Toms in Mississippi missing Ryder Cup


Viking ClassicMADISON, Miss. ' Ask David Toms how hes handling life away from the Ryder Cup, and hell smile and give an honest answer.
Not very well, he says.
While the PGA TOURs top flight is in Louisville, Ky., playing for national pride, Toms is at the Viking Classic at the Annandale Golf Club.
Like Chris DiMarco and J.J. Henry, Ryder Cup teammates two years ago who find themselves dealing with the deep rough and muddy fairways in central Mississippi this week, Toms will be sneaking away as often as possible to see what kind of fight the U.S. team is putting up.
Ive played enough in that event to know what Im missing and everything, and know those guys are having a good time, Toms said. Theyre playing for their country and loving every single minute of their time being there. Ill certainly miss it this week, but my focus is here.
As it should be. Toms has been one of Americas most consistent international match play presences. He has played in either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup over the last six years and thought hed represent the United States a seventh time in 2008.
And why not? With more than $28.5 million in career earnings and 12 PGA TOUR victories since 1997, Toms has earned the right to be presumptuous.
Toms was 4-0-1 and scored the most points for the Americans in their Presidents Cup victory in Montreal last September. A little more than a month later, though, he tore a calf muscle and limped into 2008 not quite ready to play.
He skipped much of January, taking time to watch his alma mater LSU win a national championship in football. Then he got off to a slow start and hurt his back in his second tournament. He is 120th on the money list after missing four of 18 cuts this year.
He doesnt blame injuries for his problems, though.
That would be an excuse, Toms said after hitting a perfect tee shot on No. 13 during Wednesdays pro-am. Just the level of play hasnt been there this year. Its been a weird year. Ive had a couple of nagging injuries, Ive had other times where Ive had a chance to play well and didnt. Just overall my golf game hasnt been in as good of shape, actually in the last two years, as it had been for a long time.
Toms failed to win a tournament in 2007 for the first time in five seasons and hopes the $3.6 million Viking Classic can give him the kind of bump Chad Campbell, a captains choice in the Ryder Cup, was hoping for when he turned his career around with a win at Annandale last year.
Fred Funk, a former Ryder Cup team member and two-time winner in Mississippi, said all it takes for players like Toms is a good weekend to reverse their flagging fortunes and games.
Its a little slap to the ego, but its also the nature of the game, said Funk, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour this year.
Its such a fine line between being on the Ryder Cup team and being 120th on the money list. Theres not much difference between being successful out here and being in Q-School.
After backing off over the summer, Toms will be more aggressive this fall and offseason than usual. Hell play more fall tournaments and quite a bit in the offseason rather than take time off.
He doesnt need to win this weekend to satisfy his need for progress, but hed like to see if he can make a run. The tournament features 13 former Ryder Cup players and five players in the top 50 earnings list.
What Im trying to get out of this week is have a little competition, come out here and do well, try to get under the gun and have a chance maybe on Sunday to see how I do, and try to build some confidence going into next year, Toms said.
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