Former Tiger Toms Win's Second-Straight St. Jude Classic

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
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Former Tiger Toms Win's Second-Straight St. Jude Classic

BY TERESA M. WALKER
ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — (AP) David Toms’ comeback from wrist surgery is complete.

Toms started the final round of the St. Jude Classic with a seven-stroke lead on May 30, and nothing — not even windy conditions — could stop him from repeating as champion.

He shot a 2-over 73 and still finished with a six-stroke victory over Bob Estes for his 10th PGA Tour victory and first since winning here last June.

“I just had to grind it all the way out,” Toms said. “It was a tough day for everybody. I knew it would be tough for anybody to shoot a low score. I knew as long as I could hang in there and make a lot of pars, I’d be OK.

“In the end, it was good enough.”

This is the eighth time in Toms’ career that he entered the final round with at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. He has won six of those times, including five straight.

With the victory, the 37-year-old Toms is one of only five players under 40 on tour with 10 or more victories.

He also becomes just the third golfer to win consecutive titles at the tour stop in Memphis, and the first since the tournament moved to the TPC at Southwind in 1989. Dave Hill won in 1969 and 1970, while Lee Trevino took the titles in 1971 and 1972 at Colonial Country Club.

But for Toms, his performance in building the largest 54-hole lead on tour this year made Sunday’s win much more meaningful than last year’s victory.

A year ago, Toms said he had been playing great golf for three or four years in a row. Now, he is coming off December surgery to remove bone chips from his left wrist, an injury that kept him from touching a club in the offseason.

Toms came to Memphis having missed five of his last seven cuts, and his world ranking had slipped from ninth to 16th. Only a bogey on his final hole of the first round kept him from enjoying a wire-to-wire victory as he finished with a 16-under 268 and claimed the $846,000 paycheck.

“Considering the injury I had, what I was trying to come back from, this means the world to me,” he said. “Thinking about it right now, it’s hard to put into words, but I’m sure tonight when I’m laying in bed trying to get to sleep it’ll all come to me as far as really what it means.”

Estes birdied the final hole for a 69 that put him into second with a 274 total. Steve Lowery (67) and Tim Herron (70) tied for third at 275. Stewart Cink (69), Fredrik Jacobson (69), Vaughn Taylor (74) and Brian Gay (73) tied at 276.

“If I wasn’t able to catch David, second is always better than third, so that’s what I was trying to do,” said Estes, who also pitched in for eagle at No. 16.

Toms started with the largest lead after 54 holes this year and wound up matching Chad Campbell’s six-stroke victory at Bay Hill as the largest margin of victory in 2004.

Winds blowing from 20 mph and gusting to at least 30 mph pushed up tee times by three hours, with groups playing threesomes to beat expected severe thunderstorms. Toms still managed to hang in despite five bogeys and three birdies on a day when he hit only nine of 18 greens and his putter wasn’t as strong as the first three rounds.

He had only three bogeys through the first three rounds, and his lead never slipped below five strokes. Toms said he felt in control all day long.

“I was just trying to make par on every hole. If I made a birdie on any particular hole, that was a bonus,” Toms said.

Toms bogeyed No. 1 after he hit his second shot left of the green, chipped up and two-putted. He made his only birdies on Nos. 5 and 6.

He chipped five feet past the hole and made the birdie putt on the par-5 No. 5, and he hit wedge to 8 feet on No. 6.

He had four bogeys on the back nine. At the par-3 11th, he hit into a front bunker on the island green, hit out to the fringe and putted just left. He hit his drive on the par-4 12th into the water, and three-putted from the middle of the green on the par-3 No. 14.

But Toms, the highest-ranked golfer competing in the event, couldn’t give back enough strokes for anyone to catch him, and he celebrated by hugging his wife, Sonya, and 7-year-old son Carter after his final par putt.

“This does a lot for me, makes me feel a lot better about my golf game, about myself,” Toms said.