Commentary

On the Hot Seat: David Toms

Updated: February 11, 2008, 11:49 AM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

To get a true measure of David Toms as a golfer, we need only recall two moments from his lone career major title, the 2001 PGA Championship.

During the third round, he carded a hole-in-one on the 243-yard 15th hole en route to taking a 2-stroke advantage by day's end.

The next day, up by 1 on the final hole, Toms elected to lay up on the 490-yard par-4, then got up and down from 90 yards to clinch the victory.

That's David Toms. One part talent, one part brains.

Toms sat down on the Hot Seat to prove he's just as quick on his feet when discussing PGA Tour policy matters, the upcoming Ryder Cup and, of course, LSU football.

The Toms file
David Toms
Toms
Full name: David Wayne Toms
Birthdate: Jan. 4, 1967
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 160 lbs.
Turned professional: 1989
Joined PGA Tour: 1992
Special interests: Duck hunting, snow skiing, water skiing, LSU sports

Q: I've talked to a lot of young players on the PGA Tour and many have said the career they'd most like to have isn't that of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, in which there's little to no anonymity off the course, but David Toms. How does it make you feel to hear that?
A: [Laughs] I guess it makes me feel good. I've had a successful career in my eyes and it's nice that a younger guy would say something like that. It makes me feel good about what I've done in my career.

Q: OK, that said, whose career would you rather have: Tiger Woods' or David Toms'?
A: Oh, man. Most of the time I'd say Tiger Woods -- until you try to go out to a movie or something and then I'd take mine.

Q: Twelve wins, one major. You just turned 41. If you achieve nothing else in your career, are you satisfied with what you've accomplished?
A: I'd have to say no, just because I feel like I have the talent to do more. I know I'm getting up in age, but I think I can still play some great golf.

Q: After you won the Sony last year, you told me, "If I play like I'm capable of playing, I'm a top-10 player in the world. … I don't think I'm in the top five." Still feel that way?
A: Yes, just because I don't quite have the power to play today's game at a top-5 in the world level. If you look at the guys who are up there, they're pretty strong players; I guess Jim Furyk would be the only exception, except for the fact that he's so good at everything that he doesn't necessarily have to have the power to play, but he can still get it out there.

Q: If you had been born 30 or 40 years earlier, when it was less of a power game, would you have been a more accomplished player in your career?
A: I'd have to say yes.

Q: You're on record as saying Colonial is your favorite course on tour. That still true?
A: Absolutely. I think it's just the whole experience, from the golf course to the tournament history to the clubhouse to the fans, being fairly close to where I live. Just the whole experience makes it my favorite.

Q: Does the PGA Tour need more tight, old-style courses?
A: Yes, most definitely.

Q: Does losing Westchester Country Club hurt that cause?
A: I would have to say so, just from the history of the event. We've been going there for a long time. You know, there's a plaque out on the 18th fairway from Bob Gilder's double-eagle [in 1982] that you see every year. I just think we lose a little bit by not going there.

[+] EnlargeDavid Toms
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesToms was 32nd on the PGA Tour money list in 2007, his lowest finish in nine years.

Q: Are you already looking forward to this year's Ryder Cup?
A: Yes, I just hope to be a part of the team. I think it's going to be a great event. I hope to be part of the team, but if not it'll be an event that I will definitely be sitting in front of the TV watching -- and even might be there in person if I'm not on the team.

Q: Really? If you don't make the team, you'll go to Valhalla and cheer on the U.S. guys?
A: Highly likely. Let's just hope that I'm part of the team and not watching from the outside of the ropes.

Q: Where is making the team among your goals for 2008?
A: Probably No. 1, I would have to say. That and getting back into the winner's circle.

Q: You and Tiger played well together at the Presidents Cup last year. Would you like to team up with him again at Valhalla?
A: Yes. I don't know why you wouldn't want to be paired with the best player in the world. Certainly he makes it easier to earn a point when you have him on your side.

Q: Do you think Tiger would want to be paired with you again?
A: Well, we had some success, we had a good time and I think I support his game pretty well, so I don't see why not.

Q: On Sept. 15, 2005, you were taken off the course on a stretcher at the 84 Lumber Classic. What happened?
A: I had a condition that's called SVT, supraventricular tachycardia, and it was just a heart rate issue that got out of control. I didn't feel too well, so I got it fixed later that winter and haven't looked back since. It should be taken care of.

Q: And has it caused any more problems recently?
A: No, it hasn't. I don't really ever think about it. Every once in a while, when I feel a little faint or have a blood-sugar issue or anything else, that's the first thing I might think about, but as far as the heart condition goes, I haven't had any problems since I got it fixed.

Q: I heard a story that later that night in the hospital, you were watching TV and saw some reports that it may have been more serious than it actually was.
A: Well, when it first happened, I had no idea. I asked my caddie when we were in the ambulance, "Am I going to die? What's going to happen here?" So it was kind of scary, but once I got everything under control and I was in the care of a physician, I felt better about it. I think it was just family and friends who wanted to know what was going on. At times, you get false reports here and there, but I felt like I was doing OK.

Q: One other health issue: You tore a calf muscle playing tennis a few months ago. Is that bothering you on the course at all?
A: No, in fact I went snow skiing [recently] and ski boots have got to be the most uncomfortable thing you could ever wear and I seemed to be doing just fine with it, so it's not a concern entering the year.

Q: You recently became a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board. How did that come about?
A: Well, I've been on it before. You get elected by the membership after serving on the Player Advisory Council the previous year, then you move on to the Board. I enjoy it, just seeing how the tour works from the inside, rather than just a player's perspective. You meet some neat people in the business world and you come to appreciate the tour staff a lot more than you do as just an average player on the tour.

On the Hot Seat

Who else has appeared on ESPN.com's Hot Seat to discuss golf? Everyone from Tiger Woods to Annika Sorenstam. Click here to find the entire list.
Hot Seat guests

Q: What policies would you like to see changed on the tour?
A: You know, that's a good question. I've really been all about more variety in the golf course setup and I still feel that way. I think everybody needs a fair chance, no matter what type of game you play. And as long as we have courses for the power hitter, we have courses for the shorter hitters, we have tight courses, we have wide-open courses, we have rough, we don't have rough, I think as long as we have variety, that's what I always push for.

Q: Any thoughts on how to improve the FedEx Cup? Does it need improving?
A: You know, I think it will be continually tweaked from year to year. We'll have to wait and see. I think there will be a lot of different ideas that come out in the future, but it's really all about growing the tour and the popularity and having something that's a yearlong competition that they can focus on each week, a little side story to the actual tournament that's being played. It gives each tournament more credibility, so that they're part of a yearlong competition. I think it's a great idea and you'll see it continually tweaked, just like we do with all policies on tour. The tour is not the same as it was 20 years ago. We're constantly changing and I think we'll see the same thing with the FedEx Cup.

Q: Were you in favor of the so-called "Rule of 78," in which -- if more than 78 players make the cut -- some receive last-place money and don't play the final 36 holes?
A: Yeah, I think so, just from a pure tournament operations standpoint. We have tournaments where we have very limited daylight and when you're talking television and sponsors and big money, you have to do the best thing for the competition as a whole and the way it's presented on television, because that's where our revenue comes from. I think it's a good rule. Certainly, it's been kind of controversial so far this year, but I think as guys understand it more and more, and the more that it might take place in the future, the more that it will become accepted.

Q: Were you surprised at the backlash from players when it first happened at the Sony?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think it's more about them not being informed. You know, that's a long way to go. You're in Hawaii and you feel like you made the cut and then you don't get to play. I guess you can look on the bright side; you can go lay out and get a suntan on the weekend. But I know that I've had good tournaments where I just barely made the cut and thought I had a successful week, so I understand that part of it, but if you look at the tour as a whole, I think it was something that needed to be done.

Q: Let's move onto some fun stuff. How many sweater vests do you own?
A: [Laughs] I have a lot of 'em. I usually wear black or navy blue, but I have a lot. Oxford Golf has been very good to me as far as supplying me with golf clothes over the years, so I wouldn't even venture to guess how many, but it's a bunch.

Q: Do you own more sweater vests than Tiger has red shirts?
A: Yes, I do. He only wears his once a week. I feel like when the weather's right, I wear mine almost every day.

Q: You're a big-time duck hunter. Who has the best duck call on tour?
A: I haven't hunted with that many guys. A few years ago, John Riegger had his own line of calls, so he must be a pretty good call. I'm rating myself as about an 8 to 10 handicap for duck calling right now, but I'm working on it, so I'm getting better and better every year.

Q: I'm not even going to ask you a question about LSU football. I'll just let you use this space to say whatever you'd like about the recent championship.
A: What happened this year with our football program was great for the state, great for the university. It seems like we're last in so many categories. Every time you open up USA Today, they want to put us last in something. To be first in one of the most important things that happens in the state of Louisiana makes everybody feel pretty good. There's been a lot of purple and gold being sold in stores since the first part of January.

Q: I assume you attended the championship game?
A: I was there on the sideline the whole time, so I got to see it up close and personal. It's a sports moment that I will remember for a long, long time.

Q: Which would you rather have: a second straight title for LSU or a second major victory?
A: [Laughs] I'm going to have to go with a second major victory from a selfish standpoint, but for all my friends and fellow LSU supporters, why don't we just go for both? How about that?

Q: I want to see how much you'd sacrifice. How about a second straight title for LSU or another PGA Tour victory?
A: Oh, man. I might have to go for two titles in a row. Here we are, the team of the decade, the team of the century, so let's just keep it up.

Q: That's what you call being a die-hard fan. David Toms, you're off the ESPN.com Hot Seat.
A: Well, thank you.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.