Toms got the scare of his life at the 84 Lumber Classic last week, when his heart raced out of control and he had to be airlifted to a Pittsburgh hospital. After a series of tests, doctors determined he had supraventricular tachycardia, a cardiac rhythm disturbance that is treatable.
The heavy heart comes from his home state.
Toms lived in southern Louisiana as a child and still has family in the area, although none were severely affected by Hurricane Katrina. He reminisced about restaurants and golf courses and places that were special to him ``that will never be the same.''
What hit the hardest was seeing evacuees from New Orleans who fled to Shreveport, where he lives.
``Their lives have been turned upside-down,'' he said. ``I'm certainly thinking about those people, just because I've met a lot of them and know what their situation is like.''
As for his heart?
Toms said he is taking medication, feels good and has not experienced any bad effects. He will play Thursday with Stewart Cink against Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir.
``I was a bit sluggish early in the week,'' Toms said. ``I don't know if that's because I didn't sleep for a couple of days or what, but now I'm starting to feel much better. I really don't see it being an issue at all, unless for some reason I have an incident this week on the golf course. I certainly hope that doesn't happen.''
Toms said he will have a procedure done after the Presidents Cup.
Justin Leonard sat quietly among five teammates during his interview Wednesday, listening as Jim Furyk talked about whether this event evoked memories of the Ryder Cup last year or the Presidents Cup two years ago. Suddenly, Phil Mickelson spoke out.
``Justin was talking about that last night on the bus about the difference,'' Mickelson said. ``Go ahead. Why don't you tell him what you were saying last night?''
Leonard rolled his eyes, as if he didn't want to tell. Turns out there was another reason.
``I just lost $100,'' he said. ``I bet Phil I could come here and not say a word.''
Looking in mock anger at Mickelson, he said, ``Thanks a lot.''
It's not unusual for players to get ignored when four show up for a group interview. Scott Verplank didn't get any questions Tuesday while sitting with Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Davis Love III.
And then there was 1998.
No one asked John Huston a question during a 30-minute session. As the American team got up to leave, Couples leaned into the microphone and said, ``That's Huston. H-U-S-T-O-N.''
BREAKING A STREAK:
Phil Mickelson is good-natured when it comes to his bad record last time in the Presidents Cup. He wasn't playing well, and he became the only American to lose all five matches.
One reporter tried to soft-pedal his record, asking him if he recalled any match where he played well and still wound up with a loss.
``You mean out of the five matches I lost,'' Mickelson said with a grin. ``Is that what you're referring to?''
U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus praised Lefty for his performance in South Africa, noting that while he went 0-5, he never let that rub off on his teammates.
Two years later, Nicklaus was rubbing it in.
``Captain Nicklaus said all we need is a half-point more than last time,'' Mickelson said, noting the matches ended in a tie at 17. ``He kind of looked at me and said, 'You've just got to tie one match, man. Come on.'
``After my performance in '03, I want to come back with a strong one this year.''
A LONG ROAD:
The Presidents Cup is somewhat of a homecoming for Fred Funk, and it reminds him of the twists in his career, and how far he has come.
Before joining the PGA Tour in 1988, Funk spent six years as the golf coach at Maryland.
``I still pinch myself to think what I've done and where I've come from, the University of Maryland golf coach to representing the United States on the Presidents Cup here at RTJ ... pretty neat,'' he said.
Funk made the team on the strength of his victory in The Players Championship, making it three straight times he has played for the United States. He also played at the Presidents Cup in South Africa, and last year in the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE:
Jack Nicklaus prefers to match similar games for alternate-shot matches, which is why he put Tiger Woods and Fred Couples together, and Davis Love III with Kenny Perry.
Nicklaus played in the Ryder Cup six times, and he recalled being paired with former PGA champion Dave Stockton, a short hitter on the PGA Tour, during one match.
``We got drummed, 6 and 5,'' Nicklaus said. ``We weren't even in the match. Stockton wasn't used to playing out of the rough, and I wasn't used to playing 2-irons into par-4s.''
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