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August 18, 2006

David Toms


KELLY ELBIN: David Toms, ladies and gentlemen, the 2001 PGA champion, joining us after a round of 5 under par 67 in the second round of the 88th PGA Championship.

David, two shots out of the lead. Got to feel good for your position now with 36 holes to go.

DAVID TOMS: Yes. My thought process today was to give myself a chance come the weekend to win this golf tournament. You know, I could have shot an even par round and made the cut and just kind of floundered around tomorrow, but I think I got myself right back into the position I need to be to have a chance.

The way I played today, if I can keep that up on the weekend, I'll feel really good about my chances. I just seemed very much in control of what I was doing. I took my time, got the lines off the tee and just drove the ball really well for myself and hit most of the greens, played to the fat side if I had to. If I had a club that I could attack I just had a good game plan today.

The rain I think helped me actually because it slowed me down enough to where I didn't get ahead of myself, and I really concentrated well on the golf course, and it showed in my score.

KELLY ELBIN: Would you please go through your six birdies and bogey, please?

DAVID TOMS: (Laughing) they all run together for me, but the par 5, I guess no, No. 3, I hit an 8 iron. I was in the light rough on the left hand side and had to turn it a little bit around the tree and I hit a great shot. I guess up about 12 or 15 feet, made a nice putt. So got off to a good start.

No. 5 was just in front of the green in the light rough there with about a 40 yard pitch and hit a great shot up to about three and a half, four feet.

No. 7, the next par 5, I hit two good shots to the front fringe and two putted from there and made another birdie.

And then 9, I hit a driver, kind of got more aggressive than yesterday and hit a driver off the tee, right in the middle of the fairway, hit a 7 iron to 12, 15 feet, made another nice putt.

We get all the way around to 15, I stayed patient all the way around. I was hitting most of the greens and not really making that many putts, and then I got to 15 and I had a chance to attack and I hit a sand wedge up there about five feet or so, made a nice putt.

16, I said to my caddie, I don't think we were supposed to par that hole because I was down the middle of the fairway and I got over my ball and some guy honked his golf cart horn and I backed off, and then I hit my second shot into the left bunker and I hit it out there about 12 feet, not a bad shot. I got ready to putt, I was lining up my putt and some guy in the background was waving around his umbrella to some guy in the stands, so I had to back off and get him settled. Then when I got ready to putt, some guy yelled, "Go Gators" down on 14 I think it was. I had no chance to make a par on that hole.

Then 18, hit another good drive and an 8 iron, pulled my 8 iron to 25 or 30 feet and made a good putt to finish up the day.

Q. Were there any surprises? You had your game plan, you felt good about executing. Was there anything other than these noises and people?

DAVID TOMS: No, my caddie is a member of this golf course, so he helps me a good bit off the tee with my lines and everything because there's some blind tee shots where you don't see your ball land. He helps me on the greens, although I told him he misread a couple putts early in the round today.

But no, I felt very comfortable. I felt comfortable all week preparing for this golf tournament, and practice went very well. Yesterday I didn't feel like I got much out of my round, even though I shot 1 under par. Today was more like what I felt like I could do on this golf course with the conditions that we're facing right now, soft conditions and not much wind. I felt like I could shoot a good score.

Q. You talked about yesterday you were rolling it all over the hole but nothing was dropping. You get out to No. 1 and have a short putt and hit the edge again. What do you have to say to yourself to not make it turn into what it was yesterday?

DAVID TOMS: Well, I think first of all, having to hit the shot that we have to hit at No. 2, where you have to hit a solid shot because so many bad things can happen, it gets you right back into a frame of mind that you've got to play golf, regardless of like you said, I hit two really good shots up there close, lipped out, thought I hit a great putt and it didn't break like we thought. You're faced with No. 2 where you have to hit a good one, and I think it just gets you right back into the moment. Every hole does that because you can bogey every hole. If you're not hitting the ball well or not hitting your iron shots where you want to.

I've done a better job of that, though, in the last few years playing major championships, really staying in the present and giving it the best I can.

Q. Can you run through the back, when you felt it was healthy enough to come here and contend in a major and how the ordeal was?

DAVID TOMS: Yeah. I went home from the U.S. Open, and right away that Monday after the U.S. Open I had MRIs done and they basically found out what the problem was, but then how do we treat it. So I went through physical therapy, medication. I had one of the nerve block injections there, the epidural injections, hit the bottom of my spine, and had great care at home. They basically told me you'll know what you can do as far as the pain level goes and everything else. So I didn't do anything at all until I think I played nine holes in a golf cart before Tuesday of the Buick Open, and I only played nine holes that day. I was a little bit tired after walking nine holes. So my first 18 holes of golf walking was the Pro Am at the Buick in Flint.

I was very rusty. Looking back, I probably should have been at home playing golf instead of going out, being unprepared and getting beat up the first week I come back and losing a little bit of confidence. Last week I felt my game coming around and the back is getting better and better so I can practice now, so I'm pretty close to being back where I want to be.

Q. David, with the way things are, with no one really running away, no one really out of it, how would you define this tournament? What does it take to win?

DAVID TOMS: You know, I think in the end, I really believe it's going to be the guy that gets the ball in the fairway the most. You know, the rough is very penal. With it being wet now, even more so. Unless you're just a guy that gets a few breaks here or there and birdies most of the holes when you are in the fairway and just kind of scrambles around, I think that's what it's going to take, I really do. I might be wrong come the end, but right now, the way it's looking, I think it's going to be the guy that hits the most fairways and greens and just plays smart.

There's a lot of people obviously that will have a chance, a lot of great players that are up there. You know, I just want to give myself an opportunity to win, and I feel like if I continue to play like I did today or if I'm anywhere close to it the next couple days, I'll have a chance to win.

Q. Secondly, what do you think of the trip planned over to Ireland after Firestone, and do you plan on being on the plane?

DAVID TOMS: Yes, I am, and I think it's a great idea. We talked about it months ago. Tom asked me if I'd be willing to go over if he could arrange something. You know, I think it's a good thing. I was going to try to go the weekend before the British Open. I had my reservations and everything, but obviously since I didn't go over there, I didn't make it. I look forward to it.

I think it'll be I think the most benefit from that trip will be the young guys that haven't been in that team atmosphere yet that might not even know some of the veteran players very well. It's amazing how you see people but you don't really ever get to know them unless you spend any time with them. You know, I think any preparation that we can do beforehand and bond as a team will certainly help us come time for the matches to start.

Q. The second question about the back. Players heal physically from back problems long before they heal mentally from back problems. It seems to haunt some players for a long, long time. Where are you with your sort of elimination of fears or concerns about the back?

DAVID TOMS: Well, my wife won't let me lift anything, to be honest with you. I try not to do anything stupid as far as that goes, just take care of myself. When I play golf, I have to make sure that I warm up properly, that I don't just jump out and start hitting drivers, that I go through the whole process of stretch and warm up. It's something I'm going to have to do the rest of my career because the condition I have, it's really not going to go away. I just have to take better care of myself and I'll be fine.

Q. Having not played that much the past two months, what was your mindset coming into this championship?

DAVID TOMS: You know, I felt good. I came off a week last week where I felt like I played well except for six holes, my second round. I had a couple double bogeys that knocked me out of the golf tournament. But other than that, I would have been there in the end the way I played. And like I said, I prepared well when I got here. It's a tournament I've won before, and I know in my mind that if I play my best game or close to it that I'll have a chance.

So that's a good feeling when you've done it before and you know that your game will hold up under pressure and that you have enough game to get it done if you play well. That always gives me a lot of confidence.

Here going to Flint I had no expectations whatsoever, and even after missing the cut there to go to the International I didn't have very big ones, but the last week and a half my game has gotten a lot better.

Q. Is it tough blocking out the fact that you do have a chronic back problem?

DAVID TOMS: Not really. I'm just trying to get as many as I can before I retire now that I've got an issue. Really it's just even more so, I've always done a good job of making sure that when I showed up at a golf tournament that I was prepared, felt like I had a chance. And when you fight injuries or illnesses or whatever it might be, I think it even makes you more focused to do the best you can. That's the way I see it. And like I said, I'll just take care of myself and be prepared when I show up to a tournament and play to win.

KELLY ELBIN: David Toms, in at 6 under par 138. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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