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A Quick 9: David Toms

DAVID TOMS is an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR and the defending champion at this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which features the top 64 players in the world. In addition to winning last year after defeating fellow Titleist golf ball player Chris DiMarco in the final 36-hole match, he was the runner-up in 2003, and owns the second-best career record in the event. He already has one win to his credit this year, capturing the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. We caught up with David recently for a Quick 9...

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2005 Accenture Match Play Champion, David Toms

1. You've been winning on Tour for more than 15 years. What do you do to stay consistent as a player at the highest level of the game?
DT: A lot of it has to do with confidence. I can look back on past experiences and know I've won big tournaments and hit big shots when I've needed to. Being able to draw on those experiences, being excited, and still being in love with the sport constantly drives me to improve. I'm still dedicated to getting better. You can't be complacent; you have to always strive to get better or else you'll get left behind.

2. You were clearly in "the zone" last year when you won the Match Play Championship. Can you describe what it means to be "in the zone?"
DT: When I'm in the zone, everything seems easier - whether the hole looks bigger when you're lining up a 15-foot putt, or the targets seems bigger from the tee or the fairway. One key is not trying to figure out why you're playing so well. So many times you're wondering 'what am I doing, why is this easier than normal?' It's more about not getting caught up in the moment and just accepting it and trying to focus. If they could bottle that feeling, they could sell it for a lot of money. It's one of the things that makes sports so fun to follow and interesting to be a part of.

3. How important is it to have confidence and consistency in your golf ball?
DT:
With a lot of equipment these days - drivers, irons, wedges, etc - there's only so much you can do. I just think the golf ball is the most important thing because you have to play one that fits your game, whatever your launch or spin might be, and its great knowing there's a lot that's gone into the product you're playing with to make it the best. The one I use, I feel like it is the best for me and it's done a lot of good for me in my career, that's for sure. (To hear more from Toms, and other Tour players, CLICK HERE.)

4. You play in a lot of pro-ams. What's the number one swing fault you see in amateurs and what advice would you give them to correct it?
DT:
The most common mistake I see amateurs make is swinging at the ball, instead of swinging through the ball. When you swing at the ball you tend to want to put your hands on it which gets your shaft plane a little too high and you end up coming over the top of the ball and hitting a slice. To correct it, I would recommend hitting some balls on the driving range with your eyes closed, preferably when there aren't too many people around so you don't hit someone! This is the best way to feel what it's like when you just let the ball get in the way of the club. Make a nice fluid swing and just let the ball get in the way.

5. Is there one tip you received when you were learning the game that still sticks with you today?
DT:
With how competitive the PGA TOUR is these days, you have to be really precise and part of that is knowing the distance of your clubs. A lot of amateurs will pull the cart up next to the marker that's supposed to be 150 yards to the center of the green and they know, if the flag is in the front, they'll hit an 8-iron, if it's in the back they'll hit a 6-iron and if it's in the center they'll hit a 7-iron. So they really don't know how far they hit their clubs. I think it's very important to know how far your clubs go - not how far you think they go, but how far they actually go. One thing I learned early on was don't think you hit it further than you do. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that you hit the right club.

6. How important is hydration and nutrition during the round and what do you typically eat or drink when you play?
DT: The most important thing for me is to feel good - both mentally and physically - and you want to feel as good when you finish as you did when you teed off. It's so hard to fight the mental and physical ups-and-downs during a round of golf but it's easier to control how your body feels than it is to control the mental part, so I focus on that. You'll probably do different things on different days, depending on the weather, how much you sweat, what you ate the night before, etc. The key is to feel good, whether that means drinking a lot of water, or a nutritional drink, or eating between holes. I just want to feel the same throughout the round - I never want to be over or under hydrated and never want to feel too hungry or too full.

7. Is there a typical workout routine you go through before a round?
DT: I really focus on stretching as many parts of my body as I can so I don't get up on the first tee and pull something and have to walk back into the clubhouse. That happens quite often because our bodies weren't made to twist and turn like they do when we're playing golf. There's no real rhyme or reason to what I do, I just try to stretch as much as I can so I'm limber when I get to the first tee.

8. How important is working out to staying competitive on the PGA TOUR?
DT: I think it's becoming more important, more so than it ever was before. I still think it's more about feeling good - about yourself and your golf game - and being prepared, whatever that takes. Some guys feel like they need to lift weights to get stronger, some guys focus more on flexibility. I think it's more about creating speed through the golf shot, to where you're in control of your direction and distance. So I think it's important to focus on a combination of both strength and flexibility.

9. With the length and the grind of the golf season, how do you stay motivated about what you do everyday?
DT: It's all about pacing yourself, knowing what your limitations are, what your breaking point is, and when you need to step away from it. I think that's important in all careers. You need to be excited about what you do, whether it's a big meeting or presentation about your product or a big round of golf. It's all about being prepared, being ready to be there, and wanting to be there. Certainly if you don't want to be there, you might as well go do something else.

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