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August 16, 2001

David Toms


JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, the 83rd PGA Championship has finally begun and David Toms has fired a 66 in the first round. Congratulations and let's hear about your day today.

DAVID TOMS: I got off to a fast start. I guess I birdied -- started on 10. I birdied 10. I birdied 12. Then I birdied 13 -- I think that's right. I got off to a quick start. Really, played just solid all day. Hit the ball great. Hit most of the fairways, most of the greens, made one long putt. Other than that, I made one -- well, I made two bogeys. Drove it in the rough on 14. Couldn't really advance it, got it in the front bunker. Made bogey there. Then I bogeyed 6. Also drove it in the rough. So, other than that, it was pretty solid.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you. Questions, folks.

Q. Ryder Cup question. What sense do you get from Curtis? How strongly you are being considered and what kind of vibes are you getting from him?

DAVID TOMS: I've only talked to him once for any length of time. That was at the Western Open. The one thing he did say is that he didn't think he would go beyond the 15th position for his pick. He said that would be stretching it. And he didn't say I had a chance to be picked. He said, "Play well." You know, I've got it figured that I've got to finish in the Top-10. That's the only way that -- no experience in that type of format, not much match-play experience whatsoever. But, you know, I do have a good record the last three years, so, who knows. If I can build on what happened today, you know, I'll have a chance to make it.

Q. Would you walk us through 15 through 18. There's so much talk about that being the pivotal part of the game and the tournament.

DAVID TOMS: Yes. 15, think it was playing 238 today. I hit a 5-wood through the green in the back rough. Actually, you know, it was a safe shot, but I'm chipping out of deep rough, but I've got the water just beyond the pin. I left it 20 feet short and made a nice par-saving putt there. 16 is very demanding off the tee. Although it was playing downwind today, I hit a good driver and I had an 8-iron in. So it was playing probably as short as it is going to play unless it dries up some. It is a very demanding tee shot. You can be in the right side of the fairway and not have a shot to the green because the tree overhangs the fairway. 17 was also playing short today. I think the yardage was right at 200 yards. I hit a 5-iron all the way to the back of the green. It shows you it was playing short. It's downhill and downwind today, but with the pin on the front it made it very difficult to get the ball close. But, you know, coming down the stretch on Sunday, that's going on a tough hole because you've got to hit the ball solid. Make sure you get it over the water. Then, 18 is -- it's probably the most difficult par 4 I've ever played. It's a difficult tee shot. You want to hit it down the left side to cut off some yardage, but then the water is right there. Then the second shot, I mean, you know it's a par 5. You know, that's what it is and I think that's probably how it is going to play for this golf tournament. You know, it's a tough hole. I mean, I hit a three -- I've got a drive as good as I could hit it today and I had a 3-iron in on my second shot. Hit a nice, high, soft shot in the middle of the green about 25 feet and 2-putted and got out of there. If I can play that hole like that every day, then I would be more than happy.

Q. Given your summer, could you tell us what the story has been this year? Your last really good tournament was probably three months ago at Colonial, and on top of that, how important it was to start well today?

DAVID TOMS: Part of the story is that I've really only played two golf tournaments in about a seven-week period after Colonial. I had some momentum, but the way the tournaments fell this year and the ones I normally play, that's just the way it worked out. I really didn't mean -- I didn't take any time off because I was tired. I didn't take any time off because something was wrong in my family life. That's just the way my schedule was, so I didn't play for a while. When I came back, I think I was pressing to try to get back to where I was at the Colonial and weeks prior to that, and trying too hard. Then every time I was at a golf tournament, you know, I had people asking me about the Ryder Cup, so you start thinking about that and you're pressing. It just hasn't been very good. But I've been working hard at it, trying to stay positive. I played solid golf tee-to-green last week. In fact, I played really good and I just putted awful. I got here with my teacher on Tuesday, after I went home for two days. My little boy started school this week; had a couple nice, actually, a day and a half at home. Came back here. I played great on Tuesday. Played great yesterday. Played the golf course well and it just carried over today. Just played a good, solid round.

Q. David, was playing early this morning an advantage, do you think, and did you take everything from the course that it would give you today?

DAVID TOMS: I don't know. Early on this morning, it's so wet out there from the dew that the ball is not really going as far. I think the holes are playing longer. The greens are still soft. They are as soft , when I just finished, as they were on the first hole. Maybe traffic on the greens, they might not be as good as they were the first few groups, but I don't think it played -- unless the wind picks up, this afternoon, I think it will play about the same. As far as getting everything out of my round today, I really didn't. I was 4-under after No. 4 on the front side with a par 5 to play. We got put on the clock. We were a hole and a half behind. Didn't take my time on the tee shot there on the next hole, because Niclas Fasth had just had a bad time on the par 3 so I was not aware of that. Hurried up on the tee and drove it in the fairway bunker. If I drove it in the fairway on the par 5 I could easily reach the green today because it plays downwind. I ended up struggling to make a par, which I think that is the easiest birdie hole on the golf course. At least today it was. So I gave up a shot there. We were also being timed the next hole, No. 6. Didn't take my time, got up, blew it in the right rough, made bogey. Then No. 7, I hit it in there about ten feet. Still on the clock. Kind of didn't take my time to look at the putt. Misread it. Made par, after I hit a great shot. So that stretch of holes right there 5, 6, and 7 easily, could have been two to three shots better than what my score was today. So I don't think I got everything out of my round. I think I played better than 4-under par.

Q. Given the conditions of the greens and the relative lack of wind, are you expecting these four days to get pretty low on us? Are the scores going to get way down?

DAVID TOMS: If it rains, the course is going to play longer. It's finally drying out a little bit. That's the only thing that makes it difficult; we are picking up mud on every tee shot. Every iron shot, there was mud on the golf ball. Which, hitting over some of these lakes and some of these tucked pins, you can plug one in the bunker when you feel like you put a good swing on it. This being a major championship and a lot at stake, I think in the end, the scores are -- I don't think they are going to be as low as what you are seeing overall today. I think depending on the weather and the wind -- but still, you know, the greens are receptive. I mean, even though you are hitting 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-irons into the holes, the greens are holding, pretty much wherever they hit. It all depends on what happens with the weather and what the golf course does, because I don't think they are going to put any water on these greens. They might have to, to keep them alive if it stays this hot. You know, you start thinking about it, the last nine on Sunday and it gets a little tight -- but it happens every week. I mean, every week on the PGA TOUR, somebody shoots 8- or 9-under the first day and it's like, oh, God it's going to be 30-under is going to win this tournament. 12 -, 15-under wins. This being a major, you can lower that down. I think the golf course, in the end, you know that you have to hit the fairways because if you miss the fairways you're going to make bogeys. Guys are going to miss a few here and there and I think the scores will even out and not be that low.

Q. Following up on that, all the talk before this tournament began was only the long hitters have a chance to win on this golf course; and yet, even though it is early, the leaderboard that we are looking at is pretty different in that regard. There is a variety of lengths out there. What is different about that conventional wisdom and the reality of this morning rounds today?

DAVID TOMS: No. 1, you have to hit the fairway. So if you are going to be long, you'd better be accurate, because I don't care -- I tried to hit a 9-iron on No. 6 out of the rough and I mean it went 30 yards left of where I was aiming. Even though I could get the club on it, it went straight left. You know, you've got some long hitters that obviously, if they are hitting the ball straight, they are at an advantage. But they are at an advantage every week. The greens are big, so you are hitting -- if you are in the fairway, you are going to hit most of the greens, so the guy that might be putting well or lag putting or maybe making some long putts -- Fred Funk made some long putts and had a good round and shot 4-under par with a bogey at the last hole. I just think that this golf course, anybody can play it. It helps to have the length, but you still have to hit it in the fairway and the greens are nice. I don't see a problem with, you know, one of the medium-length hitters having a chance to win here. I mean, I think could I win on this golf course. Looking at the stats on the Tour, I'm like No. 100, but I'm averaging 280. It's not like I'm popcorn out there, it's just that guys are starting to hit it a long way.

Q. Every Championship, we talk about somebody being put on the clock, and they think maybe it is unfair. Is it because the marshals have trouble moving the galleries? Do you feel that you get kind of a bum wrap on that?

DAVID TOMS: I think as far as our groups today, just a combination of things. We might have all struggled on the same hole, where it takes awhile to play a hole so you get behind. Over on No. 17, I had a guy drive -- there's a big cart path behind the tee and the guy drives up, just flying in the golf cart right behind me at the top of your backswing so you have to get him settled down. Maybe one of the guys in the group might be not a slow player but takes his time, so over the course of five hours you're out there, you're going to get behind. It just unfortunate, because I know those guys out there -- they are not out there to get in your way and make you mad, but it's their job to keep play moving along and they have to do it. We understand that. I don't think it's any one thing that gets people behind.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, questions twice. Thank you, David.

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