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July 16, 2004

Todd Hamilton


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Todd Hamilton, 67 today for 138 and joint leader in the clubhouse. When you started this morning, did you anticipate you'd be in that position after your round?

TODD HAMILTON: No way. I haven't really played well for two or three months. It was nice to finally find some form. I know this is the kind of golf and golf course in general that you can hit a lot of good shots and they might end up poor. And you can hit a lot of poor shots that can end up good. So I'm just trying to be patient with my golf right now. When I do hit a bad shot I'm trying to make sure that I stay out of the bunkers, because they are truly hazards this week. I've seen that firsthand with the players in my group the first two days.

It seems my mentality as far as the bunkers is either go way past them or stay way short of them, even if that leaves you two or three-club longer distance into the green.

Around the greens the bunkers aren't too bad, but fairways bunkers or pot bunkers you've got no chance and it's a sure bogey. I'm trying to be patient and think my way around the golf course and hole a few putts.

Q. Can you talk us around the eagle on 7?

TODD HAMILTON: I hit a poor drive, missed the fairway to the right, about 15, 20 yards but got a good lie. I stood around for a while, but got a good line. There were a couple of TV towers, I saw the flag positioned in the middle, I knew if I could keep it inside the TV towers it would be a good shot.

Q. How long was it?

TODD HAMILTON: I had 121 yards, I believe.

Q. What did you hit?

TODD HAMILTON: A sand wedge. I was trying to get it in the middle of the green. Coming out of the rough it had no spin, and it ran back quite nicely. Very lucky shot.

Q. You were talking about how good shots can turn bad, bad can turn good. I was wondering how comfortable are you with that style of golf, and how do you get your mindset wrapped around handling that?

TODD HAMILTON: I actually enjoy that. The course I play in Dallas is a Pete Dye designed course. It's kind of a links course. There are some forced carries over water, but in general there are ways to run the ball up on the green. And the course is located just northeast of Dallas, so it's quite windy there. I do not mind this style of course.

Q. What's the name of that course?

TODD HAMILTON: Dallas Star's Country Club. It was formally Stone Bridge Country Club in McKinney, Texas. So I don't mind this style of golf. I don't consider myself a great ball-striker, so if I go out and I don't hit a lot of good shots I'm comfortable with that, whereas some guy that hits the ball really well goes out and doesn't hit the ball well some day, he starts thinking what he's doing wrong. I'm just the opposite. If I start hitting good shots I think what are you doing? Because I don't consider myself a great ball-striker. But I do think that when I play golf I play smart. And that's the kind of style you need to show over here. You need to really think your way around, be patient and if you hit a bad shot you have to take your medicine and just try to make bogey at the worst.

Q. We've talked about this with you, that your whole career has been one that's been very adaptable. You've proven yourself adaptable, various courses, conditions. How much does that factor in when you play here, at least in your own mind?

TODD HAMILTON: I think it's a big factor in that I've played golf all over the world, hot conditions, cold conditions, windy, calm, almost everywhere, and I think the more you can do that the more you can be comfortable with the changing conditions. The wind might change directions tomorrow and blow twice as hard but I'm comfortable with that. I think as long as I can play smart, make a few putts here and there, I'll do just fine.

Q. You said in an interview on radio earlier today something about an elephant. Can you tell us what that's about?

TODD HAMILTON: I grew up in a small town in west central Illinois, about four and a half hours southwest of Chicago, 1500 people. In 1974 there was a circus, traveling circus that came into town. They had an elephant in the circus that was chained to a tree. We had a storm come through one night, lightning struck the tree, went through the metal chain and killed the elephant right on the spot. They couldn't really take it and deliver it to where it needed to go. So they decided they would bury it right in our town square. And the elephant's name was Norma Jean. Swear to God (laughter).

Q. What's the name of the town?

TODD HAMILTON: Oquwawka. It's an Indian town. It's right on the Mississippi River. It means yellow banks.

Q. Where did you play golf there?

TODD HAMILTON: I played golf in an even smaller town called Biggs, Illinois, 500 people and they had a nine-hole golf course.

Q. You got in here late. How much work did you get in Tuesday and Wednesday?

TODD HAMILTON: I got in Tuesday morning, maybe 10:30, 11:00. I stayed up late to get adapted to the time. I played 8 holes. It started to rain. Luckily there was a guy out there with a van that brought us in. I was able to play Wednesday 18 holes. My back's actually been a little sore, so I haven't really done a whole lot. I've been trying to keep it limber and keep it from getting too stiff. But I think I was able to do enough.

Q. Is this one of the first all-family trips for you, where you have the kids and all?

TODD HAMILTON: They've actually been coming out quite a bit. This is the first time they've come overseas. This is the first time everyone has been overseas.

Q. You mentioned that you hadn't been playing all that well since you won the Honda back in West Palm. What's been the problem? And when you get in that situation, and you come out where good shots can be poor and poor shots can be good, is that the change of pace that works in your favor this week?

TODD HAMILTON: The second part, yes, that can be good, because there are a lot of guys that may be hitting good shots that don't get the results that maybe they should. For your first question, I think it's just been a combination of driving it bad on courses where you need to drive it good. If you do drive it good I seem not to hit the good iron shot close to the hole. If I do hit a good shot close to the hole or on the green I can't convert the putt. My rounds haven't been horrible, but they haven't been what they need to be to play well. Hopefully today is a day that it changes.

Q. How does a guy from Oquwawka spend so much time overseas? Was it a necessity for your career?

TODD HAMILTON: The first couple of years was tough. The first year I was in Japan, I won a golf tournament. I played the Asian Golf Tour for five years prior to that and that was difficult. Luckily there were quite a few guys that I either played with in college or played with right out of college that were professional golfers. And it was fun at times, but it was also really difficult conditions, courses not really what we were used to condition-wise, maybe even design-wise they were quite different. But I think in the long run -- or I'm glad it worked out that way. It might have taken me longer to get where I wanted to get to. I'm glad I went through all that patience building, I guess you could call it. I wish it would have happened earlier, but in the long run I'm glad it happened that way.

Q. Would you have stayed up as late trying to get acclimated to the time if you'd have known you were going to get to sleep til noon on the weekend?

TODD HAMILTON: Probably not.

Q. Just to pursue that whole earlier part of your career, and you talked about the conditions -- I know you've talked about this a little bit at Honda, but what might be some of the examples of conditions that you really had to prevail over, things that weren't the optimal arrangements when you played some of these places?

TODD HAMILTON: I can remember two examples, and this is nothing against the people that were doing it. I was playing in Korea, two separate years. There was one hole where you had to hit it, par-5, you had to hit it out and to the right, but once you got it out with the driver you lost sight of it. If you hit it too far to the right there was a big hill that banked up and if you hit it too far you would be out-of-bounds or it would be in the fairway. I remember pushing a drive out to the right. So I hit a provisional, down to the middle of the fairway. It started going up the hill toward the OB. And they had forecaddies out there. The lady had it in her hand. It might have been in bounds, it might have been out-of-bounds, I don't know.

There was another example that actually did prevail over this. 1992, I was playing in the Makyung Korean Open. The last year I pulled my tee shot left. I think I had a shot lead. I believe it was in the fairway bunker. A Taiwanese guy in the group hit it down the middle, he was a shot back, a Korean guy pushed his shot to the right, and he had no shot from over there. By the time he got to his ball, his ball -- he was able to hit it to the green. If a person hadn't said something to one of the Korean golf officials. I think it was -- I didn't know this at the time until a week or so after this. I believe TC Chen told the guy, went to one of the officials he knew , Korean official, and he said, "You need to make sure that ball gets put back as close to possible where it was or else I'll make sure none of your players ever play outside of Korea again."

Like I mentioned earlier, that's nothing against the people of Korea, but I've heard stories like that, maybe some caddies in other countries where they had bets on their player. Obviously they wanted to win the bet and they wanted their player to do well. So they might fudge the ball out from behind the tree or out from the fairway. So there were a lot of things. You heard a lot of stories of guys playing over there in different countries and they'd make their wife or girlfriend act as a forecaddy, get down there about where their drives would land and make sure nothing would happen.

I think the language barrier was really difficult at times, especially in Japan. My first couple of years I struggled. Fortunately I had some people that provided me with directions, very accurate directions, which I'd need to get where I needed to go.

But like I said, I'm glad that I had to experience that. I'm glad that I didn't come right out of college, get my Tour card and think that it was all gravy. I'm glad I went through some ups and downs. I think that might have helped me at the Honda, having played poorly for quite a few years, come back, won the Asian Order of Merit, got to play in Japan, played well in Japan early, struggled for a while in Japan, played well in Japan, toured the last couple of years over there and then lost a big lead at the Honda and then birdied the last two holes.

It seems like when I play well, I play well in streaks. It might be a couple of months, it might be a couple of weeks, and then I might go for two weeks or two months where I don't play well. That's kind of what my whole golfing life has been, I guess.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TODD HAMILTON: After the third round I had a four-shot lead. The first hole on the fourth day I parred -- I think it was Fredrik Jacobson, he bogeyed, so I went up to five shots. And with two holes to go I was actually one shot behind.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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