Sunday, May 4, 2003
Updated: May 12, 2:54 PM ET
Toms at his best on tough Quail Hollow track
By David Lefort
When you can make a quadruple bogey on the 72nd hole and still walk away with a two-stroke victory, you know you've had a great week.
David Toms did just that Sunday in winning the inaugural Wachovia Championship. It was a fluky finish to an otherwise spectacular showing on a course that played U.S. Open-tough.
Some facts and figures from Toms' week:
He led the field in greens in regulation (80.6 percent), and ranked second in fairways hit off the tee (73.2 percent).
Before the dreaded snowman on the par-4 18th Sunday, Toms had gone 24 holes without a bogey, making five birdies in that span.
Toms did all his damage on the par-fives, playing them at 10-under. He was even-par on the rest of the holes.
The only time Toms took more than two putts on any of Quail Hollow's tough greens was on the final hole of the tournament, where he needed four shots to get down from 45 feet.
|Not even the foul weather could rain on David Toms' parade.|
The victory is the first for Toms since his breakout season in 2001, when he won three events, including the PGA Championship. In the 41 tournaments between titles, Toms had 16 top-10 finishes, including 12 in 2002, when he was fourth on the money list. But he has struggled some in 2003, with just one top-10 and a runner-up finish at the Match Play in 11 events before this week.
Despite the early-season slump, Toms was 23rd on the money list before the Wachovia (he's sixth now) and eighth in the World Ranking. His dominant performance at Quail Hollow has to at least bring him into the conversation when identifying the top players on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods is obviously on a platform all his own, but does Toms warrant a spot on that second tier with Davis Love III, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and Vijay Singh?
Maybe. Maybe not. Better save that question for after the U.S. Open next month.
Around the tours ...
Quail Hollow Club (7,396 yards, par 72)
1 David Toms (-10)
T2 Vijay Singh
T2 Brent Geiberger
T2 Robert Gamez
T5 Nick Price
T5 Kirk Triplett
Asahi Ryokuken International
North Augusta, S.C.
Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club (6,455 yards, par 72)
1 Rosie Jones (-15)
2 Wendy Ward
T3 Patricia Meunier-Lebouc
T3 Lorena Ochoa
T3 Laura Diaz
The Hills Country Club (6,930 yards, par 72)
1 Hale Irwin (-8)
2 Tom Watson
3 Bob Gilder
T4 Jim Thorpe
T4 Tom Kite
Benson and Hedges International Open
Sutton Coldfield, England
The Belfry, Brabazon Course (7,118 yards, par 72)
1 Paul Casey (-11)
2 Padraig Harrington
T3 Stephen Scahill
T3 Paul Lawrie
T3 Rolf Muntz
Virginia Beach Open
Japan LPGA Tour
Annika Sorenstam (-13)
1. It's too bad Woods skipped the Wachovia Championship this week, he missed a great opportunity to prepare for the U.S. Open.
The first event at Quail Hollow since 1979 drew rave reviews, many players going so far as to say the revamped track deserved consideration for a future U.S. Open. Here's why the USGA should give it a look:
It's fair, yet punishing: The tight, tree-lined fairways and thick rough put accuracy at a premium, as evidenced by the fact that six of the top 10 finishers were in the top 10 in greens in regulation, and seven were in the top 16 in driving accuracy. If you missed the fairway off the tee or missed a green in regulation, you struggled to make par this week. It's definitely a ball-striker's course.
Fantastic finishing holes: The final three holes played as three of the toughest at Quail Hollow. The par-4 16th was the fourth-hardest, while the final two were the second and first, respectively. The 17th is an exciting 217-yard par-3 that brings water into play in the front and left of the green, and the 18th is the toughest finishing hole on the PGA Tour so far this year. On average, players dropped just over a stroke per round on these challenging finishing holes this week.
2. Hale Irwin picked up his first victory of 2003 on Sunday at the inaugural Kinko's Classic, but it was probably the strangest of his 37 career Champions Tour titles.
After a front-nine meltdown that included a double bogey and a whiffed tap-in that resulted in a triple bogey three holes later, Irwin recovered with four birdies on the back nine to force a playoff with Tom Watson. By birdieing the second extra hole, Irwin became the 11th Champions Tour winner in 11 events in 2003.
Irwin, who leads the money list for the first time this year, had a similar gaffe on a tap-in putt in the 1983 British Open, where, ironically, he lost to Watson by a stroke.
''I guess he got me back today,'' Watson said.
3. In her final tune-up for the Colonial, Annika Sorenstam ran away from a mediocre field at the Nichirei Cup in Japan. She was 13-under for the 72-hole tournament, good enough for a comfortable nine-stroke victory.
For Sorenstam, who in two weeks will become the first woman since 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event, it was her second win of the season in six worldwide events.
Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour, Rosie Jones ended the Americans' title drought with a three-stroke victory at the Asahi Ryokuken International. Prior to Jones' win, the last American player to take home top honors was Meg Mallon last August.
Fellow American Wendy Ward finished second, and Mexican phenom Lorena Ochoa, 22, tied for third. It was the rookie's fourth top-10 finish in seven events.
4. Ten of the 12 members of the victorious 2002 European Ryder Cup team were back at The Belfry this week for the final Benson and Hedges International, and represented themselves quite well.
Remarkably, since last year's upset of the Americans, each of the 12 members of that squad has fallen in the World Ranking. This week, though, seven of the 10 in the field made the cut, led by Padraig Harrington, who finished second.
Four others, including Bernhard Langer and Ryder Cup stud Colin Montgomerie, finished in the top 30.
5. After being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier in the week, Nick Price proved there was still some game left in those old bones, particularly on the greens.
Price needed just 20 putts in a Thursday 66, sharing the first-round lead with Fred Couples. His flat stick wasn't as hot the rest of the week, but he still led the field in putts per round.
Price made a run at Toms' lead early on Sunday, going out in 4-under 32. But after a rain delay he struggled coming home, making four bogeys en route to a back-nine 38. He finished tied for fifth, his third top-10 of the year.
Up next ...
PGA Tour: EDS Byron Nelson Championship
Mike Weir is likely to withdraw from the event, further watering down an unusually weak field that will also be without Woods, Els and Love. Phil Mickelson will be the top-ranked player in Irving, Texas, at No. 4.
European tour: Deutsche Bank-SAP Open
Woods returns after four weeks off to defend his title in Germany. The field also includes Retief Goosen, Harrington and Montgomerie. Els pulled out of the event after reinjuring his wrist.
Champions Tour: Bayer Advantage Celebrity Pro-Am
Irwin and Watson head the entrants for this first-year event in Kansas City, Mo. The celebrity portion of the field will include Suzy Whaley and local favorites George Brett and Marty Schottenheimer.
Nationwide Tour: Virginia Beach Open
After a week off, the Nationwide Tour gets back to business in Virginia Beach.
David Lefort is ESPN.com's golf editor, and can be reached at email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.