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February 21, 2006

David Toms


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, David, for joining us for a few minutes in the media center. Defending champion here, had an opportunity to play the course under some dry conditions, and also you started off the year quite well with a victory already.

Why don't you just talk about coming back and defending your title in something different than a stroke play event and how tough it is.

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, it is tough. It's tough to win a golf tournament anytime. But match play format, seems like you have to be a little bit lucky at times. I've played well at times and had won matches that way, and I hadn't played so well other times and was able to win, just because my opponent didn't play that great. You don't know.

I have a tough match starting out, Ian Poulter. We met pretty late in the matches last year. We had a tough match and I had to play extremely well to win. The golf course is drier. We're good getting a little bit of roll off the tee, which we haven't had here years in the past. The greens are a little bit smoother. It's still pretty receptive. You can still get the ball close to the hole if you get good shots, and the greens are rolling a little bit better.

I think the scoring will be, if the weather keeps up, the scoring will be good. So I have to play good to get by each time. I just approach it as I have to play well tomorrow to win and go from there.

Q. How do the drier, faster conditions change who this course may favor or not favor? And if it does, at all?

DAVID TOMS: Well, maybe it will bring some of the shorter hitters into it a little bit more. But you never know. It depends on who you get paired against. You could have a couple of medium, short hitters play each other, a couple of bombers play each other. I know when I played Tiger that year in the finals it was tough, and he was hitting the ball a lot further than I was. But I don't know, it really depends on your draws as far as who it's going to favor and how the course is going to play for each player.

To me, I like it. I know some of the holes I can hit a little shorter club into than last year, at least so far. It will be fine. But like I said, it all depends on your opponent and who you're playing and what you have to do to win.

Q. What are you going to miss about this place?

DAVID TOMS: The fact I've had good results. Anytime you they've taken a lot of tournament venues away from me where I've played well. I don't know, maybe it's me, I don't know what happens. Callaway Gardens, Kingsmill, and they're leaving here, places like that where I've played well. They tend to leave them, I don't know why. Once I figure it out, they head out of town.

Q. Why didn't you play last week?

DAVID TOMS: I didn't play well, I skipped Pebble Beach, I went snow skiing that week with my family. We had I was on the fence whether or not I was going to play. I didn't commit and then withdraw, I was just waiting until the last minute to see. And my wife wasn't feeling too well, a couple of well, my children weren't feeling all that great. My son has a lot of activities, he's got baseball tennis, baseball and basketball all going at the same time. And I thought I'd be better served to stay home and be a dad and take care of that.

Plus I'm going to be playing the next three events in a row, so that would have been four in a row. You never know how long this week will last. It can be a short week or it can be a long, grinding week, you're just not sure. I had to approach it as this was a week long event. Four weeks in a row was going to be a little much, especially going from West Coast to East Coast, and I wasn't going to be able to spend much time home anywhere in there. All that factored in my decision.

Q. Did any part of you at all feel bad for Ian at all last year in the semis?

DAVID TOMS: No. I don't know, I guess if I was on the receiving end of what I was doing, it would have been tough because I know that he was playing pretty well and probably felt like he was. Every time it looked like he was going to have the upper hand on a particular hole I did something to either stuff it in there really close or

Q. Make it?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, just didn't give him a whole lot of daylight to it's happened to me before in matches where even when you feel like you're playing well, the other guy is doing it a little bit better. I'm sure he'll be ready to play tomorrow morning and make up for what happened in our match last year, and it should make for some great golf.

Q. There was a lot of questions asked of Europeans this morning about how few Americans are in this field now compared to the first couple of years was 39, I think, each year. What are your thoughts on how much this has changed, and is it a reflection of the rankings or is it a reflection of the type of player that's coming out of the rest of the world?

DAVID TOMS: I think it's just a reflection of it's a global game. There are World Ranking points being earned all over the world, not just on the PGA TOUR. We have a lot of foreign born players now playing the Tour and earning points over here. You can see what happens with the Ryder Cup points and so forth, how guys don't earn as many points as they used to. They've already changed the format for that. I know they want to change it more, where you don't have to win top 10 for points, just because there are so many foreign players that have high finishes.

It's a global sport. Those guys are very prepared when they come over to play our Tour. They've played all around the world to get ready. They're great players. I don't know are you asking me the question, what can we do to have more American players, or is it just I don't know, I think that's just the direction our sport is headed.

Q. There was even a joke this morning about the best young American players are women. A reporter made the comment, not a player. But I guess maybe that is a global perception. A lot of the younger players, the better players, are coming from the world. How do you see that?

DAVID TOMS: A lot of times they're turning professional when a lot of our American players would just be entering college. Our young players are playing against other college players for four or five years and then playing mini Tours and trying to earn their way out. A lot of the foreign players, they jump into professional golf right away, they start professional right away. They're playing all over the world. And by the time that they're still a young guy, they've been playing professional golf for a long time. And it's just different.

Not that college golf doesn't prepare you for the next level, I think it does. But it's a different environment. You're still in school. You don't learn to manage your life. You have somebody doing that for you; you just show up and play golf. And I think these guys just know. They're more seasoned, they know how it all works, more so than the young American player does.

Q. Looking back at the first couple of Match Plays or whatever, does it feel different out here with a lot more foreign players?

DAVID TOMS: It doesn't feel different, because we see them all the time, other than a lot of guys that are concentrating in Europe. We see a lot of the other guys every single week. I don't think so. You run into a few guys you don't see very often coming over to play from Europe. But for the most part in big events you see them anyway. It's nice to see some of those guys that you don't see very often and say hello, how have you been, and what's going on. Other than that it's just another tournament.

Q. You can relate to what it's like to go home early after traveling a long way. Australia you got knocked out in the second round?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, and I think I've lost here in the second round before, too. It's tough to go a long way and only play one round or two rounds or just not get as far as you feel like you should. Anytime I guess if you don't win you don't ultimately you fail if you don't win, if that's what your goals are. It's tough.

I've heard a couple of guys talking about, I heard one of the caddies yesterday talking about what a nightmare his flight was, and he was delayed five hours here, and finally got to LA, and then he was delayed coming down. It was a nightmare. So you would hope they would make it far enough to where he feels better about his trip over here. It can be tough. I guess we're lucky a lot of the events are played here.

Q. It wasn't Poulter's caddie, was it?

DAVID TOMS: I'm not sure. I've seen the guy before. They change up a lot over there, kind of switch their caddies around from time to time. You see the same caddies, just sometimes caddying for different players.

Q. Your expectations, how were they different when you here as opposed to Honda or Wachovia?

DAVID TOMS: Obviously my expectations are pretty high, because I've played well here. I like the format. It's just so much unknown. A lot of times, if you have 72 holes, you can make up for somebody getting hot one day and you can make up ground on that person. Here if somebody gets hot, there's not a whole lot you can do about it, other than get hot yourself. You can be down the road with no chance.

You hear it all the time. You hear the guys that don't play well and they get by. And you hear the other stories of a guy that's 6 or 7 under par and loses. You don't know. But I think that's the beauty of it, and it's a nice change of pace from what we normally do.

Q. Would you say if luck is required between now and Sunday that you didn't need any last year? Did you play that good, in other words?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I played great, but at the same time I think I was a little bit lucky that the guys I was playing against, they didn't do the same thing I was doing. It could have worked both ways.

Q. You had a tough one against Richard Green opening day?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, I think we were both under par, but we weren't very far under par. It was a tough match. He's the type of player that doesn't give in, because he's hitting most of the fairways, most of the greens. Very rarely he sprays a shot where you feel like I've got this hole, because he's always in there every hole. At least that's the way he played and the way I've seen him play other times. He was a tough opponent. I knew I was going to have to win it, because he wasn't going to give me anything.

Q. How did you learn to handle all the uncertainties that come with playing this from your not knowing if you're going to be gone one day, that you don't want to make it a wasted trip?

DAVID TOMS: That's golf. We do it every week in a different format. You don't know why a guy shoots 63 one day and comes back the next day and can't shoot under par. You have to be ready for just about anything. Every day you don't know what it's going to be like. Sure, you can be confident in what how you're playing, but at the same time, that's the way golf is. And I think over the years you learn to take the ups and downs. It would be frustrating if you played bad and you lost that way. But if you're feeling you're playing okay, and you get beat, more power to them, and you move on.

As far as just getting by, getting over that hump as far as the mentality of it's tough to I don't know what I'm trying to say, but why some guys do it better than others. I'm a pretty level headed guy on the golf course and off the golf course; I try not to go through too many ups and downs. The more you learn about yourself, the better you're able to deal with the losing part of it, because it's tough. Like I said, if I lose tomorrow morning, if I don't play well, you know, that's my fault. But if I play well and the guy beats me, you shake his hand and you move on and try to do better the next week.

But I certainly have high expectations. I want to do well, and I know I can.

Q. Do you feel like you tend to play well in match play because you like match play, or do you like match play because you've tended to play well in it?

DAVID TOMS: I like this event because you don't it's always tough. I've always said when you show up, if you have a late tee time on Thursday and there's a guy 8 under par, and you haven't teed off, and you bogey the first hole and you're nine back. How can you possibly win this tournament? You don't have that factor here. You've just got to beat this guy that you're playing. And somehow I get up for that, because I don't look ahead. You can't even look a hole ahead. I look shot to shot to shot. And I tend to play well that way. That's what I've tried to carry over to stroke play is let's just hit this one right here and let's go hit the next one and try to make a putt and move on, instead of worrying about all the distractions, what the media is doing, what the fans are saying, what are the fans' reaction to how you're playing or the shot you just hit.

In this format you just go play. And you play each shot. You play your opponent. I'd be better served to do that all the time, play that way. But sometimes it's hard to do. And here it's not. I don't even look to see who I'm going to play the next time. If he wins and he wins, I might play this person here. I just I know who I play tomorrow and go do my best and then try to move on from there.

Q. You don't know who is in your bracket?

DAVID TOMS: I have no idea.

Q. You think this is actually a less stressful format than stroke play?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, other than the fact that you have to be ready to play each I guess in a way, especially the great players, they could take nine holes off in a normal tournament. In other words, you can shoot a couple under par for nine holes and it's no problem. Here you do that, you might be down the road. So I would say it probably is less stressful, other than you come all this way and you lose the first round, that's not a whole lot of fun. But as far as just getting by day to day, I like this format. I think it's less pressure, like you said.

Q. Do you think it's harder or easier to win this compared with a 156 man stroke play event?

DAVID TOMS: I think it's easier to win this. I do. Because like I said, you could just play so so, not just once, but you could do it two, three, four times, depending on what your opponent is doing. And if you did that in a normal stroke play event, you're not going to win. I know last week Rory didn't play great on the last day but he played well the other days. He didn't have a couple of so so days and was able to do it. I think I played great last year and won. I heard the comment the other day, I think Brandel Chamblee said I deserved to win because I played the best, the best golf, and it would have worked out whether it was stroke play, match play, whatever. I don't know that that's the case every single year here in this event, that the guy that's playing the best always ends up winning, because he might have that day where he plays has a good 4 or 5 under round of golf, and another guy shoots 7 under and you're down the road.

Q. What do you think you would have won by last year, five, seven?

DAVID TOMS: I have no idea. I was just playing. Like I said, I was playing each hole, shot by shot and played my opponent, and all of a sudden there I was in the end.

Q. With a big check?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah, it was a good one.

Q. Are you okay with the Ryder Cup's point system right now the way it's been changed and the dramatic changes?

DAVID TOMS: I think so. I think that is the guys that are playing best. I have no problems with it. I guess the guy that plays really, really well for a year and a half or so then gets injured at the first part of this year might lose a lot of spots or whatever. But still, I think you want the guys that are playing the best in the end. So I think it's a good change, I really do.

I know the majors are a really big deal as far as points and everything goes. I guess it should be, that's where the most pressure is. That's the same type of atmosphere they have for the Ryder Cup, so I think it's the way to go.

Q. Speaking of majors, have you had a chance or any plans to go to Augusta and take a look at that?

DAVID TOMS: I don't. I've heard some stories about it so far, as far as what they've done and everything, but I haven't seen it. I won't be there hopefully until late Sunday evening the weekend before.

Q. From what you've heard, what are your thoughts?

DAVID TOMS: It will be long. Freddie Couples says I'll do good, and I hit a good 5 wood and I'll have to hit it on every hole. He said, you'll love it, it's a 5 wood on every hole, it's perfect.

End of FastScripts.

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