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July 10, 2014

Todd Hamilton


DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome Todd Hamilton.  Todd, great opening round.  7‑under 64, and your 15th, I believe, start here at the John Deere Classic.  Obviously a place near and dear to you with your Illinois ties, and without saying anymore, I'll just turn it over to you for some comments on what was clearly a great round.
TODD HAMILTON:  There is never an easy round of golf, especially if you're shooting 64 you're doing something well.  I can look back at the round and honestly say I only hit one shot that I wasn't fond of, that really made me have to work to make a par.  It was a bad tee shot on 15, but other than that, especially the way I've been playing, today's round was fun for a change.
DOUG MILNE:  Did you see this coming?  Have you been working on something that had kind of been leading up to this?
TODD HAMILTON:  You know, if there wasn't bleachers or TV cameras, I could say yes, maybe.  I've been playing well at home, obviously playing the same course, home course over and over.  But when I get into tournaments, and most of my tournaments have been on the Web.com, I haven't done well at all.  So it just seems like it's kind of like a guy that can hit the ball really well on the driving range, but can't take it to the golf course.  I mean, I have been playing well, but I can't take it to the tournament.

Q.  How important was it to get the two birdies?
TODD HAMILTON:  I think definitely the first hole, because it was a short putt.  It was about a four‑foot putt, and I had gotten a new putter on Tuesday, and it's a completely different style than the one that I've used for years and years and years, and I've putted with it for two hours.  I liked how it felt, felt confident with it on Tuesday.  My two sons and I went and played golf yesterday, and I putted well with it.  We went and played at Duck Creek over in‑‑ where's that?  Davenport?  Yeah, we played over there.
That's not a very long golf course, but we went over there, and the greens aren't anywhere close to what we see here, but I made some good putts and felt confident with it, but you never know once it really counts when your nerves are a little bit different than playing with your two kids.
But I think, going back to your question, that first putt on number 10 was a four‑foot putt.  The putter felt good.  If I had missed it, (no audio) knocked it in and felt that that putter that I got was the right decision, the right move to change.  Again, it's a completely different look than I've been accustomed to, so most of my putters have a certain look to it.  They have kind of a gooseneck or plumber's neck as they call it look to it, and most of them are fashioned after a Ping B60, so it kind of has a B look to it, but this doesn't look anything like it.  So for me to change looks like that, it's a big thing.

Q.  What is that putter?
TODD HAMILTON:  It's a Scotty Cameron.  I think it's a Newport, and it's got a 2.6 on the bottom of it which I think that number denotes what the hosel, the shaft goes into the head.  I haven't been putting that great, and I picked up a handful of them and that one felt the best, so I used it for a couple hours on Tuesday and liked how it felt.

Q.  You've gotten a lot of support here.  Does that help at all on a day like this, because I'm sure you have a lot of supporters out there?
TODD HAMILTON:  Yeah, it can when you're doing well.  I think you feed off those people if you hit some good shots or made some good putts or something, you kind of feed off their energy.  But if you're not playing well, it seems like they're trying to pull out of the ditch, so to speak.  If you continue not to play well‑‑ I mean, I feel bad because I know they want me to do good.  I've been lucky a couple tournaments I've won, my mother and family wife and kids have been there to see it.  My dad has never seen me win, so...

Q.  Today was fun for a change?  Has it gotten to the point where with your struggles sometimes playing golf just wasn't a joy?
TODD HAMILTON:  Yes, yeah.  I've actually been playing a lot of golf at home.  I've got a friend that turned professional.  He's a member at my club and turned professional about three years ago, and he's got his card on the one Asia TOUR.  So we play when we're both in town.  We'll go out and play, and we play 36 holes for a couple weeks straight if we're in town.  Obviously in carts, but I've been playing a lot of golf.  It's golf that hasn't been as consistent as I need it to be to do any good in tournaments.  I hit a lot of good shots, which makes me still think I can play golf properly, but I've hit some shots that you think how did the guy just hit two 5‑irons the few holes before, hit the 7‑iron that wasn't even close to those other two.  You know, very inconsistent, so it's been a struggle.
I've mentioned earlier, there is no easy round of golf, but today's felt easy to me.  My other golfing rounds, it seems like if I play well, I shoot about 71 or 70, while everyone else when they play well, they shoot 65, 64, so that's a big discrepancy.  When I play bad, I shoot 4 or 5 over and they shoot even par, so that's kind of what my golf's been like.

Q.  Did this surprise you today?
TODD HAMILTON:  Yes, it did, yeah.  I shot better here than I did at Duck Creek yesterday (laughing).  I shot 7‑under today, and I shot 5‑under there.  And I even teed it up on the fairways, because the fairways were a little long.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
TODD HAMILTON:  I think today will give me a bunch of confidence, obviously.  I like the course.  I think it's a course that's not overly difficult.  But it's a course where if you're not playing well, you think you should be birdieing about every third hole, especially with the softness of it.  The fairways are pretty generous.  The greens aren't‑‑ the greens are pretty good sized.  They're not overly fast or overly slopy, so if you have a round where you're even par through about 6 holes or 7 holes and you feel like you should be 2 or 3‑under and you start pressing, and you miss some greens or wedges and you don't get it up‑and‑down, and now that even par becomes 1‑over or 2‑over.  And then you hit one in the water somewhere, and now all of a sudden you're 4‑over on a course that you feel you should be 3 or 4‑under at worst, I think sometimes those‑‑ well, when a course is really difficult, a lot of times you don't take chances, so par is a very good score; ie:  U.S. Open, British Open, whatever.
But tournaments like the John Deere or say the Byron Nelson, tournaments like that where you know you have to shoot 5‑ or 6‑under every day to have a shot, sometimes that's tough, especially when you have the late tee time.  Like the guys coming out for the afternoon tee times, they'll see that I think 8‑under was leading maybe even 9 when I came in here.  They'll look at that and say, man, I've got to start pressing right away.
I remember coming out here as a kid watching.  I was in college, but a friend of mine was on TOUR at the time, Grant, and he had an afternoon tee time.  He came out and I think 8‑under was leading.  I kind of had the same feeling that I just told you.  I said, man, these guys got to go from the first hole.  They can't ease into the round.  They've got to try to start making birdies right away.
So sometimes a course like this when you're taking chances and you're not getting rewarded, you're not making those birdies or eagles or whatever, and you throw in a bogey or you hit a bad tee shot and make a double bogey, sometimes these courses when you know that you have to shoot 5‑ or 6‑under are harder‑‑ probably doesn't make any sense‑‑ but harder than a U.S. Open or you know, hitting the fairway, I'm just trying to hit it in the middle of the green, maybe make a couple putts here and there and shoot 1‑under or 2‑under.

Q.  But it's all up here?

Q.  Do you think your mind is going to start thinking that maybe you're going to have a shot?
TODD HAMILTON:  Well, the last time it was at the course that we play next week was '06 and I ended up making the cut.  I remember it being very hot there.  I think it was actually hotter than it was the week before here, that was back in '06.  I think London recorded the highest temperature ever that week, 100.4, and they're as white as those chairs, so you can imagine when it's a hundred degrees what they look like at the end of the day.
But I understand they changed the course a little bit and maybe added some tees to it.  I enjoyed the course.  I think it was‑‑ Tiger won, and he only hit one driver, but, again, the ground was hard as a rock, which I enjoy that kind of golf.  I don't hit it very far, so if I can get it in the fairway and running to get a few extra yards, that's a benefit to me.

Q.  When is the last time you've been called into the media room?
TODD HAMILTON:  Anywhere, or just here?

Q.  On TOUR.
TODD HAMILTON:  Oh, man.  I couldn't honestly tell you.

Q.  Todd, what does a round like this do to the mindset for tomorrow and the rest of the week here?
TODD HAMILTON:  Can't do anything but help, I don't think.  I didn't really come here expecting to shoot 7‑under par.  I was very fortunate to get into the tournament, actually, go in on a sponsor invite.  Obviously, any round like this you can't help but gain confidence.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
TODD HAMILTON:  No, not really.  Actually, I told my kids, I said this is how bad I've been playing.  I told my kids, you know what?  If I shoot 5‑under or better tomorrow, we'll go play golf somewhere.  But I didn't think I'd ever shoot 5‑under, so, no.

Q.  Do you think it's as easy as just changing putters?
TODD HAMILTON:  I think not just that my tempo was good today.  I didn't try to hit the ball too hard it seemed like.  I think that's something I've been doing.  When I'm at home and the wind is blowing, it seems like my tempo I try to hit the ball too hard through the wind and you're supposed to do just the opposite, so I think today my tempo was very good.  I had a good focus.  I had been thinking don't do this, don't go here, don't hit it here.  But today it was more hit it here instead of don't do something, it was do something.  So I think I just need to carry that over tomorrow and hopefully the two days after that.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
TODD HAMILTON:  Well, I think the rough is definitely up, so you need to drive the ball on the fairway to score well here.  Having said that, I think the fairways are pretty generous on the majority of the holes.  Plus the ground isn't as hard as maybe it has been in the past with all the rain that you've had up here.  So usually any ball that's landing in the fairway is probably going to stay in the fairway; whereas, many courses, if you don't land it somewhere in the middle or the mid‑right side or mid‑left side, it may not stay in and trickle into the rough.  Usually the highest rough is right off the fairway.
So these guys that hit it a long ways hit it way off line, I won't say they get rewarded for that, but they don't get penalized as much as a guy that hits a good drive, lands on the fairway, and just trickles into higher stuff.
I think this golf course is definitely in very good shape, and I think that's why the scores are good.  I'm a guy that watches the scoreboards.  I like to look to see what everybody is doing.  So I watched and I saw a lot of under par scores.  We were lucky today and this morning there was no wind whatsoever.  The course is kind of soft.  The greens aren't overly fast.  I think they're a good speed to make putts, to actually give it a hit.  You don't have to be too afraid of it going 4 or 5 feet by.  The greens don't have a lot of slope, so it's very hard for the ball to run off past the hole.

Q.  (Indiscernible) when you first arrived this week, did the thought approach you that I'm going to be getting on that charter plane?
TODD HAMILTON:  Well, I'm exempt for it anyway.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
TODD HAMILTON:  Oh, yeah, yeah, that would make that five or six‑hour flight go very nice.  I have a handful of movies that I brought up from home to watch.  I probably wouldn't watch any of those.

Q.  Talk about getting in the field.  You were one of the last exemptions.  What was your prep like, and was that altered at all this week because of the late entry?
TODD HAMILTON:  Yeah, it was pretty normal.  I didn't really know for sure until Sunday night, I don't think.  But I had received an email from someone saying it looks very good, go ahead and make arrangements to go up.  So my youngest son and I flew up Sunday night.  Actually, I think I found out before I flew up, so everything worked out good.
I got asked to play in a Monday Pro‑Am, which was nice.  It allowed me to meet some new people and get an extra practice round in.  Tuesday I was going to play 18 holes, got up early, and didn't really feel too keen about playing all 18, so I started on the back nine.  I think I only played 7 holes.  They had what looked like a little junior clinic or something going on.  I don't know what was out there.  But I got stuck behind that, so I cut over a couple holes and ran into Chad Campbell, and played the last four holes with him, just hit a few balls.  Actually went and putted golf that day with my kid, my youngest kid.  But didn't really affect‑‑ I'd probably do the same thing whether I knew I was in‑‑ whether I was on the TOUR and knew I was playing or whether I got the spotlight this year.
DOUG MILNE:  I guess we're going to hold you to golf this afternoon, so we'll let you get out of here and get to it.  Congratulations.

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