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July 2, 2003

David Toms


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, David, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Western Open. Once again, congratulations again on your victory last week, becoming the seventh multiple winner this year on the PGA Tour. You've got to have pretty good feelings coming into this week after a big victory.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I feel good. I'm a little bit tired right now. Today was kind of a slow day on the golf course and I didn't play all that great, but I just need some rest this afternoon to get ready for an early start tomorrow. I'm confident in what I'm trying to do in my golf swing and with my golf game right now, and if I can stay up mentally and not have a letdown I think I'll have a good week here in Chicago.

Q. Is that going to be the big challenge?

DAVID TOMS: I think so. It's always the big challenge. I've had a pretty -- it wasn't your typical couple of days after a victory. I had an outing that Stewart Cink had in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, so I flew straight there Sunday night and was there all day Monday. I flew here to Chicago for a policy board meeting on Monday night and Tuesday morning, so therefore I didn't get a practice round yesterday, and I just practiced a little bit and haven't really had time to rest at all. I'm going to try to do that this afternoon and get ready for tomorrow.

Q. What's been your pattern after victories in the past?

DAVID TOMS: I've done a lot of different things. You know, I've almost won tournaments, I've missed cuts, I've played okay. I mean, I've done it all. You know, over my career I've played well in spurts, and when I've played well I've continued to play well for a while. That's the way it's been the last couple of months, and hopefully it continues for the rest of the year.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about the drivers, the equipment, distance. What does it say when guys like you still, maybe not known as a long hitter, win tournaments, Mike Weir wins tournaments? Is that a good sign that distance is not taking over?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I guess. I mean, that's a good sign, that we can still compete. I think that some golf courses are built for the power game, some courses are more -- favor more the accuracy game, and the short game is always a factor no matter the length of the golf course, and if my short game is on, I tend to play well, so it's nice to see. I mean, guys that aren't necessarily just power players are able to have success, so I think that just goes to show you we have I pretty good mix of what's gone on on the Tour as far as the courses we're playing, and I think you can always fit your schedule around the ones that are best for you. So as long as we continue to have some variety, then everybody has a chance.

Q. I guess that was a part of my question, one of the topics that dominated the rules conference was the discussion of rules on testing. I wanted to get your thoughts on it.

DAVID TOMS: I was part of the meetings on Monday with the same people that were -- that Commissioner Finchem, he was there, the USGA, I was right in the middle of it. I definitely know what's going on, and I'm of the opinion that right now -- I don't see anybody that's using non-conforming equipment. If they are, I don't think that they know that they are, and the more information I get from the USGA, the more I believe that everything out here is conforming.

You know, the thing that I didn't realize as a player is that even if a driver is non-conforming, you're not going to hit it 20 or 30 yards further. There's no such thing. You know, they can't really make a driver that will do that. It won't be durable enough to stand up to the swing speeds that we play at. You're talking three or four yards maybe. So if somebody is hitting it way by you, either they're stronger or they're hitting it more solid, one of the two. I think you need to look elsewhere and not look at the equipment. That's my opinion.

Q. Everyone is talking about this tournament, it being the 100th, the specialness of the event. Just looking at this as a person who plays a lot of tournaments on the Tour, what's different about this particular one and some of the factors that you're facing?

DAVID TOMS: Different about this golf tournament, you know, there's a lot of history here compared to some of our events that are newer events. You know, you have a golf association that puts a lot of time into this tournament. It's a golf association so they know how to run golf tournaments. That's what they do, so they do a good job with it. It's a great old-fashioned golf course. So many of the courses we play now are modern and built for spectator golf and this is obviously not, and it's nice to play a course like that because we don't get to very often. You have a great venue. Conditions are fairly tough right now. The rough is up and the greens are as firm as I've ever seen them, so I think you're going to have a great champion here.

Q. What would you say about Tiger knowing of a player who's knowingly using a non-conforming driver? What's your reaction to that?

DAVID TOMS: I haven't talked to him about that subject. I don't know who that player is if he says there is one. Maybe I haven't played with him, I don't know.

Q. Should he turn that player in?

DAVID TOMS: Should he turn him in? I don't know. Does that guy -- I don't know. Did he say that the guy knew he was using something?

Q. He said he's talked to the player.

DAVID TOMS: Really? I don't know. I guess as soon as we get the tester out here he'll either fail the test or he'll get a new driver. That's all I can comment on. I don't know. Maybe mine is non-conforming. I have no idea until I get it tested, but just going on the word of the USGA, they don't think that there is one out here right now, so that's all I can go on. They know about it more than I do. All I do is pick up a driver that works well for me, and if it stops working well I go get another one, and that's all I can really say about that. I know I hit the golf ball further than I did five or six years ago, but at the same time I think the golf ball has made a big difference, and I also think that golf courses are in better shape. When it's not wet we're getting a lot more roll because the fairways are cut tighter.

I think that we need -- personally I think we need the technology that we have in order to shoot decent scores on the courses we play. I mean, did you walk around at all in the Pro-Am today and see what these guys were doing out there, the amateurs, and how bad -- I'm just telling you those guys need every bit of technology they can get and more to compete on the courses that we play, and so do we. I mean, if tees are moved back 30 yards and greens are firmed up and everything, I think we need the technology we have because I think that -- I don't think people -- other than a few times a year, I don't think they want to see the tour players struggle. I don't think that that's good for golf. I think they want to see some low scores or the ability to shoot a low score. A few times a year in the majors you want to see guys gut it out and try to win and the pressure, but from week to week I don't think the fans want to see that.

Q. Can you also talk about voluntary testing as opposed to mandatory?

DAVID TOMS: Well, what's behind it is I think everybody is going to do it because if they don't do it they run the risk of having to have their driver tested, and I don't think anybody wants to do that. I think that's the correct way to go about it.

Q. So it was starting with the voluntary and then if that didn't --

DAVID TOMS: That's the way it's going to be. It's going to be a voluntary thing, and if somebody wants to call it on you and say I don't think it's conforming and all of a sudden it's not, then you're in tough shape, but I think everybody is going to do it and I don't think you'd want to run the risk of not doing it. You go do it and if it's not conforming then you get another one.

Like I said, I really don't think it's that big of an issue with what we have now. Now, if the next generation of drivers comes out and it's even closer to the edge or over the edge, then those are the ones that we might have a problem with, but right now with the information they've given me, I think we're okay.

Q. So your thought is the sentiment among other players like yourself is they'll go along with it?

DAVID TOMS: Oh, absolutely, yes.

Q. Voluntary concept kind of goes back to calling penalties on yourself?

DAVID TOMS: Yes. It's a gentlemen's game. We call penalties on ourselves and we play by the rules, and I don't think anybody -- I really don't think anybody right now, if they're using something illegal I don't think they're meaning to, I really don't.

Q. Jim Furyk was just in here and talking a little bit about the kind of new demands on his time since winning the Open. After you won your first Major, in what ways did your life become different outside the ropes, and also, I guess, with your game if there was any change, confidence-wise, et cetera?

DAVID TOMS: Of course because I was able to win a Major championship and I didn't have to have that hanging over me all the time or answer that question in the media room, why haven't you done that. It definitely helped my game and my confidence. As far as what it did with my time, you know, you just had to learn to say no more than ever before because I've always kind of been a yes person, tried to accommodate people as much as I could because I thought that was good for exposure, plus your image and everything else, plus I consider myself an easy person to get along with, so I didn't mind accommodating people as much as I possibly could. But there are times when you have to say no and you have to -- I just wanted to continue to be prepared for golf tournaments the best I could, and if that started taking away from that, then I was going to have to turn people away because I think that's the most important thing is being able to play good golf. That is my job. It didn't really change that much. I mean, I got recognized more out in the general public more than before. I won the PGA, just because when you get that amount of TV exposure and then the exposure that comes after that with magazine coverage and articles and newspapers and everything else, people just tend to recognize you more. That's kind of the way it's been since.

Q. My question is kind of a follow-up to that. Because the game has changed so much in terms of the celebrity factor, a lot of young people are looking to get into it now more so than ever before. What would you say to them? You've got to stay committed, you've got to stay focused, and then there's that celebrity factor, too, that's attracting a lot of people. What would you say to them going into it?

DAVID TOMS: What would I say to people that are getting started in golf?

Q. Yes, that are interested, that may be attracted by the fame.

DAVID TOMS: The one thing that you have to understand, just like the kids that are playing basketball on the playground and have the aspirations of playing in the NBA, is the numbers of it -- you know, it's not going to happen. It's the same thing in golf, so you have to realize that, that sure, you can have that goal someday of doing what we're doing, but the odds are it's not going to happen for you. I think that people when they get in the sport young, they need to have more recreation and more fun and not be quite as serious about it, enjoy the game and what the game is all about because I saw kids when I was young that their parents pushed them so hard, and they probably don't even play golf anymore. That's a shame. That's what I would say to a young person who's starting in golf, enjoy the game, play all the other sports just like I did. If it works out for you, great, if you continue to progress, that's great, too.

The main thing with golf and kids is that you learn how to act. You learn integrity and honesty and everything else, and if you don't learn how to act and be grown up and be mature beyond your years, then the adults don't want you around at the clubs or the golf course or whatever else. So I think it's a great sport for kids to get into. It occupies a lot of their time, keeps them out of trouble. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get better at golf because not only does it take four or five hours to play, but then it takes time to practice in order to be good enough to be able to play. So it's a lot of time that they spend off the streets.

Q. I think that's kind of underlying a lot of things you said earlier when we were talking about the testing and everything, that you said it is a gentlemen's game, that there is a lot of voluntary censorship involved and discipline, and we haven't heard among golfers a lot of things we've heard among participants in other sports.

DAVID TOMS: I think if you go down the line and you look at the PGA Tour and its players, you don't really know the stories of each guy and where they came from -- not only where they came from but where they are today and what they do for our country, for their community, for the people around them. I don't think there's enough written about that. It's almost like they should write a story every week on a certain guy and what he does, not only when he does for his -- how hard it is on the family, how hard it is on him and what he does to give back to where he came from or where he lives. I think you'd be amazed at some of the stories really. It's not about what goes on on Sunday afternoon, it really isn't. It's really about your whole life. Just like you guys, it's our job, and this is your job. I don't know your story. You know probably a lot more about me than I know about you just because of what I do, but I think golf has provided a lot for a lot of people. All of us for sure.

Q. You just kind of joined this list of multiple winners this year and people are talking about the Player-of-the-Year and the money race looks wide open. Do you see that as a good thing for the game and for fans, that it's more interesting than one guy having it all wrapped up by June?

DAVID TOMS: I think it's good. I certainly think it's good for golf. I think what Tiger has done has been great for golf, too. I know it's been great for the players like myself. It's brought a lot of money into our sport, a lot of coverage, a lot of media attention that we wouldn't have if he wasn't around. You know, it kind of works both ways really. At this time since he has dominated the last few years, I think it's probably good what's going on. I think it is good for our sport, that guys are challenging him more, they're having success. He's not winning 75 percent of the tournaments or whatever. You know, he's still playing great golf and he's still the guy to beat. He's the guy to beat tomorrow when we tee it up, there's no doubt about that, but I think it is good for our game right now that other guys are having some success.

Q. Do you think it's ironic that the distance boom started when Tiger started playing and now he's kind of backed off his game a little bit and not always just about hitting it long?

DAVID TOMS: Well, to be honest with you, I think that's been going on for a long time, I just don't think anybody has been writing about it. I know Hal Sutton, I'm from the same home town as he is, and when I was a kid, 12, 13, 14 years old, he hit the ball so far it was unbelievable, and that was when he first got on Tour, and through the years he's toned down his swing and just dialed it back. Now he's one of the best drivers of the ball as far as hitting the fairways and distance. I think he could probably hit it 30 yards further if he wanted to or at least 25, but he plays within himself. That's the way he's learned to play golf through the years, and he's been very successful. I think that's what a lot of the young players today that get up there and they absolutely just bomb it -- I think that you can only play golf for so long hitting out of five-inch golf because it's going to wear on your body, and I think that those guys will continue to throttle back until they get the ball in the fairway more consistent and they'll win more consistently like Tiger has. It's not all about power.

Q. You're a Major championship winner now, you've won a couple times this year. Do you have higher expectations now when you go into Majors now than you did earlier in your career?

DAVID TOMS: I do have high expectations in Majors just because I've played them better over the last few years. When I first started qualifying for Major championships I didn't know how to approach them. Maybe I got up too high for them, played too much early in the week, those particular weeks, played 18-hole practice rounds every single day. Now I approach them more like just a regular golf tournament and just prepare like I normally do and be well-rested and ready to go. I don't have a specific plan. Sometimes I play the week before, sometimes I don't, but I'm more confident now that I'm able to play well in them just because I've had results in them. Until you're able to have results I don't think you know in the back of your mind whether you can do it.

Q. Do you feel like you're ready to win another one, that your game is at that level?

DAVID TOMS: I don't see why not. The U.S. Open I've never really been a factor in, and this year I had a top-5 finish. I had a top-10 at the Masters on a golf course that they continue to make more difficult for me because of the addition in length and everything, but I still had a good tournament there. I feel good about it. I love British Open style of golf. I've played well there at St. Andrews in 2000, and then the PGA later this summer, that's an old-style golf course that I think will be well-suited for what I'm able to do on the golf course, so I look forward to the rest of the summer and definitely look forward to those two golf tournaments.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, David, for joining us.

End of FastScripts....

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