FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)—David Toms had gone more than five years without winning. He was coming off a gut-wrenching playoff loss just a week ago and went into the final round at Colonial trailing after he squandered a seven-stroke lead.
Everything changed after a shot he called “one of the most perfect” he has ever hit.
Toms made an eagle with a wedge shot from 83 yards on the par-5 11th hole Sunday, pumping both fists over his head after regaining the lead for good over Charlie Wi. Toms went on to a closing 3-under 67 to win at Hogan’s Alley by a stroke at 15 under.
“I hit it absolutely crisp. It hit 4 inches short of the hole, bounced past and came back in,” Toms said. “I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
His long-elusive 13th career PGA Tour victory came a week after a playoff loss to K.J. Choi at The Players Championship, when the 44-year-old Toms missed a short par putt on the extra hole for his sixth runner-up finish since last winning in January 2006 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
“To win after this time frame and to come back after what happened last week certainly means more to me than any other victory,” said Toms, the 2001 PGA Championship winner.
Wi, the 39-year-old South Korean who made his 100th cut on the PGA Tour this weekend, started the final round with a one-shot lead that quickly expanded with birdies on the first two holes. He shot 69 and ended with his fourth career runner-up finish without a win.
“I certainly didn’t give it to him,” Wi said. “He definitely earned it.”
After his playoff loss at TPC Sawgrass, where Toms missed a short par putt on the extra hole that would have extended play, he was inundated with phone calls, text messages and e-mails making sure he was OK. Most offered encouragement and told him to keep up his great play.
“They’re just being nice, and they probably believe that,” Toms said. “But it helps, and certainly to play the way I did this week, it helps me just to know, No. 1, I could still win. No. 2, that I had the game to play no matter what the tournament, no matter what the conditions.”
Toms became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2000 to have a playoff loss one week then win the next. Mickelson won the 2000 Colonial a week after losing a playoff to Jesper Parnievik at the Byron Nelson Championship.
A day before his wedding anniversary, and a previously planned two-week break after four consecutive tournaments, Toms won what he has repeatedly called his favorite tournament and where he has four other top-10 finishes. Toms gets a $1.116 million check, the championship plaid jacket and a spot on Colonial’s Wall of Champions with greats such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer.
Bo Van Pelt (65) finished third at 10 under, a stroke better than defending Colonial champion Zach Johnson (65).
Just four days after leaving TPC Sawgrass, Toms opened at Colonial with a bogey-free 62 for his best score in 429 rounds—since a career-best 61 in his Hawaii victory. Toms had another 62 Friday to match the PGA Tour scoring record for the first 36 holes of a tournament (124).
But after opening the third round with another birdie to get to 17 under through 37 holes, Toms had three bogeys over the next five holes and went on to a third-round 74. Wi took the lead with a 32-foot birdie at the par-3 16th Saturday.
Wi made another birdie at No. 16 Sunday, but Toms sank a 4 1/2 -foot par there to keep a two-stroke edge before bogeying the 17th when his approach went into a greenside bunker.
“I kept it interesting until the last hole,” Wi said, “so I’m very pleased with that.”
After a bogey at No. 4 when his tee shot at the difficult 247-yard par 3 missed the green, Wi drained a 35-foot birdie putt at the 481-yard 5th. He pumped his right fist and smiled, still with a three-stroke lead since Toms was then even on the day.
“When he made that long putt, it was like maybe it was his day,” Toms said. “He made it all the way across the green there.”
But things soon started to change.
At No. 6, Toms just missed an 18-foot birdie putt off the fringe, but gained a stroke when Wi missed a 4-foot par. Toms hit his approach at No. 7 to 10 feet for a birdie, then caught up at 13 under when Wi’s approach missed the No. 10 green and he bogeyed.
“The momentum I think started (to change) on 10, because I was one shot ahead of him and I was in the middle of the fairway,” Wi said. “The killer was my poor drive on 12.”
After Toms’ clincher on Colonial’s longest hole, where Wi blasted out of a frontside bunker to 4 1/2 feet for birdie, Wi hit his drive at the par-4 12th into a fairway bunker and needed two shots to get out of it. He managed bogey while Toms made a 5-foot par.
“I’m not dreaming, am I? This is actually happening, right? Wow, I didn’t know if this day would ever come again,” Toms said. “It was a great round of golf today, and it took one.”
Photo - Hunter Martin /Getty Images
STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer www.GolfGreedy.com