Print and Go Back ESPN.com: BlogsColumns [Print without images]

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Updated: May 23, 3:17 AM ET
Emotional triumph for David Toms

By Todd Archer
ESPNDallas.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- There were times when David Toms wondered if he would ever win on the PGA Tour again.

In 2009, he saw Kenny Perry shoot a final-round 63 to win the Travelers Championship in Hartford. Last year at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., he saw Arjun Atwal get up and down for par to win by a stroke.

Just last week, a missed short par putt on the first playoff hole on the famed 17th island green at TPC Sawgrass kept Toms from winning the Players Championship.

Age -- he is 44 -- and injuries -- hand, shoulder and heart surgeries -- seemed to lead to self-doubt, despite a résumé that includes a PGA Championship, 11 other Tour victories and spots on three Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.

David Toms
David Toms pumps his fist on Colonial's 18th green after breaking a five-year winless drought.

"I'm not dreaming, am I?" Toms said Sunday. "This is actually happening, right?"

Yes, it was. The golf gods were not that cruel.

Too much of Toms' one-shot victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial seemed predestined.

In December, his grandfather, Tom, died. He fought in World War II and was awarded a Silver Star. He helped raise Toms. He bought him his first car. He was the one who got him hooked on golf, taking him to tournaments when Toms was younger.

On Saturday, Colonial celebrated Armed Forces Day by welcoming former Medal of Honor winners to the tournament, and military members held the flag on No. 17 all day.

As Toms spoke Sunday of his grandfather, his voice caught.

"He didn't get to see my last victory," Toms said. "That's a little of that emotion."

Toms thought his grandfather was carrying him last week. Six months earlier, Toms was in Jacksonville on a business trip when he got the call that his grandfather needed emergency surgery. He thought it was fitting that he would win again near where he got the call telling him of his grandfather's death.

Perhaps Tom Toms knew better.

Colonial Country Club has long been David Toms' favorite course on the PGA Tour. His precise game always seemed to be suited for the tighter fairways, but all he could manage were three top-five finishes in his first 12 trips to Fort Worth. He finished tied for second in 2002, five strokes behind Nick Price.

"To finally get it done means the world to me," said Toms, who heard and saw plenty of LSU fans throughout the week.

After the first two rounds, Toms was threatening to run away from the field with a pair of bogey-free 62s. But on Saturday he shot a 74 and entered the final round trailing Charlie Wi by a stroke.

Long after the gallery left Saturday and the sun went down, Toms spent time on the putting green practicing, wanting to rid himself of his poor round.

Tied at 13 under with Wi on the par-5 11th hole, Toms took the tournament by the throat again with a lob wedge from 83 yards.

"I couldn't ask for a better yardage to that hole," Toms said. "It was perfect."

The ball took one hop past the hole and spun back in for an eagle, moving Toms to 15 under. He would not lose the lead the rest of the way.

Wi made birdie at No. 11 to stay a shot back but crashed a hole later when he could not get his second shot over the lip of a trap and made bogey. The deficit was cut to a shot on No. 17, but Toms was able to make par on No. 18 to end a five-year winless drought.

"Man, it was nerve-racking," Toms said. "I can tell you right now, I was shaking."

Toms' 13-year-old son, Carter, whose emotion was caught last week at the Players when his dad lost to K.J. Choi, was the first to greet Toms on the green Sunday. His daughter, Anna, was next, then his wife, Sonya. The couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary on Monday at their Arkansas lake house.

His grandfather was watching, too.

"To come back after what happened last week is probably the most satisfying victory I've ever had out of all the other ones," Toms said. "Even the major championship. Even winning in my home state."

Todd Archer covers golf for ESPNDallas.com.