Toms Terrific Yet Tired

By Mercer BaggsAugust 21, 2001, 4:00 pm
David Toms has been a very busy man lately. And he has the ink stains on his fingers and the bags under his eyes to prove it.
Life has changed dramatically for the 34-year-old Louisianan since capturing last weeks PGA Championship.
His phone wont stop ringing. His mind wont stop racing.
Toms has been besieged by well-wishers ' family, friends, people who want to be friends.
Even Jay Lenos people called.
Toms is grateful for the gratitude. But he said what has meant the most is the reaction from his peers.
I had a lot of phone calls, but the ones that Ill cherish most are from the other players on tour, Toms said.
You never know what your fellow pros think of you, and obviously, they think a lot of me, because I had some really nice messages. Something that I will always remember.
Toms said one of the first people who called was another recent first-time major winner, David Duval.
'That meant a lot, a player of his stature to congratulate me right after that happened,' Toms said.
Toms also talked to 1988 PGA champion Jeff Sluman, who offered up some advice.
He just said dont try to live up to the expectations of the media and people out there now that you are a major champion, Toms recalled. Just try to do your best and try to accomplish what you set out for yourself, and if you do that, youll be just fine.
One thing Toms has been doing a lot of recently is talking.
Hes talked about his hole-in-one on No. 15 in the third round ' The coolest shot Ive ever hit.
Hes talked about qualifying for his first U.S. Ryder Cup team ' Thats going to be a thrillI cant wait.
And hes talked, ad nauseum, about his decision to lay-up on the 18th hole with the tournament on the line Sunday ' Looking back, I wouldnt have done it any differently; even if it hadnt worked out.
Were that the case, can you imagine how much he would have had to talk about it?If Toms has a primary personal flaw, its that hes a Yes man ' in the best sense of the word. He simply has a hard time saying no.
Toms said he signed probably 2000 autographs on Tuesday alone. He went through three Sharpies in the process.
It seems everyone wants a piece of his time. And it all started as soon as his 12-footer on the 72nd hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club hit the bottom of the cup.
After I holed the last putt, it was just like, Well, its all over with, said Toms.
In fact, it was just beginning.
After finally leaving the AAC at 10:45 p.m., Toms checked his messages on his way back to his hotel ' a process that required the full 30-minute drive time.
He then ordered room service and had a big ole cup of sweet tea. That led to too much caffeine, which, in turn, led to a fitful night's sleep.
The last thing Toms remembers about that Sunday is seeing 2:45 flash on his clock. He then woke up ' unsure of how many hours he may have slept ' and took a private flight to Chicago for an outing he had agreed to long before becoming a major champion.
I always keep my promises, said Toms.
And such will continue. Once this week is over, Toms will fly to Williamsburg, Va., for media day for the Michelob Championship, where he will defend his title in October.
Hes then slated to attend an outing Tuesday at his home golf club in Shreveport, La., site of that weeks Buy.Com event.
Wednesday, hell finally get to spend some time with his family; though, hell still have to wake up early to take his kids to school.
Until then, however, its full steam ahead.
I still dont know if I like the attention, he said. I mean, its nice that people recognize you and everything and it means a lot, but it would have been a lot easier today to show up, go out, hit a few balls, get in your car, go back home and take a nap.
Dont take that as complaining; take it as a man whos simply more comfortable in the shadows.
A man who still trying to come to terms with the fact that he is a major champion.
There was a teenager outside that said, Hey, dude, theres the PGA champion over there, said Toms laughing.
Thats the first time I heard it like that and that was pretty neat.
Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

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More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

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Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).