An Interview With: DAVID TOMS
September 20, 2006
SCOTT CROCKETT: All right, David, thanks for joining us. Welcome to the Ryder Cup in your third appearance. Just give us your thoughts as the Matches draw a bit closer.
DAVID TOMS: Obviously I'm excited to be part of this team. I've always said when you're not part of the Ryder Cup Team and you've been part of it before, you know what you're missing, like you're not there. It's something I really enjoy, and my wife enjoys it probably even more, and you know it is a special event. To me, this team has a special feeling this year for some reason; it's tough to put a finger on it. I'm excited to be here.
The fans have been fantastic so far for us. They were great a few weeks ago when we were here, very supportive, and you know, we've tried to do the same for them. I'm looking forward to getting started. Hopefully the weather will be a little bit better for us on Friday. If not, we'll just go with it. I am pretty excited about it.
Q. Talking about that special feeling, how much do you think that last month's trip played into that and what was the significance of that and what did you come away with?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I think it was extremely helpful to the guys who did not know what to expect, what the team was like, what The K Club was like. To me if you had not been here before and you show up and you've only seen the competition on television, it was pretty overwhelming.
You know, so I think it helped those guys a lot. It helped some of the guys like myself and others that maybe didn't know them that well. You know, we play together all the time on Tour, but I'm not sure the last time I was paired with a handful of the players on the team. It's just because we all kind of do our own thing and everything falls basically on how you perform.
So I think it was good. It was a good bonding experience. We learned more about each other, just as we're doing this week so far. I think it was very important to not think that we've been missing that, coming together as a team.
They were telling me that never happened in the history of the Ryder Cup, that the American team went in to practise together at an event beforehand. So I think it has definitely done us some good.
Q. What do you think is the key for the U.S. to reverse the trend? The Americans have lost four are of the last five; is there something in particular?
DAVID TOMS: First of all, it's just getting off to a good start. It seems like even when it's close, we're always fighting from behind and trying to come back, whether it's just the first match or the second match or the first day. Somehow we need to get going early and, you know, use the guys that play ahead of the other groups to use that as momentum because it is even though it's an individual sport, we're certainly playing a team event this week.
I heard Phil say it's important for us all to give it our best and play our best golf. Certainly, you know, that's hard for all 12 guys to be doing that in one week. It doesn't happen any other time. So, you know, to come together this one week, it's very difficult for everybody to be playing great, but you know, just getting off to a good start, I think it's very important. Because that's hard, even individual tournaments, when you're having to come from behind. Guys do it and win tournaments that way, but in this format, it's tough to do.
Q. Because of the recent record for the U.S., do you sense a sense of urgency?
DAVID TOMS: Sure. Sure we do. But, you know, somehow we have to get past that and just play, you know, like we're capable of playing. We have some great players, and we have, you know, some players that can take advantage of the golf course in other ways, you know, with some of our length and we have some guys that make a lot of birdies. If we form our teams right, we will do really well. I believe that.
Q. This is your third appearance. How does it feel to be on the team that's not favoured? The other times the U.S. has been favoured.
DAVID TOMS: I think that's a good thing, because it's been the other way. So why not play that underdog role, only because we haven't performed our best in the last few. On paper I think we're as strong as their team is, and you know, I guess we're supposed to be underdogs because we have not performed up to our capabilities.
I don't think there's really any pressure on us. I think that's self inflicted, that pressure you feel to perform your best. I think we'll play loose this week. I think that's one of the key ingredients of success for us this week is to have some fun playing.
You don't get this opportunity that often. You know, there are a lot of guys on our team that you know, who knows. This could be a last one, this could be, you know, three of ten, I have no idea. But for me, it's very important to enjoy the experience, and I think the more you enjoy it, the better you play.
Q. Talk about the way you practiced and the format and coming down en masse on No. 9. How that was?
DAVID TOMS: I think we took a day that could have been not a whole lot of fun out there grinding, grinding it out, putting for pars and bogeys and not making very many birdies to having a good time. That's what we've been stressing to each other is enjoy the competition, go out there, and I thought we did some things where the fans seemed to be enjoying what we were doing.
We signed some autographs. We got to spend that whole time all together instead of in three or four different groups. So make fun of each other, and just we took a day that could have been a very difficult, tough day and taken a lot of adrenaline out of us and turning into something that I thought was very positive. Plus I won some money, so it was good.
Q. Were you the big money winner today?
DAVID TOMS: Scott Verplank and I, I guess you could call us the big money winners. I'm not even sure what we won, but I know we won.
Q. So everybody did the same thing?
DAVID TOMS: Yes.
Q. And 9 was the only time you teed off?
DAVID TOMS: 9 was the only time we teed off. I think one of the reasons was they were around each tee box, and I think they wanted, if nothing else, to watch Tiger hit a tee shot. That's why we did that on the last hole.
Q. Much is made of Tiger's perceived lack of leadership within the team in recent years. It seems that that's changed this time around. Is that true, and if so, can you give us any examples of what he's done that's different?
DAVID TOMS: You know, I think he seems a little bit more open to every one. It's difficult for that guy. I've always said, I don't see how he has as much success as he does, because every event that he ever plays in, not just Ryder Cup but every event, it seems like everybody is there to see him. We even talked about it today. We wanted to send him off the back nine and us off the front so we didn't have to have as many people out there (laughing).
No, he seems to be a little bit more open and he seems to be having more fun. I don't know why, I can't put a finger on that, other than he seems to have a smile on his face, not quite as intense, and I think the guys have gotten to know him a little bit better, especially some of the younger guys. He's been great behind the scenes, and I think that's been a carryover to the way he performs this week.
Q. Tiger was in here before to address some of the bogus stuff that has been printed this week, and there were also some demeaning things said about some of the other wives, including Sonya. What's the general feeling like in the team room regarding that?
DAVID TOMS: I don't think that we haven't really read too much of it. Other than just, you know, a few little snippets here or there or something that was funny. I haven't looked in the paper other than maybe page No. 3 or something like that.
I don't pay attention to that. I don't really pay attention to that back home, either. I don't think that has any significance on what we're trying to do over here to be perfectly honest with you. It's funny to see the pictures and just to get a good laugh, but as far as getting upset about anything that's printed, I think we know enough about it to where we don't take it with a whole lot of seriousness.
Q. Can you talk about alternate shot and how difficult that's been over the years, and what do you really enjoy about it and what's the most difficult thing about it?
DAVID TOMS: I enjoy how important it seems like every shot is, really getting into that. As far as my own game is concerned, I've always, if there has been a struggle, it's been being into every shot. You know, as far as not, just wandering around with your mind set. This event in this format makes you be there, and I enjoy it, and I think that's the most special thing about it.
Certainly when you're playing best ball, you have another guy that you're really pulling for to pick you up, but in foursomes I think it's you know, I think it's even more so. You're really, really there with the other person. You're almost like in their skin somehow.
So it's fun. I enjoy that, and I've had some success, I've had some failure in it, it's a little bit of everything, and it's just something I enjoy and hopefully I'll get to play.
Q. Just curious, are you aware of why Tiger is angry about it?
DAVID TOMS: What's that?
Q. Are you aware of what Tiger's issue is involving this?
DAVID TOMS: With the...
Q. With the fake porn photos?
DAVID TOMS: Of his wife and everything? I don't think I'd care for it too much, either. But that's a guy, he's seen it all through the days. He's the one that's in the spotlight all the time. That would be tough. Because she's a great girl; I mean, she's said many times, she's been a part of our team enough that she feels like an American and she's very supportive of what we're trying to do. She has a great time with all of us, and we all respect her. So that would be tough for me, too, definitely.
Q. Were you aware of what Tiger said this morning and all that? He came in here very angry and made a statement that lasted for a few minutes about it.
DAVID TOMS: Did he? No, I was I think I was out hitting balls in 50 mile an hour wind trying to keep my ball down a little bit. So I wasn't paying attention to it too much. You know, he seemed to be fine once he was on the golf course and doing his thing. That's always his escape, you know, inside the ropes, because he's got the strongest mind in golf, and he has to be there and he is there when he hits every shot. Even what we were doing today, skipping the ball over the water, he was into it. That's why he's great. He was able to obviously, whatever happens this morning, he turned it off by the time he was on the golf course.
Q. A few years ago, there were issues with American players and the money and where it was going and all the money that was generated. Is it still something that players think about in terms of how big the business has become?
DAVID TOMS: You know, it's not really even talked about anymore. I think the only thing that's talked about now is some of the young guys will ask, where is your charity money going, do you have something set up, do I need to set up a foundation and so forth and so on. It's more about that than anything else. I haven't heard, I haven't heard, give half a million to charity or we should be paid this or we should be paid that. This is my third team now, and I haven't heard a word about that behind the scenes. I think the guys are past that.
I think we realise how big of an event it is financially for everyone, but at the same time, we enjoy the competition enough that we're past that.
Q. In explaining to the younger guys how important this is, have the older players reminded themselves of that, as well?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, I think so. It's kind of like they ask the question, what am I going to feel like on the first tee on Friday, and we're all I don't care who you are, how much success you have, we're all going to be lowered down to being very extremely nervous and trying to take that deep breath and hit that first shot in the fairway. Doesn't matter if you're Tiger Woods all the way down to our captain's picks. Everybody on the team is going to feel the same way; I think we all realise that. And once we get started in the competition, I think it's even going to be better.
Q. Was there a highlight or a specific shot from today's little shootout that was worth noting, for you or anybody else?
DAVID TOMS: Well, I thought two shots stood out today. 6, we dropped a ball down there, I think we had 200 yards. For some reason Tiger wanted that 200 yard shot, I guess he thought he would be better than anybody else at 200 yards, which he probably is. But J.J. Henry, I think he lipped out or hit the pin with a 5 iron and I hit a 3 short of the green, so that shows you how long that guy is, he's a pretty impressive guy, playing great since we've been here. He hit a great shot, and, in fact, it was a gimme for a birdie.
And then the shot that Chad Campbell skipped over the water on No. 7, you know, everybody else is dumping it in the lake and over the green and everything else, and he hit it on the green.
ZACH JOHNSON: What about my wedge on 1?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, but I knocked it tight, too. So that doesn't count.
But it was fun. We had a good time. Everybody had a smile on their face, and I'm not sure that would have happened that way if we'd have gone out and just played golf today. I think we accomplished what we wanted to.
SCOTT CROCKETT: David, thanks as always for your time.
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