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July 17, 2004

Todd Hamilton


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Todd Hamilton, 67 today, total of 205, 8-under par and leading The Open Championship. How do you feel now? Give us your views.

TODD HAMILTON: I actually don't know what to feel. I've played so bad for so long, it's very strange to be sitting in here, commenting on my golf. Usually when I'm commenting on it it's to my wife or my kids, and it's usually in an angry tone (laughter). So I'm very pleased, especially with the way the last two days have gone. I played very well the first two days. I missed a few putts that I feel I normally would make. Even though I shot 71 the first day, I was very happy with how I played.

Q. I'm just curious, when you were playing in Japan and over the course of your career, how much thought did you give to contending and winning majors? Was that something that was on your radar screen at all?

TODD HAMILTON: To be honest, I never even considered contending or not even too much playing in the majors. I just tried to improve on my golf game in Japan, tried to become more patient with my game, improve on the things that I needed to do and somehow get to the U.S. Tour. I really didn't look at the majors as an ultimate goal. My goal was to get on the PGA TOUR. It took me quite a long time. But I'm kind of glad that it worked out that way, having some struggles here and there and fighting back to achieve my dream.

Q. You're friends with Brian Watts, are you not?


Q. Did you watch him play in The Open in '98? And talk about the similarities between the two of you.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, our careers have kind of mirrored each other. He didn't spend as much time as I did in Japan, but the time he did spend he did quite well. I probably spent, I'm going to guess, four or five more years than him. I don't remember watching all of his shots when he finished, I believe in '98 when he finished second. I do remember calling him the night before. I got his phone number from his mother-in-law, I believe. I called him, I think it was, 10:00 his time, here. He sounded very upbeat, very confident. He was sitting down to eat dinner. But as I said he sounded very upbeat, very confident and I thought he was going to do it. And if Mark O'Meara hadn't putted so well he would have done it.

Q. If, as you say, you've been playing as well as you'd like to recently, what has been the difference this week?

TODD HAMILTON: This week I think it's a different style of golf, a style that I don't mind playing. I enjoy playing kind of ugly golf, I like to call it. If you've got 200 yards, usually it's a 5, maybe even a 6-iron, where over here you can take a 3 or 4-iron and just chip it and run it up on the green. And that's what I call ugly golf. I'm usually pretty good at ugly golf, unfortunately.

But like I said, I enjoy this style of golf. I think this week, for some reason I've been very relaxed. As I said, I haven't played very well lately. If I do hit good shots I don't convert the birdie putts. And fortunately, I've strung some good shots together, some good nine holes together and a couple of good rounds together.

Q. Have you looked below your name on the leaderboard, and what are your thoughts on the players chasing you?

TODD HAMILTON: It's a pretty good leaderboard, isn't it? I'm not one to shy away from, looking at the leaderboards. I enjoy -- not enjoy, but I want to know where I stand. I don't believe a lot of the guys that say they don't look at leaderboards. Hopefully they'd want to know what they need to do coming in, whether it be to keep a top 10 finish to get Ryder Cup points or to win the golf tournament. But I like to know where I stand.

Q. The names of Tiger, Phil --

TODD HAMILTON: Names you would expect at a major championship.

Q. Two rounds of 67 and the round today, from the outside it sure looked like a stress-fee round. I'm wondering how much stress is there in all this and what do you expect it to be like tomorrow, the last group waiting forever to play and the whole nine yards?

TODD HAMILTON: To be honest, I felt very calm today. I was a little apprehensive when I woke up and saw the wind blowing from a different direction, having played four straight days of pretty much the same wind, maybe not quite this strong, but pretty much the same wind every day. And when it changes and you get accustomed to playing the same conditions for four or five straight days, it makes you think maybe a little too much, am I hitting the right clubs off the tees. You start thinking of hazards that you never would have thought of in previous rounds. And I actually felt pretty calm today, believe it or not.

Q. Will that calmness still be there tomorrow morning?

TODD HAMILTON: I hope so, yeah. I don't see why it wouldn't be. I'm sure there is no one in this room that would expect me, at least before the tournament started, for me to win, and probably not too many that expects it to happen tomorrow. It may not happen. But I will definitely be trying 110 percent.

Q. If I figure your score card right, did you get up-and-down to save par six times today? Is that right?

TODD HAMILTON: Probably so. I hit a lot of very good quality shots, not great shots, but when I did hit decent shots I converted the opportunity.

Q. Is that the kind of player you are, you're kind of a grinder like that?

TODD HAMILTON: I think so, yeah. When I do strike the ball well, I usually play well. Knock on wood, my short game is probably the best part of my game, day in and day out. When I don't strike the ball very well I feel that I can at least compete because of the short game. So for me to miss 6, 7, 8 greens is not really out of the norm.

Q. The nerves on Sunday at the Honda Classic, when you were on the 72nd hole and you had to hit that shot, have you felt anything close to that all week here at the British?

TODD HAMILTON: Not yet, no. Actually, that day is very similar to how I felt this week. I was not nervous on that final round at the Honda until the last putt, which I got from ShotLink of four feet, three inches. It looked like a frozen waffle. The green was in perfect condition, but when I stood over it, it looked like a frozen waffle. And had there been a slightest amount of break, I don't know if I would have hit the hole. But I was very calm. I felt like I was playing well that Sunday at the Honda, even though my score didn't indicate. I hit a lot of good shots, just picked the wrong club, and was 4-over par with two to go. But I felt like I was playing decently. I felt pretty good until the last putt.

Q. Do you and guys like Brian Watts and Steve Flesch reminisce about your time in Asia? And can you single out a memory from your time there?

TODD HAMILTON: I don't see Brian too much anymore. We live a mile away. In a few months it will be 150 yards away. We are moving near him. I don't see him as often as I'd like. With him playing, I think he's playing a little bit in Japan now, and I've got my card in the U.S., our paths used to be similar, now they've separated. There's a lot of stories in Asia that I could tell. Some probably you would want to print, but I wouldn't want you to print. I saw a lot of strange things golf-wise and people-wise or world-wise, a lot of things I wouldn't mind seeing again and a lot of things that I wouldn't want to see.

We spent a lot of time in some -- for me they were very, very big cities. I came from a small town of 1500 people, and most of the cities that we went to were six million, Taipei, Taiwan, probably seven or eight million, Soul, Korea, Calcutta, New Deli, all big cities, Bangkok, Thailand, I don't know, nine million. So it was a big culture shock to me. But in the end it was just golf. There's 18 holes in Thailand. There's 18 holes in Scotland. There's 18 holes in America.

Q. Yesterday on 7, your drive was over there in the far rough, looked like a bad lie, and to hole that shot, how much of a boost did that give you, because you were 2-under at that time? How much of a boost did that give you?

TODD HAMILTON: It was a big boost. Anytime you can hole a shot, especially when you're trying to just get it on the green, it was a very lucky shot. I actually had a pretty lucky lie grass-wise, it was a side hill mound. I was trying to get it in the middle of the green and give myself a putt at it. A lot of times you hit a shot like that and it goes two feet. It's a great shot. But if you make it, it's a lucky shot, even though you're trying to do the same thing.

Q. Will you take positives from the fact that last year Ben Curtis was a player who wasn't used to contending in majors, and playing the big names you have to play tomorrow?

TODD HAMILTON: Definitely, yes. I don't see why it couldn't happen again. I'm sure at the start of the week you wouldn't think something like that could happen. I know last year's course, I was fortunate enough to play last year, last year's course was quirky, you got a lot of bounces. And some shots that you might hit well ended up not to good and vice-versa. Some bad shots ended up good.

Not to take anything away from what Ben accomplished, but I think if you were going to get a lesser name, so to speak, it was going to happen on a course similar to that.

Q. In looking at some of the names just below you on the leaderboard, does it mean anything in terms that when you did win at Honda you held off a guy like Davis Love?

TODD HAMILTON: Oh, definitely. That will definitely be in the back of my mind tomorrow. I know the Honda field wasn't the strongest one we have on the Tour in the U.S., but there were a lot of good players shooting a lot of good scores. I was fortunate to have come out on top and I will definitely relive some of those shots and some of those emotions tomorrow.

Q. Do you expect to hear from Brian Davis tonight, knowing the roles are reversed? And what can you learn from his experience?

TODD HAMILTON: I think he might be playing golf in Japan, so I don't think he has any access to the phone number we have here. I don't expect him to call or anything. And what was the second part?

Q. What can you learn from his experience at Birkdale?

TODD HAMILTON: When I talked to him on the phone, the night before, as I mentioned earlier, he seemed calm and collected. I'm going to try to emulate that tonight and tomorrow.

Q. Can you size up what's put you in this spot, what parts of the game you've excelled at that's been better than norm?

TODD HAMILTON: I've actually had a very good game plan. My goal this week has been if you can't get way past the bunkers, stay way short of them, even if you have three clubs more into the green. It's a lot easier to hit a 5-iron onto the green than it is to hit a 170-yard lob shot out of one of the pot bunkers. My game plan has been good. I have to give my caddy a lot of credit. He caddied over here I believe in -- was it '97 they last played here? I think he caddied here, and he's caddied for a long, long time. And I have to give him credit for setting me straight.

End of FastScripts.

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