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January 4, 2005

Todd Hamilton


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Todd Hamilton, thanks for joining us for a couple of minutes. Congratulations on a great 2004 season, two wins including the British Open and you finished 11th on the Money List in your rookie year. Maybe just talk about 2005 and turning the page a little bit, but a great week for you to start out at the Mercedes Championships.

TODD HAMILTON: It is. It's a tournament I thought I was going to be watching on TV. I never expected last year to work out the way it did. I'm obviously very happy it did. I look forward to getting off to a good start for 2005.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Just after such a great season last year, maybe quickly talk about some of your goals, objectives for this season, if you sat down in the off-season and wrote them down or if you want to continue to build on what you did last year.

TODD HAMILTON: I'm not one that writes down goals and tries to achieve them but one thing I would like to do this year is become more consistent. I think although I won twice, the statistic, each category, I wasn't very good in, each given category. So I would like to improve on that.

I think I only had three Top-10s throughout the year, fortunately two of them were victories but three Top-10s out of I believe 27 or 28 events isn't really that good. So I want to really get in the hunt a little bit more and hopefully my experience that I had in Japan and the experience that I had last year will help me win more events.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Last question before we go into some media questions. You played a lot of events last year, 27, 28 how much is that going to help you as far as now knowing the golf courses and things like that and where you want to play, where you don't want to play in 2005 and beyond?

TODD HAMILTON: It's definitely going to be an advantage that I played a lot of the golf courses. I'd like to try to play some different tournaments that I didn't have a chance to play in last year. I haven't really sat down and mapped out a schedule other than the first two events here in Hawaii. But I think being able to at least see the golf courses last year will help out immensely.

Q. What kind of schedule did you play from THE TOUR Championship on, how did you determine how much you were going to do and how much --

TODD HAMILTON: I pretty much did everything that I could. I had a chance to play in a skins event in India with Vijay Singh, Justin Rose and Daniel Chopra. I agreed to do that. I played in a tournament in Japan the following week. I played in the Grand Slam over here in Hawaii the week after. From Hawaii I went to South Africa for the Million Dollar Challenge. I think it was the NedBank Million Dollar Challenge and came back to the Target World Championship in California and those were all consecutive weeks. I would have liked to have had a do-over of the India trip.

Had I not done the Indian event, I probably would not have played the tournament in Japan. And rather than play five straight weeks after playing 27 events throughout the year, I just would have played in those final three that I mentioned, the Grand Slam, South Africa and Target. I was really feeling quite tired and haggard at the end of the year.

Hopefully this year I'll be smart enough to know when to quit and when to give myself a week or two off.

Q. What was your feeling, accepting all of those tournaments; was it the feeling that this is the time to cash in?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, yeah, plus obviously you can't say no to the Grand Slam. The other thing is you could do it, but with such a limited field, it probably would not look very good if you committed and pulled out or even didn't enter the tournament. It was a great opportunity to see different places. I had never been to South Africa. It's an awful long ways to go, though, if you ever go; be forewarned. And I got a few extra frequent flyer miles out of the deal, too.

Q. Did you recharge, do you feel refreshed now?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, somewhat. We had some nasty weather in Dallas, we had a little bit of snow and I probably didn't play golf for three or four days, which for me is probably about two or three weeks worth of no golf. So it was nice that I was forced to take some time off.

Q. Did you feel like you needed it?


Q. Like you needed a break?


Q. How unusual is that for you?

TODD HAMILTON: Very unusual. I look back and I think, when I played in Japan, I started in March, usually the second week in March, around the 10th or so, and our season ran through the first week of December if you made the -- it's kind of the Mercedes-style tournament, you had to win a tournament to get in that event, and that was usually the first week of December.

So I had almost all December, January and February off, three months off. And when March rolled around, I was really anxious to play. Toward the end of the year this year, I didn't want to be on a golf course. When I'm at home, I play a lot of golf. You combine that with playing competitive golf, it adds up.

Q. So what does that tell you, did it tell you --

TODD HAMILTON: It tells me I'm getting old. (Laughter.)

No, I just got to -- last year for me was very exciting. I had wanted to be on the PGA TOUR since I was a kid, finally got on there after, what, 17 years as a professional, and if you're excited about something, you want to jump in head first. So I tried to play as much as I could, not really realizing that it was going to take it's toll on me.

Now, I didn't anticipate winning a major event and getting invited to these events. You know, after the so-called "Silly Season," I didn't anticipate that. Now I know if that happens again, that I have the opportunity not to play those or maybe later on in the year I can take some events off.

Q. How are your expectations different than they were at this point a year ago?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, probably tenfold. As I mentioned earlier, I don't think I was very consistent last year. Although I won twice, I think overall, it was maybe not a year that a guy that finished 11th on the Money List would have. It seemed like I made most of my money in about three or four tournaments. So my expectations this year are higher than they were obviously last year. I want to get in contention a lot more. I want to be more consistent. I want to -- I think I missed seven or eight cuts last year. I want to knock that down and hopefully miss no cuts. That's probably a tall order.

Q. Coming off a year in which you won twice, would you consider this year a success if you didn't win at all, but still made it to THE TOUR Championship and consistently contended?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, probably. It would depend on those consistent finishes, how they ended up. If I had a two or three-shot lead playing the final round and didn't win, or if I was even with a couple of other guys and did well on the front nine, the final round and shot 3- or 4-over the back nine and lost by a couple of shots, then it might be different. I might think it was kind of a wasted two weeks or three weeks or whatever and the year may not have seemed as good as it could have been.

But if I continue to get up there, have a lot of high finishes, kind of like what Tiger did this year. He won events but he finished fourth on the money list and everybody said he had a bad year but his finishes were all high up there. I think that's a credit to his mental focus. Everyone says he wasn't really playing like normally he does. But he's always fighting, always fighting to save one shot, or he might have a 10-footer for par and he's never 3-putted in the whole tournament; that's a very important putt to him.

Q. There was a player late last year who made the comment that he would rather contend or be up there in the Top-10 mostly week-in and week-out than have kind of a suspect year, shoot that 63 on that one Sunday and win a tournament. Any thoughts on that? This is a player that never won before.

TODD HAMILTON: I think I'd rather be more consistent. I think you're looked at maybe a little bit differently rather than maybe what I did.

Q. Do you think even though the way you won at Troon, going those last four holes with Ernie, if you had not won the Honda Classic, people would be talking about it as a fluke?

TODD HAMILTON: Probably. So I think they still are, to be honest with you. Maybe not quite as much. Maybe "fluke" in small letters instead of "fluke" in capital letters. (Laughter.)

I think my years I spent in Japan, you know, if you really didn't follow golf very closely, there are probably a lot of you guys that had to look up what I did in Japan. Unless you follow golf real close you would not have known that I had won 11 events over there. So there was probably a lot of research that had to have been done on my career, even before last year even started.

Q. There was.

TODD HAMILTON: Okay. (Laughs).

Q. How important do you view this year, if "fluke" is in small letters, just to get rid of it all together?

TODD HAMILTON: How important is it?

Q. How important do you view this year for you as far as following up what you did last year?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, I think it's going to be awfully difficult to duplicate or even improve on what I did last year. I don't expect a year like that to happen again, but I hope that I can get in those positions to make it happen. If I don't win and play poorly the whole year, it will be a disappointing year. If I don't win, yet give myself a chance to do well in events throughout the year, that would be nice. I just want to have a chance to do what I did last year. And you've got to give yourself chances to make that happen. You can't -- no one is going to give it to you out here, so you have to play well no matter what tournament, what course. Somebody is always going to play it very well.

Q. Was there a situation where someone said or you heard or read that you were called a fluke or a flash in the pan?

TODD HAMILTON: I think all of those guys over in Europe, all of those writers in Europe. I collected a bunch of papers from there. I've had stuff sent to me. One guy - I have no idea what his name is - in the northeast, I want to say he had something to do with Harvard University - don't quote me on that - but he sent me this deal. He didn't know my address, just sent it to the post master at McKinney, Texas, "Make sure that Todd Hamilton gets this," and I ended up getting it with no address on it.

He said in the letter, "I thought you might enjoy reading this, congratulations on your win, good luck in the future," something like that and it's signed. I forget the guy's name. I still have the letter and I believe he had photocopied something off the Internet or he actually had the article in hand, and he photocopied it off and it basically bad-mouthed me, called me a fluke, how could that happen. Obviously a European writer, he wanted a European player or foreign, foreign meaning non-U.S. guy to win. I thought it was kind of funny. I have not responded back to his letter but I still have it. It's in a pile of things to do when I get time to do it.

Q. The story was a U.K. news story?

TODD HAMILTON: I believe so. I don't know what paper it was.

Q. What kind of letter do you think Ben Curtis got?

TODD HAMILTON: I've kept all the articles that I've received, all of the articles that I acquired while I was over there the next day. I've got them all in a box, letters from people, friends back in Illinois, I've got some nice letters from some other players, prominent players on the Tour, and I've got them all in the box. When I get time to sit down, I'll go through and read them all or read them a little more closely than I did the first time.

It was probably a little bit different than the one I got. He probably got two. (Laughter.)

Q. What was most enjoyable about your play in Japan and you do you foresee more Japanese coming over to America in the future to play?

TODD HAMILTON: It seemed like the golf wasn't really that much more enjoyable, but it seemed like the camaraderie, I guess kind of what the European players go through in the Ryder Cup, as compared to our players. It seemed like there's more friendships, not to say that there are guys that aren't friends out here, but it seemed like a lot of people, a lot of players here bring friends, family and they kind of go their separate ways when they get done playing. Well, in Japan if you didn't have any friends over there or family you pretty much were left out in the dark.

So the players always kind of hung with each other, especially the foreign players, because we were all in a strange land, a long ways from our home so we kind of hung out together. It seemed like when all of the tournament was over with on Sunday, a lot of us would congregate into Tokyo and hopefully one of us did well and we could celebrate, whether it was myself or a couple of guys from Australia or other friends of ours from different countries.

Q. Was one of your friends on the Japanese Tour David Aishi (ph)?

TODD HAMILTON: I know David well. I didn't hang around with him very much but I have played some practice rounds with him in the past. Very likable guy. Pretty easygoing, doesn't let too much get to him.

Q. Have you had a chance to meet or talk to Pete Oakley who did on the Senior Tour pretty much the same thing you did?

TODD HAMILTON: I know the name. I haven't had a chance to meet him though.

Q. How would you rate your excitement level coming into your second year this year?

TODD HAMILTON: Probably not as high, although it's still up there. Knowing that I have a five-year exemption into all of the majors and all of the big events and all of the events on the TOUR is a nice feeling.

I don't know if I'm as excited as last year because I know it's a grind to play out here week-in and week-out. Again, I hope I am smart enough to figure that out. Hopefully I'll play well early on and it will keep the excitement going. And hopefully it will last the whole year. I know there's going to be times when it's going to become a job like it was at the end of last year. Those are the times it seems like you've either got to try less or you've got to try harder. There's really no in between when things aren't going well.

Q. Did that surprise you that it became a job?

TODD HAMILTON: It did, because I enjoy playing golf. Not as much as I thought I did, though, after last year. I think my problem, when I'm at home, say I've got two weeks off, I might play 12 days out of those 14 days. I've got friends that are able to take off work and they enjoy playing golf with me and likewise me with them. So when I'm at home I play golf when I should be relaxing and maybe just going out there and chipping and putting for an hour or two, I'll go out there and play 18, sometimes 36 holes. So I need to cut back on that when I'm at home.

Q. Do you have that Vijay Singh thing, that range rat thing; that goes back to Illinois, your youth, right?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I'm more of not really a range rat but a course rat. I'd rather go out and play than hit balls on the range for four or five hours. But I enjoy being around golf. I enjoy watching golf. Last year I didn't enjoy it after the TOUR Championship, it was a struggle.

Q. Do you remember a time where you were overseas or wherever and you said -- you didn't want to be there?


Q. When and where was that?

TODD HAMILTON: I'm going to guess. I remember a guy, Deane Wilson, he won an event that year, the Japan PGA. I'm going to guess it was about maybe 2001, somewhere in there. I went over there for six weeks and I missed every cut. Now, I'm not a big fan of missing cuts and I'm really not a big fan of missing cuts when you're in Japan. (Laughter.) Because it is very boring; nothing against Japan, it's just boring. Usually when you miss the cut, you don't want to go out to the course and practice, at least I don't. I usually didn't. So you had Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and I wasn't getting in the Pro-Ams, so I had five days of nothing, except Tuesday and Wednesday we could practice.

So those were a long five days, and to do that, you know, six times, that was a tough stretch.

Q. What about last fall, when did you realize you hit the wall?


Q. After THE TOUR Championship, when you played those five weeks in a row.

TODD HAMILTON: Probably the week after India. I went to Japan and it was a tournament that I used to enjoy going to, it was the Dunlop Phoenix, and I remembered having more fun at that tournament when I played it when I was in Japan than I did going over there visiting. It was probably that week. That would have been my 20th -- you count the Indian trip as a tournament, that would have been my 29th week, and I think when I was playing Japan the last probably five or six years, I was playing 20 to 23 maybe. So I was already over my limit. I was in the bonus situation.

Q. Can you put a price tag on what winning the Claret Jug is worth these days financially?

TODD HAMILTON: I haven't seen anything you're talking about. (Laughter.)

I don't know. Well, it's nice to sit down on your couch and look up on your mantle and see that, especially if you've played golf that day, even though it's just with your buddies and you shot 4-over or 5-over, then you go down, sit on your couch, flip on TV and it's sitting right above your TV. That's pretty good motivation.

Q. That's where it is, on the television, above?

TODD HAMILTON: The original is in a closet. It's still in a case in the closet. I've already gotten a copy of it and it sits right above our TV in the family room.

Q. A shelf or something?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah. Right by my Fuji Sanyo trophy from Japan last year.

Q. That's motivation, too.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah. (Laughter.)

Q. How much knowledge do you have of playing Hawaii courses and how important could that be this week on this course?

TODD HAMILTON: I think a plus for me is where I live, it's quite windy. I played out here yesterday, it was awful windy, although I understand it was a different direction, not the normal direction.

A minus for me is the graininess of the greens. I'm not a big fan of greens that are this grainy. I don't mind bermudagreens but these are awfully grainy for me. I grew up in the Midwest on bentgrass greens and I think it's a lot harder going from bentgrass to bermuda than it is from bermuda to bent. So you might see a lot of short putts missed, not only by myself but some of the other players because of the graininess of the greens.

Q. Have you played much in this state at all before the Grand Slam?

TODD HAMILTON: I've played the Sony Open last year. I came over here in college once and played, I think it was Ala Moana Golf Links, I don't remember how I faired there, but I remember it being windy and the grass very grainy. So I haven't really played much in Hawaii.

Q. Michelle Wie shot 64 at Ala Moana when she was ten. Did you beat that?

TODD HAMILTON: No. I was older than ten so my nerves had already set in.

Q. Flesch said that he's known you for quite a while and you were the one guy that has never changed a bit since the time you left college. Would you agree with that, and if so, was it hard to keep the way you are after all the fame that came from the Open?

TODD HAMILTON: I would say I'm probably pretty much the same person. I enjoy being around people that are fun to be around with. I think I've got a pretty good sense of humor still. I don't think the fame has changed me. It's made things a lot easier in certain aspects and it's made things more difficult in certain ways.

Q. Easier, or how difficult how?

TODD HAMILTON: How easy and how difficult?

Q. How has it been easier?

TODD HAMILTON: Obviously the financial part of it is great. I get recognized -- I'll tell you a great story.

I went up to Oklahoma, I was going to a football game. I played golf the day before. We went out to a little bar, packed, the place was packed. Waited in line for three or four minutes to go to the bathroom. Finally get in there and I'm at the urinal, going to the bathroom, this head peaks around the little shield, and he goes, "I should know you." And I've got jeans or shorts on and a dress shirt, okay, no golf clothes on or anything. And I said, "No, you probably don't know me. I'll be 39 here in a few weeks. I went to school here but it's been a long, long time ago. You shouldn't know me."

Finished my business. He goes, "No, I should know you. For some reason, I think I've seen you before." I said, "No, you shouldn't know me. Like I said I graduated here in '87, you wouldn't know who I was. Maybe you've seen me around campus a long time ago."

He said, "No I should know you."

Finally I said, "Do you watch golf?"

He goes, "That's where I've seen you." He had watched me play in the Open Championship. Funny things happened like that.

Q. Was that Switzer?

TODD HAMILTON: No. (Laughter.) And I did not shake his hand either.

Went up to Madison Square Garden, OU played Duke. Buddy of mine went out to eat the night before the game, some restaurant, it was packed, he refers to another restaurant about a block away, small little same place. I go in there, about halfway through dinner, the waiter comes over and he has an accent, I think he was -- I think he was Italian. He says, "Are you the guy that won that big golf tournament in Europe?" I said, "Well, depends what golf tournament you mean or you're talking about."

He says, "The Open Championship."

I says, "Yeah that was me." No golf clothes on or nothing.

Goes to show you how important certain golf events are. And that's kind of neat for that to happen, and when it happens ten times a day and everyone comes up to you then it gets to be not an asset. It's kind of neat when it happens here and there, but when it happens all the time and people want to stop you and talk to you about it when you've got things to do, it's hard to say no to them, even though you've got to go do your things that you need to do.

I understand that's all part of it.

Q. Outside of the bathroom incident was there ever a case where someone actually, you felt like you were being followed or Toms told a story once about how a guy went down the escalator, went back up and kept looking and looking to the point where it made him a little uneasy?

TODD HAMILTON: I haven't really had that yet, no.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Todd Hamilton, go watch OU.

End of FastScripts.

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