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May 1, 2008

David Toms


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, David, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Wachovia Championship. Nice start to the week, nice finish to your round, two birdies there at the end, and I know it feels as we were talking about it coming in, it feels good to play well because you've had some back trouble the last couple weeks. So just talk about being back, playing well, and obviously you're very comfortable with this course.
DAVID TOMS: First of all, I'm just glad to see the inside of one of these media rooms again. It's been a while (laughter).
Yeah, today was a good day. Obviously conditions were perfect for us when we first started off this morning. You know, I shot 4-under my first nine holes, which was pretty solid for that back nine. I gave one right back at No. 1 from the middle of the fairway, I three-putted.
But then I kept making birdies and I got around to a par-5, 7, and laid up because I didn't have a very good -- I had like 232 over water, so I laid up to a perfect yardage, 92 yards, but I was in a sand-filled divot, really bad lie, and I chunked it in the bunker and made bogey. So I was kind of hot under the collar at that time. But I came back and knocked it in the leather on the last two holes and finished up nicely.
It does feel good to play solid golf again. I played today with last week's winner, who's a heck of a player, so just trying to keep up with him. I couldn't get within 30 yards of him off the tee, but I scored pretty well. It's just, like I said, nice to be back in the media center after a good round of golf.

Q. The withdrawal at the Match Play, that was back-related as I recall?
DAVID TOMS: Yes. Whatever the hole was on the front nine, the drivable par-4, like 7, I think? 7th hole, I swung too hard and I thought I was going to have to walk in, I really did, and I just -- I got through it. I guess it's match play and I told myself I could make a 10 on the hole and I'd still only lose the hole, so let's go ahead and hang in there.
I actually played pretty well the rest of the day and won that. But I had no chance the next morning. I just hit handful of balls and couldn't make contact with a sand wedge.
I should have taken probably a month off, but I went to the Honda to play, only because I was there anyway for a board meeting. So I stayed and played there. I was really on a lot of medication at the time and just wasn't ready to play golf, but I was there, so I did.
The next week I played in Tampa because my family was on a ski trip and I knew I couldn't ski, and I didn't really want to go home by myself, so I said, well, I'll stay down here in the sunshine in Florida, so I drove up the street and I had a bad week there, too.
So confidence was pretty low at the time. I took some time off and then I started working on my game, getting ready for the Masters, and I felt like a good round was somewhere close. I felt like I was doing a lot of decent things anyway, I just needed to put a day together where I did everything pretty well.
Today was a good start obviously to this event. It's a tournament that I've won before, so I know I can play the course well. But it's a very demanding course. You have to hit your tee balls well and then second shots you have to put them in the right place. The greens are a lot like Augusta's where if you're in the wrong spot you're very defensive.
I hit a lot of shots today where I had kick-ins. I think I had three or four inside the leather, birdies, and those weren't on par-5s, so that was really the key to the round today.

Q. You made birdie on 18?
DAVID TOMS: I made a birdie on 18, good drive and I hit a 5-iron to the back of the green and made a nice putt from about 25 feet, I guess.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Why don't we go through your round. You birdied 10.
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I birdied 10, hit a sand wedge about four or five feet.
Bogeyed 11, hit it in the left trees and had to chip out.
Birdie on 12, one of the longest putts I've made in a while. I made it from the front part of the green up and over the hill with the pin in the back, which got me going there.
Then 13, I hit a 5-iron to about three inches, so I almost made a 1 there.
15, I was just in the front bunker in two and blasted out to about 12 feet.
And then bogey on 1, I three-putted. Hit a bad shot with an 8-iron from the middle of the fairway about 40 feet and three-putted there.
Birdie on 4, I hit a 6-iron from the left rough about four feet, and it was a great shot.
Bogey on 7, I was in a sand-filled divot from the fairway, hit it in the bunker and hit a decent shot out to about six feet and missed it.
Birdied 8, wedged it to about a foot.
And then 9, I hit a 6-iron to about a foot and a half.

Q. What exactly was the back?
DAVID TOMS: I've got a couple of deteriorated disks in the back, and from time to time my back just locks up to where I can't really move at all. You know, I guess if I was 25 and in perfect shape, it wouldn't be that big a deal (laughter), but I'm not either one of those. You know, it's just something I have to be smart, picking up luggage and kids and just not sleep in a bad position and just take care of myself a little bit better.

Q. What do you do for it? Do you have some rehab or some therapy?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I mean, all of that, all the normal stuff that you would think of. But at the same time, I need to pace myself with golf. You know, that means practice time, tournaments played, everything, because all of it is wear and tear. The condition I have, my father has the same thing, my grandfather has the same thing, and it's just -- for what -- if I was a normal, everyday person with an office job it would be no big deal, but for what we do, sometimes it's tough to handle.

Q. It's nothing for which surgery would be effective?
DAVID TOMS: I don't think so. I've had a lot of different opinions, and I'm not to the point where I want to do anything that drastic. If I can still shoot 5-under par on this golf course, then I'm not going to have surgery anytime soon.

Q. Best round since --
DAVID TOMS: Well, since a long time. I don't know. I can't even think. I don't have an answer for it, either. It makes me feel good about my game. It gives me a little bit of confidence. I hit a lot of great shots today, and so it wasn't like a fluke round. It was one of those where I think if I would have hit my driver better today, I could have had a great round of golf, because the times -- I didn't set myself up on every hole where I could attack because I hit a lot of great iron shots, and I think the rest of the week if I can drive it just a little bit better and have more opportunities to go at flags, then I can continue to play well.

Q. You talked about the frustration of being kind of in the prime of your career the last couple years, and you've had a couple health issues and missed tournaments. Does that just come with the job, or how tough is it to deal with?
DAVID TOMS: I mean, the frustrating part is not playing at the same level that I've been accustomed to. I think it wears on you mentally more than anything else. You know, you go home and everybody -- first of all, you show up at an event and you're not fired up to play because you're not getting the results. But then you go home and everybody has questions for you. It never stops. It's not like you can just get away from it. If you're not playing, why are you not playing, is it your back or why are you not playing well. It just goes to where it's not as fun to play.
I've always said that I've been out here long enough to where the only time it's really fun for me is when I have a chance to win and contend to win tournaments. Grinding to make the cut is too much like work, and playing well is -- obviously I enjoy that a lot more.

Q. Have you asked any other players that have back trouble, or --
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I mean, like I said, everybody has differing opinions. There's guys that have taken an interest and want to help, and give me this guy's name, this guy, go see this person, so everybody has their guy. I've seen a bunch of different people, and it gets back to just take better care of yourself.

Q. After the way this tournament has grown in stature, does it mean more to you to have won the first one?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I think so. And all the guys knew when we came here the first time, it was a special event. And it's continued to be that way. They've only upgraded from there. So sure, to have my name -- to pull in the parking lot and get to park my Mercedes in a spot that's got my name on it feels good. It does. Any event that I've won when I can do that, you get a special feeling when you pull up to the clubhouse.

Q. When you talk about confidence, is that something with you that can be rebuilt real quickly, or do you see it more as a building block?
DAVID TOMS: For me, the way I feel physically, I think it's going to be something that has to build up. I'm not saying I couldn't win this golf tournament, but I think it's more of a process to get confidence back. You know, from '97 and through 2006, it was a steady climb to build up the confidence, and so I think it's going to be the same way again. I mean, I think I'll either get back to a high level or I'm not sure that you'll see me as much, because like I said, I don't enjoy the not playing great golf. You know, I'm secure enough at home with my family and financially to where if I'm not having fun playing and I feel like it's a struggle physically, then I won't continue to do it full-time.

Q. Put your policy board hat on. I guess slow play was a good bit of discussion at the meeting earlier this week. I'm wondering, it seems like that issue comes up every year or two and it never seems to get fixed. Is there a directive or anything that you see coming, any change?
DAVID TOMS: I mean, we talked a lot about it, and we always do. We always do.
But at the same time, the issue came up this time about golf course setup, and why does it have to be so difficult. A lot of guys believe that is one of the reasons for the slow play is the fact of -- I mean, golf course setup is why you see pro golfers, the best in the world, a guy shoot 67 and then another guy shoot 79 is because there is such a fine line there. You get on the wrong side, and it just takes a while.
So I think we can do a combination of things. Obviously if you ask the field staff, they would tell you there's way too many people playing, and you can't get them around that fast. Golf course setup I think is a big deal. If you saw pins in the middle of the greens like you do for the Pro-Am, I think we'd get along a lot quicker. All of it goes hand in hand, and we'll see.
I think a lot of guys stress golf course setup. I think they looked at last week, J.J. Henry made the comment, listen, I worked on that golf course, and you guys didn't use the multiple tees that we built to make holes play different, and it doesn't always have to be all the way back on every hole and the pins, two, three, four on the edge on a day when it's blowing 25 or 30. So all those things might help.

Q. Where is the impetus behind the protected par there? It seems like over the last two years, I guess, 8-under is kind of the winning score now.
DAVID TOMS: Right. I mean, one of our TOUR officials said that he was under the directive of the board, a policy that was put in place 15 or 20 years ago, that golf courses should be as difficult as you can make them but still be fair. Who knows, maybe the board will pass something new, we'll have some different verbiage in there.
But I don't know, guys are talking a lot about it, so you might see something -- I know they moved some tees up today on a couple of the holes, a couple par-3s.

Q. 17?
DAVID TOMS: 17 and 6. 6 was a 3-wood yesterday in the Pro-Am, and today I hit a 3-iron. So maybe we'll see some multiple tees and pin locations and give it a little more excitement to the game.

End of FastScripts

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