David Toms capped off a 65 by sticking his approach stiff on the par-3 17th.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The way David Toms saw it, he didn't have much to lose.
The veteran started the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship -- a tournament he lost in a playoff last year – well back, in a tie for 48th. So he came to the Stadium Course on Sunday planning to attack.
Even so, Toms started slowly, negating an opening birdie with bogeys on two of his next three holes. But then Toms holed a shot from the 123 yards for an eagle at No. 6 -- and birdied his next three, as well, on putts of 7, 24, and 16 feet to make the turn in 32.
Three more birdies followed on the back nine, the final one coming from 7 feet at the 17th hole, on the way to a career-low 65 on Pete Dye’s iconic layout. When Toms finished he had moved up 44 spots into a tie for fourth.
"This golf course, really, there are plenty of holes, if you can
hit the shots, if you can pull it off, if you can play the
aggressive shot and happen to pull it off; and that's the way I had
to play today," Toms said.
"I was so far back, and I was just trying to have a decent finish. So no reason why I shouldn't shoot at a flag. What's the difference in 44th and 34th? That's the way I was playing out there, and I just happened to play a great round of golf."
Toms finished before the leaders even teed off, and he said there are plenty of no-go situations on the Stadium Course in the final round. Pars are going to be even more valuable as the day progresses, too.
"I think you just have to play solid," Toms said. "... I think
it's all about getting the ball in the fairway. Or, if not in the
fairway, in a playable position, first cut of rough, those type of
things. That's the most important thing.
"You have some crosswinds. If you can get the ball in the fairway, the greens are fairly receptive. I guess the cloud cover helped that, and that way, you can put it in the right position to be on the green. That's the key -- keeping the ball in play. The guys that come out on top are the ones that are up there and able to stay away from trouble off the tee."
Toms' playoff loss to K.J. Choi last year was admittedly disappointing -- particularly given that his son, Carter, whom Toms credited with rekindling his enthusiasm for the game, was in attendance. In a storybook ending, though, Toms won the next week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -- and he'll head to Texas again with similar good vibes.
"Obviously feeling pretty good about the game to be able to play that kind of round when I needed to," Toms said. "I was pretty disappointed last year but I felt like I was there the whole time. I really didn't lose the golf tournament. So I didn't have that feeling that I lost anything. So I feel good about my game, that's for sure."