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March 12, 2004

Todd Hamilton


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Todd, thank you for joining us. Two good days of golf for you, 68 66. Some opening comments about your first two days out here at the Honda Classic.

TODD HAMILTON: Obviously, very pleased with how I've played. I've been struggling with my putter and I'm not a big fan of bermudagreens, so I'm very exciting and kind of unexpected that I'm doing so well, not liking the bermudagreens. But love the course. The weather is perfect. And I just hope to continue playing well.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: It's your first season on the PGA TOUR but you've had a lot of international success. Maybe a brief minute or so, talk about the international success you've had, and how do you think you can translate that on to the PGA TOUR this season and the future.

TODD HAMILTON: I played the Asian golf tour for five years. I think I won once or twice on the Tour over there. I won the Order of Merit in '92 which allowed me to play golf in Japan. I played there for 12 years. I believe I won 11 events over the 12 years. Last year was my best year; I won four times and finished third on the Money List. So everything was kind of not going so well and then last year went great.

I'm playing with a lot of confidence, so hopefully I can do as well out here as I had in Japan and the Asian Tour.

Q. You mentioned last year was a big year in Japan and it's kind of like a breakthrough year, what do you account for that your play just went to another level?

TODD HAMILTON: It's funny, I've been asked that a bunch of times. I did nothing different over the off season. The four or five years prior to that, I had a few good tournaments but nothing that would indicate something like that was going to happen. The first tournament I won last year, I got a new driver the day before the tournament. I was not able to play in the Pro Am.

So I just couldn't get on the course even to play nine holes after. I just went and practiced with the driver and ended up winning the tournament. Ended up playing well the rest of the year. I think there was a stretch where I had won four out of the eight tournaments that I played in Japan. I don't know if you can credit all of that to the driver, but I had not been driving the ball very well with my old one and got fed up with it. Asked the people at TaylorMade to make me up a new one and they did and it seemed to work. Still have the head cover. They want to give me a new one but I don't let them have it.

Q. What made you decide to try to play an the PGA TOUR this year?

TODD HAMILTON: It's always been a dream to do it. I tried five straight years out of college, tried to school five years out of college and got to the finals twice, and then I was able to play in a January. I didn't try the school for about ten years and then the last three years, I tried the school again, got to the finals twice.

This year, this past year I was exempt through my play in Japan. I was exempt straight to the finals. So I figured I would take advantage of that. You never made you may never get that chance again. I was fortunate enough to get through, I think I finished 15th or 16th. So about halfway of the guys that got their card. Just figured I should take advantage of the opportunity.

Q. Is it weird to feel like a rookie at this stage of your career when you've been around so long?

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, rookie in name only. I'm 38, got out of college, I would have been 21; so 17 years as a pro golfer. To be called a rookie, I understand why because it's my first full year here. I have played events on TOUR before, but never had my card full time. So it's kind of strange to be called a rookie.

Q. You already know quite a few guys out here?

TODD HAMILTON: Oh, yeah a lot of guys I played with in college, a few guys I played with in Japan are out here, Deane Wilson, Brandt Jobe, another good friend of mine, Brian Watts, all spent a lot of time in Japan, and guys I played against in college, or have seen that have come over to play some tournaments in Japan while I was over there.

Q. As Americans, do you guys kind of hang together on that tour?


Q. Is it pretty tough, just the living and everything, language?

TODD HAMILTON: If you're not doing well, very difficult. You start missing a few cuts in a row and it's very boring. You can't just get in your car and go drive down and see a movie or go to the mall or go down to the grocery store and grab some food. So it kind of forces you to play well. TVs, there is no must see TV in Japan, trust me.

But, I will say, it was a great opportunity for me. It allowed me to work on my game. I made a very good living playing golf over there. I got to meet a lot of different people. Got to see a lot of different places, not only in Japan but while playing the Asian Tour, also. Hopefully it's toughened me up.

Q. Do you know much about what's going on with the Asian Tour now?

TODD HAMILTON: The Asian Tour, I don't. It's completely different than when I was playing. When I played, there were probably 11 or 12 tournaments run over three months and there was one guy that was in charge of running everything.

Now they have got a corporate sponsor, I guess, and there's probably, I'm just guessing 20 events. So it's completely different than when I played.

Q. Do you have one good story about adapting to the culture, just one funny story?

TODD HAMILTON: Let me think here. I'll figure one out.

Q. Can you name a few of the more exotic places you played, did you play with Mt. Fuji in view?

TODD HAMILTON: We had a tournament called the VISA Taiheiyo Masters. VISA, meaning the credit card company and the golf tournament was at the Taiheiyo. The golf tournament was early to mid November and it was right at the base of Mt. Fuji, and on a clear day, it was the prettiest thing you could see. They actually had the World Cup there three years ago. It was one of my favorite courses over there, too.

Q. I think when Brian Watts first came back over here, he used to tell us that he would play so many events in a row and he could come back for a while and turn around and go back and play events in a row. What was your situation like?

TODD HAMILTON: I used to like to go from four to six weeks, four weeks was perfect. Five, you were kind of on the edge wanting to bang some heads around. And six you were almost ready to get home. Four was perfect, though.

I have gone over for as little as one week and then comeback. But four was a good, perfect time. And then would I comeback home for two to three weeks I'd do that about five times a year. There was a stretch, latter July through almost all of August, I would take off. There were three tournaments throughout that maybe six week stretch and they kind of had them spread out so I wouldn't even play those three. Plus it was very hot and humid there at the time.

Q. Did you ever have any Nationwide status from the finals and Tour School?

TODD HAMILTON: I did a long time ago when it was called the Hogan Tour. I think I played about three or four events and then last year I had conditional status. I made it to the finals but didn't all I had was conditional and just decided to go back to Japan and play. Didn't even play any events Nationwide.

Q. You mentioned that for ten years you didn't even try to go to school or whatever. During that span, why didn't you try?

TODD HAMILTON: I had some very good contract deals going there. Kind of locked into those for two, three, four years. Was comfortable playing over there. I had won one or two tournaments that gave me a five year exemption over there and was just going to take advantage of earning that.

Q. You mentioned that you love this course, is that just a function of your scoring so well, or is there a particular thing about the course?

TODD HAMILTON: This course here?

Q. Yes.

TODD HAMILTON: I kind of like the greens I know a lot of players have probably told you they don't like the greens how they are. I'm not a big fan of the bermudagreens but I don't mind the humps and bumps on them. I think it makes you hit good tee shots. So you have to be in the fairway to get to the little portions, the little areas. It's almost like each green is three or four different greens in one because they are dissected by mounds and humps. So it forces you to hit good tee shots in order to hit good iron shots to these little areas.

Knock on wood, I consider myself a good putter, although in recent weeks, I haven't really putted as well as I normally do but I do consider myself a good putter, lag and short putting. So I do not mind the humps and bumps. I'm just not a big fan of bermuda.

Q. After all of the years in Japan, just describe what your mindset has been coming in, coming on to the tour this year?

TODD HAMILTON: Somebody asked me that earlier. I think dreaming of playing on the PGA TOUR since I was a kid just finally getting on it has relieved a lot of pressure. I've been fortunate to play golf for a living, I enjoy playing golf and had the opportunity to make a decent living.

But there was always something that I didn't have, and that was my PGA TOUR card. I think just getting the card itself, if nothing else good happens, I did what I wanted to do since I was a kid, so it seems like there's been a lot of pressure taken off.

Q. What's been the biggest adjustment, if there's been an adjustment coming out here and playing out here?

TODD HAMILTON: What was really difficult for me, I played Hawaii, so I went to Hawaii for a week. Didn't get in Phoenix and the Bob Hope. Went out to Pebble Beach and I had to play three different golf courses practice round wise and then three different courses for the tournament. San Diego, I got in. I had to play two different courses.

Most of these courses I've never played before. So when you have to play two and three different practice rounds on different courses it seems like you're always running around trying to get things done. Then you've got to practice and where do you stay, where do you go to eat, things like that.

So once we get to where we're playing single courses, it will be a lot easier, I think. But it seemed like the West Coast for me, it was a lot of running around, a lot of busy work.

Q. You played here twice before this tournament started or just once?

TODD HAMILTON: I played here on Tuesday. That was it.

Q. Brad Faxon was in here saying that it seems like a course that you need to play three or four times before you get an understanding of it. Obviously you only needed one round to be able to play pretty well. How would you assess that?

TODD HAMILTON: I kind of look at it the other way. The less bad things I know about it, the better. (Laughter.) A lot of times guys will go out and they will have never seen a golf course where they don't know where the trouble is and they play well. Whereas they know where the trouble is, know where not to go, they kind of tense up.

Q. How does that lead into the weekend then, you've had three rounds out here now.

TODD HAMILTON: (Laughter.) Can I take two of them back?

Sure, it helps you, the more familiar you are with it. I'm not going to get worried that I've only played it two or three times. That's what a practice round is for. You do your homework, you draw little charts on the greens, where to go, where not to go. We've got yardage books that tell us exactly how far we are. So you should be able to play a golf course without ever seeing it, at least at the level these guys are out here.

Q. Any unusual green side shots this week or creative ones you were proud you pulled off?

TODD HAMILTON: I've had a few. I usually don't like to putt when I'm quite a ways off the green. But out here, there's so much mounding and the grass is cut so tight, your best play is a putter or maybe a 3 or 4 iron chip and run. So in that sense, it's kind of like playing golf over in Europe, the British Open, you see a lot of guys putting up these big slopes and chip and runs.

There's not too many greens out here where you really need to use your lob wedge to lob it up and stop it quick. Unless you miss it on the short side of the hole. If you can obviously you want to hit the green, but if you can't hit the green, you want to favor the side that the pin is not on which is going to give you an easier chance.

But like I said, I usually don't like to putt it when I'm off the green quite a ways, and I've had to do it a few times this week. It's something I don't practice often. Except when you get on a course like this, you're playing a practice round, you're probably going to have those shots, so you should practice it. But at home I would never do anything like that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Eight birdies and two bogeys, if we could go over those holes. You bogeyed the first hole, No. 10.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I 3 putted. Got a little carried away on my first putt and knocked it probably six or seven feet by. Missed the putt coming back.

12, I hit a poor drive. I was actually in the hazard down the left and I hit a good shot out. I had a good lie, hit it out, hit a 9 iron to probably 15 feet. I made the birdie putt.

13, I hit a good drive, just trickled in the left rough. Second shot, a 7 iron maybe eight feet. Although I hit it too far right of where I wanted it, ended up okay because I had an uphill putt.

Then the next stretch of three holes, I made some good up and downs. I didn't hit any of those greens and made some good up and downs. One of them being 15, I had to putt up and over some mounds and ended up making about an eight footer for par.

17, I hit a good drive there. I hit a 3 iron for my second. 2 putted from about 30 feet for birdie.

18, hit a good drive right center of the fairway, 7 iron to maybe 12 feet. Made that for birdie.

1, I hit a driver off the tee, just a little pitching wedge to about six feet.

3, I actually hit a pretty good shot I thought. The wind was blowing in our face and I hit a shot that just went right through the wind.

I think that green is a little hard, at least where my ball hit and it went off the back edge. I had one of those putts where you had to play way up and use the hill and I didn't, knocked it by about probably ten feet.

Q. Where was that playing today?

TODD HAMILTON: It was way up on the ladies tee. It was real short. I think that's probably one of the goofier greens out here. I think they are trying to keep our heads on.

I would think they have to put the tee back there at the back one day, maybe make the pin easy, but center of the green, but they have got to putt it back there one day.

Q. The weekend, they were talking about.


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Par 5, the fifth hole.

TODD HAMILTON: I hit a 2 iron off the tee, 2 iron second shot, ended up in kind of the left fairway bunker. Had about 90 yards to the hole. Hit a good shot out about six or seven feet and made it for a birdie.

7, hit a driver off the tee just in the right rough, 120 yards, and I hit it to about a, sand wedge.

8, I hit a really good shot. Pin was on the front middle and hit a 6 iron to probably ten or 12 feet.

Q. Your expectations for this year, what are they?

TODD HAMILTON: Minimum, I'd just like to keep my card for next year, finish 125.

Hopefully I can get in, last week I played well, got a little taste of being up in the lead. This week, continue playing well. Hopefully I can just keep getting in that position and hopefully some day, someone will mess up, or I'll do well to win a tournament.

Q. You've won enough in Japan.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, that's one thing. Even though it's not on this stage, I've had opportunities to win golf tournaments even though it's on a lesser stage, it's still a win. I think people that have had success know how to handle themselves in certain situations. So at least that is in my favor.

Sure, I'll be nervous playing in front of 40,000 people. We were lucky in Japan if we got 40,000 people for the week. You'll have 40,000 people in a day out here probably. Sure, I'll be nervous but just try not to embarrass myself.

Q. Two weeks in a row on bermudagreens that you don't like.

TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, how about that.

Q. Is that a mental thing or what?

TODD HAMILTON: Not really. Matter of fact, one tournament in Japan, I for some reason had success on this golf course and I actually won on it last year the first one I won last year and the greens were awful. They played on a grass called korai which is I think it's in the zoysia family. So it's real stiff bristly grass, worse than bermuda, and for some reason I seemed to do well. I have no explanation for it. I have no idea what it is.

Q. What was the course and the tournament?

TODD HAMILTON: It was the Fujisankei Classic. Fuji, I believe, was a TV company, Fuji television. And it was on they called it it was like the Japanese Pebble Beach. A lot of the holes went along the ocean there. Kanawa Hotel and Golf Course. Very pretty piece of property. Golf course had a few goofy holes on it. Greens, a lot of grain on them, very difficult to putt.

End of FastScripts.

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