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June 29, 2003

David Toms


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome the 2003 FedEx St. Jude Classic champion, David Toms. David, congratulations on your victory, ninth career on the PGA Tour and you moved into tenth place on the all-time money list. Congratulations first and foremost. Let's start with some opening comments.

DAVID TOMS: Thanks. It was pretty special for me to win here. You know, I just have so many people that I'm friends with here, my golf teacher is here, and the place is pretty dear to me. It means a lot. It's more than just a regular tournament. It really does mean a great deal.

You know, today was tough. It's always tough to win, especially after you bogey the first hole when you're trying to come from behind, but I hung in there and birdied the next four holes in a row and that was the key to my victory.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: After shooting 32 on the front side it was pretty bunched up. Did you have any idea you'd have a four-shot lead going into the 17th hole.

DAVID TOMS: No, I did a good job at not looking at the leaderboard. There was one at the 13 tee box. I saw there were two guys at 18 and two guys at 19, and I bogeyed the hole right there. It goes to show you shouldn't look at them. Then I birdied 14, missed a little one at 15. When I eagled 16 I thought I separated myself a little bit but I didn't know what Nick Price finished at. I heard a roar when we were on the 13 tee box, and I didn't know if he finished -- what he finished at. I was thinking he went to 19 in the back of my mind.

When I three-putted 17, I thought I only had a one-shot lead. I figured he finished at 19-under. I didn't ask anybody; didn't want to know. Didn't want to hit my second shot on the green there. I asked my caddie what are we doing, and he said, "I think we're up by three." Then I saw the board rounding the corner. I made that last putt, the long one, a little bit easier knowing I had a three-shot lead.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: And your second win of 2003 and we're about halfway, you have the opportunity to make this season really special.

DAVID TOMS: You know, one of my goals this year was to win a golf tournament, and to be able to do it twice is very rewarding. My other goal way to finish well in the majors. I finished top-10 in the first two majors. I have the British Open, which is close to being my favorite major just because I like the style of golf over there and all the history, so I look forward to going over there in a couple weeks, and then of course the PGA on a great golf course up in Rochester and obviously a tournament that's geared to me in the PGA Championship. I hope to play well and finish off the summer and go into the fall with some high notes.

Q. Talk a little bit about the 50-footer on 14 and what that did for you at the time.

DAVID TOMS: Well, obviously it did good for my score but it did a lot better for my mind at the time because I just bogeyed the 13th hole from the middle of the fairway. I'm sitting there looking at a short iron and a birdie chance, and I make bogey, and then I had to play it safe.

After I bogeyed, you want to go for a pin and be able to make it back up and you can't do that, so I played the shot like I was supposed to way out to the left side of the green. To make that putt, that's one of those putts that I'll remember for a long time because it kind of -- obviously winning the golf tournament, that was a big part of it. That was a putt that I could have three-putted very easily, and to make it, that helped tremendously.

Q. You said you didn't want to know whether it was one shot or three shots on the 18th tee. I'm just wondering why not.

DAVID TOMS: Well, I didn't know. It's not that I wasn't -- if somebody would have come up and said it, I wouldn't have said "hey, get away from me." It's one of those things, I knew what club it was off the tee. I wasn't going to hit a driver and I wasn't going to hit an iron. It was going to be a 3-wood no matter what. It didn't matter if I was 1-down or 4-up, I still had to play the hole that way. The same thing with the second shot.

I could tell by the crowd reaction that I was leading the tournament so I didn't want to go for a pin, so I hit a nice solid shot out left 30 feet of the hole. When I asked my caddie after that he said, you "have three shots to play with," and that made the first putt a lot easier.

Q. Was that the same mindset that you had on 16 when you went for the pin with your second shot?

DAVID TOMS: There on 16 I was really just trying to play to the front of the green because I had hit it over the green yesterday and was fortunate to get up-and-down for birdie but they put the pin in the back of the green again trying to get you to do the same thing, and I wasn't going to fall for it. I hit a 5-iron and I caught it extra good. It wasn't even supposed to get there. It wasn't supposed to go that far. It was one of those balls where you hit it so solid it goes for a long way. I'm glad I hit a 5 instead of a 4 or I'd have been over the green.

Q. You talk about shots to win tournaments and we seem to think of them on 17 or 18, but that seemed to put the hammer down. You've made some awful good shots in pressure situations, but where does that one rank? You said it was extra good.

DAVID TOMS: You know, it's hard to say. There's been a lot of shots over the years. I've had great shots to make a cut before, but as far as great shots to win a tournament, that's got to be right up there. To make eagle when I'm right there tied with everybody else or just barely ahead, that's got to rank very high up there and be -- close to the putt on 18 to win the New Orleans tournament and close to the hole-in-one I made at the PGA just because of the timing of it. No matter if it's a chip-in or a long putt or a drive on a very difficult hole that you have to hit the fairway, any shot like that that's big as far as helping you win a tournament, you know, they're all the same, and that was one of those.

Q. Did playing with Richard -- what type of input did he have into your day or how did you interact with one another?

DAVID TOMS: You know, we had a good time out there. I actually had a Swedish roommate when I was in college for two years that was on my golf team. I know what the Swedes are like. They're all dressed a little bit different and they put their dip in the top lip and they go out and play golf. I mean, he was great.

I thought that he played well today. I'm sure he didn't play as well as he would have liked to, but I think being a rookie and being in the position of leading the golf tournament the last couple of days, I thought he held up extremely well. He's got a lot of game and I think you'll hear more about Richard Johnson. I was impressed. His composure was there. He didn't get rattled all day even though I was making putts and making a lot of birdies. It can't seem to affect him that much. He didn't try to go for broke or hit shots he wasn't capable of hitting. He just played his game and I was impressed with that.

Q. Richard said after you made that eagle that he was impressed and learned something by the way that -- he said you attacked the next hole, that you didn't play it safe, that you attacked it. Talk about that for a minute.

DAVID TOMS: You know, that was my mindset all week just because you had to shoot low scores to win here. You know, I think what he's saying is a lot of people -- you hear the phrase, guys are scared to go low. I think it's just about staying within your game plan and doing what you needed to do to play every hole the best you can. That's the way I play golf. I pick my spots and when I have a spot I feel comfortable with, I don't mind going for it.

I just think what he was saying, there is -- you get up and you make a putt like that and the crowd gets into it, you get that momentum, that adrenaline going. But to be able to settle down and hit the shot on the next hole, you have to hit a very difficult tee shot, sometimes you have to be a special-type person and a player to be able to do that, and I think that's what separates guys that win from the guys that don't win, that just kind of play and play well, but they don't win, are times like that.

Q. In a similar vein, how much better are you at handling a lead than you were maybe five, six years ago?

DAVID TOMS: I don't know that I'm any better, I just think that I've learned a lot about myself over the years and how I react to the pressure situations. You know, I'm doing a better job of it. I don't know. I mean, like I said, it's tough to say what separates the guys that are able to do it and the guys that aren't. You know, I'm just glad I'm one of those that can do it because I know it's tough to do that. I mean, it was tough -- I three-putted the 17th hole today for no reason. I mean, I had a nice downhill putt the first one and had a little right-to-left breaking putt on the second one and I hit a bad putt both times. I didn't know if the pressure was getting to me. If I had known I had a four-shot lead, would that have made any difference? It's tough to win, it really is, until the last putt goes in.

Q. As a follow-up to that, do you think going into the day, at this point in your career, do you have any feeling now that you are the person to beat when you're -- did you have that sense going into today, that you might be the person to beat today?

DAVID TOMS: I felt good about my chances just because I felt like I was playing well. I was playing better and better every day. Was I the guy to beat? I don't think I'd go that far, I just know that if I played my game I was going to be there in the end. I just felt like -- I felt good enough about my game even after I bogeyed the first hole. I didn't say, "here we go again." I said, "let's go out and continue to play," and I birdied the next four holes in a row. That's what I'm doing better now than earlier in my career. I wouldn't say I was the guy to beat, but I definitely liked my chances.

Q. Were there any emotions for you coming up 18?

DAVID TOMS: To be honest with you, on the tee shot I was trying not to do what I did in Charlotte. I made an 8. If I made an 8 on the last hole today, I was going to lose. It was a big tee shot, took a deep breath, hit it down the right side. I had 184 yards, which is a normal 6-iron for me. I was pumped up and it was a little bit downwind. I said should I hit a 7, but if I mishit it and come up short, there's the water. To hit it solid and knowing that it was going to be on the green, that's when I had the sigh of relief, and to have all the people cheering for me going up the last hole, I pretty much knew it was over, and that was a great feeling.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we can go over your birdies and bogeys. You started out with a bogey on No. 1.

DAVID TOMS: Bogeyed No. 1, I hit a tree off the tee on the left-hand side and it kicked back in the left rough and I had to chip out and didn't get up-and-down from the fairway. I made bogey there.

No. 2, I hit a pitching wedge to about ten feet, made birdie there.

Next hole, I hit a 3-iron over the green on my second shot and two-putted from the fringe for birdie.

I hit a 5-iron on the par-3 about 12 feet, made a nice putt there.

I hit a 3-wood over the green on the next hole, the par-5, and hit kind of one of those little chip putt 3-woods up there, hit it to about two feet and made birdie there.

No. 8, I hit a 7-iron to about 15 feet, made a nice birdie there.

10, I hit another 7-iron to also about the same distance, about 12 feet or so.

12, I hit an 8-iron to about the same distance, seemed like I had that all day and I was making them, about 12 feet.

I bogeyed the next hole from the middle of the fairway, hit over the green with an 8-iron. I had a tough chip, chipped it by about eight feet and missed the putt for par.

14, hit a 3-iron to -- I don't know how long that putt was. It was a long way. It took a long time to get there, so I don't know if it was 90, 100 feet, I'm not sure. It was long.

16, I hit a 5-iron in to about 15 feet, nice putt.

Q. 11 feet, 7 inches.

DAVID TOMS: Was it really?

I three-putted 17 from 30 feet or so. I left the first one short. It kind of fooled me. It was a downhill putt that I know in the past, I almost putted off the green from that part of the green, but it came up well short about four feet and I missed the next one.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: One or two final questions.

Q. What's your schedule look like now as you build up toward the British Open?

DAVID TOMS: I'm playing the Western Open next week. I've actually got an outing, Stewart Cink as an outing in Muscle Shoals, Alabama tomorrow. I'm going there Chris DiMarco and Joe Durant and Stewart Cink, we're playing an event. Then I'll go to Chicago. I have a board meeting tomorrow and Tuesday, a policy board meeting. Then I have to prepare for the tournament, the Western, a week off, and then go to the British Open.

Q. What do you know about Royal St. George's?

DAVID TOMS: I don't know anything about it at all. I think there's some blind tee shots from what I've heard, it's tough to get the ball in the fairway, and they said the wind will pull it. It seems like a typical British Open. I like it. I enjoy playing golf over there. No matter how good you're playing, you never know what to expect just because the weather conditions can turn. You saw what happened to us last year on Saturday. I was leading the golf tournament after the first round, I think I finished last, so you just never know. I kind of like that, kind of the unexpected. You go over there and prepare and play the best you can and you never know what you're going to get.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much, David Toms.

End of FastScripts....

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