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March 1, 2005

Todd Hamilton


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Todd Hamilton for stopping in at the 2005 Ford Championship at Doral.

Todd, a comparison of last year coming into this event and this year coming to the event, almost the same. You missed two cuts last year and made two cuts. I think T-25 was your best, this year missed two cuts and made three cuts. This was your turning point last year, you won the next week. Talk about maybe coming into the Florida swing as something you're playing a little better or you like a little bit more.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I don't know what it was last year, I came in not really with too much confidence and for some reason, found something in my swing and played well last year. I actually didn't putt that well, which was unusual. I hit the ball decent and didn't putt well and usually it's just the opposite for me. But I ended up having a good finish and gave me some confidence for the following week, which I won at the Honda.

Looking back it was kind of the tournament that got everything set in motion.

TODD BUDNICK: You win twice as a rookie and now you're on your second go around the TOUR. Talk about the comfort level this time around; a little bit easier since you had the two wins?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I don't think it's so much comfort about being paired with a Mickelson or Vijay or Tiger, guys like that. I think it's more comfortable with the courses, getting to see them for the second time. One thing that's helped is that the practice rounds, there's not so much urgency of getting out there and playing as much as you can and maybe burning yourself out, like I probably did a few times last year, trying to see the course as much as I could.

This year, I'm going to probably be playing in all of the Pro-Ams so I can use Wednesday as a practice round and maybe only play nine holes on Tuesday, so I think being comfortable with that aspect of it is more important than probably being comfortable being shoulder to shoulder with Tiger Woods.

TODD BUDNICK: We'll take some questions.

Q. Obviously I know you had to deal with an adjustment period after you won the Honda and the British, just the celebrity, can you talk about what was the craziest point of having to deal with that and is that something you still have to deal with, just the time constraints?

TODD HAMILTON: I still deal with it a little bit. I am not a phone person and it seems like I'll go a day without even looking at my messages and I'll turn it on and there will be ten on there and it only holds ten, so I'm sure more than ten people have tried to call.

I get a lot of requests in the mail for signed articles, maybe pictures or golf balls, charities wanting hats signed or flags or something like that, which is fine. I don't mind doing that. It's just part of it. I think having played a lot last year, plus dealing with all of the media and really running all over the world really took it's toll on me and I think it's affected how I played earlier this year. I really didn't have much off-season, maybe a week and a half, two weeks at the most to, you know, just relax and look back on what happened. I think it's affected what's happened early this year.

Q. Was there any point that just got crazy, and you just had felt that you had to shut it down or tone it down a little?

TODD HAMILTON: No, it wasn't all that bad. It seems like there were a lot of little things, five pieces of mail one day, ten pieces the next. And for me, it's hard for me to tell someone no, so if somebody requests a signed photo or something, it might take me a month to get it back to them but eventually I'll probably get it back to them.

Q. Looking at the lineup for this tournament, does this almost feel more like a mini-major than just another event on the calendar? We've got nine of the Top-10, 12 of the Top-13 here this week.

TODD HAMILTON: I think you've got a good venue for a nice tournament. Guys are probably anxious to get off the West Coast, with as much rain as they have had out there and it's unfortunate that we don't get fields like this every week, but, guys have to take time off here and there to recharge and practice on things that are not working well for them. So it's nice to see -- as I was growing up as a kid, seeing the Doral tournament, this was always a great venue for hosting a tournament. Fortunately this year, we've got a great field for it. I'm sure the fans will be happy with the outcome of the event.

Q. The 18th hole here last year ranked as the toughest hole on TOUR, it's undergone a lot of changes over the years and last year was a year that a lot of changes had been made to toughen it up, but last year was the first year you played it; right? So you've only seen it in it's current --

TODD HAMILTON: I don't know any different.

Q. So how do you assess that hole then from that perspective?

TODD HAMILTON: I think there's two aspects that make the hole difficult. Obviously the driving area is very narrow. Actually, three things that make it difficult. You've got length and it's what, 460, maybe, 450-something. You've got the narrowness of the fairway. And the green, the way it sits, it angles, it's kind of a funny angle. Even though the green might not be front to back 50 yards, the angle that you're hitting it on is probably more like 35 yards because you're kind of hitting across instead of down the whole length of it. So even though it's a long, big green, the direction that you have to hit from, the hole doesn't play or the green doesn't play that big. It plays after that size or three quarters that size.

Q. The winds I think have been, the last couple of days have been at your back off the tee, haven't they or at least today?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, this is the first time I've played -- all of the days last year it was dead into the wind, 1 and this is the first day I played when it was downwind.

Q. So a guy who only played it with this wind would think this was --

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, no problem. You even think, if you weren't comfortable hitting your driver, on a day like today you could possibly hit a 2-iron or 3-wood off the tee. As far as the balls go nowadays, you have no problem hitting a long iron or 3-wood off the tee.

Q. On a Sunday, when the wind is blowing, how does that change the hole, with the combination of the winds, the nerves, what does it do to make the greens fairway seem even smaller; how does that factor in?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, as a golfer, you know any time you're hitting into the win and you put spin on the ball, left-to-right spin, right-to-left spin, it magnifies it so that the fairway gets even more narrow when you're playing into the wind.

Obviously it's a long hole and you want to have a well-struck drive. You know if you don't hit one solidly, you're going to have a lot longer shot into a fairly small green and everything adds up. If you've got to make par on that hole and it's blowing 20 miles an hour into you, you might want to think about making a few more birdies before you get there.

Q. How good is it for Craig Parry, the toughest hole on TOUR, to play it twice? He has to play it back-to-back and he holes out from 176 yards, how good is that?

TODD HAMILTON: That's a great way to finish. There's probably not too many events where we've had an ending like that, at least from that distance. You might have had guys chip-in or pitch in on a par 5 or something like that, hole a long putt, but to hole a 6-iron in a playoff is pretty extraordinary.

Q. What do you remember about what was on your mind this week a year ago?

TODD HAMILTON: I remember just trying to make a decent check to get higher up in the re-rank, I think they re-ranked before this event. I remember trying to make some decent money to get higher up for the next re-rank, but I knew it was early. This was only about my fifth tournament, fifth event, so I knew there was a lot of --

Q. What did you do in Q-School?


Q. No PLAYERS, your schedule was skill kind of --

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I wasn't in the players, the Masters, anything, but last year I think I finished about 15th here.

Q. Were you enjoying yourself or was it a grind?

TODD HAMILTON: This week or everything?

Q. Your state of being as a TOUR player?

TODD HAMILTON: Oh, I thought it was great, it was like a rock concert every week, you know, especially the majors that I played in last year, THE TOUR Championship.

Q. No, no, I meant here, at that stage, even though you had only played --

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I'm talking every week, I think it's great. You get a lot of fans, some weeks more fans than others. Heck, when I played in Japan, I probably saw for four days, if I saw 30,000 people, 40,000 people, that was a lot. That usually meant that you were playing in one of the majors, one of the events they considered a major or it was very easy to get to that event from Tokyo or wherever most of the people live.

Q. What are your expectations for this year and do you feel pressure that a lot of the major winners do to try to live up, "Oh, there's the British Open champion and you have to go out and play well every day, every shot"?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, I flat-out told myself that I know just because you win a TOUR event or a major doesn't mean you're going to have success after that and it doesn't mean you're going to win more majors or more TOUR events and I look at it that way.

The pressure that I might feel from people in the media, friends at home, family at home, whatever, probably doesn't compare to the pressure that I put on myself, because I want to do well every day. If I shoot 67 Thursday out here, I want to shoot 66 on Friday. And I've got no problem dealing with that.

I know I'm not going to play well every week. When I do play well, I'm going to take advantage of it and I think I did that last year. I only had I think three Top-10s, but two of them were victories. So I feel that my experience over 17 years of professional golf, if I can just get in the hunt, get around the lead, hopefully that experience that I've had in the last 17 years could carry me through.

Q. Do you have to win this year for it to be a good year?

TODD HAMILTON: No, I don't think so.

Q. Do you read what people write about you?

TODD HAMILTON: Not really. I don't go looking for stuff in magazines or newspapers.

Q. Just the letters that people send you?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, from Chico State Prison. That's the weirdest letter I got, from the Chico State Prison in California.

Q. What did that say?

TODD HAMILTON: There was a guy who had been in prison either three or six months, his son - I don't think he mentioned how old he was - his son was a big golf fan. The father felt that he let his son down by going to prison and he wanted me to send a signed picture to his son. I didn't know what to think about that. And he gave me an address different from the prison. It was a lady's address out in California somewhere.

So I wrote the lady a letter explaining the situation. I haven't heard back from her yet. I said, "Hey, if this is not a home, just write back and saying it's true and I'll send you the picture." I've got it all ready in an envelope ready to go but I haven't heard from her.

Q. Didn't ask for money?

TODD HAMILTON: That's the weirdest one so far.

Q. How do you feel about the things you stumble across about yourself, if they are good, if you let it go to your head; and if they are bad, if it ticks you off?

TODD HAMILTON: Neither way.

Q. You do read, though?


Q. You have a degree? I get that all the time.

TODD HAMILTON: I'll read, pick up a golf magazine and see what's going on or a newspaper, who's hot, who's not. If I'm not hot, no big deal to me. It might take me a while to get hot again, but I think eventually I'll get there.

Q. Do you wonder how Tiger and Mickelson and some of the other guys have to deal with what they deal with every week?

TODD HAMILTON: It's amazing. I had to deal with it, still dealing with it a little bit, but the month or two months after that, I just got a very small piece of it after the Open Championship and those guys are getting it every week. And for them to go out and shoot 60,62,65, pretty much on a daily basis.

Q. Have you ever been to St. Andrews?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I went there in college once. Don't remember much about it.

Q. What were you there for?

TODD HAMILTON: We had, I think there were three college teams that went over and some boosters from each school went over and just played golf, August, I think it was in 1986.

Q. Are you going to their Media Day, too?

TODD HAMILTON: No. They can fax me some questions and I'll send them back and I'll send off a picture of me on the bottom.

Q. You won't go over there till Monday of the Open?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I'm going to play the week before, the John Deere. It's close to where I grew up. Figure I probably should play there.

Q. You were traveling with the Claret Jug for a little while, aren't you, right afterward?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah. I didn't do it just to have it with me all the time. I took it, let's see, the second week after was the first tournament I played, it was the INTERNATIONAL. I took it there. My caddie is from Boulder, an hour down the road and so I wanted him to take it. He took it Sunday night and we flew from there, PGA. We went up to the PGA and that was the first time my father got a chance to see it. I don't think he was at The INTERNATIONAL, he might have been at The INTERNATIONAL.

But I don't carry it around with me everywhere I go.

Q. How much do you look back, even like next week when you go back to Honda to defend, do you reflect on these moments, do you watch tapes or look at trophies or are you like, that's old news and let's look ahead?

TODD HAMILTON: Pretty much old news. But I've got my replica of the Jug, sits right above the TV in our family room, plus the replica of the Honda trophy is right next to it; so there's always reminders. I have tapes that people have sent me or the networks have sent me of the events. I've watched them occasionally but I don't dwell on them every day. If I happen to see the trophy, I'm watching TV and happen to look up, obviously it's there and kind of gives me a good feeling, but I don't dwell on it every day.

Q. What kind of a car did you take from Honda?

TODD HAMILTON: You know what, we had some neighbors in McKinney, Texas, we've since moved. They were getting ready to have their fourth son and they were looking for a mini van. So we made them a good deal on a mini van. I'm not sure what kind, I haven't even seen it.

Q. Probably the Odyssey, that's like the best selling one.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, so we made out and they made out. So good deal for everyone involved.

Q. Who are your friends out here? Who do you hang with?

TODD HAMILTON: Brandt Jobe, played with in Asia. I used to hang out with a guy last year that was a rookie, Dan Olsen; he's back on the Nationwide.

You know, I don't really try to pal around with anyone. If I see people I'm friendly with them but I don't -- I'm very capable of going out and playing by myself. I don't mind that and I think a lot of guys need people around them to have a good time or communicate with, but I can go out and play golf by myself.

But again, if somebody wants to join me or if I can join them, I will do that also.

Q. Do you play many practice rounds with Vijay?

TODD HAMILTON: No practice rounds. I played with him once in Japan, he came over to one of our events in the late 90s and I got paired with him. There was a guy that he's from Fiji, Dinesh Chand, he plays over in Japan, and I think Dinesh used to caddie for Vijay a little bit. So I kind of know Vijay through Dinesh a little bit.

Q. Since you guys won the last two majors, is that one of the by products of where you are and what you've accomplished out here, that you can go play with a guy like him?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I don't think it really mattered that I won a major event. I think I was just in the right place at the right time today. It was just going to be Brandt Jobe and myself and Vijay and Frank Lickliter joined us.

TODD BUDNICK: Thanks, Todd.

End of FastScripts.

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