Armchair Golf Pro: Toms Victory Crowne at Colonial
David Toms is resilient. After a heart-breaking playoff loss to KJ Choi last week at The Players Championship, Toms bounced back and won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Ben Hogan‘s home Colonial Country Club in Ft Worth. Toms came out of the gates playing a different course than everybody else, carding back-to-back 62’s to tie the PGA 36-hole scoring record of 124 and post a 7-shot lead. It looked like the only question was who would finish second. But Toms posted a third round 74, allowing Charlie Wi to overtake him at the 54-hole point. Then the tournament got interesting.
Toms is a great lesson in the value of consistency. He’s number two on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy. He’s not long, but he hits the same fade every time off the tee. His shot shape is dependable, which allows him to position his ball on the fairway to give himself the best angles to the pins. It’s a lesson worth noting. You may not like hitting a fade or a slice, but if you hit the same shot every time, you can score.
I like David Toms. He seems like a really nice guy. But I have to admit I was rooting for Charlie Wi. I had a chance to work a bit with Charlie at the AT&T many years ago. He played his college golf right here in the Bay Area at Berkeley, so there’s a bit of a home-town connection. He’s won 9 times around the world, but hasn’t broken through yet on the PGA Tour. He has such a good work ethic, though, I’m sure his time will come. And he’s totally committed to improving not only his physical play, but his mental play as well. That’s why I know he’ll be around for a long time.
If you watched the tournament then you saw Toms hole out a lob wedge for an eagle 3 on the par-5 11th hole. Even though Wi made birdie on the same hole, that was the turning point of the tournament. Toms was energized by the shot. You could see it in the bounce of his step. It was only a 1-shot swing in the scoring, but it was a huge change in momentum.
Sometimes all it takes is one really good shot like that or a bit of luck to turn your round positive. When it happens, you want to ride it for all it’s worth, because a bit of bad luck the other direction can be just as deflating. Embrace those great shots when they happen, because they contain a great deal of positive emotion to fall back on when the bounces don’t go your way.
Even after the eagle by Toms, Charlie Wi still had a chance to win or take it down to the wire. But he made a strategic error on the 12th hole trying to get out of a fairway bunker. Despite his caddy’s advice to pitch it out and try to make par with a good approach shot, Wi tried to pick it clean and get it up over the steep bank and overhanging lip of the bunker. He caught it too thin. His ball hit the sand and bounced off the lip right back into the bunker. Ouch! Wi was forced at that point to pitch out. He made a nice recovery and salvaged a bogey, but those two holes meant the match.
In my last two posts (Glover Wins At Quail Hollow, Choi Wins THE PLAYERS Championship) I talked about the danger of trying to hit the “hero” shot at the wrong time. At the Wells Fargo Championship Jonathan Byrd elected not to hit a hero shot and he made par. At The Players Championship David Toms tried a hero shot in questionable circumstances, and Wi tried it from trouble at Colonial. Just like the right shot at the right time can win you a tournament, the wrong strategy at the wrong time can cost you the tournament or a good round.
The Armchair Golf Pro writes about PGA Tour events. Like you he is watching TV from his comfy armchair, enjoying the competition and drama, but also observing lessons that can be used to play better golf. I’d love to know your thoughts.