PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Toms on brink for first PGA TOUR Champions win
Former PGA Championship winner ended rookie year strong in 2017 and is positive entering 2018
February 07, 2018
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- David Toms is one to watch this week at the Boca Raton Championship at The Old Course at Broken Sound. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
David Toms has two top-five finishes in two starts at the season-opening PGA TOUR Champions Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.
And it's looking more like next year he’ll earn his way in.
The event essentially is a tournament of champions, except for a few sponsor’s exemptions, of which the Louisiana native was one. Toms has played well in Hawaii over the course of his career, and the special invite last year made the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai was his first-ever event on PGA TOUR Champions.
He didn’t disappoint either, posting a T4. The surprising part was that the result remained the best of his rookie year until the Schwab Cub Playoffs. Toms never seemed to get it going until a rush at the end of the year. He opened the playoff with a T18 at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic then followed with a solo third at the PowerShares QQQ Championship and a T4 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. It all led to an 11th-place finish in the Schwab Cup standings and allowed for a positive spin on his first year on PGA TOUR Champions.
Now he’s fresh off a solo third at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and hungry for more.
“I enjoy the golf course,” Toms said after the final round at Hualalai. “I've played well both times. My caddie and I were talking about it there finishing up. It would be a nice place to come every single year, so I've got some work to do in order to do that. I've enjoyed it. They take great care of us. Mitsubishi is a great sponsor.”
With players taking an average of about 30 starts to notch their first victory, Toms will make his 24th PGA TOUR Champions start at the Boca Raton Championship, which begins Friday at The Old Course at Broken Sound.
Toms managed a T23 here last year, but he’s too good and too determined not to break through for his first win somewhere along the line in 2018.
Toms, a past champion of the PGA TOUR Sony Open at Hawaii, elected not to play in that event the week before the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Eventual Hualalai champion Jerry Kelly did, and he finished T14 at the Sony after posting four rounds in the 60s.
“This year I decided just to come here a few days early and I relaxed rather than getting into competition a week before,” Toms said. “I wasn't able to play much golf at home, weather's bad, so I just wanted to come up here and practice and play this golf course and get ready for this event.”
Toms was 16th in the field in greens in regulation. What really made the difference for him was his putting; he was fourth in putting for the week.
Toms had a solid rookie season, but he rarely put three rounds together. Only twice did he shoot all three rounds of a tournament in the 60s (Boeing Classic and Charles Schwab Cup Championship). Not surprisingly, both of those led to top-10 finishes.
Statistically, he was pretty much where he needed to be to win. He was third in total driving, not especially long (30th) but highly accurate (seventh). He was sixth in ball striking and 12th in greens in regulation. His putting last week was better than last season (11th), so maybe a little improvement with the flat stick will put him in position more often.
Toms opened with a 67 in Boca Raton last year, and he closed with a 67. But his second-round 72 on a day when the rest of the field was going low gave him no chance to get into contention.
Players out here often say three-round events are sprints. A “bad” round has to be a 68 or 69 or too much ground can be lost. If Toms didn’t know that before 2017, he does now.
The bet here is Mitsubishi can use that sponsor’s exemption on someone else in 2019. Toms isn’t going to need it.