Back to the Beginning


David Toms vs. Phil Mickelson. Most will remember that match-up in the 2001 PGA Championship. But it began three months prior in New Orleans.
Toms trailed Mickelson by six shots entering the final round of the Compaq Classic, only to birdie the last for a two-stroke victory over the left-hander.
Mickelson led by three over the field through 54 holes at the English Turn Golf & Country Club. However, he could muster but an even-par 72 Sunday.
It was certainly disappointing to have the lead that I had and really only two or three people had a good shot at catching me, and then to play the way that I did was pretty disappointing, Mickelson said at the time. It was a pathetic round of golf.
The exact opposite held true for Toms. His triumph was doubly special since it came in his native state. The former Louisiana State University standout heard cheers of LSU! LSU! LSU! and Go Tigers! while coming down the stretch. It sounded more like Saturday night in Death Valley stadium than Sunday on a golf course.
Toms started the day at 14-under, and only picked up two shots by the turn. But on the back, he birdied the 10th, 16th and 18th, and eagled No. 11. On the final hole, considered one of the most difficult anywhere on tour, Toms drained a 30-footer to seal the deal and send the crowd into a frenzy.
When I made the putt on the last hole it was pretty loud, said Toms, who shot weekend rounds of 63-64. The guy in the scorers tent said, Man, that was a roar, and I said, Yes it was. But I was screaming, myself.
The emotional victory was No. 5 in Toms PGA Tour career. He went on to win two more times in 2002. Of course, one stands above the rest.
At the Atlanta Athletic Club in August, Toms made a gutsy par on the 72nd hole to win the PGA Championship and deny Mickelson his first major in the process.
The now 35-year-old also added the Michelob Championship to his resume, earning nearly $3.8 million last year.
Mickelson and Toms are back in New Orleans to renew their budding rivalry. Ernie Els, Jesper Parnevik, Nick Price and Charles Howell III will also battle for the $810,000 first-place check.
This will be the 54th playing of the $4.5 million event, and the 14th consecutive year it has been contested at English Turn. Past champions include Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw and Davis Love III.
Toms ended Carlos Francos two-year winning streak last year.
Full field and tee times for the Compaq Classic of New Orleans