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August 10, 2011

David Toms


KELLY ELBIN: 2001 PGA Champion David Toms joining us at the 93rd PGA Championship.
David, it's been a decade since you raised the Wanamaker Trophy here. A good year-to-date with your win at Crowne Plaza and runner-up at THE PLAYERS Championship. First of all, how does it feel to be back with some great memories and general state of your game right now.
DAVID TOMS: Feels wonderful to be back here. Obviously a lot of fond memories of the place. Looking forward to a really good week. It's going to be a little tougher test this time around, but I think my game is up for it. Been playing really solid. Like to have a good week driving the ball and try to set myself up for a few birdie opportunities here or there and go out and have a great week.
I think the scoring will be much more difficult. Par is going to be a good score on almost every hole this time around, so I'll have to get into that mindset a little bit differently than the last time we were here.
KELLY ELBIN: A lot has been made of you laying up at 18 and the chip shot you hit. Is that something that you think about often? Did you kind of go back to that place when you returned here for a practice round?
DAVID TOMS: Yes, I mean, I think about it often, and certainly being back here brings back those memories of the way I had to play that last hole. I think with the changes to 18 that we have this year, I think you'll see a lot of guys playing the hole that way, just because it's a very demanding tee shot now, the second shot is going to be a little longer, especially with the wind direction we have had the last few days. So I think you'll see a lot of guys laying up and trying to make their par that way.

Q. Can you talk about with the course changes since 2001, how you're going to approach the course differently, especially on key holes for you, as you might have ten years ago?
DAVID TOMS: You know, there are a lot of key holes out there now. There are a lot of, like I said, a lot of holes where par is going to be a great score; not just a good score, but a great score.
We were talking at lunch if you had to par the last four holes to win the PGA Championship, it's going to be a tough road. So those last four holes are very, very difficult now. But there are a lot of holes that are more difficult on the golf course. Not just driving the ball with the length of the hole, but now the second shots with the bermuda greens, just the approaches are a lot different. Especially with the longer clubs, they are not going to be as easy to stop the ball. And then if you miss the greens, the short game is going to be much more difficult, just because of with the run-offs now and with the firmness of the greens, you're not going to be able to flop the ball to the hole.
Brings a whole other element to it. The scoring won't be like it was last time, not even close I don't think.

Q. Are you saying your scoring record is safe this week?
DAVID TOMS: I would be shocked, I really would.
You know, but you never know. You have some of these guys that bomb the ball now; if they have a great week driving it, the distance they can hit it, maybe. You just never know.
But I would think that at somewhere along the way, that the golf course is going to get you. So you just have to be consistent, and I think a lot of times, you're going to be playing for pars rather than playing aggressively. So in the end, after 72 holes, I don't think you'll see as many birdies made.

Q. Talk about your career. I imagine winning is more fun by itself, but the stuff with Carter, last week contending, the second wind of your career, how much fun has it been?
DAVID TOMS: It's been a blast this year. I made a conscious effort to have a little more fun on the golf course, and it's paid off obviously with the results I've had, and that's really the only way you can play, because the game beats you up enough as it is.
And if you're not enjoying it, you're not dedicated to the sport, a lot of guys will blow right by you. And I'll just try to go out there and concentrate the best I can on every shot, every day and in the end see what I get. It's been good so far this year.

Q. Could you comment on the 260-yard par 3?
DAVID TOMS: First of all, 5-wood is not going to be enough club for me. (Laughter).

Q. What do you hit on that one?
DAVID TOMS: And it's interesting, because we were -- I played with a couple guys two days ago, and who was it -- I was playing with Harrison Frazar, Ryan Palmer talking about the 5-wood and they were asking me all about it. We were on 15. About the end of the conversation, and we look up and Webb Simpson made a hole-in-one on 15 right in front us as we were walking up to 14 green. I don't know what club he hit, but it was a heck of a shot obviously.
I don't know, it's going to be an interesting hole. We'll see what they do with the tee placement. I don't know how many times they are going to go up or back or what they are going to do. I thought it was a tough hole before. I can remember in 2001 standing on that tee and just saying to myself, "Hit the ball solid. You want to get it over the water."
And now, at the back tee, I'm going to say to myself, "Hit it real solid." (Laughter.) It's just going to be a tougher hole.

Q. I think I'm right in saying that when you won, 11 of the top 12 were Americans. We are approaching a situation now where there could be seven straight major championships without an American winner.

Q. Do you think it's more a case of a fading of the American challenge or just a strengthening of the international one?
DAVID TOMS: I think it says a lot about the international players. I know there's a lot of good, young, American players that are just waiting to get that first big event and go onto bigger and better things. I don't think it's a lack of having that American talent; I just think there's -- I think if you look in the field in general, how many foreign players are playing here? The odds are one of them is going to have the chance to win.
You look at the Top-100, I don't know what the number; as far as top hundred and how many of them are foreign-born players. And a lot of them are playing our Tour as it is. It's not like they play all over the world and come together a couple of weeks out of the year. It's week-to-week that we see these players, and they are very talented. They are used to winning a lot in other countries and other tours around the world, so they are not scared to win and they feel comfortable. And in the end, they have had a nice little run.
But I think we have a lot of American players. There's too many of them to mention. And I think once they break out and get that first win and then their buddy sees that they can do it, they want to do it, and I think it will be a snowball effect there.

Q. Kind of a follow-up to that, do the international guys, some of them turning pro at a younger age; do you think there's some difference in development or something the American system can take from what some of the international guys have come along and are already playing well and winning?
DAVID TOMS: I think it just depends on what their priorities are and your family, what they are to you.
I talked to Miguel Jiménez about it last night, and he said he turned pro at -- not last night, last week. He said he turn pro at 18, but he was a caddie. He went from being a caddie to a professional, and that just doesn't happen over here. We have the college system over here which all of these kids want to get their education and have something to fall back on. So these guys are playing college golf for four years or more depending on if they red shirt, and then they get out as a professional and they're starting all over again, playing against guys and having to manage their life and playing against the older guys and guys they've watched on television their whole life instead of the foreign players that are turning pro at a young age and getting seasoned on another tour somewhere around the world. It's just, it's different.
Does it help them? Sure, it helps them early in their career. But in the long run when a guy is 35 years old and you look back and see who does better, I think it all averages out.

Q. Is it motivation or does it bother the American players that the streak is going on right now, six in a row for international players?
DAVID TOMS: You know, really I think everybody is out here doing the best they can. And once you start worrying about results or worrying about another player that's having results and you're not, then you're not doing yourself any justice. You've got to go out and play your own game and build that confidence with results.
You know, certainly, Tiger probably brought a new element into it with guys being more athletic, playing and following in his footsteps, and now everybody is doing it and they are trying to do the same thing, they are training the same way, playing golf the same way. And there's not much that separates guys that aren't winning to the guys that are winning major championships.
So you know, I think it's a great time in our sport. There's so many young guys that are playing well. There's some old guys that are still hanging around like myself and trying to get it done, and a lot of guys can win this week. It would be very hard to handicap the field if you're trying to do that.
I wouldn't say there's maybe a hundred guys that can win this week, but there are a bunch of people that if they have that hot week can win. It's very unpredictable, but I think it's a great time. A lot of excitement out there, a lot of people who'll watch, and I think it's going to be a wonderful week.

Q. When Martin Kaymer was in earlier, he was talking about your 18th hole from 2001 and how you had the confidence to trust what you wanted to do and what you knew you could do.

Q. Could you take us back to that decision; did you make that decision right from the time you teed off or was it a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing?
DAVID TOMS: I bet I made that decision early in the week. I mean, Monday or Tuesday when I talked to my caddie, we were playing a practice round. It's an uncomfortable hole to begin with, so it's normally a par 5. And if you're standing out in the light rough or you're 235 yards out over water and you don't feel comfortable and it's a par 5, you would lay up.
And so you put that pressure on yourself of saying, oh, I've got to hit this green or I've got to go for it in two, or whatever. Just my whole career, I haven't been able to play that way. I've always tried to play the percentages. Just when you're not a power player, you have to play that way. So that decision was made early in the week.
I always said that if I didn't feel comfortable with my second shot there, I was going to try and lay up and make four that way. It's the same this week; the hole is longer, tighter. It's a tough hole. So I'm going to play it the best -- however I can to make that four. So whatever that is. If I feel very comfortable with my second shot and you've got the right yardage, then we'll go for it. If not, we'll lay up and try and get up-and-down.

Q. Were there any butterflies churning in your stomach when you walked up to that second shot, just thinking that maybe given the situation you had to do something different, re-weighing the consequences?
DAVID TOMS: Not really. I had hit a pretty good tee shot right down the right center, and it bounced through the fairway, and I got up there, and I didn't really know what the shot was going to be until I saw the lie.
And then once I saw that, we took enough time to weigh all of my options there and figure out what was best to make a four, and at worst, to make five and that would get me in a playoff and more golf to be played. I just didn't want to lose it on that hole. And so I'm hoping I'll be in the same situation this time, I really do. That would be great to have to make that decision again.

Q. This championship obviously does their pairings a little differently, putting the PGA winners together. But now that the Tour has gone to manipulating some of the pairings, the fans like it, obviously TV like it. What's your view and ultimately how much does who you're paired with affect your first 36 holes?
DAVID TOMS: You know, I guess you're asking about my pairing and what I think about it. You know, I think I'm playing with -- a midget and two giants. You're playing with two of the greatest players to ever play our game, all PGA champions. Just so happens I'm playing with Mickelson, which we kind of dueled here the last time, so it's a good story, and then Vijay, his career.
It will be fun. I like both of the guys. I'll have to play my own game, because they will be playing a different -- they will be playing the golf course differently than I will. So that should be interesting to see how that goes.
But I like all of the pairings that they put together, some of the young guys together, some of the old guys together, some of the stories and so forth. I think it's good for TV. It's good for the fans. I look forward to it. I think as far as guys you play with the first couple of days, maybe at times you'll get an uncomfortable pairing that might have something to do with the way you play.
But for me, I'll just -- I try to play my own game so many times because of having to play differently than the guys I play with. So try not to get caught up in what they are doing and try to go out and play the best I can.

Q. You've always been an excellent putter, and you grew up on bermuda, right?

Q. Is there a special skill set that you need to have to be a great putter on bermuda greens?
DAVID TOMS: You know, I think it's short game in general. It's a certain feel that you have being able to read the grain; chipping, putting, everything. It's kind of just a second -- not something that you necessarily have to think about all the time. It's just there, an instinct that you have when you've played on that grass a lot. It's different. It's totally different than what we did last week at Firestone. We were in, whatever, bluegrass or whatever kind of rough they had around the green. They had bentgrass greens. It's different. It certainly helps being able to fall back on something that I've had my whole life.

Q. The David Toms Foundation, what are some of the good things you've done the past year?
DAVID TOMS: You know, we have done a lot of different things over the years. We support children's based charities, do a lot of work with them in our area. We did a lot of work with Katrina victims.
Right now, we are focused on building a junior golf academy and trying to bring out the next Tour players from our area. We have had a lot of guys along the way from a small area that's not necessarily known for golf with Hal Sutton and myself and Perry Moss who has played the Tour, and we have a lot of kids coming up that are top ten junior players in the country in their age group.
If we can figure out a way to train them and work with some of the inner city kids, unfortunately kids who have never been exposed to the game of golf, a lot like The First Tee give them an opportunity to experience the game and what it all means, that's what we are focused on moving forward.

Q. Everybody remembers the lay-up in 2001; did you discuss that with your caddie at the time, or was that your decision? And do you remember a shot during your career where a caddie has really talked you into something or talked you out of something?
DAVID TOMS: As far as the way we played the 18th hole, when we got the yardage, it was more about not having the club for the shot. You know, I asked him, I said, well, what club is it, and he said 4-iron, but I don't know if it's going to come out high enough out of this lie to carry the water.
And I said, what about 5-wood, and he said, that's going to go in the back bunker or in the grandstands back there. I said, what do you think about laying up, and he said, I like it.
Then we went about trying to get the perfect number for the third shot, so I hit a pitching wedge on my second shot and a full lob-wedge on my third shot. That's what I'm most proud of as far as that whole decision-making process there was that we got a good number, we didn't just chip down the fairway and go from there. We got a good number for the lay up and then for the third shot. And so I was able to hit a nice full shot on the second shot and third shot to get in there to have a makeable putt.

Q. Something else Martin was sharing with us was your story from last night about the fan in the gallery. Was she really driving you crazy?
DAVID TOMS: Oh, totally.

Q. You can remind Phil about that tomorrow.
DAVID TOMS: I'm sure -- she had such a high-pitched voice that you had to hear it. I mean, it wasn't like -- it's fine.
It was an interesting time. I mean, the day was going by pretty quickly and I just remember, you know, pretty pro-Mickelson crowd and I had my little vocal crowd over to the side, friends and family and all that. And everybody was pulling for him to win his first major and he was a big name in the sport, just like he is now. And so rightfully so, they were all pulling for him.
I just happened to be in the way. Yeah, and she was an interesting story, looking back on it. We were walking around here, I guess it was last Monday when I came in to play early and it was almost like I could still hear her voice when I was going from green-to-tee (laughing).
Hey, she was just a rowdy fan, a rowdy Phil fan.
KELLY ELBIN: David, you ranked fourth in driving accuracy on the PGA TOUR. Can you speak to the importance of being straight on this golf course?
DAVID TOMS: It's very important. I think I would rather be No. 4 in distance actually this week, but that's not going to happen. So it's very different. That's what gets me to where I am as far as it I have to play golf that way. I have to be accurate. Short and crooked would be a bad combination, so I have to be accurate.
The weeks that I'm driving the ball solid and straight, it really sets me up to not just be able to attack, I guess if I was a long player, I could hit it in the fairway and attack, but just to be able to play those long second shots; long out of the rough is not, you know, not good. And if I can be in the fairway, I have a chance to hit the greens.
So it will be very important for me this week to be in the fairway.

Q. If you can't play 5-wood this year, what are you going to use on the course --
DAVID TOMS: I've replaced my 5-wood with a 2-hybrid club. It's a pretty versatile club. I like it off the tee.
The problem with that hole now is, I hit it today, but it was downwind. It was probably blowing 10 to 12 miles an hour. So without the wind, it's probably a 3-wood. So any time you have to hit a 3-wood on a par 3, I can't imagine what it would be like, the wind turned around and all of a sudden my caddie said, you need to hit driver. I would be kind of embarrassed.
I remember a round at Doral a few years back where I used driver twice on par 3s during the tournament, same day. It has been done before. But I'm not sure I'd want to hit one into that hole.
KELLY ELBIN: David Toms, 2001 PGA Champion, thank you very much.

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