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March 8, 2006

David Toms


DAVE SENKO: David, maybe just to get started, talk a little about your year.

DAVID TOMS: It's been good. Obviously I've played well so far. I think my biggest disappointment was not playing well the last day at Phoenix with a chance to win there. I didn't perform very well.

Other than that, it's gone extremely well this year. I lost obviously in the Match Play to Tom Lehman, but he was playing well at the time, and I didn't have my best day. It's been a good year, off to a good start. I did the same thing last year and kind of leveled off there for a while during the summer which I'm going to try not to do this year. I want to keep up that level of play and see if I can do it the whole year.

Q. Just your thoughts on this golf course, how it's playing.

DAVID TOMS: Yesterday played extremely difficult, I played a practice round yesterday morning, cold and windy, and the wind was, whatever it was, it was opposite of what the golf course was built for, just because you can tell the way the holes were done that it was kind of an awkward type of wind. So it played pretty difficult.

Today it was a little bit better, but the pins were all in the middle of the greens and you could score. But still, I saw some of the scoring, it wasn't even all that great for a Pro Am with the middle of the green pins.

So it's a golf course where you at times have to be pretty careful because you can get in a spot where you can't get up and down the way the greens run off and hit what you think is a pretty good shot and not necessarily get rewarded for it. But it's in good shape, the greens are good. So if you can get it in the right spot, I think you can make a lot of putts.

Obviously the wind will dictate the scores like it always does here. I think it's a good test, the golf course is in good shape, and we'll see.

Q. This tournament has always had a field that's had a little different character than Doral, you're not looking at like 14 of the Top 15 on the Money List, and yet the crowds here and at all of the places they have played have always come out and supported the players that they recognize, the recognizable names, even guys like Freddie, who are not competing so much anymore but long time favorites, so just with all of that long introduction in mind, how have the crowds been to you here?

DAVID TOMS: They have been very good. I mean, what few people have been there the first couple of days that I've been here, they have been very nice and appreciative that I'm here playing their golf tournament. It seems like they will always have a pretty decent crowd here, especially on the weekend.

You know, they will see some good golf, regardless of who is here. I'm sure they will have a good finish. They have had the last two times that it's been played on the golf course that we play now, they have had great finishes with good players. I mean, Todd Hamilton ended up winning a major this year and had a good finish with, I believe it was Davis Love at the end. And last year, Vijay and Padraig Harrington, you know.

So we get supported pretty well everywhere we go. I think the players that do show up that do play the events, I mean, you can't play all of them, but when you do, I mean, I guess you could play all of them, if the Tour made you play all of them, I guess you would, and if we didn't have so many, maybe they would.

But they will have a great tournament and you'll see some good golf, so why not come out and watch.

Q. We talked last Sunday at Doral about what you went through last September, and one of the things that I failed to ask you was when people go through something like that, when they go through a traumatic experience, they say sometimes it changes perspective. Are you a little less quick to anger and quicker to get over the disappointments, has any of that factored in?

DAVID TOMS: No, I think I'm not as quick to be angry and judgmental of myself and my golf game as I once was, just because I'm a more experienced player. I'm a better player, so I put myself there enough times where I'm going to have disappointments.

I'm not near as hard on myself. I don't know that it was necessarily things like that. I had some hand surgery a couple of years ago, too, and I didn't know if I was ever going to play again. I mean, when I pulled my hand out of that cast for the first time, it's like, I'm never going to play. And so once things like that have happened to you, I'm just grateful to be able to play and play at a high level, still. I think it just puts it all in perspective.

Plus now I have a little baby at home. My son was a little one when I was first starting to win golf tournaments on the Tour and now I have another one. I think all of that kind of puts golf into perspective, really. And I just, like I said, overall having more experience, I think it's all helped my golf game for sure.

Q. Just in the last ten or 12 years, the Tour has made a lot of difficult decisions or controversial decisions, the World Golf Championships, the World Golf Foundation, BUY.COM, not everything has worked, and there's always been a diversity of opinion. That being said, going from March to May with THE PLAYERS Championship almost seems to be universally accepted by a lot of entities, players, fans, whatever. Is it that much of a no brainer that that move be made, and do you agree with that move?

DAVID TOMS: To be honest with you, I haven't really grinded that particular move as far as the pros and cons for it and everything else. I've always just listened to the TOUR and feel like, you know, Tim is paid a lot of money to make the right decisions. I think we have some good people in place there making decisions. After being on the board for almost three years, I feel totally confident in what they are doing. If it's not the right thing, it's awfully close to being the right thing.

And they have always said that they wanted to move that golf tournament, from an agronomy standpoint. I think maybe coming after The Masters even kind of adds some more to it. I think they want to position it like a major, and I think the May date is even going to help that more and more.

Q. Do you think that course in a situation where it's going to play firmer or faster in more years than if it had stayed in March, what does it do for the tournament, are you going to have more years like when David Duval won at 3 under?

DAVID TOMS: When the ball is bouncing there, it makes it that much more difficult to hit the fairways. Now, they have been so soft the last few years, you know, if you got one that never started on the fairway line, it would stay in.

So I think it will add some teeth to the golf course, for sure. Not that it needs any, but it will be I think you'll have some years where it will play awfully difficult when the ball is bouncing around. I think it's a good move, I really do. Plus, it gives us another six weeks to get the clubhouse finished, so that's a big deal.

Q. If you were voting for the World Rankings instead of having them give it to you, who would you write in for No. 2 on the list right now?

DAVID TOMS: Oh, let's see, I don't have all everybody's results in front of me, who would be the second best player, I don't know, I guess you still have to go with Vijay because the way he's played golf for the last, you know, few years now. He's just played fantastic, plus he plays a lot. I don't know how that affects his divisor and all that junk, I don't even try to figure it out. I know he plays a lot, he supports the TOUR, he plays great. He'd have to be right there I think.

Q. A year ago, we were talking about the Big Four, the Big Five and it was exciting at the time when Vijay was No. 1 for a while. What do you think is better for the game, to have a dynasty in place, like Tiger, or when you had the appearance of parity, at least among a handful of guys?

DAVID TOMS: You know, I think that was a good I think the Big Four, that was a big story. I think that was pretty neat, to have all those guys challenging Tiger at that particular time.

It seems like they were all playing pretty he well at the same time, too, so it was a good story. I think that's a better story than having somebody dominate the Tour. But, you know what, I had a perfect opportunity to take one of those away from him last week and I wasn't able to get it done. Somehow, he finds a way to get it done. He bogeyed the last two holes and still won. I don't know what it is, but he's awfully tough to beat, no matter, you know, who the player is that's trying to do it.

Q. How easy is that to shake off what happened on Sunday?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I mean, I really had not thought about it too much. I had this little old lady ran into today when I got finished, she said, did I sleep very good on Sunday night. I was like, yeah, I was fine. Not ever having I never did catch him, so I was always still coming from behind, coming from behind. It just wasn't that big of a deal. I was upset with myself but I wasn't upset with the way I played.

I made the comment after the round that I lost that golf tournament on Saturday, not on the last hole on Sunday, because I didn't play great on Saturday, didn't shoot in the 60s, and ultimately, that was the round that cost me the golf tournament, I think.

Q. At the beginning of the press conference, you mentioned Phoenix being one of the disappointments for you, were you more disappointed at Phoenix than Doral?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I was there with a chance to win, I wasn't playing against Tiger, I was playing against Holmes and Villegas and some young guys. I felt like I was going to play well that day. Played great all week, I like that golf course, I like the atmosphere there, I wanted to win that golf tournament, still want to win it, and I just didn't perform that day. So I was definitely more disappointed in that. I mean, I performed Sunday, I just didn't win. In Phoenix, I didn't get it on done on any level. I didn't drive it well, didn't putt it well, shot over par, well over par, wasn't like I shot 69 and lost. I just didn't play good at all, so I was definitely more disappointed that week.

Q. One last question about your Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teammate there, Chris DiMarco, how is he viewed is he viewed more as an overachiever because he doesn't have all of the physical skills that a Tiger Woods does and he got his putting stroke back and got up there and now he's Top 10 in the world, or is it underachieving that he has not won in four years?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I mean, I don't think he's an overachiever. You look at his record since he was in college, he's always been one of the better players for his particular age group, I mean, All American and was always a good player. Took him a while to get out here and get established. I think he would tell you, he has not won as many golf tournaments as he should win, and I don't really know why. Does he put too much pressure on himself, is he just in the wrong place at the wrong time, playing good and somebody else plays better, I mean, a lot of stuff goes into that.

But I don't see him as somebody that gets everything out of his game. I think he has a good game, and he deserves to be one of the top players. I think he's an underachiever in the fact that he has not won as much as I think he should.

Q. But in match play, the last few match play competitions, he's got a 6 1 2 record, what's he meant to the U.S. in both of those events?

DAVID TOMS: He's obviously been very solid and somebody you can count on to go out and play well and to represent his country. He thrives on it. He's a grinder, he's got that bulldog mentality that he hates to lose. He's very competitive and it shows in the way he goes about playing those Events. He is not going to back down, he's not scared of anybody. He's somebody that I would want on my team etch and every time.

Q. He said he wishes somebody would think of another way to describe him other than bulldog.

DAVID TOMS: Well, yeah, exactly, sorry Chris. I'm going to keep calling him, how about that. (Laughter).

Q. Call him a tiger.

DAVID TOMS: Oh, boy, he wouldn't like that one at all. (Laughter).

Q. You didn't play with Villegas at Phoenix?

DAVID TOMS: I did not. I've played behind him both of those weekends, both places.

Q. I wanted to know a close up observation, but you have not got to see him?

DAVID TOMS: I think he's got a lot of charisma, carries himself very well, he's a confident young man. I can tell just by the way he goes about his business, and obviously can play golf pretty well, too. So he doesn't seem like he's intimidated by what's going on out here at all. You know, I think it's good for the TOUR. I mean, you know, I think a Latin American person playing great on the tour, can't be bad for our following, that's for sure. He's as nice as can be, he's polite. I hope he continues to play well.

Q. The TOUR has come up with some demographics on that golf 20/20 and the increase of interest among certain demographic groups, and Hispanic Americans are among the fastest growing group. And there have been some good South American golfers like Coceres and Carlos Franco, but Camilo is the first guy, early 20s, young guy, because those guys were in their 30s, do you think that having a young golfer to represent that demographic group helps that situation even more?

DAVID TOMS: Probably so, because it might be somebody that can follow for a long time if he continues to improve and win tournaments and everything. I mean, I think he's got to step up and eventually win, and I think he will. Obviously he's been close so far. I think that would be big for him. Yeah, somebody that maybe they can connect with in maybe a younger group. I know that we have some younger American fans that follow Tiger and so forth, so why not have somebody they can relate to and be able to grow up with him and follow the TOUR.

DAVE SENKO: Thanks, David.

End of FastScripts.

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