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October 31, 2001

David Toms


JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Thank David Toms for joining us. It has been a great year for you this year, ending it here in Houston. Why don't you talk about the week ahead and your year this year.

DAVID TOMS: As far as this week goes, I really like the golf course. I had a little bit of experience here. I played a couple of U.S. Open qualifiers here, when they were tough course set-ups, was able to play well. I guess two years ago when we played here I had a good solid tournament I didn't contend but I played well. Hopefully I can build on those past experiences and have a good week. I am a little injured right now. I have got a minor disc problem in my neck, tendonitis in my left wrist, getting treatment everyday, and hopefully, that will be okay. It just doesn't feel 100%. I have played hurt before and played well, so I am not that concerned about it. I think it is just a matter of you know, getting off to a good start tomorrow and building on that. I know that the golf course right now, it's playing pretty fast. The fairways are, you are getting a lot of roll, so the golf course is not playing as long as it could play. Whereas if we get a little shower tonight or something like that, it could lengthen the course. But it is going to be a good test. They have a little bit of rough out there this year. Just enough -- not so much that you can't advance the ball, but just enough to where you can't control what you are trying to do with your iron shots. So you are going to have to hit it in the fairway. As far as my year, obviously, I exceeded my expectations. I think winning early in the year, which I had never done before, kind of gave me that extra confidence for the rest of the year to kind of play well. Then, obviously, winning a major, that was the highlight of my career, and then I'd followed it up a few weeks later and was able to win again. I think it's just a year where I have been able to build on my experience and just get better and, hopefully, this weekend end up on a high note, even though I have a few more golf tournaments to go, nothing official, so this will be the end of the official season, and I hope to have a good one here and start off next year with a bang.


Q. What is your schedule like after this week and up until Mercedes?

DAVID TOMS: I will play the Grand Slam of Golf. I am going to play the Hyundai matches and then Tiger's -- the Williams Challenge, Tiger's tournament.

Q. The injury is a result of wear and tear?

DAVID TOMS: I have had a problem with my neck for many years now. It just flares up from time to time. At Disney I thought -- my wrist was hurting real bad. They said I had some tendonitis there. Since then it's kind have been diagnosed as something that's -- it came from an injury in my neck and made my left arm a little weak and, therefore, got the tendonitis. It doesn't really hurt me to swing. Only place it hurts is a little bit at impact with my left arm. But it's really -- you know, the whole motion is pretty much gone. Every once in a while it hurts me through the swing, just kind of tentative through the ball sometimes. But nothing that -- nothing that should keep me from playing this week. I withdraw last week, number 1, because I really didn't know what my injury was. I hadn't seen a doctor. I have a doctor at home that I go to all the time for my neck and I wanted to go see him because I felt like if I kept playing, it wasn't going to get any better, and I wanted to go at least get it diagnosed, get some medication and be ready to play here. I was able to do that Monday. I had an MRI. They put me on a steroid or Medrol pack, or whatever. It is getting better. The pain is getting better, just I don't know about my -- I don't have full motion with my golf swing right now, just a little weakness with my left arm. But just a little rest will cure that and I will be fine.

Q. Was that any of that bothering you Atlanta Athletic Club?

DAVID TOMS: No, it is something -- I -- it hasn't bothered me all year, to be honest with you. Just a little stiffness here and there, but nothing that kept me from playing. So -- but in the summer, especially Atlanta, it was so hot that -- I don't know if it's the colder weather, starting to cool off some, or what the deal is, or just the fact that I have played a lot of golf.

Q. When you "I say neck," is that the same thing you mean as the back, because you have had a history of back injuries?

DAVID TOMS: Same thing, yes.

Q. Do you think that pack of leading players has narrowed the gap on Tiger this year, and if so, how much do you think equipment, especially the ball, has made a difference?

DAVID TOMS: I think it's made a difference for a lot of players. For me, I can't tell that I hit the ball a whole lot further. I know for some players it's helped them with their -- I knew the ProV, you can launch a little higher. Maybe for some of the low-ball hitters it's helped them gain a lot of distance. But as far as Tiger, I mean, if the guy -- I played 28 tournaments. If the guy's played 28 tournaments this year, he's going to be fairly ahead than he is now. If he played a full schedule, it would be unbelievable what he could do. Especially if he was -- if he played enough -- you know, to me it seems like he plays a couple of tournaments, then he takes off for a while. If he could ever get on that roll, even when he was winning so many in a row, that's like he'd win two, then take off a couple weeks, win a couple more. So to me it seems like it's not a true measuring stick of where he is. He is playing, you know, 17, 18 tournaments, and most guys, even the top players are still playing 25. So -- but I think the equipment has helped some guys. The ball has helped some guys, and just the fact of that he hasn't played as much. I don't think that -- I still don't think we're playing at his level of golf, even the top players. Even a guy like Phil Mickelson, I mean he's played a bunch this year. He's a great player. But I just -- I don't see us and David Duvall and all those -- I just don't -- they are not -- they are not as good as Tiger and I am not as good as Tiger. I just think he has -- he's gifted. He's a gifted person. I think he would be gifted no matter what he was doing. I just think he is that type of person, that type of individual and that type of athlete.

Q. DiMarco yesterday thought the gap had narrowed because the intimidation factor has lessened.

DAVID TOMS: I don't think that -- I don't think the intimidation factor is what it used to be back in, as we call it, the old days. I don't know that it's -- you know, because you are talking about guys that -- you know, Tiger is not one of the older guys , he is one of the younger guys out here. He doesn't have -- he doesn't have the deal where he's been around a long time, all of a sudden new guys are coming on the scene, where maybe the older guys used to, you know, stare them down or they were just intimidated by the success that a person has had. Then all of a sudden they come out of college, until they prove themselves, there was intimidation. I don't see that anymore. I think that guys know that if they are prepared and they play well and the other guy slips up a little bit, you know, you have an opportunity to win. I just don't see that happening in golf as much, even when I first got on Tour. I could see it then, but I think that's starting to fade away, I really do.

Q. If you were to win this week, do you think an argument could be made for you winning Player-of-the-Year considering the way you finished the year?

DAVID TOMS: I really haven't thought about that very much. I have heard people say that but, you know, I still don't think, you know -- no, I really don't. I know that I have won -- I would have won a major, then another really big golf tournament, but I just don't -- I go back to the same argument, you know, this was my 29th event. Tiger has played 17 or 18. I had 10 more opportunities to win golf tournaments than him. I don't -- I saw Duval quote the other day. He said, "I don't really think it is a contest, that's the way I feel about it." Granted, Tiger is on that level, but I guess, we always thought as far as American challengers, the ones that always came up time and time again were Mickelson and Duval.

Q. Do you think that you are now in that level, or do you think you have always been in that level? Do you think it's fair to place you in that level after winning the PGA and six tournaments --

DAVID TOMS: I don't think I am a challenger to him. I just think I am a guy that's starting to, you know, play up to my potential, and I still don't think my potential is that level. But I still -- I think I can win a lot more golf tournaments and make a very nice living and I just enjoy playing well and getting in contention and trying to win. That's what gets your heart pumping. That is why I show up on Mondays a lot of times when other guys might show up on Wednesday for the pro-am and do their thing. It is because I want to do it. I want to win, I want to play good. I hate to play bad golf. Missing a cut is -- it's like just getting stabbed. I hate that. It's like total failure. Any time I am going through that I work extra hard to get out of it. If the titles, the Player-of-the-Year, you know, all the perks, all the media attention, all the stuff that goes along with playing great golf, I am not good at handling that. I don't particularly like it. I just want to go out and play good just because that's fun.

Q. Speaking of awards, how would you handicap Rookie-of-the-Year, you have Retief Goosen, who is like 30-something, won a US Open, considered a Tour rookie. Jose Coceres won twice -- (inaudible).

DAVID TOMS: First of all, Charles Howell is the best young player we have out here. I have played with him. He's phenomenal. The guy has done incredible stuff this year without having a Tour card, getting started late. I played with him in Atlanta when he finished Top-10. That kind of got him into the next event. Then he was playing on limited number of exemptions, all that. He hit a driver and 7-iron to the 10th hole. That hole is over 600 yards long. He just really impressed me. So -- but I still think that a guy like Coceres, because it's so hard to win out here, and -- I don't care how old the guy is, he hasn't played here. He's played -- his game has been over in Europe or wherever else around the world, and to be able to come here on the PGA TOUR and to win twice in a limited number of events and be in a strange place, a place he is not -- he doesn't even speak English very well. He's a guy that you know, it's something new to him, and he's done extremely well. I think you got to give it to him, even though -- Goosen has played all over the world. He's played here a bunch. He had had some experience playing here, and I know he's won a US Open, which is very hard to do. But take a guy that's won twice, I think -- I mean, Coceres would have to get my vote.

Q. Do you think a guy like Goosen should even be on the ballot, given the vast number of years he's played in Europe and the fact that he didn't really -- Jose played about 18 or 19 times here (inaudible) --

DAVID TOMS: I think he should be on the ballot, but maybe they should rethink their guidelines of what it means to be a rookie and come up with something -- because of the situations we had this year, in the public's eye they probably think Charles Howell is the only true rookie that would deserve it, somebody that's right out of college, a young guy, that is what everybody thinks of as a rookie. And he's a great player. But when it comes down to the guidelines we're using I think you have to go to Coceres and Goosen, he is there because of the rules.

Q. What would you make of the rules?

DAVID TOMS: I don't know what I would do because I don't have the data to see how many guys and you know, what it means to all the different players. But I don't know if you would put an age limit, if you would put one, because it's hard to do that. I don't know the best thing to do. I guess this is a strange year. This doesn't happen very often for there to be so much controversy over it. But I know if Charles doesn't get it, I mean you are going to see some great things out of him. Whether he gets this honor or not, he's going to get plenty of honors through his career. I am sure it's important to him but how important is it? He will be a great player.

Q. Some golfers when they win their first major maybe they go through an equipment change or there's a lot of outings that they do. You have already talked a little bit about how you are going to handle being a PGA Champ. How will you handle that and will you try to keep your outings to a minimum --

DAVID TOMS: I have already turned down a couple of lucrative deals in Japan. I was offered to go there next week. I am not going. I was offered to go to South Africa and it kind of got out in the press that I was going but never was committed to it. So I kind of hate that it got to the point where I was in the event; now I am not going to play, it's going to look like I pulled out. I am not going there. As far as endorsements, I am 95% sure that I will be with everything that I already have. I am with some good people, all the companies I am with and they are going to hopefully step up to the plate and reward me for doing well and I will continue to have long-term relationships and I think it is going to work out just fine.

Q. Why are you turning down instant cash, so to speak, in Japan?

DAVID TOMS: I don't want to fly that far commercially right now, No. 1. No. 2, I am going to the Grand Slam and Tiger's tournament. I don't play that much in the off-season anyway. It's going to mess up my duck hunting schedule if I would have played those other events. Just all kinds of factors. It just -- I didn't -- I don't know. I mean, I am sure they are nice events and everything, I am sure I have heard the South Africa tournament is just unbelievable. I just didn't feel right. After talking it over with my wife it's a decision we had to make. It's like, well, how much money do you need. You go over there, it's two million for first place, but you drop down to second place, it's 300 and you are only guaranteed 130 to go over there, plus 50% tax, plus 20% to your manager, plus another percentage to your caddie, it's like, well, do you want to travel halfway across the world, miss your duck hunting season, fly on airplanes with terrorists all over the place. You put all those things together, and it's like: Why do it? I just -- I just didn't feel like it was that important. And I felt like if I continue to play well, those opportunities will be there and if I don't play well and they dry up, then, that is the way it should be. So I just felt like for me that was the way it was going to work out.

Q. You are a pretty easy guy to talk to, chatty but you made an illusion to not like the media attention. Is post-PGA life not to your liking, everybody wanted a piece of you?

DAVID TOMS: Well, typical example I flew in Monday afternoon, got here, met with some of the people from the New Orleans tournament; that night did a few things here at the course, couple of interviews I had to do. Left, got up yesterday morning at 5:45, drove Downtown to do something for the PGA TOUR, this campaign they are doing; came back out here, played the pro-am. As soon as I got through with the pro-am every ten feet somebody wants an interview, da-da-da, came out here, again this morning, starts all over again, and Joan is all over me with: What time are you coming to the press tent trying -- there's always -- you cannot -- I mean I used to show up at the golf course, hit my balls, do my pro-am, play my practice rounds, tee off on Thursday. So I can see why some people you know, when you ask him for an interview, if they have to go through that every week, every week, every year, every year, they are going to say -- they are going to have to say no. That's what I don't -- as far as sitting here talking to you, once I am here I don't mind. I mean that's great because you know, as long as I am not misquoted, then we're always going to be you know, this is fine with me. But as far as just making sure it's all scheduled and what you have to do when you have to do it, making sure you have enough time to be prepared as long as I am prepared, then I am fine with it all and if it ever gets to the point where I don't feel like I am prepared on Thursday for the tournament then I am going to have to cut back.

Q. How important is it to be as consistent as you have been this year? You talked about being -- it's all about being in the hunt. Winning obviously is great --

DAVID TOMS: That part is what is nice even though you are not contending every week and making cuts and you have a chance to play on the weekend and you feel like you are playing good golf, then your attitude is good, you want to play, you want to continue to play. I don't feel like when you are -- if I am playing 30 tournaments that seems like a lot compared to some people, but if you are playing good you don't even think anything about it. If you get out there, you miss a few cuts and then you want to go home. You don't feel like playing and so it is -- it is important to be consistent whether that's winning tournaments or finishing Top-10 or top 25, I mean, you know, different levels of consistency and I have been -- just had a good solid year.

Q. You talk about losing a little bit of your privacy. Is it worth it to be a major champion?

DAVID TOMS: Definitely worth it. Yes. I mean they could never take that away from me. It's pretty neat. I have got -- I don't have the actual trophy but I have got one that looks just like it. It's a lot smaller sitting right there on the mantel in my house. It's cool. At my subdivision at home, you drive in through the front gate and there's a big, you know, there's a picture of me probably about the size of these two doors put together right when you come in. It says: Congratulations, Shreveport's own, David Toms, Winner of the 2001 PGA Championship. They have had it up for two months. They had it up when the buy.com event was there. I tried to have them take it down so the guys won't see it. It's neat stuff, banners all over my hometown. It's neat to see those people support you and what you are doing. It's been pretty special.

Q. You mentioned that you would have -- if you could win this week you would have won a major and another big tournament. I presume you were talking about this one?


Q. Is it a big tournament or is it more of a reward for a job well done this year?

DAVID TOMS: I think it is both. It's a reward for a job well done, but it's also an event where you have the best players on a great golf course for a lot of money. I think it is a little more relaxed than, say, definitely more relaxed than a major championship is, but it's still -- it's a big event and it's an event where if you win here you beat a great field. And so it still has a lot of prestige to it and I think it would mean a lot to any player to win here.

Q. Any pictures of Hal up there in


DAVID TOMS: Yeah, they have. Well when he won the PGA I was in high school, so -- but the whole community supports both of us really, really well and the media attention, they just did -- a local magazine did a big feature story on us the other day whole front cover was Hal and myself and you know, it goes over the whole city and it's neat stuff. I don't think if we lived in Dallas, I mean, we would be two of 50 players that lived there, you just don't get that type of attention like we do at home.

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

End of FastScripts....

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