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March 13, 2004

Todd Hamilton

Country Club at Mirasol, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Todd Hamilton, our 54 hole leader, to the interview room. Todd is also the CRESTOR Charity Challenge winner for this week, and $50,000 will be donated to the Ronald McDonald Charities of South Florida, as well as $50,000 will be donated to a health care related charity of his choice in the coming week, as well.

With that, just talk about your round today. Great run there where you had five birdies in a six hole stretch on the front nine and closed it up with a birdie at 18.

TODD HAMILTON: I got off to a shaky start. I ended up making a bogey on the second hole. Seemed like the wind was blowing a little bit stronger than it had the first couple of days. But like you said, I got on a good run for five or six holes. I think I made five birdies over the next six holes maybe.

Then, I don't know what happened. I hit some good shots in. 9 and 10, I hit good shots in, didn't make the putts. It seemed like from then on, until the very last hole, it was like a guy drinking tequila; you take a shot, you suck, you take a shot, you suck. (Laughter.) That's what it seemed like.

I think with the wind blowing that little extra velocity, it seemed like my swing got faster. I was trying to hit it through the wind too hard instead of relaxing and just letting the wind be your friend.

Nice to finish with a birdie on 18. Always nice to finish like that.

JOE CHEMYCZ: You took an aggressive approach on 18.

TODD HAMILTON: I had a good yardage. I think I had 171 to carry the bunker and 180 to the hole. I had been hitting my irons pretty solid all week and ended up hitting the 8 iron. It just carried a little bit on the downslope there, probably 175 yards maybe and just trickled off the edge. But I knew past the hole was putting back up the hill, so didn't bother me at all. Made a good read and got the speed right. Just happened to trickle it in.

JOE CHEMYCZ: At the end of the round, tell us what happened and why you didn't sign your score card right away.

TODD HAMILTON: I was in signing my card, or attempting to, and one of the officials came up and said they had a guy call in. No. 11, I had missed the green, putted up to about maybe five feet. The caller called in saying that I had when it was my turn to putt, I had put my ball down, picked up my coin, and with the coin not marking the ball, I had maneuvered or realigned the ball, like a guy who has maybe a mark on his ball to line it up to where he needs to go to.

I would never, never do that. We went to the trailer, NBC trailer, checked it out. The guy gave a 4:20 time. He called at 4:22; he said it was 4:20. They went back checked and knew exactly what hole I was on. We checked and not even close. Like I said, I would never do anything like that.

I am glad that they gave me the opportunity to check before I did sign my card just in case something did go wrong.

Q. So TV shows your coin was still there as you were lining up?

TODD HAMILTON: I didn't realign it. I don't know what he was looking at. Once I set it down, I always line the trademark up a certain way. I never realign it.

Q. Any TV watcher can call in?

TODD HAMILTON: Sure. David Copperfield is my cousin. (Laughter.)

Q. How much of a panic did you have or were you just very comfortable it wasn't going to lead to anything?

TODD HAMILTON: I knew I would never do that. Like I said, once I set it down, I never, never touch it. I usually never align it two or three times with the coin; I set it down and I'm ready to go. So I didn't think anything would come of it. So I'm glad nothing happened, but it kind of scares you a little bit, some guy calling in.

Q. Two things. When did you find out what happened to Carl, or did you ever find out?

TODD HAMILTON: It's funny you asked that. When I was walking from 17 green to 18 tee, some gallery guy comes up, he says, "Hey, Todd," or Mr. Hamilton, I can't remember what. He said, "You've got a three shot lead. Pettersson just 5 putted," I think it was. You never think a guy is going to tell you something like that. (Laughter.) Unless he's just BS'ing you.

Q. What was your reaction?

TODD HAMILTON: I didn't know what to think. I figured he had a bet on somebody. Come to find out, we got in, I looked at the scoreboard and Carl had dropped. So he was telling the truth. You never know what to believe if something like that happens.

Q. I wonder, you could you just look ahead to tomorrow, this will be a huge day for you. What do you think you'll be facing?

TODD HAMILTON: Well, it was nice to get that extra shot on 18, to have that extra lead. I enjoy the golf course. I hope the wind blows again tomorrow. I don't mind playing in the wind. I think it will make it that more difficult for the guys that have to chase the leaders.

I'm looking forward to it. I wasn't overly nervous today, maybe a little bit the first couple of holes. Although I'm a rookie on the Tour, I'm 38 years old. I've played golf all over the world for probably 17, 18 years. I've been in this position before, not on this stage, but in this position. And I hope that I know my tendencies. I hope I know what I do well and I hope I know what I do bad, so I can play to my strengths tomorrow.

Q. People talk about pressure of trying to win for the first time on this tour. You're coming off four wins in Japan; is that correct?


Q. Freddie (Jacobson) had three in Europe, does that account for something or all square because it's here?

TODD HAMILTON: I think it does. I said this yesterday to someone, winning breeds winning, whether you're winning your club championship as a junior golfer, a ladies club championship, a city open, a state championship in high school. I always believe winning breeds winning. The more confidence you can get, whatever your field or profession is, the more that's going to help you done the line. I think it will help both of us having had good years last year.

Q. You were 4 down at one point to Carl and end the day up. Obviously there can be some pretty wild swings on this course. Just talk about is it going to be difficult to try and protect on a course like this where a number

TODD HAMILTON: I think it can be difficult to protect or you can expand your lead that much more. Because guys that are three, four shots back are going to press, and if you press on this course and you start missing the pins on the wrong side, it's pretty difficult.

Q. Will you look at the boards?

TODD HAMILTON: Oh, yeah. Sure.

Q. So you want to know what's going on?


Q. Pretty impressive wind shot on the front nine, where did you get so good at that?

TODD HAMILTON: I grew up in Illinois. We used have a little bit of wind not much in the spring. I played college golf at OU, University of Oklahoma, and it seemed like it blew 30 miles an hour every day, into you to the left. And I live in Dallas and it's always windy there, too. I got accustomed to it. My short game is pretty good, so I feel if I don't strike the ball well when it's windy, I feel like I can manage a decent round.

Q. So if it's even windier tomorrow, you're not displeased?

TODD HAMILTON: Not too windy. Like today, I wouldn't mind that at all.

Q. What's your last 54 hole lead?

TODD HAMILTON: I think it was the Mizuno Open last year in Japan.

Q. What happened?

TODD HAMILTON: I ended up winning by a shot. I think I was leading. I'm not sure. The last one I won was a match play event over there. The second one I won, the Mizuno one was the third one. I don't know if I was leading there or not. The second one I won, I was actually behind. The first won I won last year I was ahead. I do know that.

I think it was the Mizuno. I might have been even or one shot ahead and I ended up winning by one shot.

Q. With a four shot lead tomorrow, does your approach change a little bit from what it's been the first three days?

TODD HAMILTON: It depends on what shots I have. If I have a shot that I'm not real comfortable with, particularly an iron shot, I'll just shoot for the middle of the green, take a par, hopefully 2 putt for par.

Why not add to the lead? If you're 4 up, why not get 5 up, 6 up? Tiger does it. I think that's once you get guys down, you've got to keep them down. You never know what a guy is going to hole a shot out like Craig Parry did last week.

Like I said, if I have a difficult shot that I'm not sure of, not comfortable with, I'll play safe. If I feel like I have a good yardage and have a good club in my hand, I'll go right for the flag.

Q. You say you'll play to your strengths; could you assess them for us?

TODD HAMILTON: I usually don't drive the ball great. Although in the past year, when I played well in Japan, I did drive it pretty good. I had a 2 iron that I like to hit a lot off the tee, especially with the ground being firm out here, it seems to go pretty good.

My short game is my strength. So if I can get in the fairway and on the green in as few strokes as possible, I feel like I've done a good job, and then I just let my putter take care of the rest. Or if I happen to miss a green, get up and down.

Q. You holed a couple of 30 foot range putts today, were those double breaking type putts or how did those break?

TODD HAMILTON: The first 10 on No. 3 was maybe a foot break, probably 25, 30 foot putt. I made that for birdie.

The other one on 8 was actually a pretty good shot in there but it caught a ridge and went down. It ended up being the correct club yardage wise, but it hit the slope and rolled down about 25 or 30 feet. And that one only broke maybe six inches or so. They weren't too they were difficult in the length. You never think you're going to make a 25 or 30 footer, but as far as the break, they weren't too difficult.

Q. You're 38 and as you say you're a rookie; was there lots of times you wondered if you would be in this position?

TODD HAMILTON: Sure. Yesterday. (Laughter.)

It's always been a goal to play on the PGA TOUR. Before this year, I had played a few events, I don't know, maybe 10, 12. Got in some tournaments right out of college. Qualified for the U.S. Open one year, a couple British Opens.

But it's always been a dream to play on the PGA TOUR. It seem like when I got my card last December, everything else seemed like it was going to be easy, or easier. It seemed like the monkey was off the back since I had tried that was my eighth time, I believe, that I had tried. I know it's not easy.

Q. But once you got it, you thought the hardest part is over?

TODD HAMILTON: This is pretty cool, yeah. Enjoy it, take advantage of it and have a good time.

Q. How big of a day is tomorrow for you?

TODD HAMILTON: With a four shot lead, you figure you have a really good chance to win. If I can get off to a good start, continue to think well around the course, play safe when I need to play safe, be aggressive when I need to be aggressive, when I have good yardages for myself, that's all you can do. Just do your best. If you lose, fair enough. If you win, great. But it would be pretty important, yeah, for me.

Q. But you expect to win, don't you?


Q. Any of your teammates from OU on TOUR right now?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, Grant Waite, he and I were roommates. He got his card back last year. Craig Perks played there for three years and then he transferred to another school. Andrew Magee, I don't think he's played yet this year. He was a senior when I was a freshman. A guy who used to play out here but he injured his back, Doug Martin; I don't think he's played out here for five or six years maybe. There's a guy I never played with him when I was there, but Kevin Muncrief is a rookie this year. I was a lot older than him.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Todd, thank you. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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