Bill Nichols

Friday, May 20, 2011

David Toms shakes off playoff loss by taking Colonial lead

FORT WORTH _ Having forced a playoff with a long putt and lost a playoff with a short putt, both on the same day, David Toms has figured out that there’s no figuring out this golf thing.
The less time spent contemplating the vagaries of that little dimpled orb, the better.

``That’s just golf,’’ he said. ``You can’t figure it out. You just go and you work. There is not a whole lot of difference between playing a great round _ shooting even par _ and shooting 8 under.’’

Toms was so despondent over last Sunday’s gut wrenching playoff loss to K.J. Choi at the Players Championship that he went out and shot a mood elevating 8-under 62 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

He finished Thursday’s first round one shy of the course record, tied for the lead with Chez Reavie. And Toms was still tied for the lead, with Rory Sabattini and Steven Bowditch at 9 under, through three holes on Friday. 

It was almost 10 years ago that Toms punched Phil Mickelson in the gut at the PGA Championship. Toms got up and down with a 15-foot par putt. His first major title prolonged Mickelson’s misery at being the best player to never win a major.

Since then, Mickelson has won four major titles. Toms is still searching for his second.

That’s just golf.

Toms has battled his share of frustrations, most notably injuries, since his last victory five years ago. He won 12 times over 10 years, including three multiple victory seasons. Only six players have more career earnings than Toms’ $35,075,476.

At 44, Toms is playing for wins, not paychecks. That’s why the Players loss seemed so painful. Instead, he arrived at Colonial sounding like a winner, proud that he had made that clutch15-footer.

``I felt like last week was success,’’ he said. ``I held up well. I played great. Sure, I screwed up on the last hole. But it’s happened to a lot of other guys before me.’’

Toms fits the mold of several recent Colonial champs, such as Kenny Perry, Tim Herron and Steve Stricker _ 40-something shotmakers in the twilight of their careers.

Toms has plenty to build on. His bogey-free 62 is just one shy of his career-best score. It matches the lowest opening round on Tour this season, and equals the lowest first round at Colonial since 2005. And he did it despite hitting only six fairways. Driving accuracy is one of his strengths.

After missing that four-foot putt in the playoff, his putting was his best virtue on Thursday. He took only 24 putts. He made all 12 of his attempts from inside seven feet.

"It was one of those days today where the hole looked so big, and I putted extremely well," Toms said. "It’s the one thing I really haven’t been doing. This round certainly helps me get past what happened at the end (last week).

``It’s nice to be playing well again. Certainly I’m not going to try to figure out why. I think if you look at the stats, they kind of say I’m playing well across the board. But other than that, I don’t try to figure it out.’’

That’s just golf.

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