David Toms (Media Center)
BETH MAJOR: We would like to welcome David Toms to the interview room at the 2012 U.S. Open. David is at 1‑under par, 139 for the tournament. David, can you talk a little bit about your round?
DAVID TOMS: I got off to the start that probably a lot of people in the field did today. I was a couple over after six holes, 1 through 6, that is.
I knew that I really probably hadn't lost many shots to the field as difficult as those holes were. So I just hung in there and just kept grinding away like you have to do in a U.S. Open.
I was fortunate to make a couple birdies there on the back nine and just hung on after that and had a nice round of even par, which certainly would have taken that when the day started.
BETH MAJOR: Currently the clubhouse leader along with Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods. Did you expect to be in that position? Can you talk about leading at this point?
DAVID TOMS: I felt like anything around par after two days wouldn't be far off before the tournament started. In fact, numerous people asked me what I thought. Would it be over par or under par? And I told them over par at the end of the week. So I guess I've got a couple shots to play with, so...
But I've played pretty solid, to be quite honest. I played ‑‑ I was paired with Davis Love and I played with him last week the first two days in Memphis and played absolutely awful on a golf course where I played pretty well.
So that was really part of my goal this week was to play a little better in front of our Ryder Cup captain, and I was able to do that. Which is an extra bonus for me right now. And the fact leading or tied for the lead in the golf tournament, in the U.S. Open, is great; but just to be able to turn it around and play really solid golf after the way I played actually the last couple tournaments has been nice to be back in the hunt.
BETH MAJOR: Great. Open it up to questions.
Q. There was a lot of excitement and attention around Hossler, the young guy who actually briefly had the lead for a while and then of course when Tiger's in the hunt there's going to be huge crush around that. Do you feel like you're flying under radar a little bit, and is that okay with you?
DAVID TOMS: Yes and yes. That's fine. And I'm sure they will be going crazy for Tiger out there this weekend and rightfully so. He brings a lot to our game. To be able to be right there with him right now is ‑‑ it means I played pretty well. So I'm excited about it and I don't mind flying under the radar at all. That's kind of the way I've been my whole career and it's not a bad way to go.
Q. You've been around a long time. Is it the same thing when you look at the leaderboard now you look at the leaderboard and you say, oh, there's Tiger? Is it the same thing now, or have too many years gone by, or how do you feel as a player compared to like how you once did?
DAVID TOMS: About seeing him? His name up there?
DAVID TOMS: I like seeing it. Because more people cover our sport, more people are out at the golf tournaments when he's playing well. Does it seem like it was back in 2000? Or in that area, 2000 to 2003 or whatever? To me, it's still golf. I'm seeing him up there, it's good. Is he playing as well? I haven't played with him very much, so I can't comment on that as far as him hitting shots and so forth.
He seems to be having fun. When I'm around him, when I see him on the range or see him around the golf course, the clubhouse, he seems in pretty good spirits, so that's nice to see. It seems like the Tiger of old to me.
Q. Can you, the guys in the top of the leaderboard you have got three Major winners, is there any accident that that's the case knowing the way Jim operates around the U.S. Opens and yourself and Tiger? Can you just kind of comment on that the common denominator a little bit?
DAVID TOMS: Well, you really have to manage your game around this golf course. That's the bottom line. I think that's what Major champions do, or guys that have been out here for a long time, that have won a lot of tournaments, they're able to do that. I know that's what I've done the first couple of days. Maybe it hasn't been my best golf, but I've scored well; and that's probably the same for the other two guys.
I watched Jim play a little bit this morning. Looked like he was playing solid when I was watching television. Just guys that as far as Jim and I, we know our limitations, know shots that we can't hit and times where you have to play to the middle of the green. Tiger has a little more flare for the dramatic, shots that he can hit; but that's why he's been able to win so many golf tournaments is that he still knows how to manage it and have control over what he's doing.
So it doesn't surprise me at all that what you've seen over the first two days and I would imagine it will continue. I just hope I'm part of it.
Q. Speaking of attitude, what's the most pissed off you've been this week?
DAVID TOMS: I think you asked me that yesterday, didn't you? Or some form of that.
Q. I was pissed ‑‑ no, I'm just kidding. (Laughter.)
DAVID TOMS: No, you know, I really, my emotions have been in check. Probably the most surprised, I guess the first putt I hit on 16 today, because my caddie and I talked over and over about how quick it was, and I left the thing four, five feet short and missed it on a putt that I thought was fairly straight and it went two feet left.
So that was probably as far as what I was doing like I lost my mind there for a second. But other than that I've been pretty in control, and so I wouldn't say I've been pissed off at all. Maybe at my kids when they were making too much noise in my connecting room; but as far as the golf course, not at all.
Q. Secondly, you've got Tiger up there. You've got Jim up there. It's the U.S. Open. It's the weekend. Does it make it any easier to concentrate when you've got a course in front of you that demands it?
DAVID TOMS: That's what I've done well this week is concentrate. I can't think of one shot in the first 36 holes where I didn't feel like I either had a target or a thought as far as where I wanted to hit a ball, a target that I wanted to hit to, where I wanted to land the ball out of the rough, and which I have hard time with that sometimes, especially on a week‑to‑week basis, especially when tournaments where you have to shoot low. Sometimes my mind wanders a little bit.
But I've done a good job of that this week, and that was part of the plan going in. No matter what happened I was going to be there on every shot, and so far I have been.
Q. You've been playing U.S. Opens since 1996, you have two Top‑5's. So it's not like you've been living at the top of the leaderboard, but yet you and Jim and Tiger has been mentioned a lot, seem to be playing this better than others and it's Olympic Club. I want to know specifically how Olympic Club is tailoring to the old veteran mindset?
DAVID TOMS: Well the fairways are really chasing out. So as far as me being a short hitter, it's not a problem this week. It's not a problem for Jim as well. I think it's probably good for Tiger because he's not having to hit driver on every hole.
So I haven't watched him play, but I would imagine he's probably hitting some irons and 3‑woods and driver when he needs to, but having to hit other clubs to get the ball in the fairway without being so far back that you can't attack, so I think that's it, really. That's the key, is the golf course is so firm off the tee.
It's hard to hit the fairways. I think you would take first cut on almost every hole. If they would give you first cut on every hole you would probably take it, just because it's so hard to hit the fairways. But for Jim and I, the golf course, we can play it, for sure. You've seen that so far, and I'm just hoping to have a chance late on Sunday.
Q. The script on this golf course coming in was a hard start, but scoring opportunities coming in. The way it's played the first two days, the hard start has been there, but other than 17, which is a reachable five, are there holes over the closing stretch that you think are not predictable but reliable birdie opportunities?
DAVID TOMS: Well, the way 16 played today, I didn't know where the tee was. I was watching it on TV earlier this morning and I saw a lot of guys in there close for birdie.
So I was like, what's going on? I just ‑‑ that just seemed unusual, the way that hole had played all week. And then I got there today and the tee was up. So guys, some guys hitting it right in front of the green in two shots. So that was a birdie hole today, I would say. Even though it's a long par‑5.
Fourteen, if you can get it around court nerve down there, it's a birdie opportunity.
Fifteen as well. It's a short hole, they had the pin way left today, which was tough to get to, but it's still a short iron shot. There are a lot of short irons. 10, I hit sand wedge into 10 today. I hit a good drive around the corner.
But the thing is, you still have to be able to get the ball in the fairway to really be able to attack those holes, because even some of the holes that are playing shorter they're moving the pin around to where you can get in trouble pretty quickly. So quite a few opportunities on back nine, I would say, to score, if you can drive the ball in play and have a chance.
Q. You've been in a lot of big pressure situations in Major Championships like the PGA that you won in Atlanta and Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, and there's going to be a lot of hubbub and stuff going on outside the ropes tomorrow in the last two or three or four groups. How do you deal with that? Are you just so focused on the golf course that you don't even notice it?
DAVID TOMS: Well, we had a lot of that. Any time you play late in the day even, if it's the first round you have a lot of that hubbub or whatever you called it, it's pretty funny. Some of the stuff we heard in the crowd today, just people yelling and screaming out I guess they have the right to do that if they buy a ticket.
So it was just kind of funny. We ‑‑ the two guys I was playing with, the caddies were just, if you can somehow be there when it is your time to hit, and just kind of play on the crowd, the rest of the time and listen to them and what they have to say, it can be quite humorous.
Q. Give us some examples.
DAVID TOMS: I probably ‑‑ no. (Laughter.)
Q. Are you still trying to convince that Rickie‑Fowler‑loving son of yours that you're still a pretty good golfer?
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, he was ‑‑ I'm sure he's enjoying it. He actually played Harding park this week and we played San Francisco Golf Club on Wednesday together, so he's having a big week and he's been there every shot so far to watch me, so which is good, because I think last week he was playing golf and I was playing golf.
So at least he thinks it's important enough to be watching and it's neat, it really is neat. But when they're 14 sometimes they will say some interesting things like, what did you do on that shot? Or they seem to ‑‑ the bad ones stick out more than the good ones. So they want to know. So sometimes my wife just has to kind of say, you know, don't talk to Dad about the golf.
Q. Just as a follow‑up to that, obviously Sunday being Father's Day, that will be a pretty cool thing to be in the mix here with having your son old enough to appreciate it.
DAVID TOMS: Yeah, it would. Certainly would be an exciting day for us if I had that opportunity. That's just, that's the best way to put it. It would be fun.
Q. You've got a fellow LSU Tiger with you it looks like in the second to last pairing tomorrow, what do you know about John's game? Do you have a relationship with him? Do you know him pretty well?
DAVID TOMS: Know him very well. I was there on the football field during his recruiting trip to LSU, and we kind of looked at each other and I knew he was coming. So he lives in Baton Rouge now and he's a great kid.
I tried to I guess mentor him as much as I can. He asks me a lot of questions. He's going to be a really good player. Whether it's this week or some other week, he just needs the opportunities and he's stuck in a position where he doesn't have that many opportunities. He doesn't know his schedule.
But I will be pulling for him. His father was there for the last 36 holes when I won Colonial last year rooting me on the whole way. He's a great kid and I hope he plays great this weekend.
BETH MAJOR: We look forward to watching. Thanks so much for joining us.
DAVID TOMS: Thank you.