On the David Toms Beat


So, the PGA Tour tells us, if David Toms wins the FedEx St. Jude Classic for the third consecutive year, he will be the first player other than Tiger Woods to win the same event three times in a row. Tom Watson won the Byron Nelson Classic from 1978-80.

Actually, I'm more intrigued by what I just read in a Golf Magazine interview with Toms done by Chris Lewis. For example, David Toms' grandfather's name was Tom Toms. And he taught David Toms how to play.

Which, I guess means that the first time David Toms ever defeated Tom Toms soundly in a match, he beat him like a drum.

Toms also tells Lewis that his dad, a scratch player in his day, has arthritic knobs all over his fingers. Toms' grandmother melted hot wax over a stove on a nightly basis to soak her hands. 'Now every morning,' David Toms said, 'I dip my hands in hot wax, trying to loosen up the joints, just like she did. They have wax for me out in the fitness trailers.'

No wonder Toms has had hand and wrist problems. His off-the-course problems, it appears, have abated. It recently became public knowledge that Toms was sueing his agent, David Parker, alleging non-payment for services. Toms also wanted to terminate his relationship with Parker.

Toms arrived at the Bank of America Colonial last week having failed to break 70 in 13 of 14 straight rounds. He did not deny that the dust-up with Parker was affecting his golf. But once it was all out in the open, Toms started playing better.

He shot 69-66-68-66 last week in Fort Worth and tied for third. Suddenly his name is popping up again as one of the favorites for the U.S. Open in three weeks at Pinehurst No. 2.

Parker, by the way, told me last week that he believes things will work out for both sides before long. It is not clear whether that means there will be an out-of-court settlement. But it is in the best interest of both parties to put their disagreements behind them.

Pinehurst No. 2, just like it did at the U.S. Open in 1999, will reward good chippers and putters. Patience is a must at all U.S. Opens. Length and accuracy off the tee is important anytime, anywhere. Toms is not wanting in any of these categories despite the fact that he knows he can't keep up with the so-called bombers.

But he knows how to hit it straight. Or, as Toms himself told me years ago, 'the ball rolls farther in the short grass.'

Meanwhile, Pinehurst No. 2 has suffered from an unseasonably cold winter and cool, damp weather this spring that have played havoc with growing conditions. The spots most affected have been the closely-mown areas around the greens which are the guts of the character of the golf course.

I talked to Tim Moraghan, the USGA's chief championship agronomist Tuesday, and he said the course is rallying. What Pinehurst needs, with three weeks to go, he said, is heat and sun.

That's exactly what Fort Worth had too much of last weekend as temperatures soared to all-time local records on Saturday and Sunday. None of which bothered Toms who has always been able to handle the heat and play in the heat.

Ignore him in your U.S. Open pools at your own peril.
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