Toms wins despite horrible final hole

May 11, 2003 at 8:55 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 11 (UPI) -- Since David Toms had a six-shot lead Sunday going to the final hole of the Wachovia Championship, he did not have a case of nerves.

About 15 minutes later, however, he was a nervous wreck as he struggled home with a quadruple bogey that left him a two-shot winner over Brent Geiberger and Robert Gamez and Vijay Singh. It was the first win for Toms since he captured the 2001 PGA Championship.

"I felt in total control, at least for 71 holes," said Toms, who shot a 1-over 73 to finish at 10-under-par 278. "My game plan was to make a birdie and finish in style. I wasn't nervous with a six-shot lead. I felt like if I got past No. 17 without a disaster, the tournament was mine.

"That's why the last hole was such a shock, because my emotions were in check. I think in the back of my mind I was trying to hit it a little too hard off the tee. It just came out of nowhere."

He hit his worst tee shot of the week, spraying it some 50 yards wide of where he was aiming at the 478-yard, par-four 18th.

"Some guy said something about (Jean) Van de Velde," said Toms, referring to the Frenchman who triple-bogeyed the final hole at the 1999 British Open before losing a playoff.

With that thought planted unpleasantly in his mind, Toms pitched out sideways a little too hard, and his ball came within a yard of rolling into the creek left of the fairway.

He advanced his third shot 130 yards to the fairway, from where he had only 108 yards to the hole. But his fourth shot, with a sand wedge, came up 46 feet short, and his first putt went six feet beyond the cup.

His second putt trickled three feet by, and he missed the next before tapping in for an embarrassing four-putt eight. But it was still a deserved win, because Toms dominated the final round, starting with a five-shot lead which he never surrendered. Before the final hole, he had completed 24 consecutive holes without dropping a shot.

"The only time I got nervous was when I got to the green," he said. "All of a sudden I was trying to hang on and that's why I made an eight."

He collected $1,008,000 for his eighth PGA Tour victory, his first in 19 months spanning 41 official tournaments. He preferred to talk about what the victory meant, rather than his final hole mess.

He hit as many greens in regulation as anyone, 58 of 72, and he missed only 15 fairways.

"It wasn't a fluke I won," he said. "It's been a long time for me. The last six months my caddie has been having to deal with me having not quite the most positive attitude in the world.

"I've finally got that monkey off my back. It was getting bigger and bigger every tournament. When you have expectations like I do, it's tough when you're not winning."

Nick Price (70) and Kirk Triplett (71) finished in a tie for fifth at 281.

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