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April 28, 2009

Todd Hamilton


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Todd Hamilton to the interview room. If you'd just start off and give some general comments about your season so far and your thoughts coming into this tournament and we'll take some questions.
TODD HAMILTON: Well, up until about the last probably two or three weeks, it hasn't been a very good season on paper. I didn't feel like I was playing that poorly, but I was getting no results. A few weeks ago I had a good week at the Masters, finished tied for 15th there and earned a return trip back for next year.
The following week I finished tied for 4th at Hilton Head, which was probably my best finish, gosh, in probably three or four years at least. I think the last time I had a Top 10 was probably two years ago.
I made the cut last week in New Orleans, didn't play all that great, but got to play all four days. Last month or so has been a lot better than the first couple of months.

Q. What do you attribute the resurgence to?
TODD HAMILTON: I haven't done anything differently than I had done early in the season. I think some things that I wasn't doing very well or considerably well, they've gotten a little bit better. I've continued to drive the ball pretty decently. My iron game, I might be hitting one or two greens more per round, which is allowing me to maybe make out of those two greens that I hit, maybe make one more birdie or two less bogeys. So just a shot here and there at the right time has allowed me to make a cut or continue a good round, continue that good round going, keep it going. I haven't done anything differently.

Q. How different is your mental state now as opposed to a month ago?
TODD HAMILTON: Much better. You know, I'm seeing some good things happen. As I said, early in the year I didn't feel like I was playing that poorly but wasn't getting anything out of it. I felt like I was beating my head up against the wall, not getting anything from good practice or what I felt was not too bad of golf shots, but to see something positive happen, not just for nine holes or 18 holes or 36 holes but to see it actually happen over the course of a full tournament is good to see and a welcome change.

Q. Ever since we kind of got to know you back at Honda, you talked about how you were kind of a streaky player, you'd have these little spurts of three, four, five events, not only here but in Japan. Do you feel like you're in the middle of one of those, or is this a little different?
TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, maybe so in the middle of one. The two good weeks that I had in Augusta and Hilton Head, I made the cut the last tournament I played before Augusta, which was Bay Hill. I didn't play that well on the weekend, but the first two days I played quite well. Didn't score that great but felt that I was playing well. And last week in New Orleans, as I mentioned, I made the cut, wasted a lot of shots around the greens and on the greens, but I finished off the tournament with a good round, no bogeys and shot 3-under the last day.
As I said, it's good to see some things happen over the course of a full tournament and not just one day or nine holes or something. It's good to see some of that good play accumulating.

Q. Have you been out on the golf course, and what are your impressions of the golf course this year?
TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, I just finished nine holes maybe an hour ago, went and had some lunch. It's in very good shape. It's the best I've seen it. I think I've only played here about five years, so it's not a real long time, but it's in very, very good shape. I like the fact that the rough is not grown up four or five inches. It allows you to make some recovery shots to the greens. I'm sure the greens are going to be firm, so even though there isn't much rough, there's just enough that if the greens get firm, you're still not going to be able to stop the ball as close to the hole as you would like.
There's a few greens out there that are maybe a little too undulating for my taste, and I'm sure if you asked a lot of the players they would say the same thing. But it's probably one of the best venues we play all year.

Q. Could I talk to you about working on stuff for next week, THE PLAYERS Championship? The 17th hole always basically overshadows every other hole there. Can you talk a little bit about the other par-3s and the strengths of each of the par-3s? Could you talk a little bit about each one for me?
TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, let's see. No. 3 is kind of a medium-length par-3. Actually could be a short one nowadays. We play par-3s that are quite long. It seems like all the par-3s we play have to be 220 to 250 yards. But No. 3, I'm not sure of the yardage, but I know I've hit probably 6-, 7-, 8-iron depending on the wind, so it's a good change from a really long par-3.
No. 8 is another one. Now, that is a long par-3. But it's nice to have a good mix. You know, it gets very repetitive and very boring hitting 3-irons, 4-irons, sometimes hybrids or fairway woods into par-3s all the time. It's nice to have a short iron, mid-iron par-3 where if you don't hit a very good shot you're going to get penalized. There's nothing wrong with having a short hole, a par-3 hole, where you have to hit a 7-iron, 6-iron, 8-iron.
You mentioned the 17th hole. That's probably at the most, if you have no wind, the most anybody is going to hit is a 9-iron there, and you stand on that tee and most guys, no wind are going to hit the green with a 9-iron nine out of ten times. If you just had them go to the middle of the green, they'd probably hit it ten out of ten times. But you stand up there knowing, gosh, if you push this a little bit, mis-hit it a little bit, pull it a little bit, you're in the water, and there's no -- I guess that one bunker there on the front right, but there's no margin for error. It's 135, 140 yards.
So they don't all have to be over 200 yards to be considered a good hole.
Let's see, what's the other one on the back nine?

Q. 13.
TODD HAMILTON: That's kind of the same as No. 3, maybe a little bit longer. It's kind of a very difficult green, which provides for a lot of pin positions. When they get the pin over on the left side, they've got a hump there in the middle of the green. You don't actually have to hit toward the hole to hit a good shot, as long as you catch and feed the ball down that hill. You can end up with a good shot even though you didn't try to hit right at the flag.
Just the opposite, if the pin is up on top of that hill, you can hit one right at that, but if you've missed it two steps left, three steps left, even though you've hit it right at the flag, it ends up 30 or 40 feet away because it's gone down that slope.
It's nice to play a good mix of holes, whether they're par-3s, par-4s or par-5s. You know, it seems like we play a lot of the same holes over and over and over, week to week, 480, 490 par-4s, usually there's three or four of those a round. And all they have to do is just set those up -- you don't have to play the back tee all the time. You can move the tee up 30 yards to the back of the next tee up. If you get that hole playing shorter instead of 480 or 490, you've got it playing 450 or 440, move the pin where it's a difficult pin. It would just be nice to see a little mixture of setup and length of holes every once in a while.

Q. Doing a quick calculation, this is I think your fourth week in a row.
TODD HAMILTON: Yes, correct.

Q. After your success at Augusta and the Verizon, did you start looking at scheduling, because obviously at the beginning of the year were trying to find a way to keep your card. You're still on that chase, but yet you probably have a little bit more leeway to start picking and choosing versus playing event after event, so have you done some changes and thought about that?
TODD HAMILTON: No, I'll probably continue to do what I did the last few years, just obviously play the ones near Dallas where I live, the majors, of course you're not going to skip any of those, but I'd like to take care of the Top 125 before it gets too late in the year, and then instead of having to play seven or eight in a row at the end of the year to try to get that Top 125, make it to where I can play two or three, take a week or two off, play a few, to where I don't have to grind so much at the end of the year. So those two weeks, last few weeks, came in very handy, good timing.

Q. Moving the tees around, they've got two par-4s, the 8th hole and the 14th hole where they're going to move the tees up a couple days. Do you like that kind of thing?
TODD HAMILTON: I do. I don't think the green at No. 8 is going to allow anybody to drive it on and keep it on that green. It just sits at kind of a funny angle.
The 14th hole, though, it sets up to where you can hit a shot down there, you don't have to land it on the green, you can run something in there, and there's like a skateboard ramp or a hump on the right side of that green just short that will feed the ball down to the hole.
As long as things are mixed up, that's fine; I enjoy getting up to a tee and not knowing that you're going to have to blast a driver and then it's a 4-iron in. It's always nice to get up there and see no tee markers on the tee where it normally is, and either see them up 30 yards to where you've got to think, this may not be a driver today, it may be a 2-iron, or just the opposite. If the tee is up and you normally hit a 2-iron, 9-iron or 8-iron, the tee is back, and now you've got to think about hitting driver to get down there a little closer. I'd just like to see things mixed up. It seems very stale out there sometimes. You're just doing the same thing over and over and over.
Just because the course measures 7,300 or 7,400 yards, you don't have to play it at that long every day.

Q. I've got a follow-up to your comments on 17 at Sawgrass. Can you compare 17 at Sawgrass to 17 here? Obviously two different lengths, but the shot is obviously a little more demanding here because of the fact it's a longer hole.
TODD HAMILTON: Yeah, they're kind of similar. The length as you mentioned is the biggest difference. I think if they played the 17th hole here from the left tee box, I think it would be a much better hole, because you can hit some good shots from the tee box on the right that land on the green, and if they happen to catch the downslope, there's a good chance they can go into the water, especially with the greens being firm.
I've never been over on the left tee box, but it looks to me like the angle that you're hitting toward the green, the ball is going to be landing kind of in the middle of the pitch of the green, and it will set down a little quicker than when you're hitting from the right. It kind of hits -- it doesn't really hit into any hill, it kind of hits on the slope, downslope, feeding toward the water. So I think the left tee box would be a lot better hole. I don't know if yardage-wise it's any different, or even if you play it from the right, have the tee up, because that green, it's not very conducive to 4- or 5-iron or 3-iron depending on the wind. I think the left side would be a much better hold.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you very much for taking the time, Todd, and good luck this week.

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