Toms meets his destiny at ColonialFORT WORTH, Texas – David Toms won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday with a final-round 3 under 67, finished at 15 under 265 and was one shot better than Charlie Wi. It was the 13th career win for Toms and his first since a victory at the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii.
This win was big for Toms in many ways – it came on the heels of a heart-breaking playoff loss a week earlier to K.J. Choi at The Players; followed opening rounds of 62-62 which put him seven strokes clear of the field at the midway point here and came a day after he had surrendered that huge lead and fell behind by one after 54 holes.
Even he had to pinch himself as he tried to soak it all in.
“I'm not dreaming, am I?” he asked in his post-victory press conference. “This is actually happening, right? Oh, man.
“Wow, I didn't know if this day would ever come again to be quite honest. It was a great round of golf today. It took one.”
It was a great round of golf when you consider what must have been going through his mind. Just because you have 12 wins on the PGA Tour, there is never a guarantee you will get another one and Toms knew that all too well.
“It was nerve racking, I could tell you right now,” he said. “I was shaking on the greens.
“I continued to make par saves when I needed to. I didn't have the speed on my first putts for some reason. I would leave one short. I would run one by. I just constantly was making those 4- or 5-, 6-foot putts for par, which was great. That was really the key to it. I hit a lot of quality shots. Even the shot I hit at 17, I mean I told my caddy I'm going to line it up right there with that left bunker and let the wind take it right to it and it never moved. Obviously I was in bad spot. He (Wi, who was in the right greenside bunker) was in an easy spot in the right bunker. You can't miss it left there, and I did.”
Toms kept grinding. Like he had during the last five and a half years when he’d come up empty in his search for what felt like an elusive 13th title. He had six runner-up finishes since his last win, including three in 2009 and the one many thought might crush him at The Players last week.
“I just go back to last summer, Greensboro, I made a big putt on the last hole,” Toms said. “It's a really, really difficult hole.
“Arjun Atwal, he makes a great par on the last hole, hits it in the rough off the tee, he hits it in the grandstands on his second shot, got a drop, had a great up and down, and when those things happen, you are like, is it ever going to happen?
“Not just then, but other times. I played great in Hartford a couple of years ago and Kenny Perry, that hot year that he had. You are like, hey, is it ever going to happen?”
In 2009, when Toms was logging three second-place finishes, Perry won twice and lost in a playoff. He won at 22 under par in Hartford, three better than Toms, who tied for second.
“You got to keep knocking on the door,” Toms added. “Like I said this week, those first two rounds, just kind of got me far enough ahead where it was meant to be. Then I shot 124 and ended up winning by a shot in the end. So it took every ounce of determination, guts, that I had to get this done.”
He had a lot of people call, text and email to ask if he was okay after losing to Choi. While he wasn’t okay with the finish he had, he was lifted by the kind words he received from others.
Closing this one out helped him realize he could still win. It reaffirmed in his mind that he has the game to play, no matter what the tournament, no matter what the conditions. That’s a bigger deal than most people may think.
Toms, despite 12 prior wins, which included a major title at the 2001 PGA Championship, has always had a problem with self-doubt. He was never the longest hitter, he never could just show up to a venue and impose himself on a course. Instead, he had to plot his way around in search of a way to end 72 holes with the lowest score.
After a while, he admitted, it beat him up. It got to him. In a game so dependent on a strong mind, he lost an edge. One of the few he had.
“And to come back, after what happened last week, is probably the most satisfying victory I've ever had out of all of the ones, even the Major championship, even winning in my home state, to win after this time frame and to come back after what happened last week, certainly means more to me than any other victory,” Toms said.
And it was interesting how Toms got to the point where his mind settled enough to finish the job.
After a disappointing 74 on Saturday, Toms was the last man on the practice green. That might have been the best decision he made all week.
“It was more about just letting everything settle down,” he said. “Let all of the people get out of here. And to get back to the mental state that I had the first two days, and just kind of look at the surroundings and know that, hey, one of these days I'm going to do it here. That's what I was trying to do, just take it all in.
I met some nice people around the putting green wanting autographs. They were an inspiration, still pulling for me, still here at 7:30, 8 o'clock in the evening and wanting to see me win today.”
In spite of the self-doubt that has been his companion over the years, Toms always felt he could win at Colonial. When he was playing great golf in the early 2000s, he couldn’t pick up a local paper in the Fort Worth area that didn’t include him as one of the favorites to win. He believed it, and so too did the prognosticators.
His inability to get it done was complicated by the fact that he had always considered Colonial Country Club to be his greatest stop on tour. But now, he has done it. His name will be put on the Wall of Champions. It has finally happened and he believes it was meant to be.
“It's awesome,” Toms said. “It's a great group of champions. It's right there by the first tee when you tee off. So now everybody that comes after me, once I'm long gone from competitive golf, they're going to see it. It means a lot.”
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