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June 1, 2005

David Toms


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David Toms, thanks for joining us for a couple minutes here, coming off back to back Top 10s the last two weeks and first time playing at the Memorial for the last six years. Do you want to start with some opening comments about coming back to Muirfield Village.

DAVID TOMS: I guess first of all the reason I haven't been here the last five or six years is it just didn't quite fit my schedule. I played a lot, played about five or six in a row almost every year leading up to this event. This year I changed a little bit. I didn't play the Byron Nelson, which historically I've played every year.

That was one of the reasons. I usually play the week before the U.S. Open, but my wife is expecting pretty soon, so I'm not playing next week, and therefore, I'm here to play.

The golf course, now I see what I was missing. It's a great place and a great tournament, which I knew that because I had played here before, but just the last couple of days around here with the people being excited about this tournament reminded me of what a great tournament it is.

Q. What's the difference between David Toms in 1999 and David Toms this year? Obviously experience and maturity, but beyond that, can you talk about the difference in your game?

DAVID TOMS: Probably more of a confidence thing than anything else. I've had a lot of success since that time that I was here in '99 the last time. I've won a lot of tournaments since then, just a more confident player in my ability to play and probably a smarter player. I plot my way around a golf course a lot better than I used to. That's really the main difference, just the fact of any time you have success, you feel better about what you're doing. Certainly I feel better about my game now than I did the last time I was here.

Q. I think you said right before Colonial that you can tell the first nine holes whether you're on or not. Did it click at Colonial? Talk about that.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, it did. It's not like I was way under par my first nine at Colonial, but I do feel that I was playing well, in control, hitting fairways, hitting greens, and it was a matter of getting some things to happen. I had to make putts or get a ball up and down when I would hit a bad shot, and I did that that week, and then it carried over to last week. I had another great week. I just started feeling better about my preparation and what I was doing on the golf course.

Q. Can you go back in time to your first win out here on the Tour? What was that like after you won in terms of the people that called you, the recognition, maybe sponsors calling you? How do you go from being an unknown to being a winner?

DAVID TOMS: After my first win, I believe it was I know it was the Quad Cities, but I think it was the week of the British Open, so there wasn't a whole lot of focus on what I was doing that week, and then my son was born a couple weeks later, so it was a great time in my life with all the things that were going on.

But it was a lesser event obviously, an opposite event the week of a major, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but it was a big deal for me beating everybody in the field that week. It gave me all the confidence moving forward that I was able to win a golf tournament at this level, and I came back in '99 and won twice there. And then it's been good ever since.

Q. Do you think people look at you differently after you won that? Could you perceive anything different?

DAVID TOMS: I'm not sure that they did until I won The International, which was a lot bigger event against a great field, and David Duval, I was going to head to head with him at the time down the stretch, and he was really on his game then, one of the best players. I don't know if he was No. 1 at the time, he might have been. So that was obviously a lot bigger deal and it gave me even more confidence.

Q. Such a long time between trips here. Anything about the course, David, that is noticeably different to you here or striking similarities that jump up at you?

DAVID TOMS: You know, it's fairly similar. They've added some length. I think the two things that I've recognized the most were No. 10 and No. 17. Other than that, maybe they've removed some trees around some of the par 3s, they look a little bit different as far as your shot and the way it's framed. What I remember is the golf course being in perfect condition, being treated really well, and having to hit good second shots, getting in the right spot on the greens to have any chance to make the putts. That's what I remember most about this golf course, and it's still the same.

Q. You mentioned learning how to plot around the golf course. How much of that do you have to apply at No. 2 in the Open, that golf course?

DAVID TOMS: A lot of that because the greens I wouldn't say the greens are very receptive. They repel shots from the fairway. Once you get in the fairway, you have to it's like, "what am I trying to do here? Do I need to just hit it in the middle of the green?" Which is probably good about every hole. I don't want to hit this over or I don't want to be right because when the pin is right and you miss it right and you're on the short side, you have no chance. So you always have to think, "where is the safe shot?" And work from there. Certainly at that golf course you have to do that.

Q. There was a pretty remarkable leaderboard last time we played there. Was that a product of the course or was that just a coincidence?

DAVID TOMS: I think it's the golf course and the golf tournament. I think all of the U.S. Opens, if you look across the board, they're always the guys that are the best players that are playing well that are always there in the end. It seems like every time. You know, I think it's both.

Certainly it's a demanding golf course. It was playing pretty long that week from what I remember because we had some rain and cooler temperatures. I remember teeing off at 6:30, I was the first group on Thursday, and it was rainy and dark and foggy and you couldn't hardly see the first fairway, much less try to hit it. I think that golf course will bring out the best players or the guys that are playing the best.

Q. Where were you when Payne made his putt?

DAVID TOMS: I was home watching on television.

Q. Do you remember it?

DAVID TOMS: I do remember it. I mean, I remember that whole day. I remember what I remember most is the fact that he cut the sleeves off his rain suit so it was just that mentality that "it's the U.S. Open, I'm grinding, I'm going to do what I have to play great," and I just remember seeing that and remembering that.

Q. Most people, most public, will probably forever associate Payne with Pinehurst. Do you see that, as well, or when you think of Payne, does something else immediately come to mind because you were around him in different settings than everyone else?

DAVID TOMS: You know, what I remember most, the thing I remember most are the NFL uniform stuff that he used to wear all the time. That was always interesting, what was he going to come out with the next day. That's what I remember most.

Certainly he's going to be remembered for what he did at Pinehurst and the U.S. Open, but there were a lot of things that he did for the game of golf that are probably overlooked. I think he was the one guy that did something different with his attire and everything and presented himself in that way. More and more guys are doing that, trying to make a statement by what they're wearing and so forth. So I think he was one of the guys that kind of started that.

Q. You don't think NFL when you think Ben Curtis?

DAVID TOMS: That's not fair. Sure, I mean, but he doesn't have on (laughter). That's not fair. Come on.

Q. When we look at the weather on TV or live and the guy has got a 50 footer to win and you say I've got a feeling he's going to make that and miss that. What was your feeling when Payne got ready to hit his putt? Did you think he was going to make it?

DAVID TOMS: I remember that green being pretty difficult to putt, a lot of little funny things with that green. I didn't know. You just want to see something good happen. The guy had a chance to win the tournament, and certainly there was focus there on Phil Mickelson trying to win a major championship and everything. A guy with the mentality that Payne had, he never gave up, never gave in and he was a bulldog type of guy. You just had a feeling he was going to make it like everyone else did. He looked comfortable. You can tell is he a guy taking more time than normal, is he doing a different routine, what kind of look does he have on his face, is he unsure of the break or whatever it might be. He certainly looked comfortable and he poured it right in.

Q. When is your wife due exactly? And what is your pre Open plan now?

DAVID TOMS: She's actually not due until mid week after the U.S. Open, somewhere in there. She said she's got a C section scheduled for Monday after the U.S. Open, so that gives me enough time to get home. Maybe we'll move it to Tuesday if I'm in a playoff (laughter).

Q. Could you talk about how your game sets up for this course and evaluate your chances coming in, being as you've been absent here a few years?

DAVID TOMS: Well, it's a Nicklaus designed golf course. I've won at Castle Pines, a Nicklaus golf course, English Turtle, a Nicklaus golf course. Those two come to mind for sure. I'd have to look at the rest of them, but I think those are the only two. Obviously I like the look of them. I'm a good iron player when I get it going, and usually his golf courses give you a little bit of room off the tee, maybe tends to favor a left to right shot overall on the golf course. All those play into what I try to do.

So it's a little bit long. The fairways aren't running right now. You don't have much roll out there unless it dries up a little bit. So obviously that takes away from my ability to really, really attack it. I hit a lot of 3 and 4 irons at the holes today, whether they were par 3s or par 4s. I'll have to play well, but I love the golf course and I'm excited to be here. I haven't been here in a while, and I'm fired up to play. A lot of times that has a good, positive effect.

Q. You've talked a little bit this year about power and a man's got to know his limitations and that kind of stuff. Do you feel like this course is one where you're at a disadvantage?

DAVID TOMS: A little bit, but, you know, power is a good thing if you can get the ball in the fairway, and when you have fairways that aren't running. We played Colonial with the balls running through fairways and you didn't have to be a power player, you had to be a position player. Certainly if you hit it long in the fairway that's great. Certainly last week the ball was running in the fairway. If you hit it in the rough it was hard to hold the greens. Here if you get a ball going in the fairway and it hits in the fairway it'll probably stay. Certainly there's some bunkers out here that I can't carry.

But I played with Harrison Frazar today who's a power player, and he hit 3 wood on a lot of holes. Sometimes he felt like he was going to have a better chance to hit the fairway with his 3 wood, and we were about even. Some of the longer players are doing the same thing, so I guess maybe it's not that big of an advantage for them.

Q. Do you see yourself more of a feel player or mechanical, and if feel, how does that affect you during the times when you're not feeling it? Earlier this year you had it, then you didn't have it, now you have it again.

DAVID TOMS: Certainly I wouldn't put myself in the mechanical category at all. If you see me on the golf course during competition taking practice swings or doing whatever, I'm trying to feel the shot. I'm trying to feel the fade or the draw or the length of the swing or how much I'm trying to control distance, take a little bit off or whatever. It's not about positions. I can't play golf like that. For me that's for the driving range. Not that I don't work on my swing, I do that, but I certainly am not trying to do anything on the golf course.

As far as how do you get feel back or whatever, how do you do things when you're not playing well, how do you correct your golf swing or whatever, you know, I think it's just more about trying to score and getting in that mentality rather than having to hit a perfect shot. It doesn't always have to be a perfect shot. So it's more focus on, you know, if you hit a bad shot, get it up and down. That's what I have to start doing is just learning usually when I'm not playing well, it's not because I'm hitting it way off line. I don't generate enough club head speed to hit it way off line like some guys do. It's maybe more about getting the ball in the hole and whatever you have to do to do that.

Q. How much either now or when Payne was alive did guys talk about his swing, just the look of his swing, the tempo, the esthetic of his swing?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I think guys liked it. You know, it was a long flowing swing. When you have a long swing you have to have good tempo. You don't ever see a long, fast swing. If you do, the ball is not going to go where you want it to. Every long swing, like a Fred Couples swing, it's long and flowing, so you can learn a lot from him just by watching tempo and trying to copy what he was doing.

Q. As you look at the list of winners for this tournament, would you say it's heavy on power players or are there enough shot makers in there that

DAVID TOMS: I think it's heavy on good players (laughter). I mean, you look at it. It's heavy on really good players.

Q. Why would that be in your mind?

DAVID TOMS: Well, because this is a big tournament. I mean, it's a tournament it's Jack's tournament, everybody wants to win it. The best players are always here. Who does it favor? I mean, I don't know. Jim Furyk doesn't have the same power as Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, but he won the golf tournament. If you play good, a good player, no matter what his strength is, has a chance to play well here. Certainly around the greens can be difficult if you don't hit the ball in the right spots, your short game, your imagination has to be good. Like I said, I mean, the power player is always going to have an advantage if you can get the ball in the fairway, always. Any time you have a shorter club, then why would it not be an advantage?

Q. You if I'm not mistaken were lying 2nd going into the weekend at St. Andrews in 2000; is that right?


Q. How many Britishes have you done now?

DAVID TOMS: That was the first year I played it, so every year since then.

Q. St. Andrews was your first Open?

DAVID TOMS: First one, yeah. I never went over to try to qualify, which looking back now after playing so many, it was a mistake to not go do it because I enjoyed playing it every year. You know, that was my first time.

Q. Was it among your favorite? Jack was in here saying that I forgot exactly what he said...

DAVID TOMS: That golf course or that tournament?

Q. That golf course.

DAVID TOMS: I like it because you don't have to hit it forever to play it. I think anybody can win there, and it's a major championship that everybody that tees it up that week has a chance if they play well because it doesn't really favor anybody in particular. So I do like it for that.

Q. How much did you get wrapped up in the history of it all that week?

DAVID TOMS: You know, probably more so than I do now because it was my first time, and the place there at St. Andrews, spent a lot of time down in the little town there and stayed at the hotel right on the 17th hole. I enjoyed it. I'll always go back and play it and I've played every year since. I wouldn't think of skipping it as long as I'm exempt, and if I'm not, think about trying to qualify.

Q. Did you have any expectations when you got there? Did you read Scott Hoch's autobiography?

DAVID TOMS: I didn't know what to expect because it was my first trip ever to that part of the world. It was about what I expected, it really was.

Q. Which was?

DAVID TOMS: Which was firm, fast, a huge tournament for the people over there. I think that's what makes it so unique is how important it is to all those people. It's not about being seen or getting autographs or just saying that you went. I mean, it's about watching golf. It's a great event.

Q. Getting back to the baby, do you already know the sex and have you got names picked out?

DAVID TOMS: They're saying female and I hope it's true because we just decorated the room yesterday (laughter). My wife says it looks good, so I hope we don't have to redo it.

Q. Any name candidates yet or not really?

DAVID TOMS: Well, we have one but I'm still trying to work on it a little bit. I'll probably lose that battle, too.

Q. Do you usually pick the names in advance or do you wait?

DAVID TOMS: Well, we picked my son's name in advance. We'll see.

Q. What's the battle here? You have one and she has one and you're flipping for it?

DAVID TOMS: It's a fight over the middle name. You know, in the south sometimes we go by two names, Bubba, Bubba? Just kidding. I'll lose it, too. I can probably go ahead and tell you what it's going to be because I know it's going to be what she wants it to be.

Q. Go ahead.

DAVID TOMS: (Laughing).

Q. How much has playing better the last couple weeks helped you put the distractions, the suit and all that behind you?

DAVID TOMS: It's helped a lot.

Q. How much did that affect you during the stretch where it wasn't going well?

DAVID TOMS: A lot. Yeah, I mean, it was a distraction, and I said I was in the pressroom at Colonial before the tournament started, and I said, "as soon as I start playing good golf again, it will be just something that's going on on the side." It can be anything, it's just a little bit of a distraction on the side, something I had to deal with. But good golf cures a lot of things. It's been better the last couple weeks, and it's been very rewarding for me to play well because I was down, and at times I'm sure I'll get down again because of what's going on with it. Certainly if I could win a golf tournament sometime soon, it would help me for sure.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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