September 24, 2002
SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: One of the rookies here in the team, and you come up the De Vere Belfry, just give us your assessment on this golf course.
DAVID TOMS: The golf course is in magnificent shape. I thought the greens maybe were a little soft, but they're still rolling well. For me, the setup was okay. I still hit driver a good bit today, so I wouldn't have such long shots into the greens. If I laid back, I'd have some long shots, and I think with a partner, especially in best ball, which we played today it was still smart for me to do that. Maybe for some of the longer hitters, they're going to have to think what to do off the tee box, especially with the wind we had today. If the wind changes, obviously there will be some different strategy out there, but for me the golf course set up fine.
GORDON SIMPSON: You're coming into this in pretty good form, based on your performance in Ireland.
DAVID TOMS: I had a good week last week. I played real good, solid golf. I only made three bogeys for the week. I kept the ball in play for the most part. You always want to do better, but I had a good, solid week. I had three weeks off coming into last week, and to shoot 20-under par, even though the scores were fairly low, I felt like I was playing well.
Q. Were you surprised to be grouped with Mickelson today?
DAVID TOMS: No.
Q. Are you anticipating playing with him on Friday?
DAVID TOMS: Yes. That's what I anticipate. But I think we pair well together.
DAVID TOMS: As others have said, they say that I'm the steady guy, and he likes to be pretty aggressive. You put that in best ball and it makes for a nice team, I think. And I think that's kind of the way it worked out today. We were out there playing and if I got anything from the round I think that we got the fact that it's a pretty solid team.
Q. The Ryder Cup for you probably didn't come into view until I'm assuming you were 31 years old when you had a decent chance making these teams.
DAVID TOMS: Yes.
Q. How did you feel about it all the way from college up until the point you became a top player?
DAVID TOMS: It was something I looked forward to every year watching it. I'm not a big historian of golf or anything, so I can't tell you some match back in '87, how it went, but I just remember turning it on and wanting to pull for the guys that were representing the United States. And I knew it was always going to be a heated competition. It was always fun to watch.
Q. Did you ever find yourself saying "I would kill to be on this team; this is like a pinnacle achievement of my career"?
DAVID TOMS: You know, at that time probably not, because at that time when I really started to focus on it, I was probably in college and had so much else going on in my life at the time, golf wasn't the only thing. I was a student, I was -- followed LSU sports. I didn't watch that much golf on television until I got on the Tour, because we were always doing something else on the weekend or I had an event going on on the weekend or whatever. But it was always something I looked forward to, seeing how it was going. Whether I was sitting down in front of the division watching it or reading about it in the newspaper, it was an event I always paid attention to.
Q. Have you had any memorable moments in match play, good or bad, amateur or any level?
DAVID TOMS: You know, I haven't really played that much. As a professional, just the World Championship event, the match play event. I played some in amateur golf, but not much. The U.S. amateur, I lost in the semifinals in '88 or '89 -- I don't know, whenever it was in the homestead in Virginia. I lost to the eventual champion. It was the first time they took two guys instead of four to The Masters. So I just missed out there.
Q. How close was that match?
DAVID TOMS: I lost 1-up. And I had a real good opportunity, I guess, maybe it was on 16, I believe -- was 16 a par-5 -- I think I hit it on the green and 3-putted. I had a chance to get even. And I ended up losing 1-down. And in fact it was Doug Martin and I who were the losers in the semifinals, and we were real good friend. And at the time and had been since junior golf. And we were hoping to play each other in the final and we both lost. So it was a heartbreaker there.
Q. Not getting a trip to Augusta, did that bother you for a while?
DAVID TOMS: Yes, it did, to be that close and not to be able to pull it off. And it was tough, because it was kind of the icing on the cake, even though you might not win the Amateur, if you make it to the last two guys, you're going to make it to The Masters. And this was a big deal for everybody. It was always in the back of their mind when they went into the U.S. amateur event at the time, was having that as a reward if they made it far enough.
Q. I know you haven't obviously played a match, but as a rookie, what kind of experiences have you had? Is it all you expected, to be part of this team and what -- did you just say "woah, I didn't know that"?
DAVID TOMS: Nothing unexpected as far as what's gone on so far. But I think that -- I said to my wife last night, after we had a team dinner, had a little cook out and everything, and just being around all the guys and the wives and everybody involved with our team, I thought that was a great experience. And it was the first night that we were even here. I laid down in the bed last night and said to my wife, "this is pretty cool." It's worth all the time that you spend to get to this level. And that was just the first day of the week, without hitting a shot during the match.
And to be out there today playing with Phil Mickelson and Davis Love and David Duval, all world-class players, and to be a part of that, wearing a team uniform, carrying a red, white and blue golf bag, it was a pretty awesome feeling.
Q. And how did you do in the Ping-Pong match last night?
DAVID TOMS: I didn't even get involved. I don't know that -- we have some pretty competitive guys on our team, as you well know. And I don't think they ever gave up the table to let anybody else play. They were having some knockdown dragouts. I told Amy Mickelson, hope that she didn't hit her belly on the corner of the table, she was so into it. It was fun watching it. I just kind of sat back and took everything in. That's kind of my personality, anyway. I kind of watch and learn and just see and experience it. If I was right there in a Ping-Pong match I'd miss out something that was going on at the Play Station over in the corner. But if you're back on the couch listening to music and drinking a cold beer and just seeing everything, you can take it all in.
Q. First time here at the Belfry, did you know about the 10th hole and are you a little disappointed it's not what you were led --?
DAVID TOMS: A little disappointed, because I watched so many shots over the years on that hole. And the way it was set up today, where the tee box was, and the way the wind was, it would be the stupidest shot in the world for me to try to hit it on the green. There was no way. So -- with the conditions we had today, I think -- I don't know there would be a circumstance where I would actually try to hit it on the green.
Q. You made birdie there today, didn't you?
DAVID TOMS: No, I did not. I hit it up 20 feet and missed the put. We had four guys, all laid up, and three of the four guys made birdie. And I just barely missed. I think that would be the smart play, hit the ball out in the fairway, hit your wedge up there and try to hit it close and try to make it.
Q. Do you think it takes a really good match play hole and makes it a mundane hole now?
DAVID TOMS: Yes, it's just a typical, short par-4, where you hit an iron off the tee and then a wedge to the green. The way it was set up today I don't think it would be smart at all -- I don't know what circumstance it would be, maybe you were way up and you had your partner in the fairway and best ball or you were way down and you had to make something happen, but you still would have to get lucky to have a decent chance to make an eagle. I just don't think there would be many eagles made, if everybody went for the green. I don't know how many out of 24 -- well, in singles matches in all 24 guys went for the green, I don't know that would be one of them. And if there was one made, it would be a lucky bounce off the tree on the right. With the wind direction we had today I don't know how you would hit a shot that didn't hit the tree that would go on the green. I just wouldn't see that happening.
Q. Mickelson laid up?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, he did. Yeah, he laid up. That was a smart play.
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