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May 30, 2004

David Toms


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David Toms, congratulations on defending your title at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, becoming just the third person in tournament history to win back-to-back here. Congratulations on that and also congratulations on your tenth year victory. You're one of the players under 40 that have ten or more victories. If we could start with some opening comments.

DAVID TOMS: I'm barely under 40, by the way. It was a great week for me. It was nice being in this room every single day. That's always a good sign.

You know, even though I was a couple over par today, I felt like I was still pretty much in control of what I was doing. You know, my game plan, warming up this morning, I was just trying to make par on every hole. If I made birdie on any particular hole, that was a bonus. That's the way I tried to play the golf course, because I knew that there weren't going to be any low scores as far as people coming from way back.

I was able to do that for the most part. I got under par early on, on the front nine, and then I had a bad stretch of holes from 11 through 14 where I got ahead of myself, got in a couple bad spots and hit one ball in the water and three-putted a hole, and it was kind of getting away from me a little bit, but then I came back and birdied 16 and kind of calmed the nerves.

I still felt like I drove the ball pretty well even though I hit it in the water at 12. I wasn't eight yards right of where I was trying to hit it anyway. It was like that all week. The driver set me up to have a lot of birdie opportunities and I made some good putts and just had a good, solid week.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Also talk about this is going to help your standing with the Ryder Cup. Currently you're in the Top 10 but this certainly will go a long ways towards that. Talk about your goal. You played so well two years ago in the Ryder Cup.

DAVID TOMS: It was very important to me. It's the ultimate golf competition I would say just because it's pressure packed, it's a team atmosphere, and it doesn't get any better than that. It's something I want to be a part of, not only because it's a great event but also because Hal Sutton is a good friend of mine, from the same hometown, and a lot of people back home are talking about it. And would like to see me playing on a team that he's the captain of.

It's been something in the back of my mind for a while, but at the same time I needed to just start playing good golf again, and I'm starting to do that, and with this win here, that gets me closer to being on that team.

Q. Did you come here confident that you could play well enough to win or did you come here hoping you would play well enough to win?

DAVID TOMS: I came here hoping. My results lately haven't been very good, although I felt like I played some decent rounds of golf, I played a lot of rounds like I did today, where I felt like I was playing pretty good but I just wasn't scoring like I should, wasn't making the putt to quite get me over the hump, wasn't getting up-and-down when you needed to to save a round. I was hoping to play well, hoping to repeat. I got here on Tuesday and started feeling good on the range and then Wednesday had a good Pro-Am day and just started getting better and better every day.

I mean, this does a lot for me, makes me feel a lot better about my golf game, about myself. When you're struggling in golf it's not a whole lot of fun being on the road, but I've been grinding it out hoping that it would come around, and it has.

Q. Because of what you've been through the past few months, is this more meaningful in some ways than last year's win?

DAVID TOMS: Oh, absolutely. When I won here last year I had been playing great golf, I had had a stretch of great golf for about three or four years in a row, and to have three totally months off from golf where I didn't touch a golf club in this off season and into this year and be able to come out was pressing and trying too hard and hitting probably too many balls considering the injury I had, what I was trying to come back from, this means the world to me. Thinking about it right now it's hard to put it into words, but I'm sure tonight when I'm laying in the bed trying to get to sleep it'll all come to me as far as really what it means.

Q. With a seven stroke lead going into today, does it relax you to the point where you may lose a little fire or focus having such a comfortable lead?

DAVID TOMS: No, I didn't lose any focus because of the conditions we were playing in. You couldn't lose focus. You had to pay attention on every shot, you know, where is the wind coming from, what kind of shot do I want to play, do I want to hit it high, low, cross wind, into the wind, downwind.

With the greens being as firm as they were this week compared to normal, you really had to pay attention to what club you were hitting in. I wasn't able to fall asleep out there at all, and any time that I made a mistake today it's just because I made a mistake, not because I wasn't trying to do the right thing.

Q. When you were -- being home and coaching your son's basketball must have been wonderful. At the same time were you wondering what was happening to your golf game or were you enjoying it fully?

DAVID TOMS: To be honest with you, over the winter when I was rehabbing and everything, I didn't miss it. It had been a long time since I had three months off. Even our season seems to run from January to December, especially if you're getting in tournaments after the end of the year. So as far as the time, the actual time off, I was fine with it.

I was enjoying myself. I was kind of not knowing what to expect when I got my cast off, when I was halfway through rehab because literally my first two weeks of rehab I couldn't even touch the golf club. I took a grip and it was just impossible.

So I started to wonder, will I ever get back to where I was before, but I just knew I had to have it done, and I'm back. I feel fine right now, especially when it's warm. I have no problems whatsoever with my injury, and hopefully here soon we won't even be talking about it anymore.

Q. There is a trend that if you win in Memphis, LSU wins the National Championship. I mean, it's pretty much a gimme this year?

DAVID TOMS: We have a hard schedule this year, no restrictions out of me, but I'll be rooting them on just like all the fans that were following me today.

Q. With this win it obviously gives you a lot of confidence. You've got Westchester after that. Do you like the way you're playing?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I like that part of it. I felt like I drove it -- that set me up this week to have a great week, the way I was driving the golf ball, compared to the way I have been driving it. If I can do that, especially at Westchester, keep the ball in the fairway there, it's very important, and then obviously the U.S. Open there's always a premium on driving the ball at the Open. Whether it's a driver, 3-wood, 2-iron, whatever type of player you are, you have to get it in the fairway. I feel much better about my chances there now after having this week.

Q. You finished 5th last year; is that right?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah. It was my best U.S. Open by far. I played really solid the whole week, stayed patient, which is a lot of times hard for me to do, and I was able to do that last year, so maybe I've turned the corner with the U.S. Open and maybe it'll even get better.

Q. You only made two cuts in the previous seven tournaments. What was going wrong over that stretch and what changed for this week?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I made the comment earlier in here this week where I felt like I might have had the lowest stroke average on Tour on Wednesdays because I was shooting good scores in the practice round, in the Pro-Ams. For some reason mentally I couldn't quite get over it. I don't know if I was pressing too hard, if I was shooting at pins too early in the round and getting down and getting over par.

I'm not really sure, but I was probably more down on myself than anything else and wasn't very confident, and what turned it around this week other than just the results I was having, I don't know. I mean, I wasn't really doing anything much different, maybe a little tweak here or there in my golf swing, but I think it was the fact that for some reason I felt good out there all week with my mental game, and it paid off.

That's really all I can say about it because I don't feel like I'm any different physically, any better now than I was eight weeks ago or anything like that, it's just I really think it's all upstairs. It shows you how powerful the mind is.

Q. Was there any point today that you thought was especially important? I'm thinking maybe after No. 12 to maybe 13?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I thought that any time -- that stretch of holes from 10 through 14 there's a lot of bad things that can happen, and I knew if I could avoid a big number -- I really wasn't playing that well, but I knew in my mind if I could avoid a big number, guys were going to have trouble making birdies out there.

Even though I hit it in the water on 12, I hit it far enough up there and it hit the bank so I could drop and still have a wedge in, and I made a nice bogey.

Then I hit a great shot in the middle of the green on 14 and ended up three-putting that, but just staying away from the big number was really the key.

Q. Was LSU football a welcome distraction during all this?

DAVID TOMS: Well, it gave me something to do. I was off from the first week of December until February, but actually I was going to all the games. I went to ten games last year, and that started in September, so that was a big part of my life last fall. So it was fun. Nick Saben, as far as his golf game, I think he'd be decent if he put in the time, but he doesn't play professional golf, he coaches football, and that's why we have a good team.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David Toms, thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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