Humana Challenge interviews: David Toms

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January 15, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Humana Challenge transcripts

MARK STEVENS: I would like to welcome David Toms. David, if you ‑‑ you just got done playing the Nicklaus Course, if you want to talk about your thoughts coming into this week and how the courses are set up and then we'll take a few questions.

DAVID TOMS: Golf courses seem to be in pretty good shape. Grass is a little bit thin compared to some of the past years, but greens are rolling nicely, and once it starts to warm‑up and the ball starts to travel a little bit further, I think you'll see a lot of birdies being made. It's kind of similar to the past.
So it will be one of those weeks where you have to get off to a good start and play great throughout to have a chance.
 
MARK STEVENS: Questions? We'll get a microphone right here.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about your relationship with Humana and this tournament and the way it's developed.

DAVID TOMS: Yes, as far as my relationship goes, I've been with Humana since they signed the deal for the, with the TOUR, as far as our insurance carrier, whatever, however many years ago. I don't know if that's been about six or seven years, I'm not really sure.

But Mike McCallister, their CEO, is from my hometown. He went to high school with my dad's wife, in Shreveport. So we hit it off very well from the very beginning and we developed a friendship that's pretty strong, as well as some of the other people that are on their staff. So it's been a great relationship for me, even before they sponsored this event, but I think with their involvement here in the desert, the tournament's changed quite a bit. I think obviously it's on strong footing long‑term.

And I like the new format that we have here. Where you play with another pro every day. It's a little somewhat easier to concentrate, I would say, and feels more like a normal event.

I think they have really tried to step it up as far as the environment for the players. So I think it's been a good mix for everyone so far. I look forward to the continued relationship with them and on a personal level and their involvement with the PGA TOUR.

Q. This is the first time we have seen you since the Ryder Cup decision was made. I'm just curious your thoughts on that decision and how surprised or disappointed you may have been.

DAVID TOMS: Not disappointed at all. And really not surprised. I didn't really know which direction they were going and the only thing I ever read was what was printed.

Didn't, I had some discussions with the PGA of America and, but nothing detailed at all, just general type of things. So I was actually Ted Bishop called me before they made the announcement, we had a nice discussion, he told me the reasons why that they were going that direction with Tom Watson, and he hoped I was on the team rather than the captain of the team. And still, I feel like I still have the opportunity to be a part of that group, if I play well. And so I was fine with it.

Obviously, I would like to be the captain some day, but at this point in my career this is probably for the better for me personally and so I wish them well. I know that they will have a great team and have a great captain and I'm just hoping to get my game in good enough shape to be a part of that.

(Phone ringing.)

My son's calling. He problems sees me on television or something.

(Laughter.)

Q. On a little separate item, would you talk about the academy that you're starting. Seems like an interesting concept.

DAVID TOMS: Sure. The golf academy that we're building now, it's been a vision of mine for many years. And you would have to know our area to kind of understand why it's taken quite awhile.

One of the reasons is we had a natural gas find there in the Shreveport area, a shale find, and so, as you can imagine, people are pretty proud of their lands and not only mineral‑wise, but surface rights and everything else.

So it was hard to find a piece of land that I felt like everybody could get to pretty quickly. It's right in the center of town. And we had four or five different plans on other pieces of property. We had some plans on a landfill, we had some plans next to the river, different things, and just worked out that one of my very dear friends, his father owned this piece of property and made us a deal and we didn't look back.

We started moving forward to get everything designed and right now we got all the land cleared and we're doing major dirt work right now to get everything in place ready to shape it.

And I think it's going to be something I know I'll be proud of, as well as our part of the country. It will be unique. It's all about practice. It's a golf experience similar to what I get on a weekly basis as far as practicing golf and getting better at golf.

We really didn't have a place where you could get better at golf in our area. You could go play, get better by playing a lot of holes, but as far as practicing, we didn't have that.

So we're trying to create every scenario practice‑wise that you would see in golf, different surfaces, different lies, we got a short par‑3 course, we have some practice holes, and a really big driving range. Something out here on TOUR maybe compared to is maybe Muirfield Village as far as the size of the actual range.

So we'll have a lot of different angles, different winds, and when we're finished, we'll have a building where you can go inside and do all the latest and greatest video stuff.

And there's, my motivation was, number one, we have a lot of kids in our area that are very good players, world class players at their age, and to give them the opportunity to really excel in the game and develop their skills to get to the next level.

Also for me to have a great place to practice, that was part of it. And to impact the kids in our area that aren't exposed to golf. And there's quite a few of them. Baseball and football, as you can imagine, are really big in our area. And to take some of those athletes, expose them to the game, and see if we can turn out the next Tour players. So I think it will be a great experience for everybody once it's finished.

Q. The first week of the season a 28 year old freak of an athlete won big at Kapalua and then the second week a 23 year old is setting all kinds of scoring records. Do you still feel like there's a place in the game for a 40 something plodder who can think his way around the course or is this the way we're going?

DAVID TOMS: It looks like that's the way we're going. But I think that, depending upon the golf course conditions and all that, but those guys are certainly ready to play great at a young age. There were only a handful of people when I came out that I felt like were ready for it all. And now they all seem to be. And it's just kind of a new guy popping up every year.

So I think they're trained so much better, physically, mentally. They play a lot of golf tournaments. They're ready. I think that is the future.

As far as somebody my age that can still win out here, guys do it every year. It's just you probably don't have as many opportunities to do it. So it's not like on a weekly basis you see the older guys compete every single week. I think it's definitely the youth movement is here and it's good.

I think that's good for the TOUR, where you have a little bit of a mix, you have some old guys sprinkled in that everybody knows who they are and then you have the new guys that are young and play great golf that make a name for themselves.

MARK STEVENS: All right. Thanks, David, and good luck this week.

DAVID TOMS: All right. Thank you.

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