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August 19, 2001

David Toms


DAVID TOMS: It's good to be here again.

JULIUS MASON: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. David Toms is your 2001 PGA champion. He does set a PGA Championship scoring record. David, congratulations. If you would not mind giving us some thoughts on the day and then we'll go through the card.

DAVID TOMS: No. 1, even though I had an absolute blast this whole week, I'm just glad it's over. I didn't have my greatest game today, but I hung in there, kind of like I did yesterday. And wow. I'm somewhat shocked that it's actually happened to me. But very proud of myself the way I played and the way I finished it off. If you want to go through my card -- do you want to do that first?

JULIUS MASON: Take a deep breath, and then we'll go through the card.

DAVID TOMS: Let's see, I got up-and-down a couple of times early, and then ended up hitting a great shot on No. 9 and I made birdie there. Knocked it really close. Then I missed a real short putt at 10. I hate to say this, but I was shaking so bad. I was trying to breathe, like I told you yesterday, and that wasn't working. I mean, I didn't have two and a half feet there -- I didn't hit the hole and I said "Oh, no." Then I drove it in the rough on 11. Had that shot over the lake and hit a great shot there for my second shot and settled down. At 12, I came back, but then 3-putted and missed another pretty short putt and just didn't know if I had it in me. Came back and birdied 13 and 14. The putt I had on 14 was kind of like the putt on 18, the one where you are trying to lag it down there close and I hit it on the perfect line with perfect speed and it went in. But then 15, after making a hole-in-one yesterday, I hated to not even shoot from the middle of the green. I was trying to hit it towards the left side of the green and make Phil have to make a good shot there. I put in the bunker. He chipped in, I didn't get up-and-down, and all of a sudden it's a horse race again. Then unfortunately for him, he 3-putted 16 and gave me a little window there to get through, and then I was able to get up-and-down on 18. You know, I know you are going to ask me about laying that ball up, and that's really all I had. The yardage I had, it was a 3-iron yardage, but I had a lake in front of me and knew I could not stop the green. I was not able to hold the ball very good all day on the greens, so I pulled out the 5-wood and got to thinking about it. The best I could do was hit it over the green and I saw where some of the guys were yesterday back there. It didn't look very good. You are chipping back toward the water. I asked my caddy, I said, "What do you think about just laying up to a perfect L-wedge, so I could spin it? What's the yardage?" He told me what it was -- I hit a pitching wedge to lay up. I had 88 yards -- I could not have set the ball any better as far as my layup yardage goes and hit a nice spinning L-wedge up there about 12 feet and ran it in. Here I am.

Q. Not to bring up that 18th hole right away, but did you come close at all to thinking about hitting the 5-wood; and, secondly, did it ever cross your mind that if you didn't get up-and-down and Phil happened to birdie, then it's over?

DAVID TOMS: Yes. That was the first thing I thought about, having to lay up, and if he hits the green and makes birdie, I could lose. I mean, I could go from being one shot up to losing the tournament right there. But when you weigh your options -- I mean, I said all week in here, that hole, I would not be afraid to lay that ball up if I didn't have what I thought was a good shot, because that green -- I mean, it's not built for a par 4. It's so hard to hold it on your second shot, and I had a bad lie. I was in the first cut of rough. A sidehill lie, downhill lie. That translates into a low hook with no spin on it, and that's not what I needed. I just figured, you know, my chances at that point, best chance to make par was to lay up, and if I still made bogey, you know, and he didn't make birdie, then would I go to a playoff. So, you know after hitting that tee shot in the rough, that's what I had to do. You know, I hated to do it. The crowd was over there oohing and awing and moaning and just like, you wimp, and the Chip Beck thing all over again, from Augusta. I just had to put it out of my mind and just go hit two good shots and make a good putt and I did that.

Q. You said -- what kind of angle did you have on Phil's putt? Did you think it was going in on 18? You said you were shaking early in the round; you were not shaking over that last putt?

DAVID TOMS: I knew that his putt, he had good speed on it. 16, he ran it by. 17, he ran it by. But I could tell on the top of the hill the speed was good, so I knew it was going to be close. My heart sunk there. He hit a good putt -- he hit a great putt, he almost made the thing. I turned to my caddy and I said, "You know, I've got this putt here and these are the putts, these are the ones you're supposed to make to win a major," especially your first one. It's supposed to be tough and it's going to come down to that last shot, and I made it. I took a couple of deep breaths, and to be honest with you, I was not shaking. I felt good about it and when it got halfway, unless it hit something, it was going in. I almost early called it. I hate to call early on it because when they horseshoe on you -- but it went in and it felt great.

Q. Scott said that came off the 18th green, you were completely unaware that your dad was going to be there. Is that true? What was your reaction?

DAVID TOMS: My dad was there. My next door neighbor was there. My head pro at home was there. My other two neighbors down the street who are my best friends were there. I had no idea where they came from. Didn't know they were coming. I'm just glad it worked out for them that way, because I know they would have felt bad if it didn't work out for me and they came all this way. I guess it was supposed to happen. It's funny, my wife, we were at the presentation just a minute ago and she was wearing the same dress today that she wore when we -- when I won in New Orleans. She said she had not put it on since and she put it on again today. Maybe she ought to go buy a bunch of those.

Q. Some guys come on to the tour out of college, like a Phil Mickelson, and they just hit the road running. You took a while to get going. Was there any point where you thought about golf, where you thought about giving up golf; you had a bad year I think in '94?

DAVID TOMS: '94 was about as low as I could get. You know, from playing the Tour, to all of a sudden playing the -- it was the Nike Tour at the time. I just made a co mmitment to -- we drove the country, my wife and I did. We drove it in our car, all over the place, and made a commitment to try to win tournaments, see what that was all about, in the winning spirit and get right back on to the tour, and that's the way it worked out. Even though I didn't win in '96, I won in '97, and it's just been getting better ever since. I think that point in '94, I had some injuries and I was really tested as far as was I going to be able to do this. I came out of it and I was proud of myself for doing that.

Q. There's a lot been written about the fact that you are a fairly anonymous guy and a quiet-spoken guy. Can you give us some instances where you get stopped at the clubhouse, where people don't recognize you and don't realize you are a player?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I mean, as far as in the area that I live in, or the state where I live, I mean, I get recognized everywhere I go. On the national level, every once in awhile in airports, at a restaurant sometimes, because we always got on these monkey suits with the logos all over the place, so they figure they saw you on TV so they kind of know who you are. I've never had a problem getting into a clubhouse unless I didn't have my credentials. But I'm really glad that people don't want to you come in, because it says a lot about our security and the job they are doing. (Laughter.) It's fine. I like it this way. You know, I was in here the last three nights until almost 8:00 and I'm here again until 8:00. I don't know if I would do real well with that every week. I've had Chick-Fil-A every night for the last two nights for dinner. So I don't know how well I would do if I were in Duval's shoes or Tiger's or Mickelson's. I kind of like it this way.

Q. The crowds today, you know, were really electric again. You don't strike me as the kind of guy who has groupies, but you see a guy who has David Toms for president, what is it?

DAVID TOMS: It was purple and gold if you had not noticed that. And those people were crazy. I run into them at the British Open, the Tiger fans. It has to do with the university, our school spirit. It's a thing where the whole state gets behind the varsity and wants to you do well, even the people that go to the other universities. It's just a thing where they follow me and they have been very, very supportive. Days like today, gave them something to hear about, and they will always remember it.

Q. A follow-up on the LSU factor. I'm told that the Tennesee/LSU football game is in Knoxville?

DAVID TOMS: It's in Knoxville the week of the Ryder Cup. I actually had hotel reservations, tickets and plane reservations.

Q. You got all that for sale now?

DAVID TOMS: We can work something out. (Laughter.)

Q. Give us your reaction now to being on the Ryder Cup for the first time, and if you've had time to think about what it means?

DAVID TOMS: I've actually been thinking about it too much the last three or four months and it has showed in my game until this week. That's something that -- you know, I wanted to make the team but I wanted to earn my way onto the team, kind of like we were talking about Chris DiMarco, saying you need to make your first team, make the points. Something I really wanted to do. Not only to represent my country, but I just think it will be neat to get to know those other players in a different way, where you're a team deal. You know, you get to be a little closer to them, find out what they are all about, because, you know, as players out here, we kind of all go our separate ways once we leave the golf course. We don't really spend a whole lot of time together, other than in competition. Even though I want to -- the other guys to play well, you just don't quite know them as well as I'd like to, and I think that's what I look forward to the most.

Q. You haven't used the expression, "Man oh man, I was just sucking air coming in." And way back to Inverness when The Zinger came in, he came into the press room and said, "Well, I didn't play my best game, wasn't the greatest, but, oh, man, I was just sucking air." You said you were shaking. Did you ever have that feeling of not being able to breathe?

DAVID TOMS: Not really. My hands were shaking a little bit. I just think that's a nerve -- I think that's adrenaline. I don't think I was really nervous. I just think I was excited. My heart was racing, so, you know your hands get a little shaky. You know, I really -- it happened so fast. You know, today was really a blur when I look back at it. I mean, that's the way it was in '98 when I shot 29 on the back side of Augusta and somebody said, "Well, what was it like?" Well, it happened so fast that I really couldn't enjoy it and that's kind of the way today was. It just seemed like we would go up there and grind it out on one hole and you get to the next hole and grind it out again, and all of the sudden 18 holes are over and I've won the tournament. It feels so good. I probably won't be able to sleep tonight. I've actually got an outing tomorrow in Chicago, so I get to go up there and meet some new people and have a good time.

Q. The second part of that process for dealing with pressure was to refocus and pick out a specific target. Can you go through the back nine and pick out the moments where you had to remind yourself to pick out a target; that it was more of a blur?

DAVID TOMS: First of all, off the 10th tee box, yesterday I hit a driver, it went through the fairway and today, I ride to pick out that right side of the bunker there and put a good swing on a 3-wood. Just try to get that ball in the fairway. So I did good there. You know, I lost a little focus on the putt. That was the worst green on the golf course. I missed a short one, I guess, on Friday. Had a real short birdie putt and then I had a short par putt today and it was a tough green. I just stayed pretty calm and pretty focused all the way around, especially when I got over there to 16 tee. I mean, you know Phil's ball, he hit it in the middle of the trees over there and it kicked out in the fairway and then I've got to follow that, after he just chipped in on me on the hole before. Momentum is on his side; he's playing good. Had to really focus on 16. I picked out that same irrigation ditch in the fairway, and my ball hit right center of the fairway and rolled into the rough, but I was in the short rough and I was able to get it on the green from there. 18, I picked out a good target. I picked out that far bunker I've been driving at every round and I just hung it a little right. Not because I lost focus, but I've been hitting a little draw off the tee and I was not able to it there and the ball leaked off to the right, not two or three inches into the rough. I worked on that hard, I knew that was going to be important coming down the stretch, especially when you're in the heat of the battle with Phil Mickelson, but I was proud of the way I hung in there and did focus.

Q. Phil said before you made the putt on 18, the first thing that came to his mind was this the same as 1999 at Pinehurst. Did it enter into your mind applying a similar strategy to Payne Stewart, trying to lay up that way?

DAVID TOMS: Not really. What I had facing me was the thing that you could just dream about. I mean, that's -- you know, that's what I used to do on the putting green when I was a little boy. I just pictured myself making that 12-footer to win a major championship, whether it was the U.S. Open, Masters, the PGA, British Open, whatever. Just having that opportunity, and I wanted to sieze the day. Just had a slightly left-to-right baking putt, and I felt good about it. Like I told Scott, I said, "You know, this is what it is all about." And I knocked it right in. To be honest with you, I was so into what I was doing, that didn't even come to my mind. I was just trying to win the golf tournament. You know I feel bad for Phil. He played great golf. You know, he did a lot of things that makes it exciting. I mean, like I said yesterday, he's fun to watch. I mean, he came down to 15, he's two shots back and he chips in on me. You know, makes it -- all of a sudden people are going crazy for him. So, you know, I think it's a matter of time before he wins his, because he's in contention it seems like -- whether it's a regular tour event, major. I wish it could have worked out better for him, but, you know, for me it's the highlight of my career, no doubt. Just glad to be up here.

Q. Could you compare your emotions coming down the stretch here to your emotions coming down the stretch in New Orleans when you are able to win at home? Obviously, a lot more people were watching this time, but was it similar at all?

DAVID TOMS: Very similar. You know, having to keep my emotions in check, you know, because I had a lot -- that back nine, you have got a lot of tough shots that you have to hit. You know, English Turn is an easier golf course, similar situation where I had to hit good golf shots to win and I think that helped me today. I was able to maintain focus, and, you know, it's -- you can't say enough about the mental game in golf because I went through so many mood changes out there today that they need to put me in a ward probably, because it can't be healthy. You know, times where you just feel like you're choking, you are shaking one minute and the next minute you are winning a golf tournament and you have highs and lows. I guess that's what our game is all about. I guess that's why you guys cover it. I guess that's why they are thousands of people out there watching it; you'll never master it, and it's a great sport.

Q. Phil, he's so explosive, but he does tend to occasionally hit the errant shot. Did you feel in your matchup as it became sort of match play that your best chance was to just be steady and perhaps let him make the mistakes, so to speak?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, I did. He didn't drive it as well today as he's capable of driving the golf ball. I just wanted to hang in there. Like I said yesterday, you could bogey every hole if you don't hit your ball in the fairway, and so I knew, first and foremost, I had to take care of myself. With his power game, I can't keep up with that. I have to just play good, solid golf and rely on my putting when I was not able to hit the shots. It worked out, and I just -- I thought that if I could, like you said, hang in there and play good, solid golf that maybe he would make a mistake coming down the stretch. I thought he did on No. 16 when he hit in the trees over there, but it bounced out, but then he made the mistake on the green. I think he got a little aggressive on the putt and ran it too far buy.

Q. You mentioned the word wimp earlier. Did you hear that comment or any other comments from the crowd on 18?

DAVID TOMS: No, but that's the kind of vibes you get. Kind of like, you've come in far, why are you laying up now. Some people just don't understand, that's a tough hole. I'd like for them to drop a ball right there and try to make par. Yeah, just kind of the feeling you get.

Q. Can you recall what you were doing in the winter of '91 when Phil was winning on tour as an amateur, and what were your impressions of Phil back then?

DAVID TOMS: The winter of '91, I was probably -- well, that happened in the -- like in February, wasn't it, in Tucson when he won? So I was actually on my way to the Asian Tour, probably, over there, and I don't want to ever do that again. But that was a good experience for me, though, because it made me appreciate what I had over here and I knew I wanted to play on the PGA TOUR. That's what I was doing. I was probably on my way to Hong Kong for the first tournament and I can almost remember that happening. I think it was impression.

Q. Did you have any impresses of Phil's game going back to then?

DAVID TOMS: It's always been exciting. I played with him when we were in college. I think the first time I ever played with him, we were playing in Tulsa in the fall. We were paired with ASU and he did some wild stuff, chip-ins, just like he does every round. I remember him playing up in Oak Tree in the National Championship. I think he hit one of those backwards shots, even, that week. Just the things you see -- like I said, if I was a fan, that's who I would go watch.

Q. Back to those mood swings. Phil had mentioned that he thought if he had ever gotten over the hump and actually gotten the lead things obviously would have been different. For you, how crucial was it to keep him at bay and never let him get to the forefront?

DAVID TOMS: Earlier, I think it worked against me because I was so defensive out there. Then once we got tied, I just started feeling, well, it looks like I'm going to have to make birdies to win this thing, instead of just kind of hitting fairway, hitting greens and making pars. It just wasn't working out. Even the guys -- I looked at the leaderboard on No. 9, the other guys were making a move in front of us, so all of a sudden you make a couple bogeys and you are tied with a bunch of people. So I decided to get back in the mindset the way I played the first three days and maybe attacking where I could, instead of playing away from all the pins and I was able to do that a couple times.

Q. New Orleans is obviously your home victory. You are the clear favorite. Today walking out there you were not the clear favorite. Did you have any negative experiences with the gallery and could you talk about the feeling of being the overt underdog in this setting?

DAVID TOMS: The people were actually really nice. They were pulling for Phil, but I heard them say my name a lot, too. I heard the LSU thing a lot. It was fine. That's kind of what I expected. The only negative thing that I have to say about it was on No. 12, I had just 3-putted, just missed a short putt and one of the guys in the crowd right next to the green started clapping when I lipped out, so he was obviously pulling for Phil. I kind of stared at him. I didn't know which guy it was, but one of eight people sitting there on the side. I wasn't really -- but my caddy looked at me and just said, "Leave those people alone and we'll do our thing." I was hot under the collar and trying as hard as I could. And to have somebody do that to me in the middle of round when I'm trying to win the PGA Championship is totally uncalled for. I don't understand, there's no room for that. But I got over it and I came back and birdied the next hole, kind of like in-your-face type of deal and it worked out just fine.

Q. In a strange way, did it take more guts to lay up, do you think? Did it cross your mind if it doesn't work out, I'm going to hear about this for years?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, it crossed my mind. But you know I might still be playing that hole if I would have gone for the green. There was nothing good that could happen. There was a bunker behind the pin. I could hit it in the back of that, hit it in the water from there, hit it over the green -- there was in way I could stop that ball on the green, no possible way. I told my caddy, "Best we could hope for is the back fringe." He said, "Well, let's just lay up." I didn't have any options. I had a tough stance and a tough lie. Whether I heard about it or not, that was the thing to do.

Q. Having said that, David, you had the 5-wood in your hand for quite a long time. Did you come close to doing it?

DAVID TOMS: That was my hole-in-one club. I figured I could pull off some more magic. The more I looked at it and looked at it, you know, it just wasn't the right thing to do. Even if I lost that golf tournament because I laid up, I mean, how bad would I have felt if I would have hit in the water and made double or hit it over the green and made double? I mean, at least I gave myself a chance. And it was a positive thing. I mean, laying up, it was not a negative thing. It was a good, positive thing that I did that, and I made it positive, because I knew that was my best chance to make par.

Q. Which shot will you remember most today?

DAVID TOMS: Most today?

Q. Of the 69, which will you be most?

DAVID TOMS: I think the putt on 14, because it was a pretty pivotal shot. It was a putt where you can 3-putt really easy, and I hit it a perfect speed and a perfect line and got a little excited and it's something that, you know -- and then the putt on 18. I just needed that to win, but 14 I think was the one I will remember.

Q. How big was the putt on 1?

DAVID TOMS: The one on 1 was a big putt. I got a bad bounce off the tee and Feherty was down there -- the ball bounced into the rough and I had a terrible lie; thought I hit a decent chip. I had a problem with leaving my chips short all week. The greens, I thought they were firm, but then they would hit the greens and slow down and wasn't able to get them real close. Made about a 12- or 15-footer there for par and that got me started. Kind of calmed my nerves a little bit.

Q. You just won the PGA Championship by one stroke. How is your ace looking to you on Saturday right now?

DAVID TOMS: It was a pretty timely shot. I mean, obviously, it's why I'm sitting here right now and hey, the people were going crazy, I was going crazy. It was a big shot. At the time, I was somewhat struggling. It just kind of put me over the hump to maybe even after that -- it was lucky. Any time you make a hole-in-one -- maybe it was meant to be.

Q. You said last night that you and your wife have had a little fun time this week and you've been by yourselves. Can you take us through what did you do last night, what did you do this morning? Was there any short of luck thing?

DAVID TOMS: Had that Chick-Fil-A again. Didn't want to mess up the rhythm. Big old sweet tea, went home and watched Men of Honor last night. That will get you fired up. That was a pretty neat little story. And slept late. Tried to kill as much time as possible. When you tee off at 3:00 in the afternoon, it's like you run out of things to do. But just your typical day. I mean, nothing crazy. I mean, my wife left -- thought she left her purse in the car yesterday and made me go out and check it right before I teed off, but today everything went smooth. Actually, the only thing that was a little different about today I have two huge blisters on my heels; I had to go in and get some treatment for them this morning. I don't event want to look at them. I'm sure there's blood everywhere in my shoes. So one of those things where you really don't want to have to deal with that, but I guess I walked slow and took my time and it all worked out fine.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, David.

End of FastScripts...

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