting too much pressure on my self early. When I didn't get off to a great start, it was sort of an uphill battle from there. But I've done this long enough now to realize it's a long year. I'll have plenty of opportunities, and I just need to relax and play my game.
I feel that whether it's this week or four weeks from now, I'll break through.
Q. Your very first PGA event was Torrey as an amateur, correct?
TODD DEMSEY: That's right. I don't remember the year, but yeah.
Q. Beyond that, where was the first event you played on the PGA TOUR when you got your card?
TODD DEMSEY: I forgot.
Q. Was it not memorable?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, whatever the first event was in '97, so I guess it wasn't all that memorable. But I think Hawaii was actually my first cut that I made. I think it might have been Phoenix Open, actually, that year. I missed the cut, but Hawaii was the first cut I made in '97.
Q. Is it almost indescribable to compare the difference between what your thoughts would be now and what they are ten years later and how much different you are?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, back then it was just everything was so new. I had never even played a Nationwide Tour. I had played a few events, but it was just all so new and overwhelming.
This time around it's a lot different. I'm older, obviously. I've played so many tournaments that it just, it's not as overwhelming. So I feel a lot more comfortable this time around.
Q. I was wondering if you could kind of take me through a history of your back injuries, and how that may have affected you early on in your career and how you may feel now. Are those back injuries cleared up, and what exactly were they?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, the back probably was more debilitating than even the brain tumor. I fought it all through college, and all until about 2001, which is when finally it just worked itself out.
It was misdiagnosed as a bulging disk, and a few other things. But it really was a muscular problem that just took therapy.
Finally, after taking all of '01 off, I think I went about a year without playing golf. And that's probably been the thing that's hurt me the most is taking that much time off and trying to -- it's taken me until about now to really get my game completely back.
But it's been good, now that we've got it figured out and as long as I take care of myself, that should be fine.
Q. Do you do constant therapy work on it and that kind of stuff to exercise it to keep yourself good?
TODD DEMSEY: I do. I have a few things that I do. It's not major, but I just at least I know what muscles I need to work on. It's, again, it's not -- it doesn't take me long. But as long as I do it every day, I'm fine.
Q. The 64 you had in the final round at Q-School. Was that the best round you shot last year? What do you remember about that round?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, definitely was the best round. I don't know. I'm assuming it was the lowest score of the year, too. But obviously, under the circumstances, it was by far the best round.
Q. Was there an ebb and flow there where you made a bunch of birdies or you did something that kind of, you know, was there a defining moment to it?
TODD DEMSEY: Well, I'd been playing pretty well during the week and just nothing was happening. Especially in the third and fourth rounds were pretty bad. I really wasn't playing bad, just not scoring well.
In the fifth round I shot 4 under. So I was starting to make a couple of putts. So I felt good going into the last round. I was one shot down with nothing to lose.
But it was 4 under on the front. Sort of put me in a good spot, but I needed to keep going. I really didn't feel good until I birdied 16 to go, I think, 7 under for the day. At that point I that was the end.
Of course, until your last putt is in, you're never comfortable. At least, I'm not. It's just a day where i kept waiting for the nerves to start creeping in. And they tried to a little bit, but I was pretty comfortable most of the day.
Q. Have the Thunderbirds given you a sponsor's exemption yet?
TODD DEMSEY: No, I haven't heard anything. I'll hopefully just play well here, you know, maybe Top 10. San Diego is the week before. You never know with those deals. Obviously, I'd love to play, but there are about 100 other guys that are looking for one, too.
Q. Well, if you need it, I'm sure you're going to get it.
TODD DEMSEY: I hope you're right.
Q. We had Lewis on the radio show Saturday, who pretty much said it was going to happen. But you might not need it because the field might be such that you get in on your number?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, I was in by 10 a week ago, and now I'm barely in, so it's not looking good.
Q. So you're going to need it?
TODD DEMSEY: Yeah, I'm thinking I'm going to need it. So I appreciate your help there.
Q. Okay, well, it's a done deal then.
TODD DEMSEY: Okay.
DOUG MILNE: On behalf of everyone on the line and the PGA TOUR, we'd like to thank you, Todd, for your time. We wish you the best of luck not just this week but all year long.
TODD DEMSEY: Thank you, I appreciate all of you guys asking me questions.
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