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January 10, 2017

David Toms

Honolulu, Hawaii

JOHN BUSH: Like to welcome 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii Champion, David Toms.

Your 11th start here at the Sony Open. If we can just get your thoughts on being back here.

DAVID TOMS: Look forward to a nice week of weather I hope. A little warmer than it is back home in Louisiana the last few weeks. First goal would be to play four rounds and get some golf under my belt before I go over there and play in the Mitsubishi next week. A lot of fond memories here at the Sony Open. I've had some success here in the past, and just enjoy being here.

JOHN BUSH: Let's talk a little bit about that, making your PGA TOUR champions next week at Hualalai. Talk about how much you're looking forward to that.

DAVID TOMS: Like you said, I am looking forward to it. I don't really know what to expect, how it might go. I don't know anything about the golf course. I hear it's a great place, great facility.

So look forward to seeing some of the guys that I haven't seen in a long time, especially in a competitive environment. I don't really know what the Tour is all about out there. I know there's a lot of good golf that's played out there, so you know, here I need to get some rounds under my belt. I played early this morning. I'm not in the Pro-Am, so I'll practice, and like I said, hope to play four rounds, so I'll get some competitive rounds. Haven't played a lot of golf lately, so I need to kind of get back into the swing of things.

Q. Wondering the anxiety level of when you arrived on this tour, how does that compare to the anxiety level approaching the Senior Tour?
DAVID TOMS: I remember when I first got started out here on the PGA TOUR, it was more just keeping your job and having a place to play every year. I played the mini-tour stuff and I played around the world. I knew I finally had a TOUR card, and I wanted -- that was the first thing that you want to do.

Certainly you want to win tournaments. You want to be competitive every week. But the main thing was to keep your TOUR card so you had a place to play. And then it got into where I started having some success.

Finally won a golf tournament, so that takes a little pressure off, and then won multiple events. You settle in every week, knowing that if you play well, you have a chance to win, and so you had that feeling. At least I did for many years.

And then later in my career, it was more about just going out there and trying to stay competitive to get to a Champions Tour to kind of start over, and that's where I am now. It's finally here, and I look forward to a new challenge.

Q. Do you feel anxiety to win?
DAVID TOMS: I feel anxiety from just not really -- the unknown: You know, how does my game stack up there; what's it all about; what's the environment like; three-round tournaments; getting to take a golf cart in a practice round if you want; playing multiple Pro-Ams in one week, which I haven't done that in years. A lot of unknowns, but just I really don't know what to expect.

I think if I go out there and work hard at it and continue to play the type of golf that I played out here for the last few years, it will be fine. But I just really don't know and I look forward to going out there, and like I said, seeing how my game stacks up and what the challenges are.

Q. Your first year on Tour was '92?
DAVID TOMS: '92. My first year was a pro was '89. I played multiple events in the summer of '89, but first full year was '92.

Q. When was your first Masters?
DAVID TOMS: First Masters was '98.

Q. Did you think when you got to Augusta for the first time, that in the year 2017, you were going to having out and try to kick Bernhard Langer's ass?
DAVID TOMS: Well, you know (laughing) I didn't know. Obviously I've been very fortunate, very blessed over the years, to be able to play for a long time.

We were talking at breakfast with a couple of guys, talking about how long I've been out here and was able to play all the way through until I got to the PGA TOUR champions. And I'm not sure how often that's going to be in the next generation; how many guys will be able to play all the way until they are 50 from age -- from turning pro while they are in college or right out of college, from a guy that's 22 years old, playing all the way till he's 50, being exempt on the Tour. I'm not sure how many guys will be able to do that.

And so, like I said, very fortunate to be able to do that. And now it's finally here, and I'm looking forward to that reward. And hopefully being competitive; my best golf, being competitive again.

Q. What kind of schedule do you think you'll keep over here, if any at all?
DAVID TOMS: I really don't know. I've looked at the schedule for next year. I know I'll play a handful of events out here. See how it goes out there and see if I like it and see if I'm competitive. If I have some success and I start playing great, maybe I want to play out here more to see how that stacks up.

But for now, it's been a struggle the last few years; a struggle to keep my card, rather than going out and trying to win golf tournaments. I've had chances, but they are few and far between. And just have had to work extra hard just to be able to make cuts and finish well in tournaments. I'm hoping that will be a little different out there.

Q. (Off-mic).
DAVID TOMS: And it doesn't. I'm not sure that appeals to anyone, really, because especially when you feel like you're playing okay, you put the time in, you try to stay in shape. You do all these things just to be competitive. You know, when you're talking about cuts that are 3-, 4- and 5-under par on good golf courses, just to be around for the weekend sometimes can be a struggle; much less try to win golf tournaments every week.

So it's changed for me. That has, the last five or six years, and it's just not as much fun.

Q. Does it change that there is no hazing on the Champions Tour --
DAVID TOMS: What is that?

Q. Can't do that anymore.
DAVID TOMS: Well, you know, there's not a whole lot of that going on on the PGA TOUR anymore. I know when I first turned pro, I mean, we were talking about it today. There were guys you were scared of, whether it was for good reason or not; you know, you had that respect. You would never hit a par 5 that got anywhere near the green when so-and-so was on the green.

You just don't really have that anymore -- Andy Bean did, Bobby Watkins. I was always close to Lanny, so I respected him. He was always really nice to me and kind of took me under his wing, so I didn't work about that. Hubert Green in the very beginning was that way, but then after I got to know him, he got to know me, he was very supportive.

So you have those guys. Whereas once that you learn their respect and your golf game is respected, then you kind of got past that. But until then, I'm sure there were pairings where on the weekend, you didn't look forward to just because of that intimidation factor.

Q. It was like that for Phil Blackmar.
DAVID TOMS: Very nice man; but until you earned their respect in your golf game and everything and they understood that you stacked up with them competitively, they could be very intimidating.

Q. In your opinion, do you think one of the reasons for that change is because of the older guys that used to be the intimidating type or the young guys that don't give a crap about anything?
DAVID TOMS: I think it's probably a little bit of both, really. The TOUR's gotten younger and younger over time, and so you have it on both ends where it's changed a lot.

Q. Do you think Hale Irwin was intimidated by anybody?
DAVID TOMS: Well, you never know, back whenever that was (laughter) I don't know. I wasn't out here to know.

But there was that factor. And even in the competitive environment, trying to win a golf tournament on Sunday, I know so many guys that were scared of Tiger and his game and everything else. So that went on during my era, as well.

And so, you know, I don't know that there are too many guys anymore that are intimidated by anyone, especially when they are playing very good golf.

JOHN BUSH: What are your memories of the PGA TOUR Champions? Have you watched it much over the years?

DAVID TOMS: I've probably watched it more over the last year than ever before, just to see what they are doing; what kind of clubs they are hitting into par 5s and par 4s; how the golf courses are setup; how they play; how they shoot the scores that they shoot, everything else. So probably more so the last couple years.

But for me, I still go back to watching Nicklaus and Trevino and Palmer all those guys that I was able to play some TOUR events with, and how they moved on to the Champions Tour. A little bit different generation than some.

Q. I hate to ask this question, because it feels like we ought to have a cake and a casket here at the same time. But throwing out Atlanta, what would be one of your top highlights?
DAVID TOMS: Probably winning 2011 at Colonial. My son was really getting into golf at the time. It was a tournament that was close to home that I really enjoy playing every year; that I didn't get to play my first year that I qualified for because I got married that year, first year on TOUR.

So there was a lot of things that went into the history of that event, so winning there late in my career at a course where I had come so close, that was very much a highlight.

And then in New Orleans, winning in 2001 in front of an LSU crowd and kind of a home state guy. Been a long time since a Louisiana guy had won that tournament. So those two really stick out.

Q. Playing with Phil --
DAVID TOMS: Playing with Phil -- well, playing with Ernie Els, and Phil was behind me, in the group behind me. And we had a big wait on 18 and he was standing there on the tee when I hit the tee shot, and watching in the fairway when I hit the second shot on a very difficult hole at the time. One of the hardest holes we played on TOUR at that time, 18 in English Turn. And to make a long putt, within the fairway, that was a neat moment in my career.

Q. That was your Andy Bean.
DAVID TOMS: I guess so, yes (laughs).

Q. (Off-mic).
DAVID TOMS: Well, for here, obviously this course has evolved over the years. It was always firm and fast. Had to fit the fairway. Rough was tough around the greens, around the fairways, so you had to be accurate. Everybody kind of hit it in the same place.

Now the golf course has got a little bit longer through the years. Changed a couple par 5s, par 4s, things like that. But still, a golf course where accuracy is at a premium, so it's always been a good one for me. It's one of the courses where you don't feel like you're behind when you start, right. You don't have to just bomb it.

Certainly long and straight is always good, but here, everybody seems to be kind of in the same area off the tee. Some of us have to arrive at that spot with different clubs. But as far as some of the Champions courses, I know some of the courses we play, I used to play TPC Woodlands in the tournament.

I have to kind of go through -- Sugarloaf, I used to play there and played well there. So courses like that, I know a little bit. A lot of the other ones, I don't know very well and I don't know what to expect. I kind of look at some of their yardages that they play and I hope that's better for me than some of the 7,500-type courses that we play on TOUR now.

I know a lot of the courses I've won on the PGA TOUR, they have changed; they have lengthened; they have changed pars; they have changed grasses and they have done different things. I don't know if they did it to keep me from winning there; not really sure why they have.

But your average guy on TOUR now plays them very well. It's just hard for me to play those courses.

Q. Some Pro-Ams --
DAVID TOMS: That's right. Pro-Am and a practice round, that's right.

Yeah, that's fine. I look forward to that. I've played the Pro-Ams on the PGA TOUR for years and years. I'm not in the Pro-Am this week and I don't know what to do with myself on Wednesday to be quite honest. You've got a little window where you can practice, where you go somewhere and fish and swim, or go to another golf course. I mean, you've got all day to try to figure out what to do. So I've never been one to sit and didn't really look forward to playing a Pro-Am because I think it's great preparation.

JOHN BUSH: Thanks, David.

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