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May 10, 2003

David Toms


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: David Toms, our third round leader. Thank you for joining us. If we could start with some opening comments. Obviously a great day for you today.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I played better today than I did the first few days. I think that was the difference. The first two days, I struck the ball pretty well, just like today, and today I made my come-back putts. This golf course makes you play very conservative from the fairway sometimes with the wind blowing the way it was. I made the ones coming back and I think that was the key.

Also, the chip-in at 10 kind of got me going. I made the turn at 3-under which is good, solid golf and eagled 10. Gave it right back at 11, but that still got the momentum there. I just played good, solid golf coming in from there.

On 17 with the cross-wind and the way the pin was stuck back there in the back with not a whole lot of room, just trying to hit anywhere on the green, trying to pick the right club. I hit a 4-iron and 5-iron previously on that hole and had 220, and just tried to hit a 4-iron solid and came up short. Even the putting surface we had on the pin today was acceptable and had a really long putt.

Q. Are you surprised to be leading by five?

DAVID TOMS: I didn't even look at the board all day. It surprises me. That means the guys behind me didn't play very well today. And I played with J.P. the first two days, I thought he would have another good day today. And then obviously the two guys playing the last group; Freddie has been playing great golf and Nick is a great player.

So it does surprise me to be leading by whatever you said I was leading by.

I don't know, this golf course is tough. You know, with the wind blowing and kind of -- it's hard to pull a club from the fairway. Like the last hole, I was on 18 with that front left pin. It was a perfect 7-iron for me but my caddie kept saying it was down left-to-right and I kept feeling it in my face left-to-right so I played way out to the right. I played the shot 25 feet right of the hole, knowing that if it did knock it down, I would still be okay. If I hit it at the pin and came up short, I was dead. I let everybody back in closer to me anyway.

But if I play it right it's tough to make birdies out there for guys even when they are playing well.

Q. Inaudible?

DAVID TOMS: Today when I was on the range, it started blowing a little bit. I was think to go myself, shooting a couple under, like 2- or 3-under like the first two days, and if I wasn't in the lead I was going to be right there with a chance. That was my goal starting the day, was just to have a chance tomorrow because I haven't had very many opportunities like that this year, and I didn't want to knock myself out of it today. Fortunately I played a great round of golf.

Q. Can you go over the chip-in on 10 a little bit? Looked like a straightforward shot but how well did you hit that?

DAVID TOMS: I hit it perfect. My caddie and I said, you know, what do you think, it's probably going to be three or four feet by, because it's one of those -- I had hit a couple of those already this week on 17 and yesterday on 15 where a couple bounces, check. And I wasn't trying to hit it that hard, so obviously hit the stick pretty solid. Still felt like I was going to make a birdie even if it didn't go in it would be pretty close.

It was a straightforward chip. I didn't have a whole lot of green, I had a pretty tight lie and slid the club under it and caught it a little too good.

Q. How big were those two 2-putts on 17 and 18 heading into tomorrow?

DAVID TOMS: Well, we were walking down 16 and Kostis said something about, "You know, anybody would take a 4-3-4 finish on this golf course any day."

But I said, "Well, I played with Matt Kuchar and he played them 2-under the other day."

I birdied 16. And then 17, 18, well, birdie is a bonus, especially on 17. 18, I drove it far enough down there where if I was confident with the wind direction, I would have gone right at the stick and tried to make birdie, only had 7-iron in. But those two putts were big.

What was big was making the follow-up putts. My first two putts were not very good, on the line, a little bit too hard, and to make the comebacker, it gives me some momentum for tomorrow.

Q. What did you hit out of the bunker on 16 and how pleased were you to get out of there with a birdie?

DAVID TOMS: I hit a 7-iron and had a good lie. I had 161 to the, pin which I knew I could just go ahead and hit it. I hit it solid enough where it started at the flag and the wind really didn't touch it at all. That was a great shot. Probably the best -- my best shot of the day, really.

Q. Have you thought about a game plan for tomorrow yet? Do you think you'll be conservative or aggressive or about the same as today?

DAVID TOMS: I'm just going to play it like I have the last few days. I've been driving the ball well enough to where I can pick a couple of spots to be aggressive. If the wind keeps up, you're going to have to be -- when you pull a club, decide it's the right one, whether it's the right one or not, and I've done that the last three days on this golf course. I've just gone ahead and even if it's the wrong club, I've put a nice, aggressive swing on it. So that's what I'm going to do tomorrow.

Like I said, if I can drive the ball like I have the first three days, that's what sets everything up and that's what's been the difference for me this week.

Q. You missed an extraordinary amount of cuts early this year, do you ever look back and say, why that was?

DAVID TOMS: It's my inability to score so far this year. Like in New Orleans last week, I got to 7-under, was playing great the second round and within four or five shots of the lead right in the middle of the golf tournament, and all I had to do was make a couple more birdies and be in better shape than the year I won there. I made a couple bad swings. It's been like that all year.

I haven't missed cuts by much, and the ones I've missed, I just haven't been able to hit the right shot at the right time, driver down there on the par 5 and have a 3-iron or 5-wood into and ends up hitting a long shot and end up making bogey instead of birdie. You name it, seems like everything has gone wrong when I had a chance to do something good. I don't know what that is. I don't know if it's lack of confidence at the time or trying too hard, probably a combination of all that.

I was doing a couple little things with my golf swing and I saw it on video in New Orleans; you know, that's where I was struggling. That's when I couldn't hit the shot when I needed to was because I was getting the club coming too far from the inside. I'm not really a hands player. And that's what I was having to do to hit the ball and just squared the club face up. That kind of clicked.

Even though I missed the cut in New Orleans, I hit a lot of really good shots, and just trying to improve on that part of my golf swing and it's been good this week.

Q. With an emphasis on big hitters early part of the season, did you find yourself at all trying to play harder?

DAVID TOMS: Oh, sure, absolutely. Most definitely I was doing that. Golf courses nowadays are set up this way. They almost make you do that. The more I try not to be that way, the better I'm going to play. But we are all stubborn and want it hit it further than I can. I'm no different than all you guys sitting in the room. You're trying to do the same thing when you go play golf. We just do a better job of it sometimes.

Q. Are you doing a better job now?

DAVID TOMS: I think so. I'm hitting the ball more solid the last couple weeks and I think the distance is coming. I think I was hitting thin on the club face and losing a little distance and that makes you swing it harder and that makes you hit it off-center. Now I feel much better about it.

Q. Since you won your first major, you've had a lot of Top-10s but not too many wins. Did your life change a whole lot after winning your first major?

DAVID TOMS: Not really. It could have. I could have stayed very busy traveling the world and picking up money here or there just to show up and I chose not to do that. I felt like that was going to hurt my golf game, and so I just tried to stay over here and play as well as I can.

And I've been very consistent since the PGA Championship. Just haven't won a whole lot. Hopefully I can get back to the winning ways here soon.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVID TOMS: Absolutely. We all do. Don't you think Steve Flesch, don't you think he was antsy to get that first win? When you do win, you know what that feels like and you want to be right back there the next week.

Now, it's been a long time for me, so, of course I'm antsy about it. I'm trying hard to get back there. I don't know, it's tough. For guys that don't quite have the ability of a Tiger Woods or an Ernie Els or a Phil Mickelson, it doesn't quite come as easy. The winning is -- I can't be off and win golf tournaments. I have to be playing my best golf. And right now, over the first three days, I've played really solid, and if I can go out and do it again tomorrow I'll be pleased.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over the rest of your score card.

DAVID TOMS: I birdied number 1. Hit an 8-iron to about four feet and so a nice birdie out of the gate there.

6, I hit a 5-wood to probably 12 feet. I hit a really good shot there. Made a nice putt. That's just a bonus on that hole to make a birdie.

7, I was pin-high in two on the bunker. Didn't hit that great of a bunker shot out to about 12 feet and made that one. That was a good putt.

Then I eagled 10 with a chip-in from the edge of the green.

11 drove it in the rough under the tree on the left-hand side. Hit a great shot but rolled down the hill. Had an impossible chip and didn't get up-and-down.

15, drove it just in the fringe pin-high in two and 2-putt from there.

16, I hit a 7-iron out of the bunker to eight feet and made that one.

15, I had 222 to the front, 248, I think, to the flag. I thought I was going to have to hit 3-wood to get it there, but I had a downhill lie in the fairway so I decided to hit a 5-wood to get it up in the air and get on the hill.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVID TOMS: Rich Beem was there and he was thinking about hitting it, he and his caddie were talking about hitting driver. No, not really. Did some other guys hit driver there today? Oh, did they? Well, the best I could hope for would be about ten yards short and right there. But, you know, there's a lot of other things that come into play with that club.

I thought I was playing the safe shot with a 3-iron but rolled through the fairway and got a horrible lie. And to catch a flag over the green in the lake -- I was disappointed that I didn't get that ball in the fairway. You're sitting there trying to hit an iron for safety, and then you drive it in a stressful lie over there and wasn't very happy over there.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVID TOMS: I can go by how many I missed. I felt like I missed -- I think I missed four fairways, but two of them, two of them were with driver -- no. I missed five fairways, 3-wood, driver, one with a 3-iron and one with a 3-wood. But when I say I missed the fairways, I wasn't way off in the trees. Probably the furthest off-line was 16 when I was in the bunker and I made birdie, so that wasn't bad.

Q. You said you were happy with your putting, but --

DAVID TOMS: I felt like I made the short ones, but I did. I hit a lot of good shots today. I had a couple other opportunities where I should have made them.

But the one on 14 I had a good chance there and I knew I had missed it right. Left-to-right putt and you know you feel when you come off and out of it a little bit, I knew it was missed. Seems like every one I did that were a couple left-to-righters --

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I think so. I left a lot of putts short on the first three days. I was more aggressive today on the greens because I felt like -- probably because I was hitting my putts a little more solid, right in the center of the face and I felt like I could make the ones coming back.

Q. How many shots would you like to be in the lead when you get to 16 tomorrow?

DAVID TOMS: Well, any is fine. You know if I'm in the position to win tomorrow going into 16, 17, 18, that would be great. It means I've played solid and still having a good day, and I just have to, you know, go in there and know that I'm going to have to play those last three holes good. But that's the way this golf course is. It's been that way every single day. Whether it's your first nine holes of the tournament or it's your last three holes of the tournament, you just have to play good, solid golf and that's what makes for a good tournament.

End of FastScripts....

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