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June 25, 2019

David Toms

Notre Dame, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome in the defending champion David Toms into the media center here at the Warren Course. David had a one-stroke victory last year at the Broadmoor. David, can you tell us some of the memories you have of that great week and especially coming down the stretch on that Sunday last July?

DAVID TOMS: I just remember enjoying the whole experience at the Broadmoor. I thought it was a great place, especially for a family from Louisiana, that time of year. It just felt good to be in the mountains, and we enjoyed that. Had my whole family there and my son's girlfriend, so we had a nice little group. Just enjoyed hanging out.

I played really solid all week. I practiced well in the practice rounds. Obviously the whole story with my son caddying for the first two days and then my caddie going down and then coming back, all that just added to the experience. It was unique.

As far as winning the golf tournament or whatnot, what I felt down the stretch, when I look back at when I have won events, big events, it just all seems to go so fast, and then all of a sudden you're right there in it at the end, and things go your way and you come out on top. It's never like one of those things where it seems like it just takes forever and all these things go through your mind and just how do you win and fighting adversity.

I just remember when I've won tournaments, especially big tournaments, they all seem to go by fast, and then all of a sudden you're right there in it at the end and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. But it just seems -- and that's why when people ask you about how you felt or this shot or that shot, it just -- it's kind of almost like a blur.

I've never understood how Jack Nicklaus or a Tiger Woods or somebody that's won so many tournaments, how they remember every single shot, how they felt and what their yardage was and all that. Maybe it's -- I don't know, maybe it's just me and my memory is not that great, but it always just seems to all run together, and it just -- sometimes it works out your way.

THE MODERATOR: What are some of the coolest things you got to do with the trophy over the past year? You have a year's perspective. It's been a year since you won. Where did you bring it and what are some things you did with it?

DAVID TOMS: It's kind of funny, to answer your question, I was scared to death of the thing. It came with two big locks on it and all this stuff, and I was like: I'm not taking it anywhere. I'm just going to lock it up in my library. I don't want to be responsible for something happening.

But I had it on display at my golf academy for a while, which was cool, so all the young kids that probably weren't even around when I was actually winning other tournaments, they could see a new trophy. That was kind of neat.

But as far as -- I didn't do a whole lot with it. I'm not a big drinker so I wouldn't do that, and I don't eat cereal so I wasn't going to have Cheerios out of it or anything. I just kind of left it where it was, and every time I walked by my office, it was a memory of, hey, you're a champion of a USGA event finally, and that was a big deal for me.

Q. You're an LSU alum, LSU super fan. Now coming to Notre Dame, you've had the opportunity to do that a couple times before the championship and now through registration over at the football stadium. What has that experience been like for you?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I mean, one of the neatest sports things that I've ever gotten to do was when I was here for the media day and I got to tour the campus with Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis and listen to their stories. I didn't really appreciate Notre Dame near as much as I do now, and probably still wouldn't have except for being -- spending that time with them and hearing of their experience here and how much it meant to them and why they enjoyed it and all the cool little traditions that are about -- that this place has.

That was a great really day and a half that I got to spend here and appreciate it more, and I look forward to coming back for a football game at some point. I'm not sure I'd give up a big LSU home game for it, but if it's one of those out-of-conference games or something like that, maybe I can make a trip up here.

Q. I know when you were here, you were supposed to come in late January when there was the polar vortex, so that was smart. But when you were hear in May, you didn't have a chance to do anything but see the golf course. What do you remember about the little tour that you made, before you had to leave, of the golf course then, what it looks like now, and how many times you've played it, and what do you think of this Coore Crenshaw course?
DAVID TOMS: Sure. Well, I've only played it one time, and what struck me the last time I was here, and even more so today, is how mature the golf course is for being a fairly new golf course, or the look of it. And we talked about it many times today with the guys in my group and the caddies and in general, it looks like a historic golf course to me. I don't know if it's the design or just the overall look and the way the bunkering is or if it's the way the clubhouse is set back in the trees and it's kind of dark, just the whole place in general looks like it's been here for quite a while.

I've always enjoyed that, playing historic venues and things like that, old-style golf courses. I'm sure hoping that it dries out a little bit. Obviously they had a lot of rain yesterday and in recent days, and so I think it'll play a lot better for everyone when the fairways start to chase out and the undulation in the fairways becomes a factor.

But I look forward to it. I think they're going to be able to control scoring based on pin placements, and you can't short-side yourself around this golf course, especially on some of the par-3s. You've got to know where the miss is and be aggressive, try to make birdies when you can, and you feel good about the yardage and the pin, but there are a lot of spots around the green that are trouble when you get into them.

Q. How difficult was it last year to get locked in a little bit with the elevation change and stuff in Colorado? I know some guys said we were coming up short or maybe air mailing a few greens, just trying to get dialed in. How much did you have to kind of fight through that on your way to winning the title?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I think that's what my son did the best is really kept me into that part of it. As golfers, you get ahead of yourself. You've got a yardage, you pull a club, you think you have the shot and it doesn't come off right, and a lot of times it's because your game plan wasn't very good. You hit a solid shot, and you end up in a bad spot. But my son did a good job of that with the altitude, with reading putts and stuff, and as the week went on, I just got better and better at it. You step up on a hole, you know where your aim point is, you know how the hole is playing, up or downhill, and is it playing short.

And the holes just seem to get more and more like that as the week went on. I just felt we did a really good job. And even when my caddie came back on the weekend, it just carried over, and never really got ahead of myself. Never thought about winning until it was really over, to be honest.

I mean, you know you have a chance, but you saw I made a couple of big putts down the stretch to even be able to come out on top. You just never know. You've got to put yourself in that position. That's what I'll try to do this week is start off -- it's going to be very important to be in the fairway, pick your spots where you can be aggressive. Other times just try to play for par because par is always a good score in these tournaments.

Go in there with that attitude and know it's going to be a long week and it's going to be quite the test if you do have a chance and it's going to be a lot of long days, and we'll hope for the rest.

Q. What mindset do you come in here with being the defending champion?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I think it's -- at least you don't have that doubt in your mind whether or not you can win this tournament. That always helps. But at the same time, every week that we play on the PGA TOUR Champions, that's I guess how it got its name, they're all champions and they've won tournaments, and it's a big deal; which separates it from the PGA TOUR, which I've played a couple times recently, because you have so many guys in those fields that have never won a golf tournament. So that always has to be in the back of your mind as a player, that, hey, I've either done it before or I've never been able to do this.

In a case for me this week, I know I've won a USGA event, I've won U.S. Senior Open championship on a tough golf course. This is going to be another test, and why not go out there with the attitude that I can do it again, and I just have to put myself in the position.

Q. When you got on these greens here this week, what do you see about these greens? You've putted various places on the greens today. What do you see? What have you found out about these greens?
DAVID TOMS: A lot of up-and-over, I call it, which means you'll be uphill into the grain, which is slow, and then once you top the hill, go down the other side and it runs away, so then it's downhill, downgrain, which makes speed control very important and very difficult. So if you're not on the right tier, which to be on the right tier of the green next to the hole, you've had to be very aggressive to get to that spot. So if you play to the center of the green, so to speak, you're going to have a lot of up-and-over kind of putts where speed control is going to be difficult but very important to have a good score.

I felt like that all day. Every time I tried to put a ball in the middle of the green, whether I hit it there or I dropped balls there to practice to the different quadrants of the green, I always felt like every putt was up and over, and to me that's one of the hardest things in golf to get used to.

Q. How many Ben and Bill courses have you played? Do you like their design? Does their design style kind of fit your eye?
DAVID TOMS: Well, you would probably have to name them all that we've played on to say if I've played there or not. I know I have played quite a few of them. But I enjoy it. Crenshaw was one of the guys that I looked up to growing up playing golf, and even when I got on TOUR. I played an exhibition with him when I was 18 years old in my hometown, and so I always -- and he was the kind of guy that would pull you to the side and give you advice and see what you were doing wrong and have words of encouragement and was always very nice to me. For somebody that you always looked up to, for them to kind of reciprocate that and take an interest in you, I always had a lot of respect for him and certainly like his work.

I think they're very playable golf courses, but at the same time, you've got to hit the shots. And then obviously on the greens, short game is important, which he was always great at.

Q. Four top-five finishes, eleven top-15's in thirteen starts this year. How do you feel like your game is heading into this week?
DAVID TOMS: You know, it's been good. I haven't really put a whole week together yet where I felt like I was really in control every day and playing great. First week out of the box I had a chance to win. I had a four-shot lead going into the last round, and Tom Lehman played a great round of golf and beat me. I played okay, actually, and got beat.

So a lot of that kind of stuff goes on where you feel like you're playing pretty good, but you just can't ever go backwards. Last week I had two solid good rounds and I had an even-par round on Saturday, so then I didn't have a chance to win.

Feel solid about the game, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces together at the right time. I've had some decent putting weeks, not great for the whole week. I've had some ball-striking days where they were excellent and I thought I had it licked, and then you go out the next week and you kind of struggle to get a feel.

I'm close to being in a good spot, but I still have some things that I know are weaknesses right now in my game, and I have to play more to my strengths and know how to game plan for that.

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