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September 17, 2005

David Toms


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David Toms, thank you for joining us. I think I speak for everybody in the golf world that I'm really happy that you're here and alive at well and in good spirits. Maybe just start with an opening statement.

DAVID TOMS: Well, first of all, I feel much better than I did Thursday afternoon. It was a scary situation for me. You know, it was one of those things where I didn't really know what was going on. It got obviously kind of hairy there for about 45 minutes, but I was well taken care of.

That's the first thing I'd like to say is how thankful I am that I was here at an event where people really took good care of me. You know, everywhere I went, all the doctors, it was like I had special care.

In fact, I think I was a little bit too healthy to be where I ended up, this critical care unit, and I was much better off than a lot of people that were there were. I just want to say thanks to Mr. Hardy and Tom Baxter and everybody at 84 Lumber for just rolling out the red carpet for a guy that was not feeling too well there for a little while.

I'm feeling fine now. I'm on some medication for the condition that I have, and probably I'll have to have some further treatment at some point, but for now I feel okay and just need a little rest. I didn't get much rest in the hospital. About every hour they were waking me up and poking me with something. I'm just ready to get back to my hotel room and put my head on the pillow and watch a little football and not have to go through the stress of trying to play this golf course.

That's about it, really. I think I'll be fine for next week's event. I don't know yet. I'm going to hit some balls tomorrow and see how my body reacts to the medication that I'm on and go from there.

Q. Did Sonya and the kids fly up?

DAVID TOMS: No. She wanted to come pretty bad, but the rooms I was in like an ICU the whole time. There really wasn't space for her there. I was just going through a lot of tests.

I think that if I would have decided to have a procedure done here, she would have been up for that, but I think it would have taken me out of next week's event, so we decided for her to stay home and for me to stay here because with two young children at home, one of them being three months old, I thought I'd get more rest here at Falling Rock than I would at home, so that's why I'm back here.

Q. Have they told you what your condition is?

DAVID TOMS: Supraventricular tachycardia. How about that one?

Q. How about in English?

DAVID TOMS: It's a problem with the electrical system in my heart, in the upper chamber of my heart, that they can fix with a procedure that they go up through with a catheter through my main artery in my leg and they can fix it. I've heard anywhere between a two to six hour procedure, and I think I would be too sore to play.

They couldn't get it done until Monday morning here in Pittsburgh, so that would have knocked me out of the Presidents Cup, so we're treating it with medication for now, and then I'll when I get home after next week, I'll find out the best place to have it done and go ahead and have the procedure done.

It's not one of those things I guess if I had an office job, I could lay down on the floor and get to the hospital pretty quick, but when it messes with your livelihood and with the golf tournaments you're trying to play and even the medication is not 100 percent, and it doesn't cure the condition that I have, it's just kind of masking it. My plan is to have it done as soon as possible.

Q. Have you had any hints in the past of something like this coming on?

DAVID TOMS: I have. In fact, the last episode I had was at NEC during a practice round. I was on the 10th tee box, and I knew it was coming on. Every time before it's lasted for about ten minutes, it usually lasts for about a hole and doesn't get to the point where I feel like I'm going to pass out, just that I can tell that I have a rapid heartbeat, and it's happened to me probably half a dozen times. But it's become more frequent, and that's why the doctors want to go ahead and take care of it.

Q. Have you seen doctors in the past?

DAVID TOMS: I had a physical three weeks ago, and the reason why is I was having these and I told my wife about it; she made me go get a physical, and in my blood work they didn't show anything. Even the tests that I had here, I had a full day of everything you can imagine to the heart, and other than this particular condition, my heart is in good shape, which is a good thing, because before this I didn't know I could have had blocked arteries or just didn't know, and now I know that I'm okay other than this one condition, so I feel much better about it.

Q. Did the doctors tell you at any point on Thursday, not to be overly dramatic, maybe that your life was in danger?

DAVID TOMS: I could tell that it was a bad situation just by the EMTs and their reaction to what was going on. When I first went down, the one girl started to try to put an IV in my left arm, and I said, "I've got to go hit my second shot or I'm going to be disqualified (laughter)." She said, "Well, you're not going anywhere, there's an ambulance on the way," so I knew right away that my vitals weren't very good, and I was hurting real bad in my chest.

So I got on the ambulance and they couldn't get my heartbeat under control, and they finally had to give me a shot that I don't know exactly what it was, but it actually stops your heart, I found out later, stops your heart, and then it will start up again. So that was kind of scary.

You know, from what they were saying, I'm more at risk of hurting myself from passing out from this condition than I am from actually having a heart attack. I'm more at risk to wreck a car or pass out on an airplane or something like that where I can't get to a doctor than I am from the heart being such that I die from that.

Q. This procedure, is this an ablation?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, it is.

Q. Where are they giving you now to control your heartbeat?

DAVID TOMS: I'm on a medication called Toprol, I believe, and I'm not on a real high dose of it. I'm on a low dose just because of what I do for a living, and they felt like we'll start here and see how I react to that.

I think they can put me on something really strong with a high dose, but I don't think I could function in an athletic sense until I can have the procedure done.

Q. Did they call this atrial fibrillation?

DAVID TOMS: Everything they told me was I said you need to speak English, so they would write things down for me, and that's all I can tell you. I don't really I just know that they called it an electrical problem in my heart that needs to be fixed. That's really all I can tell you.

Q. Do you have any qualms about playing next week?

DAVID TOMS: No, not at all. I guess I'll know more tomorrow. I'm just pretty tired right now, and I think that after another day of rest and with the medication, I'm just going to see how my body reacts to it. In fact, if I don't feel well taking it, then I'll just not take it next week and just go out and play. Hopefully I don't have an episode like I did this week, and I'll go from there.

Q. Do you think perhaps the condition was aggravated by the stress of the work that you're doing with the Katrina thing?

DAVID TOMS: That's Curtis Strange's theory. He called me yesterday and told me not to try to do so much. I have no idea. I don't think that they could say one way or the other.

The first couple of episodes that I had, I had tuna salad for lunch, and so my doctor said don't eat any more tuna salad. I think they're kind of grasping at straws as to what kind of brings it on.

I don't feel like I'm under any stress really at all. If you look at the life that I have and what I'm able to do and the family that I have, I mean, I really don't have a whole lot of stress. I guess I've been pretty busy worrying about other people, but as far as myself, I'm fine. I don't think that there was I was playing okay yesterday; it wasn't like I was 5 over yesterday or something like that to bring on any stress. I just three putted the 18th hole. Maybe that brought it on, I don't know (laughter).

But I felt fine. I was drinking plenty of water. They first thought I might have had a heat problem. I said, "Well, this is wintertime for me, so I don't think it's the heat."

Q. What's been the reaction from the other players? Have you heard from a lot of guys?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I've heard from a lot of people, a lot of the players, a lot of people at my office, as if it wasn't crazy enough already, tons of emails and stuff that I've had forwarded to me, a lot of prayers, a lot of well wishers. It's been a lot of support, and I appreciate that very much.

I think when people saw what they saw on television and saw that I was in bad shape for a little while, I know there was a problem with the they said I was in critical condition, and what happened was I think I was for a little while, but then they sent me to a cardiac care unit there at the hospital so I would have the best doctors. Literally at one point I think I had three doctors, four residents and three nurses in my room at one time. So when they called administration of the hospital, they said I was in a critical care unit so then they assumed I was in critical shape, so there was a dispute there for a little while. Other than the first 45 minutes or so, I was fine the rest of the time and in very stable condition.

Q. Did you hear from Jack?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, I did, yes. He was calling as a friend, not as a not as what's going to happen next week, was I going to be able to play, was he going to get an alternate to play. I haven't spoken to him. My wife has talked to the family. He left me a message and I'm going to try to call him back here in a little while when I get back to my room and assure him that I will be okay and he can count on me for some points next week.

Q. Had you ever had an episode away from a golf course?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, once on an airplane when I was headed to Denver about two years ago going to the golf tournament out there.

Q. Do these episodes go back longer than two years?

DAVID TOMS: About four years. The first episode I was in Palm Springs playing golf with some buddies of mine. One of my best friends is a doctor, and I remember him putting a lot of pressure on my neck. In fact, that's one of the things the doctors told me, that if you have this if you feel it coming on, that's one of the things you can do is put some pressure on your neck and it can help get the heart rate back down. He knew what he was doing that day and helped me, and I didn't think much about it after that. But I'm starting to have them more frequent, so I've got to have something done.

Q. You talked a lot about the first 45 minutes. How much of it do you really remember? Was there one moment you were really, really frightened?

DAVID TOMS: I think in the ambulance is when I was pretty frightened. I could tell by the guy that was working on me that he was very concerned because at that point they don't know if you're having a heart attack. They don't really know. He couldn't get my heart rate under control, and at that point they had given me two sprays of nitro under my tongue, I had some baby aspirin, had some other things, had an IV in my arm, so they were all concerned, and so I think at that point I didn't know what was going to happen to me, really.

But it was shortly after that when they gave me the medication and got it under control that I felt much better. There was just a lot of pain in my chest. I was really still wondering, you know, did I have a heart attack, what happened, and it wasn't until they started doing my blood work in the second hospital when I was in Pittsburgh in the emergency room there that they felt like I did not have a heart attack. They could tell that from the blood work they were doing, so I felt much better at that point. It was probably at least two to three hours later that I started to feel like I was going to be okay.

Q. What did your heart rate go up to?

DAVID TOMS: I don't think it got past about 170. My caddie knows more. He was in the ambulance and he was looking at the monitor, so he would know really more than I do. I haven't talked to anybody that much about it as far as what it got up to.

Q. So you didn't spend the whole night in that sort of severe pain?

DAVID TOMS: I didn't. By the time I got to the second hospital and they air lifted me there, as soon as I got there and I was in a lot of pain, they gave me some morphine and I felt much better after that (laughter). That's the power of medicine.

Q. Have they talked to you about possibly thinning your blood?

DAVID TOMS: No, they haven't. In fact, I would be having the ablation done Monday morning if I wasn't playing golf next week in the Presidents Cup. I felt that comfortable with the doctors that were treating me. The more information I got on the particular team there at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, I'm very confident with the diagnosis and the way that they want to treat it, and I'm strongly considering coming back up here to let them do it when I have it done. That's how good the care was there.

Whether or not I do have it done here, I will have that procedure done just because I'm that confident in their diagnosis.

Q. Are you aware that Meg Mallon had a similar situation?


Q. I think hers was in the bottom of her heart as opposed to the top.

DAVID TOMS: Yes. Like I said, I had every test you could imagine yesterday. I started at 8:00 in the morning and I wasn't finished with the test until well into the afternoon, so they did a stress test, they did everything you can imagine to my heart, got to see the whole thing working, they did the ultrasound, they did everything. They put the dye in my veins and did everything, and everything checks out well except for the problem that I have.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David, thanks for coming in.

End of FastScripts.

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