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September 29, 2004

Todd Hamilton


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Reigning Open champion Todd Hamilton. Thank you for joining us. If we could start with some opening comments about coming back to Europe and playing in the American Express Championship this week.

TODD HAMILTON: I'm really looking forward to it. This is my first trip to Ireland. I'm enjoying the nice weather so far (laughter). I understand it can be quite nasty. I do remember watching this event, was it two years ago? The weather looked perfect, but I understand it was about two or three weeks earlier than it is now. Hopefully the weather will hold off for us. The course is in good shape. I don't think you'll see 25 or 26-under winning like a couple years ago, but I think you'll probably see some good scores shot because the greens are in such good condition.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Quickly talk about the state of your game right now.

TODD HAMILTON: Right now I'm a little tired personally. My game reflects that, too. I haven't really played a whole lot of golf, competitive golf, since the Open Championship, but I've played a lot of golf when I'm supposed to be resting at home.

I need to rethink my days off at home a little bit better than I have been. But my game wasn't in very good shape the week prior to the Open Championship, either.

As a guy that will turn 39 in about a month or three weeks, I've seen a lot of odd things in golf, and I know that tomorrow can bring different fortunes to your golf game, whether it be good or bad. You never know what's going to happen in the game of golf.

Q. Why do you say that you should have done more resting at home? Are these company days and things you're talking about?

TODD HAMILTON: No. When I'm at home for weeks off, I usually play a lot of golf when I'm at home with friends. Rather than take a couple of days off just relaxing, I tend to go out and play golf, and a lot of times it might be 27 holes, or if the weather is really good and we've got some buddies out playing, it might be 36 holes in one day.

Q. Haven't you always done that?

TODD HAMILTON: I've always done that, yeah. It's catching up now. I'm getting old.

Q. How many times have you watched the tape of the Open Championship?

TODD HAMILTON: I've watched it a couple times. The most recent was probably two weeks ago. I was up kind of late at night, nothing really good on TV, so I popped it in and was able to -- actually some guy from California sent me copies of all the rounds, and edited out all the commercials, so I just found his copy and just went right through it. It was great.

Q. Do you find yourself getting emotional?

TODD HAMILTON: A little bit, yes.

Q. More so now than you did back then?

TODD HAMILTON: I think so, yeah. I think it's finally setting in what had happened.

Q. Did you watch the Ryder Cup, and what was it like knowing you could have been there as a wild card?

TODD HAMILTON: I didn't watch a lot of it. I think it came on about 8 o'clock in the morning where I lived, so I'd watch a little bit before I went to the golf course, maybe a couple hours each day.

I thought that we were going to win. I thought at least on paper, like everyone says, we had a better team. I will say that the European side was in much better form leading up to the Ryder Cup than our players were. I think since May we had had one player win an event, and that was Stewart Cink the week after he had gotten chosen as a captain's pick.

Having said that, I thought they were going to win, our side was going to win. I knew that we could lose, also. I didn't think we'd lose by nine points, though. Usually that tournament or that event tends to come down to the last probably six or seven matches on Sunday. If you can win by two or two and a half points, that's a pretty good margin.

As I said, the European side was playing much better than our players were leading into that, and I think it showed those three days of the event.

To answer your second part, I would have liked to have been on the team. I don't think I could have made up nine points that we needed to get ahead (laughter), but I think it would have been good for me just to see the atmosphere and feel the amount of pressure that would have been there. I think this would have helped. I may not have done very well, but I think it would have helped me down the road somewhere.

Q. Would you support that the U.S. qualifying period for the Ryder Cup be reduced to just the one year, as it is in Europe?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.

Q. Which would mean you would have gotten in this year?

TODD HAMILTON: Right. I think they should have started it in January (laughter). I think you get your players -- as I said earlier, the European side was playing great, and I think their system reflects that. Ours goes over two years. I'm not exactly sure how they do it, but I know it's a two-year period.

Kenny Perry, for example, I think won three times in the first year counting points for the Ryder Cup. I know he's had a decent year this year but nothing like the previous year. We only had one guy win an event since May. It seemed like we were trying to find our games, whereas the European side went over there with a lot of confidence.

Q. Bearing in mind what's happened to other major champions who switched clubs, have you had any offers since your Open triumph?

TODD HAMILTON: Kind of, kind of not. I have a deal with Taylor Made. This is the first year of a two-year deal. Now, I only use their driver, and I have one of their Rescue clubs. That's all I have. The irons are Mizuno irons. I have the chance to rip up the second year of that contract next year and start it new, or I can keep that and use the same equipment that I have.

Now, the dollar amounts will be quite a bit different if I choose to go in another direction and use some of their irons, it's just a matter of being comfortable with the stuff. You know, in the off-season, kind of late December, before everything gets started for us in January in the States, if I feel comfortable using a set of their irons, I'll probably do it.

Q. Was that deal done in advance of The Open or after?

TODD HAMILTON: It was done at the start of this year, a two-year deal.

Q. Was there a bonus for winning a major in the contract?

TODD HAMILTON: There was, but I'm not sure what it was.

Q. But it was built in any way?


Q. In this guaranteed four rounds with a match play event in a couple weeks, how close were you to play the Dunhill Links Championship next week?

TODD HAMILTON: I actually thought about staying over here and doing it. The University that I went to, they have a huge college football game Saturday of the Dunhill Links, and it's about an hour from my house, so I decided to fly back, take the chance that I wouldn't be too worn out and too tired just so I could go to that game.

Q. Who's the game between?

TODD HAMILTON: University of Oklahoma, which is where I went, against the University of Texas.

Q. Are you a Mike Holder boy?

TODD HAMILTON: No, that's Oklahoma State.

Q. Have you looked at your diary the week before The Open for the next year and looked at it a month afterwards? How many crossed out days are there?

TODD HAMILTON: There would be a lot more pages in the second one, I know that. What do you mean by crossed out days?

Q. Well, days that now have got -- company days, playing other tournaments?

TODD HAMILTON: I haven't really done a whole lot of that yet, and I've actually not played much since The Open Championship. I've played four events in the States, I've played the German Masters, and this week will be the sixth time I've played since the middle of July, competitively, but I've played a lot of social golf at home.

I think one thing that's going to be very different for me is the last probably two and a half months of the year. The last half of October, all of November and then probably half of December, so actually two months, is going to be very hectic from the middle of October through the middle of December. When the Tour of the U.S. starts up the first week of January with the Mercedes Championship for the winners, so I'm only going to have only two weeks, maybe two and a half weeks of off-time to catch up on rest and things like that.

I guess you've got to take advantage of things like that. You've got to get it while you can. Tournaments I thought I was going to be watching on TV at the end of this year I'm now going to be playing in, which is going to be quite a difference for me. But I look forward to it. I'll get a chance to see a lot of the world, probably meet some new people. In that stretch I'm going to try to go back to Japan where I played for 12 years. I'm going to try to go back there and attend one of their events. I believe it's late November, about the 15th, I think, Monday the 15th is the start of the week of that tournament. It'll be nice to see some old friends and old players that I played with over there. I guess you've got to take advantage of it. If you've done something that allows you to further your career, why not take advantage of it.

Q. From mid-October to mid-December, how did you spend that time last year?

TODD HAMILTON: I was playing in Japan. I probably played six tournaments maybe.

Q. Just in that period?


Q. And how many will you play in this period and in what countries?

TODD HAMILTON: I'll play the World Match Play, then I'll have two weeks where I have a chance to play in the States, the Disney event and Chrysler, which is in Tampa. I don't think I'm going to play the Disney, but I may attend the Chrysler event in Tampa. That would make two. The Tour Championship would make three. I'm scheduled to play in a two-day event in India. After that I'm flying to Japan for an event, the Grand Slam is in Hawaii after that for a couple days. From there I'm going to Sun City in South Africa for a week, and from there back to Los Angeles for Tiger's event. So what's that, seven or eight maybe.

Q. That's a lot of traveling.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, a lot of back and forth.

Q. Is the trophy with you on each trip?

TODD HAMILTON: That's a big case to carry around.

Q. You mentioned the Taylor Made Rescue club. (Inaudible).

TODD HAMILTON: It was a different company, yeah.

Q. You still have the other one?

TODD HAMILTON: I still have it, but I've added another one to replace my 2-iron. So I have two, one of them is a Taylor Made club and one of them is another company. I can't get rid of that other one, not yet (laughter).

Q. How do you go on from here being a one-major wonder, which is fantastic, but how do you reappraise your career goals now?

TODD HAMILTON: I just have to become more consistent. The times when I finish 50th, I make the cut, finish 50th, I want to make the cut and finish 20th. When I do poorly I want to finish 20th or 30th. The times when I have a chance to win, I want to take advantage of that, you know, not shoot a 76 in the final round to go from 5th or 10th down to 30th. I want to shoot 68 and have a chance at winning instead of dropping.

Q. You talked a lot post-Open with the press and stuff and in meetings afterwards about how you've taken winnings from your career or whatever and used that to win later on. Was there one particular occasion before The Open where you can remember thinking about that sort of thing where you were actually playing in a playoff?

TODD HAMILTON: I think I won an event in the States in March, the Honda Classic, in Florida. I had a five-shot lead with 17 holes to go, and I would have bet all the money that I had that I would have won that tournament.

Now, having said that, I was one shot behind with two holes to play. I ended up birdieing the last two holes to win without going into a playoff. I think not only winning that event as a rookie, winning my first time in the States, having won the way that I did, showed to myself that no matter what the conditions or whatever the scenario was, I could pull something out of a hat and come out on top.

I'm kind of glad I actually lost that lead, that big lead, and won in the fashion that I did. I would have loved to have gone out -- I think I shot 74 the final round to win by a shot. I would have loved to have gone out and shot 3- or 4-under and won by six or seven shots. That would have been great, also.

But I think the way I won, I'm going to get more out of it as the years continue. I think it definitely helped me at The Open Championship.

Q. Just a follow on that. To get that consistency, what have you got to do or do you think you have to do anything in your game, or is it just a mental approach that you have to take into it?

TODD HAMILTON: I think just a mental approach. I think some days the club doesn't feel very good in your hands. Those are the days you need to just shoot for the middle of the greens when the pins are on the sides. Sometimes pars aren't so bad, especially in the major events. I hope being almost 39 that I've learned to do that a little bit better than maybe somebody right out of college or 25, 26 years old. Bogeys are not good, double bogeys obviously are even worse than that, and as I said, pars aren't too bad sometimes.

One thing I've learned as a rookie on the U.S. Tour, which is something I thought completely opposite before I got out there, it seemed like everybody hit every shot perfect. You don't have to do that. You have to manage your game. And as I said, the days when you don't feel like you're hitting the ball well, instead of shooting 74, you have to shoot 70 or you have to shoot 71 because there's always a chance you're going to shoot 7 or 8-under. Everybody out on the Tour, whether it's a European Tour or U.S. Tour or whatever, they have the ability to shoot 7 or 8-under in one round, and there's a good chance they can do that two out of four rounds.

But if you shoot 74 or 75, that makes it very difficult for you to win, unless the conditions are obviously tough to play. But if you can shoot 72, 71 and that's your bad round, that 8-under helps out quite a bit.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you, Todd.

End of FastScripts.

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