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August 21, 2001

David Toms


TODD BUDNICK: We have David Toms here with us at the NEC Invitational, winner of the PGA Championship. Why don't you tell us about your victory.

DAVID TOMS: After I holed the last putt, it was just like, "Well, it's over with." And a lot of hard work finally paid off. Something I dreamed about, but never knew if it was going to happen to me or not. Finally did, and it's been really crazy ever since. I had no idea what it was going to be like, and more than I expected.

TODD BUDNICK: You mentioned that you had a number of calls from some of your brethren out there; that had to make you proud.

DAVID TOMS: I had a lot of phone calls, but the one that I'll cherish the most are from the other players on TOUR. Some of the nicest messages I had -- like I said on Sunday, you never know what your fellow pros think of you, and obviously, they think a lot of me, because I had some really nice messages. Something that I will always remember, that part of it.

TODD BUDNICK: How does this change your personal goals what's next for you?

DAVID TOMS: What's next is, just to continue to play good golf. I think it's easy to say golf is a lot of fun when you're playing well; and when you are not playing well, you just want to run and hide someplace. But I guess now maybe a little more spotlight is on me to see how I perform afterwards, and I just want to continue to play well and build on this. Obviously, I have a lot more confidence knowing that I can do it and maybe I can run on with it and do some better things.

TODD BUDNICK: How about the Ryder Cup?

DAVID TOMS: That's going to be a thrill, trying to coordinate everything. My parents are like, how many tickets do you have, how do we get over there, where do we say stay -- so trying to get into all of the logistics of how I think it is going to happen. I look forward to playing with the guys on the team and getting into a format where we pull for each other and try to pick each other up and hopefully win the Cup.

Q. The first time Jeff Sluman came in here in '88 after winning the PGA, after being announced "PGA Champion," he so was overwhelmed that he topped his drive. Have you gotten used to being called the PGA Champion yet?

DAVID TOMS: There's was a teenager outside that said, "Hey, dude, there's the PGA Champion over there." That's the first time I heard it like that and that was pretty neat. I actually talked to Jeff yesterday. We did an outing in Chicago and he gave me words of advice. He just said don't try to live up to the expectations of the media and people out there now that you are a Major champion. Just try to do your best and try to accomplish when you set out for yourself, and if you do that, you'll be just fine. I think he had a tough time dealing with that, and he learned from it. He was just wanting to pass that along to me.

Q. I know you had plans to play another tournament this week. Your thoughts on playing the NEC and the course thus far?

DAVID TOMS: You know, I haven't played this year yet, but I did play here in '97. I thought it was a fabulous golf course. When I got on the first hole, the first practice round I played here, I was scared to take a divot because everything was so perfect. There was not a thing out of place. I think I had a 7-iron shot and I didn't even want to hit it. You know, I enjoyed going to Reno. I think that's a great golf tournament. I've played well there. In fact, I finished runner-up there right after I won Sprint in '99. I was looking forward to going there, but I'll take this for sure. This is a place where I obviously wanted to be. It's just a matter of whether I was going to be able to accomplish that or not, and I'm glad to be here.

Q. Are you surprised at your reception? Huge crowd gathered around, wasn't it?

DAVID TOMS: I was surprised. I've gone through three Sharpies today. It's nice. People recognize your accomplishment. That's probably the best part about it. I don't really know how it is going to affect my life and I know my schedule probably changes a little bit. We've got a lot of invitations to outside events so far. I've been fielding a lot of phone calls and I don't really know what all is going to happen with that, but just to be recognized by all the people and by your fellow players is pretty nice.

Q. Were you recognized in the airport?

DAVID TOMS: I flew to Chicago privately yesterday and flew in privately last night. Really, the only way I could make it there for the outing to do it, because of the times out of Atlanta airport. I left the clubhouse at 10:15 Sunday night and really didn't sign any autographs. It was all media stuff. I had to do a toast to the members and everything. So, to answer your question, I never was in the airport just to see. But a lot of people along the way, the hangars and then I got to the outing, everybody recognized me and saw it on television. That was nice.

Q. Do you have any memories of the Ryder Cup growing up?

DAVID TOMS: When I was growing up playing golf, I enjoyed playing golf so much I never watched it on television. Any spare minute that I had that I was not in soccer and I was not playing baseball or doing activities with friends, I was on the golf course. On the weekends I did not watch golf on television. I was too busy playing. In the summer I would play 54 holes a day. I don't have that many memories of the Ryder Cup until just recently. What makes it fun to follow it is that you know the guys playing on the team. You've played with them. You know their game, what they are probably thinking over certain sports and that's what makes it fun to me.

Q. What's the first memory you have -- you say 'recently,' is there one that stands out?

DAVID TOMS: I think one stands out is, you know, coming down the stretch at Kiawah Island, all the crazy stuff that was going on. I don't remember everything, but there must be a lot of pressure because you're seeing crazy shots from a lot of great golfers. I'm sure it's going to be nerve-wracking. Curtis says it's going to be tough over there; hostile environment, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to.

Q. This tournament has been dominated by Tiger Woods in the last several years. Can you talk about the challenge, considering how well he has done here?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I think the golf course, I mean, it is a long, hard golf course. His length is a factor. His accuracy is a factor because when he is driving the ball well, every tournament is his to win or lose because he -- he can overpower golf courses. Every part of his game is great and I think that's why he's played well here. So, I think I'm going to have to be on my best game this week. I'm obviously going to have to drive it probably as well as I can to have a chance. So, that's what I'm going to work on tomorrow when I get on the golf course tomorrow and when I get on the range, just try to get the driver in the fairway. That's why I think he's dominated here. The course just sets up perfectly for him.

Q. Take us through your thinking on the shot on 18th.

DAVID TOMS: A lot of thoughts were going through my mind there. When we left the tee, we could not see the ball because there was a rise in the fairway. So I'm kind of thinking, well, I've been hitting a good drive well and then having to hit 3- or 4-iron every day. I hit a solid drive; and when I topped the hill, I could see it was in the light rough. I knew it was going to be a challenge to hit the green. But when I got up to the ball, I had a sidehill, downhill lie and needed to hit a high loft shot and I just didn't have the club. I needed a 7-wood or 9-wood and I don't carry those clubs, not like Shingo; he has a whole bagful of woods. I just didn't have the right club for the shot. I just didn't. Sometimes you don't. I think that's when sometimes when you go for a par 5, you really don't have the shot, but you figure you need to go for it because you figure you can reach the green. Even though it was a par 4, it was the same situation. So, we made a smart decision. I thought it through. I got the perfect lay up yardage so that I could hit a nice full L-wedge in there so I could spin the ball because the green is firm and the pin is on front. And I laid up to 88 yards which could not have been a better yardage for me, as far as my third shot. I hit a good shot -- I didn't hit a great shot, but I hit it close enough to where I had the chance to make the putt. When he didn't make it, I knew it was my tournament right there if I could just make the putt, and it went in.

Q. Was it a match-play situation or stroke-play?

DAVID TOMS: It was, until the back nine early on, because the other two guys, some other -- Calcavecchia was making a run. I know Lowery, Katayama, all those guys were making a run. A couple holes on the back nine where you can make a move. I was not able to make my birdies, and I guess Phil made one, and all of a sudden we were bunched up until the last four holes. Then, you're right it, was a match-play situation. I just tried to apply the pressure, keep the ball in play. I wasn't going to be able to overpower the holes. Mickelson has got enough power where -- even 18, he hit a 3-wood off the tee and he was able to take advantage of his length and I didn't have that so I just had to play smart golf and I was -- fortunately I did that.

Q. In respect to the Ryder Cup, do you think that sends a message to the Europeans that, you know, you come in there and you are pretty armed for match play?

DAVID TOMS: I don't know if that does. If they look at my match-play record, I haven't really played that much match play at all, until just recently when we've had The Match Play Championship, and then I haven't fared too well in that. I've only won a couple matches. I've lost in the second round both times that I've played in it. But to be able to get close down the stretch, thinking that and to be able to play under the heat, maybe they will take a look at that and say this guy is worthy of being on the Ryder Cup and he is going to be somebody that we are going to have to deal with. I'm planning on going over there and playing well, whether it is an individual match or with a partner. I just look forward to the challenge.

Q. Curious, a little bit more, what Sunday night was like. You didn't have to eat at Chick-Fil-A again?

DAVID TOMS: Sunday night, like I said, I left at 10:15. My wife and father, who I didn't even know was going to be at the golf tournament and a couple friends down the street, they all flew back home at ten o'clock. Other than my agent, I was all by myself. I had a lot of messages. I was listening to messages all the way to the hotel, which I was staying in Buckhead, which was almost 30 minutes. So, it was almost eleven o'clock before I got back to my room. Had room service, a big old cup of sweet tea, then had too much caffeine and couldn't sleep. It's midnight and people are still calling me. My pastor at home called me at almost midnight, which shocked me. I thought he would be in bed for four hours. (Laughter.) It was nice, a lot of people calling, I was so pumped. I had to pack my clothes because I had to leave the next day to go to Chicago. I saw 2:45 on the clock, so I don't know what time I went to sleep. I'm rolling around, can't sleep, thinking about what this means and knowing that I have to go do this outing. So it was a restless night, to say the least. Last night same situation. I got in late from the outing. This morning I got up early and had people calling, doing radio shows. So I need a nap. I'm in bad need of a nap, for sure.

Q. That night, you said you didn't like being there until 8:00. Do you feel any differently now?

DAVID TOMS: I still don't know if I like the attention. It would have been -- I mean, it's nice that people recognize you and everything and it means a lot, but it would have been a lot easier today to show up, go out, hit a few balls, get in your car, go back home and take a nap. Instead, I've probably signed 2,000 autographs. I'm in here at two o'clock. If I had it my way, you know, I would just be, you know going about my business, but it's fine. It's nice that people recognize you. It's what winning is all about, and I will learn to deal with it.

Q. After Tom Lehman won his major, I think he struggled with saying no to people. Do you foresee that being an issue?

DAVID TOMS: You know what, I have a problem with that anyway. I have a problem with saying no to -- there's so many good causes out there, so many people that want you your time that are doing good things for good people. Even if it's just a regular tournament winner -- before I was a tournament winner on the Tour, I had a problem with saying no. I think you just -- I have a little boy at home and I like to spend time at home and I'm just going to have to learn that my time is pretty valuable and to be able to learn to say no. I've been working on it even before this, but it's something that I'm going to have to continue to work on.

Q. Your lay-up shot on 18 will probably be remembered, but in your mind, was there another shot that you had on Sunday that might have won you the tournament?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I think the 15- to 20-footer that I made on No. 1 for par. I had a bad break off the tee. Got into the rough, thought I couldn't reach the green. I thought I hit a decent chip, but it stopped quick on me and then I made the putt and that settled me down. So many people were yelling and screaming and I was just -- this is going to be wild. When I made that putt it settled me down a little bit. And I stepped up on No. 2 and hit the best drive of the week, as solid as I could hit the ball. After then I started to calm down and I felt good. But I think that first putt was just as important as that last putt.

Q. Do you think it's in your character that you have always been calm under pressure? Can you think of any similar situations you've been in compared to Sunday?

DAVID TOMS: In '97 when I won my first tournament, the 18th hole -- I don't know if you've ever been to the Quad Cities, it's Oakwood, I think it was. It's a hole where you can make anything. It's got out of bounds ten yards off the fairway to the right. You have a ravine on the right. There's trees everywhere. I had a three-shot lead and I was still shaking. I pulled a 3-iron out off the tee. It's a hole where Chris Perry one year hit 7-iron off the green and then a 5-wood, one of those holes where you can do anything. And I just striped it right down the fairway, and I knew I could do it in that situation. In '99 when I came back and won my second tournament, it was the INTERNATIONAL and David Duval was one point ahead of me going into 18. I hit a perfect drive -- sit up and hit a perfect 5-iron, and I made the putt when I was really just trying to lag it down and get it close. So boom, I did it again when I was in that situation. Then last year in the playoff at the Michelob, I had a playoff against Mike Weir. We both kind of chopped it around, the first playoff hole. He had bogey and then I had a 6-footer to win the tournament. So I did it again. So I came through. So I'm starting to think, you know, coming down the stretch, I can do this. In New Orleans this year, next to the Atlanta Athletic Club No. 18, I think No. 18 at English Turn is as tough as it gets. Mickelson was sitting there right behind me on a bench watching us because we had to wait and they had to wait, and that's one of the toughest tee shots on TOUR to get in the fairway, and boom, a hit a tee shot right down the fairway and I've got 200 yards to the flag into a little wind, a real firm green. Hit a 5-iron right in the middle of the green when I had to hit a good shot and then I made the putt. And so, I think all those experiences helped me yesterday, knowing that I could do it when it came time to -- whether or not I could come through in the clutch and I did it again. It was fun.

Q. You sound almost surprised, the way you explain it, as if you almost surprised yourself, finding that calmness?

DAVID TOMS: You have no idea. Because the mind is so powerful you have no idea how you are going to react in those situations and when you do it, I think every time you kind of wonder whether or not it is going to happen. I think that's -- you know, with Phil in the majors, I think that's in the back of his mind, you know "can I do this or not." And until he does it and gets over that hump, I think that he will still struggle with that.

Q. Did Chip Beck go through your mind?

DAVID TOMS: It didn't really -- not at all. There were a lot of people in the crowd that were kind of oohing and aahing that he's wimping out or whatever. I've been asked so much about laying up on that hole, and I just didn't think -- you guys out to understand covering golf that if you knew the lie and everything that I had, and knowing the shot that I had and knowing that I'm not a high, long hitter, I just didn't -- I didn't have the shot there at all. That was the only thing. Even if I ended up losing the golf tournament, there was no way I would ever second guess that because I think it was just the thing to do.

Q. Do you think you could have stopped the ball on the green?

DAVID TOMS: No way. No way. Not the lie I had. I played with Katayama the day before, and he was a little bit further away than I was. Same situation. And you saw the shot he had. I mean, it hopped out of the water to even get on dry land. It's the same deal. There's just nothing good that was going to happen there.

Q. I'm not so sure a 7-wood would have been a good shot the way that lie was.

DAVID TOMS: I did say early in the week in the press room, I said coming down the stretch, with the lead or a chance to win, I would not be afraid to lay that ball up on that hole. I talked to other players that I played in the practice round with; I talked to guys in the locker room and they all said the same thing. That hole, it was a par 5. It was built as a par 5 and that's what it was, and anytime you made a 4, you were very happy. You made birdie, and I actually made eagle one day; I made a 3 on that hole. So I was fine with the decision.

Q. If you were even, would you have done the same thing if you were tied with Phil?

DAVID TOMS: Yes. No doubt. Because he still had to hit the shot, you know, and I heard him say he was hoping I would go for the green -- you're talking about one of the best players in the world that can hit any shot, and he was sitting there hoping I was going to go for the green because he knew that I didn't have a chance. Really, the best -- I could have hit the shot of my life and hit on the back fringe, maybe. Put 100 balls there and I might have got 10 of there on the back fringe. The rest, half would have gone in the lake, half would have gone in the grandstands. It just was not a good spot.

Q. Have you gotten any calls from Leno or Letterman?

DAVID TOMS: Leno wants me to be on the show sometime as soon as possible. I don't know if that's going to work out or not. I'm not too much into that, but you never -- maybe I should take my 5-wood in there and swat a few around the crowd inside. Maybe it's just something I need to do just for the recognition and get your name and face out there a little bit.

Q. And the calls you gotten from your fellow pros, have they said congratulations and glad to see you had the guts to lay up? Has anybody mention the lay-up to you?

DAVID TOMS: I've had so many people that said -- Hal Sutton just came up to me on the driving range five minutes ago and said, "I was screaming at the television. I'm telling you to lay up, I'm telling you to lay up. That is the only play you've got." I got that from so many players, so many guys that were very nice. Like I said, you don't know what they think about you and it says a lot when they call, it really does. I think the first phone call I got from a player on the way home was David Duval. And that means a lot, a player of his stature to congratulate me after that right after that happened and say that he thought one of the most gutsiest shots; that was the smart shot, a gutsy shot, to do it in those circumstances, and he congratulated me. It was nice.

Q. Did Tiger say anything?

DAVID TOMS: I haven't even seen Tiger today. I'm sure he's busy. He's a busy man. I can only imagine how busy he is. The way it's been for me, I can't even imagine that.

Q. At the Chicago outing yesterday, was the lay-up the whole -- is that all people have talked to you about?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah. That's all they wanted to talk about. You know: What were you thinking, what was your yardage what club did you hit, this, that and the other. I met a lot of nice people yesterday. It was a fun day. Great golf course, Shore Acres it was called. Great course. It was a lot of fun. They were like, "We can't believe you're here." Made this big deal, it says a lot about the PGA TOUR players, him showing up today. I didn't even think twice about not going. I honor all of my commitments. And like I said earlier, maybe I need to say no every once in a while, but still, it was a great outing, benefiting a wonderful cause, and I had a good time.

Q. Everybody talks about Phil having been labelled "Best Player to Never Win a Major," but you had won about five times. Did that eat at you? Was it eating at you that you had not won one?

DAVID TOMS: No. Because what was he won? 18, 19 times that he's won. He's going to have that label until he wins one. I'm sure he's the best player to not win a major. First of all, I wanted to get in contention to have a chance. Other than the British Open last year, I was never even really close. Augusta I had a good finish, but I came out of nowhere. I didn't have a chance to win, really. So I just wanted to start getting in the hunt on Sunday with the chance to see how I held up under the pressure and see if I could really have a chance tomorrow coming down there, down the stretch. And I didn't know it was going to happen, but last week was a pretty magical week. I made a hole-in-one. I played great golf every day. Even on Tuesday and Wednesday, I made -- I think I made eight birdies on Tuesday playing. I don't think I missed a fairway. Wednesday was more of the same. I was like, wow. It was just a matter of going out and executing. I had a great pairing the first two days. Niclas Fasth was fun to play with. Fred Funk, a good friend of mine; I had fun playing with him. Just everything was in place for me to have a good week. And after the hole-in-one, I think that was destiny. That was destiny for me to win the tournament.

Q. In what way was Fasth fun --

DAVID TOMS: I had a Swedish roommate in college, and they are just -- to me, they are just funny people. It's like -- I don't know, they are just, they are fun-loving spirits. And just listening to them talk, especially when they talk Swedish. I remember my old roommate getting up at 5:30 in the morning and talking to his parents at home. I had to put cotton in my ears; their language was so funny. He's a neat guy. He played to the crowd. He was over in America trying to win the PGA, after having a great finish at the British Open. He's waving to the crowd and just having a good time and he was fun to play with.

Q. I wanted to ask you, when do you think you will be able to get home and have a little more time to celebrate with folks there? And also, you are paired with Padraig Harrington. Do you think -- this week here in the first round, can you gain or learn anything about him, him about you, as far as the Ryder Cup goes?

DAVID TOMS: First question. I'm leaving Sunday night from here to go to Kingsmill for Media Day on Monday, for last year. I'll leave there, hopefully, Monday evening, Monday night. Finally get home. I've got a BUY.COM Media Day on Wednesday when I get home. It's at my home club -- they play a tournament at my home club in Shreveport. They asked me three months ago to do this day for them and so I'm going to do it. But after Wednesday, things will calm down and I'll be taking my little boy to school in the mornings and everything will be back to normal for a couple of weeks. Second question, in regards to Harrington, I've played with him before I played with him at the Masters this year. I think it was Saturday we played together. I'm very impressed with his game. He's got the length. He's got an all-around good game. He would be -- if he played here all the time, he would be very successful on our Tour; I believe that. And unless we get paired against each other at the Ryder Cup, I mean, it doesn't really matter. We're friends. We get along just fine. It will just be nice -- I know I'll have a good pairing on Thursday. His caddy is a great guy. I like being around him. He's a funny guy. It's neat, I think all the foreigners are funny. (Laughter.) No, they just seem to all have a good time. They are never uptight , at least not the ones I've played with. I don't know if they are just having so much fun because they are over here and we've got a lot of good-looking girls to look at or what. But I look forward to that. If we get paired in the Ryder Cup against each other Thursday, we'll learn more about one another. I look forward to playing with him he's a fun guy.

End of FastScripts....

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