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July 13, 2005

Todd Hamilton


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Todd Hamilton, The Open champion.

Todd, just give us an insight into how your life has changed since you won last year at Troon. How have things been different?

TODD HAMILTON: I've been recognized a little more than in the past. I think the first three or four months directly after the tournament was very difficult. Obviously I expected a lot of myself, and I still do. I think other people always expected a lot out of me, as far as golf is concerned. It hasn't, since last year, turned out the way I had anticipated, especially after the year I had as a rookie on Tour last year. But I've got a few more years to work on it, for my exemption. And there's no reason why it can't turn around.

Actually there was a guy from Golf Pages, if he's in here, could he ask the first question?

Q. A couple nights ago you were talking about traveling around with the Claret Jug, going to different golf clubs with your friends. Could you go through that again, please?

TODD HAMILTON: All the places I went or just the story?

Q. Just tell the story again.

TODD HAMILTON: I probably took it to, gosh, seven or eight different golf courses, three where I grew up playing and probably five or six in the Dallas area, Dallas, Texas, where I live. And I did it as kind of a courtesy to the shop and the pro, the head pro there, for letting myself and my friends come out and play golf. It was kind of neat to it wasn't neat to leave it there for the five hours we played, but it was neat when I returned to see the faces on the guys at the shop. Most of them when we you can walked out the door they called their friends, and they would come over with their cameras. You might see members that were playing at all the courses, when they finished they'd come in or word would spread that the Claret Jug was in the shop at the various golf courses.

Obviously I had a great year as the for lack of a better word, owner of the trophy. But I think I got a bigger kick out of seeing the smiling faces on the people that got to see it that may never, ever have a chance to see it.

Q. Also you used it for other things than holding claret, right?

TODD HAMILTON: You know, I don't think I ever had any claret wine in there. We poured some champagne in there. I had a friend that likes beer, so we poured that in there. That smell is kind of difficult to get out of there. Didn't use it to hold flowers or anything like that. I actually, when I was at home, I would leave it in the case and just put it in the closet. I was always afraid if I was on the road and my wife and kids were traveling, that somebody would break in and I'd be known as the guy that lost the jug. I didn't need that.

Q. What was the strangest thing that happened to you as a direct result of becoming Open champion?

TODD HAMILTON: Strangest thing? I was actually pretty lucky, there weren't too many odd things. Probably the oddest things were being recognized in places where I didn't ever think I'd be recognized, especially without a golf hat or my golf gloves on. I got up to New York City to watch my university play in a basketball game with another friend, it's a town of 15 million people. We had gone out to dinner, it was about an hour and a half away at this steak place we tried to get into. The guy motioned us down about a block away and told us there was another comparable place to eat, very good food, so we went down there.

About halfway through the dinner the waiter came over and asked me if I was the guy that won that big tournament in Europe. And I said, "It depends on what big tournament you mean." He says, "That British Open tournament." And I said, "Yeah, I'm the guy."

I had a guy recognize me, I was back on campus where I went to university attending a college football game and I had gone up there a few days early to play some golf with friends and had gone out the night before the football game to a little bar to have some drinks with friends. I had to go to the bathroom, like everyone else, waited in line about five minutes. I was in there doing my business and a guy peaked his head over across the little stall, the blind, there, and he says, "Hey, I think I know who you are." (Laughter) I said, "Well, I went to school here almost 20 years ago, maybe we had a class together or you saw me around campus, but it's been a long time ago." I do come up for a few football games every once in a while, but again it's 20 years since I went to school. I kept doing what I needed to do. He says, "No, I should know you from somewhere."

"Like I said, I went to school here a long time ago. Maybe you had me in class." I finished up. He says, "No, I know who you are." I said, "Do you watch golf?" And he said, "That's who you are. I remember who you are now." He'd watched the tournament, obviously. We actually spent the rest of the night talking. I think he had grown up in Ohio near where Ben Curtis lived, and he had a mutual friend that knew him and we actually talked the rest of the night. Nothing unusual, but just being recognized in certain places and odd situations.

Q. Can I just ask you, you said when you started that since your win last summer things hadn't turned out as you had anticipated. A two part question: How did you anticipate it would be after last summer? And why have they not transpired as you had hoped?

TODD HAMILTON: Obviously as a first year player on the Tour, having won two events, I didn't think it was easy, but I thought the success that I had would give me a lot of confidence to go on and do bigger and better things. I don't think I've played poorly, but I haven't really gotten anything out of my good shots. If I drive the ball good one day it seems my irons are off. If my irons are good, I don't make the putts.

And I've spent a lot of energy shooting 70, 71, 72, 73, instead of the 68, 67, 66 that you would normally have when you're playing well.

Again, I don't think it's been bad play, I just can't get anything strung together. I'll have two good rounds or three good rounds, but I always throw in a 75 or 76 it seems like and that doesn't do you any good.

Q. Why? Why do you think it's been like that?

TODD HAMILTON: You know what, if I knew that I would be in Las Vegas.

Q. Do you think it's in any way linked to the psychological high of last summer?

TODD HAMILTON: No, I don't think so. As I've said before, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. Maybe that has a little bit to do with it. Again, I expected a lot, especially after the year I had last year. I don't think it's gone horribly, but when a guy comes out as a rookie and wins a couple of times, you would think he's probably going to win at least once the next year and continue to win.

And we probably still have, I don't know, 15 tournaments left in the U.S. Tour, and I know I had a good half of the year, the first half last year, and not so good the second half, maybe it will be just the reverse this year. Maybe I've had my bad half and I'll have the good half at the end. If I knew why I haven't played well, obviously I'd go fix it.

I think if I could attribute it to one thing I would say probably my short game. Usually I relied a lot on my short game, especially my putting. My putting has been, for me, poor this year, overall. At times it was okay, but overall poor. And I think when you do something well for a long time I've been a good chipper and putter since I was a kid, when you do something well for a long time and all of a sudden it starts to go south, especially in golf it kind of affects everything else.

If you're not putting well, you feel like you have to hit every par 5 in 2 to make a birdie or you have to hit your iron shots very close to make birdies, and it seems like it affects every part of your golf game.

So if I could narrow it down to one thing I would say I haven't been putting as well as I would have liked to.

Q. Last year so many weird things happened before or during practices leading up to it where you kind of got that feeling that something might happen, something special might happen. Has anything this week happened to give you the indication that

TODD HAMILTON: Actually, there was a picture taken last year on Wednesday afternoon. I was on the 4th tee. My caddie said to me, "Look at that guy's hat over there." And I kind of peered around some guys that were on the tee. And I saw this old guy with a beat up old hat. And I said, "What's so special about that hat?" He said, "No, the little kid that's standing next to him." I looked over there again and he had this black hat with the word Hammy, H a m m y on it. That kid showed up today again, same hat. He followed us for probably five or six holes and then he had to leave. He presented me with a little notebook that had the word Hamilton on it, and a little key chain. I think the Hamilton clan over here in Scotland.

Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary, no. I noticed Tiger's name was up on the leaderboard this afternoon. So he's probably going to be your winner.

Q. Have you watched replay of last year's playoff recently?

TODD HAMILTON: Not recently, and I haven't watched it in its entirety. I watched probably the last maybe nine holes at certain points. When I knew something good was going to happen to me, I turned the volume up. But I haven't watched it probably in, gosh, a half year, maybe.

Q. You said last year your career involved a lot of travel.

TODD HAMILTON: Do I enjoy the exemptions? Obviously, yes. To be honest, last year as a rookie, having not played most of the golf courses, I felt like I was traveling more than I did when I was in Japan. I played in Japan for 12 years, knew the golf courses that we were playing, and I usually arrived Tuesday afternoon, and I would use Wednesday as my practice round in the Pro Am actually, I take that back. I'd arrive Monday afternoon, play nine holes Tuesday and then Wednesday. It seemed like especially the first week went really, really fast.

But last year, not having played the majority of the golf courses I felt like I had to if I did make the cut I had to finish and get to the next site as quickly as possible. And it seemed like the traveling was really difficult. And especially toward the end of the year, after the victory at Troon last year, traveling all around the world I think it caught up with me.

When I was in Japan I was used to playing maybe 22, I think I probably played 22 events in 2003, my final year in Japan. And I think I did about 35 weeks worth of tournaments or exhibitions last year. So my body really wasn't used to that. And I think the traveling last year was a little more difficult. Even though they were shorter trips, it seemed like there were a lot of shorter trips.

Q. Last year you had the stories about the elephant. Did you ever get a plaque in the square?

TODD HAMILTON: A plaque? I was there Monday of last week, drove through, picked up my father, we went and played golf. They've got a sign outside, it's got the name of the town with the population and then underneath it's got Todd Hamilton, British Open Champion 2004, but I don't think there's any plaque near the elephant. They don't want to detract from her story.

Q. It's a bit of a crude question, I hope you don't mind me asking, but how much money would you say you have made, taking everything into account, since you became Open champion?

TODD HAMILTON: You can ask the lady sitting right in front of you.

Q. Is that Mrs. Hamilton?

TODD HAMILTON: No, that's my manager.

Q. And what's the most extravagant thing you've bought?

TODD HAMILTON: We were in the process of building a new house. We had planned building it and it was already in progress being built before I'd won. Actually, it got finished about four months after the victory last year. Obviously it's allowed us to pay it off a little bit quicker than we had anticipated. And I really haven't bought anything outlandish.

All the stuff that I enjoy I get for free, golf clubs, golf clothes, things like that. My wife was probably the benefactor of all the riches from last year. She was next in line to get a nice car or to get a new car. She got a nice car. Do you want to know what kind it was? I figured. It was a Mercedes S500. I don't know how much it cost. She wrote the check. Maybe that's why I'm not putting very well. (Laughter).

Q. Did you add extra rooms to the house or put in granite this and that?

TODD HAMILTON: No. I wish I would have known what was happening. Our house is a brick house, but there are a lot of houses in the area that are made out of stone or rock, and I like the rock or stone look better. I wish I'd have known, we would have probably gone with the stone look. But at the time it was a lot more expensive than the brick.

Q. I was just wondering if you brought any interesting hybrid clubs to St. Andrews, and whether you have spotted any in the bags of other pros here?

TODD HAMILTON: I have two here. I replaced my 2 iron with another hybrid club. The one I chipped with on the final hole of the playoff last year I do not use anymore, but I have one just almost like it. It's a different shaft. The one I had last year was 14 degrees of loft. This year I've got one that's 15. If you didn't know, you couldn't tell the difference. But the one I used last year I do have it marked, and I have it in the corner of my closet where no one will find it. And I've taken my 2 iron out and I've replaced it with another hybrid. I feel like they're a lot easier to hit and chip with.

Q. You were talking earlier about fame and recognition. In a funny kind of way, even though you're the defending champion, how do you find, because you don't have that global fame of a Tiger figure or Mickelson, do you find that you still do have a degree of anonymity here when you're in Scotland, or are you instantly recognized all the time?

TODD HAMILTON: I would think here I would say I would probably be recognized a little bit more easily here than over in the U.S., believe it or not. I still feel at home I can walk anywhere, especially if I take my hat off and walk around like this, no one knows who I am, which is kind of a nice deal.

Last night I had a chance to attend the Champions dinner. I was dressed up in clothing farthest from golf clothing, had a jacket on, a tie, dress shoes, walking down the 18th fairway. Obviously people knew what was going on, because they saw that the players were coming out after the dinner. But I probably got recognized more last night than a lot of times in the States. That's kind of nice for people not to know who you are.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Todd, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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