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June 27, 2019

David Toms

Notre Dame, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome the defending champion, David Toms, into the media center. David, 10 birdies, two bogeys and 8-under par round of 62. That ties the lowest round in USGA Open history. It's also the lowest opening round by a defending champion in the U.S. Senior Open. The 10 birdies also sets a record. That's the most in the U.S. Senior Open. A lot of records today, a very good round, obviously. Let's go through your scorecard first. You started on the 10th hole with a birdie right off the bat.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, just a great drive, a 9-iron in there pretty close, and good way to start. So I gave it right back at the 12th hole. I hit a -- short-sided myself with a 6 on that par-3, and I did that a couple times early in the round and made a couple bogeys. Kind of had to rethink the way to play the course.

I thought being soft, I could really attack it, and I just -- I was a little off with my iron shots early on and was still a little too aggressive and paid the price for it.

But rallied on the back from that and started hitting better shots and ended up with a great score.

Do you want to go through all the holes?

THE MODERATOR: Yeah, so 13, the par-4 there.

DAVID TOMS: The 13th would be -- it's the one with the water on the right over there. I haven't played the course very much so I have to think about it for a second.

THE MODERATOR: Right before your bogey.

DAVID TOMS: 13, hold on a second. Oh, that's the short hole. I hit sand wedge in from the first cut of rough, and actually I was pretty fortunate that I was in the rough because I had a yardage where I had to hit a hard sand wedge, and it took the spin off it. So I hit it in there really close and made birdie.

And then gave it right back at the next hole. Again, I missed it left in the bunker and hit a good shot, missed the putt.

The next hole, made birdie there. I hit pitching wedge just behind the hole, sucked it back down the hill really close. I don't know, it was probably three or four feet away. So made birdie there.

Par-5, 17, I was just short of the green, I hit a delicate little pitch up and over the edge of that bunker and hit a great chip shot to really close, within five feet, so that was nice to get that one.

THE MODERATOR: And made the turn, birdied 1 and 2.

DAVID TOMS: Birdied 1, hit a sand wedge in there. Actually didn't hit a very good shot for me. I hit it about 18, 20 feet to the right of the pin. I made a nice putt up the hill there. That was a good way to turn.

And then I birdied the par-5, next hole, just in front of the green again about 20 yards short and hit a nice pitch in there real close again, four or five feet.

THE MODERATOR: 3, 4, 5, three pretty good pars there on the toughest stretch on the course.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, the third hole I hit a great drive down the right side and the tree was in my way. There's a tree that overhangs, and I hit great kind of punch 5 underneath that tree, it was one of the better shots all day, and hit it up there about 20 feet or so under the hole and just left it hanging on the lip there, so that was a nice par.

The next hole, I had a really good look. I hit a great drive, hit 6-iron about 15 feet behind the hole and didn't make, but I left it short, actually. So I was a little disappointed in that one.

Par-3, I hit 3-wood today. It was right at 250 into the wind, I believe, and hit it kind of a hot 3-wood, it went past the hole, and I had a nice two-putt there. I had a very difficult first putt. So I got out of there with a nice par.

Like you said, that's a big part of the round, those three holes, and to make pars and have birdie chances, that was a big key to shooting a low score.

THE MODERATOR: That probably felt a little more like the Broadmoor last year.

DAVID TOMS: Oh, yeah, tough holes, very tough holes.

And then we go again to -- I made birdie on 6. I hit 6-iron just about 12 feet right of the hole I guess it was. So nice putt there.

The next hole, I hit 8-iron in, also about 12 feet right of the pin, made a nice little -- had a little downhill right-to-left putt, went right in the middle.

And then the par-3, made another nice little 15-footer, I was left of the hole 15, 18 feet, something like that, after hitting a 6-iron, as well.

So like I said, a lot of mid-irons on this golf course for me, not being a power player. So you have to be striking it well to score.

And then the last hole, drove it right down the middle, had 9-iron in, and I hit, again, about the same, maybe 12 feet or so, 13 feet right of the pin and made another nice putt.

THE MODERATOR: Following up, your win last year, a great round today, six strokes better than any other defending champion had come out and shot. How much were you thinking about this championship in the year in between? Obviously playing a lot of other events, but your mind had to be on coming back here to try and defend this title.

DAVID TOMS: Oh, absolutely. I saw the golf course, what, a month or so ago, and I knew it was going to be a solid test, depending on conditions. I was looking forward to it. Spending a couple days here at Notre Dame really made me excited to get back, and for my wife and daughter to see it. So I look forward to going to the bookstore this afternoon, getting a T-shirt or a hat or something, just kind of what we like to do, and my daughter wants to do that.

Yeah, I mean, today was all about getting off to a good start. Obviously 62 is a bonus, but when you're defending champion, you just want to get out there, play golf and try to be in the golf tournament after the first day and not shoot yourself out of it.

And so I'm in a good spot, and it's a long week. We all know that. I mean, it's four rounds this week instead of three, and so that's the difference.

It's going to be hot it looks like. My back has been very iffy lately. I'm hoping that it holds up for four rounds and that I don't have any issues there. Today I was good, and the heat helps. So that's really going to be key for me, to pace myself and hope my back holds up. I like the way I putted the ball today compared to way it's been going, so that gives me some confidence going into the rest of the week.

Q. David, you were even par through 5, and then you go 8-under in your final 13. Did anything change for you?
DAVID TOMS: It didn't change at all. I mean, I felt good just early in the round. I just felt like I was being too aggressive a couple times. I was still in the fairway, had a chance. But when you're hitting back there 190 yards, let's hit the green. If it gets close, that's a bonus.

I was trying to hit the perfect shot a couple of times, didn't make the swing, and paid the price. So I just started on -- I'm like, let's just focus. When we're in a good spot, we can attack it. When we're not, let's just hit it on the green. It started to pay off because I felt good with the putter. My speed was really good today, which I've been struggling with that.

When that feels good, I feel like you can make them, it makes the hole a little bit bigger, and that ended up to be what happened today.

Q. Depending on what happens with the weather, there may not be another low 60s out there, so what do you do going forward?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I certainly hope it dries up a little bit. Yesterday afternoon the golf course was perfect. We were getting some roll, getting some bounce on the greens. For a guy that doesn't hit it very far, I really -- I didn't want to see it rain last night. It made the fairways wider. It made being able to get the ball out there -- a golf course where I'm hitting 5 or 6, there are a lot of guys who are hitting 7, 8 and 9. The shorter the golf course can play, the better I feel about it.

You're right, it will probably get more difficult, but at the same time I feel like I can play it well.

THE MODERATOR: Anything change specifically with the putting? You mentioned you were rolling it really well today. Anything click over the last few weeks that you felt really came to culmination today?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I've used conventional grip, I've used claw. I've done a little bit of everything here lately. Not that I've been putting bad, I just didn't feel like I was making enough to be competitive as I wanted to be. I went conventional yesterday in the practice round, and it felt good. I did it all day today, and it felt good. I'll try to stick with it, maybe, at least for tomorrow, and see if we can roll in a few more.

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