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January 15 2013

8:03 PM

Toms has lots of irons in the fire

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- David Toms said he wasn't completely surprised when the PGA of America recently announced that Tom Watson would serve as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for the second time in his career.

The 46-year-old Toms, who won the 2001 PGA, was among the potential candidates and he confirmed he had some general discussions with the PGA before the announcement. Ted Bishop, who is the president of the PGA, later called Toms to let him know the organization's decision.

And Toms said he was "fine" with it.

"Obviously, I would like to be the captain some day, but at this point in my career this is probably for the better for me personally and so I wish them well," Toms said. "I know that they will have a great team and have a great captain and I'm just hoping to get my game in good enough shape to be a part of that."

That's hardly out of the realm of possibility for Toms, who had five top-10s last year and finished second at The McGladrey Classic in his final start of the season. One of those top-10s came at the Humana Challenge in partnership wih the Clinton Foundation where he is making his 2013 debut this week.

That said, Toms knows the PGA TOUR is deeper that it was two decades ago when he turned pro. He has only to think back to Sunday when PGA TOUR rookie Russell Henley won the Sony Open in Hawaii in record fashion.

Of course, a case can be made for experience. But Toms knows he and the other fortysomethings need to take advantage of their chances when they arise.

"As far as somebody my age that can still win out here, guys do it every year," said Toms, who won his 13th PGA TOUR event in 2011. "It's just you probably don't have as many opportunities to do it. So it's not like on a weekly basis you see the older guys compete every single week. ...
 
"I think that's good for the TOUR, where you have a little bit of a mix, you have some old guys sprinkled in that everybody knows who they are and then you have the new guys that are young and play great golf that make a name for themselves."

Toward that end, the Louisiana native is developing the David Toms Academy that will open later this year in Shreveport, where he makes his home. It's a unique practice facility that will feature a nine-hole par-3 course, eight greens dedicated to chipping and putting, a driving range that spans 118 acres at various hitting angles and three regulation holes (par 3, 4 and 5).

The academy will also be known as "265" -- which refers to his winning score in 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club, which remains the lowest aggregate total in major championship history. He shot the same score in winning first and his most recent PGA TOUR events.

Toms hopes the facility, which is being built on a 65-acre tract of land located just off a major thoroughfare in the center of Shreveport, will serve 400 young people each year. The academy will be affiliated with The First Tee of Northwest Lousiana. Once it's operational, private memberships will also be accepted so the academy will be self-sustaining.

"My motivation was, number one, we have a lot of kids in our area that are very good players, world class players at their age, and to give them the opportunity to really excel in the game and develop their skills to get to the next level," Toms said. "... And to impact the kids in our area that aren't exposed to golf. And there's quite a few of them.

"Baseball and football, as you can imagine, are really big in our area. And to take some of those athletes, expose them to the game, and see if we can turn out the next TOUR players.  So I think it will be a great experience for everybody once it's finished."

 

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