FORT WORTH, Texas – David Toms is starting to again feel the kind of confidence he had when he was winning tournaments and consistently ranked among the PGA Tour’s best players. That disappointing near-miss before Colonial isn’t shaking him.
Four days after losing a playoff at The Players Championship, Toms shot his best score in more than five years and his best opening round ever. His bogey-free 8-under 62 on Thursday gave him a share of the first-round lead at Colonial with Chez Reavie.
“It was one of those days where the hole just looked big,” Toms said. “This round certainly helps me get past what happened last week at the end.”
After forcing a playoff with K.J. Choi at TPC Sawgrass with a rare birdie at the 18th hole, Toms missed a short par putt at the famed No. 17 island hole that would have extended play. Still, that was Toms’ third top-five finish in a stretch of seven tournaments.
“It is nice to be playing good again,” the 44-year-old Toms said. “Certainly, I’m not going to try to figure out why. … I just go out there and play.”
His start at Hogan’s Alley was his best score in 429 rounds – since a career-best 61 at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2006. That was the last of his 12 PGA Tour victories, and at the end of a stretch of eight years when he finished the season ranked 11th or better six times, including three times in the top five.
The 62s by Toms and Reavie matched the lowest 18-hole scores on the PGA Tour this season, and were the best for an opening round. Reavie bettered his career-best round by two strokes.
Rickie Fowler shot a 63, missing a chance to tie the tournament record after his approach on his final hole, the 407-yard No. 9, hit the green and spun back into the water. He closed with a double-bogey 6 in a round that included an eagle, eight birdies and a three-putt bogey from 6 1/2 feet at the par-3 16th.
Fowler made a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 first hole and was 8 under over an eight-hole stretch before hitting his tee shot at his final hole left of a bunker into the rough before his penalized approach. And he still had a 29 on the front side.
“It’s a sorry way to finish the round, but I hit it really well, putted well,” Fowler said. “A 29 with a double is not too bad. … I’m excited to be playing well this week and kind of draw off the good out there today. A 63 to start off with is pretty awesome.”
Brendon de Jonge, Stewart Cink, Brian Gay, Nathan Green and Charlie Wi each shot 64s, a stroke better than Rod Pampling, Mark Wilson and John Senden. Wi was the only of the top 11 scorers who played in the afternoon, when more wind made conditions tougher.
Toms shot 31s on both nines at Colonial, starting on the back and wrapping up both sides with long birdie putts. His 27-foot putt at No. 18 started a stretch of three consecutive birdies, and he punctuated his round with a 29-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole.
Though he hit only six of 14 fairways, Toms needed just 24 putts.
“It was one of those days where I saw the lines. I had a lot of putts that barely broke right, barely broke left,” he said. “I had a lot of uphill-type putts where you could be aggressive. It’s just one of those days where everything seemed to go right.”
Colonial has always been one of Toms’ favorite tournaments, and he called it “great, great timing” to be this week after what happened at The Players Championship.
Toms wants to win again to prove to himself that he still can, so it will take more than an impressive rebound round to fully satisfy himself.
“I still need to put all those four rounds together. I was able to do that somewhat last week,” Toms said. “I had times back in the early 2000s where I won by a bunch. You know, played with the lead a lot of times and was able to maintain it and increase that. Until I’m able to do that again, I’ll still have that doubt.
“But I do feel good about my game certainly,” he said. “I’ll just keep plugging along, maybe get one here sometime soon.”
Reavie is making a comeback from reconstructive surgery on his right knee last year, when he matched his career-best round of 64 at the Byron Nelson Championship in May before being diagnosed with a second meniscus tear in his knee.
“It’s just great to be out there,” Reavie said. “It feels great. It swells up some, but it’s not from the golf. It’s from the walking. I wake up the next day and feel great. It’s much better than it was.”
Though he made the cut in six of his first 10 tournaments this season while playing on a major medical exemption, Reavie has finished inside the top 40 only once and needs a big check soon. He needs to make $464,707 over this and his next two tournaments to maintain his full PGA Tour exemption for the rest of this season.
The $6.2 million purse at the Colonial includes $1.116 million for the winner, $669,600 for second place and $421,600 for third.
DIVOTS: Keith Clearwater, the 1987 Colonial champion and one of six players with rounds of 61 at Colonial, had 18 pars Thursday. … Anthony Kim opened with four consecutive birdies and was 5 under through six holes. But he bogeyed three of the last six holes and finished with a 67. .. Defending champion Zach Johnson had three bogeys and five birdies in a round of 68.