David a Goliath in Match Play Final

By Sports NetworkFebruary 27, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- David Toms destroyed Chris DiMarco, 6 and 5, in Sunday's 36-hole final to capture the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa Resort & Spa.
 
The win was the most-lopsided in the history of the 36-hole final match, besting the previous mark of 4 and 3, which was the margin Darren Clarke defeated Tiger Woods by in 2000.
 
David Toms
David Toms put away the match early by winning eight of nine holes in the morning session.
'I thought I was going to go in early. I said yesterday he was going to hang in there no matter what the outcome, whether I was winning or he was winning,' said Toms, who pocketed $1,3000,000 for the title. 'Fortunate for me, I had a calm about me all week.'
 
DiMarco trailed 9-down after losing the 26th hole Sunday, but clawed back. He won the 27th, 28th and 30th holes to cut the margin, all the while never quitting despite the almost insurmountable deficit.
 
'There's drive in me,' said DiMarco. 'They got a good champion. David Toms is solid. He played very well today. My hat's off to him.'
 
Toms collected his first win of 2005, keeping up the streak of victories by top players on the PGA Tour. All seven winners on tour this season have been ranked in the top-20 in the world rankings.
 
This was also Toms' 11th win on the PGA Tour and his first since last year's FedEx St. Jude Classic. Toms gets his first WGC title and his second European Tour victory to go along with his 2001 PGA Championship.
 
Toms, who lost to Woods in the final in 2003, essentially put the tournament away after the opening 18 holes. He and DiMarco were even through nine holes, but Toms captured seven of the next eight holes. The only one Toms did not win was No. 12, which the pair halved.
 
During that span, Toms tallied five birdies and benefited from some sloppy play by DiMarco. DiMarco bogeyed 16 and 17 to give Toms a 7-up advantage, but DiMarco birdied the 18th to cut Toms' lead to 6-up before the final 18.
 
The duo halved the first five holes of the second 18 with pars before Toms took control. He rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt at six and one hole later, drained a 40-footer for birdie to win his second consecutive hole. Toms stood 8-up with 11 to play.
 
DiMarco made a mess of the 26th hole and lost with a bogey. He was 9-down with 10 to play, but the American Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup player did not go away so quietly.
 
At the ninth, DiMarco converted a 4-foot par putt to cut the margin. He won two in a row at the 10th when his 25-foot birdie putt fell into the hole and now it was a 7-down deficit.
 
The pair halved 11 meaning DiMarco was 7-down with seven to play and needed to win every hole coming in. He took care of business at the 12th with a 22-foot birdie putt, but the comeback was over on No. 13.
 
Both players found the fairway off the tee, and both players hit their second shots close. Toms was first to putt with a 7-foot try and poured it into the heart of the cup to close out his victory.
 
From Friday's third-round win against Phil Mickelson, Toms played nearly flawlessly. He dispatched higher-ranked opponent, Adam Scott, trounced Ian Poulter in the semifinals, then pummeled DiMarco.
 
Toms's showed no weaknesses during the tournament. His drives found the fairways, his iron play was amazing and Toms holed almost every putt inside 20 feet.
 
'I've won a few tournaments along the way, but I've never felt this at ease on the golf course,' admitted Toms. 'I felt really good. I felt like I could hit the shot no matter what it was.
 
'I have no idea how to explain it.'
 
DiMarco actually jumped out to the first lead of the match at three, but Toms squared the contest with a 4-foot birdie putt at the fourth. DiMarco once again took the lead with a 7-foot birdie putt at the sixth, but he found problems at the difficult, par-4 ninth.
 
With the honor, DiMarco's drive was ruined by a ringing cell phone during his backswing. The tee ball landed well left of the fairway and DiMarco was frazzled. He missed the green right with his second, then missed a 10-footer for halve, evening the match again.
 
That opened a gigantic door for Toms. In Saturday's semifinal against Ian Poulter, this stretch of holes around the turn afforded Toms a huge lead. The same could be said for Sunday's final.
 
Toms knocked a 9-iron to 6 feet to set up birdie and a win at the 10th, a hole he eagled from the fairway on Saturday. Neither player found the green in two at the par-5 11th, but DiMarco's chip from short of the green came up 8 feet short. Toms pitched to 4 feet and when DiMarco's birdie try failed to fall into the cup, Toms sank his for a 2-up lead.
 
DiMarco hit a solid approach to the 12 feet at No. 13, but Toms trumped him with a second shot that spun back to 2 feet. DiMarco's birdie try flew by the hole on the right side. Toms tapped in to move 3-up.
 
DiMarco chipped in for birdie twice on Saturday at the 14th hole. Sunday was a different story, however, as he missed the fairway, then had to lay up short of the putting surface. DiMarco's third went over the green and DiMarco did not have the magic he had on Saturday. Toms, whose approach stopped 7 feet from the hole, never needed to pull the putter out of the bag because DiMarco conceded the hole to fall 4-down.
 
Toms kept pouring it on his Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teammate. He hit his second at the stick, but spun the ball back to 9 feet. DiMarco left himself 25 feet for birdie, but missed the putt. Toms' birdie try fell right into the center of the cup for a 5-up margin.
 
Things got worse for DiMarco. At the par-3 16th, Toms came up short of the green on the fringe, but DiMarco hit his tee ball to 36 feet. DiMarco did not handle the downhill putt well, ramming it 15 feet past the hole. Toms stubbed his chip 4 feet short, but DiMarco did not convert his par putt. Toms did, and the rout was on as the former PGA Champion moved 6-up.
 
DiMarco collected another bogey at 17 when his drive missed the fairway. Tom's lead, almost insurmountable at this point, was 7-up.
 
Toms missed a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-5 closing hole. DiMarco read the line on Toms' putt and rolled in the 17-footer for birdie to temporarily stop the fantastic charge by Toms.
 
But DiMarco knew, barring a major meltdown, Toms had the trophy hoisted.
 
'The stretch on 9-17 got me. He won eight holes. That's pretty tough in match play,' said DiMarco.
 
Related Links:
  • Brackets - WGC-Accenture Match Play
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play
  • Getty Images

    Web.com Tour releases 2019 schedule, trims Finals

    By Will GraySeptember 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    The Web.com Tour has officially released its full schedule for the 2019 season, a slate that will feature a Labor Day finish and only three Finals events as opposed to four.

    The developmental circuit will feature 27 tournaments, the same number as this season. Things will kick off in the Bahamas for the third straight year, as two events in the islands begin a stretch of five events in as many weeks across four different countries.

    The Feb. 14-17 Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., will be the first domestic event of 2019, and one of three new events to the schedule. Also added are the Evans Scholars Invitational in suburban Chicago and the TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud, Colo.

    But with the PGA Tour overhauling its schedule and dropping a FedExCup playoff event to finish ahead of football season, the Web.com schedule also features changes next year. The Web.com Tour Finals, which are used to determine the 50 players who will be promoted to the PGA Tour for the following season, will now feature only three events and follow a similar timeline.

    The first Finals event will be the Aug. 15-18 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open. The season will conclude Aug. 30-Sept. 2 with the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., one week after the PGA Tour season ends with the revamped Tour Championship in Atlanta.

    The DAP Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, a Finals event for each of the last three years, has been dropped from the 2019 schedule. Gone, too, are the North Mississippi Classic in Oxford and the Rust-Oleum Championship in Ivanhoe, Ill.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 1:30 pm

    Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


    Getty Images

    Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 2:00 am

    By RYAN GRIFFITHS

    Some stories stick with you longer than others. First time you get to do a feature. First time you meet a sports legend (it was Allen Iverson for me). Seeing a championship isn’t bad, either. Been there, done that. Lawnmower museum on the east coast of England, tsunami survivors in California, re-connecting Al Geiberger with his lost 59 tape, all good, but no story or environment has stuck with me like going to Attica Correctional Facility in 2013 to tell the story of Valentino Dixon.

    For starters, I’d never been searched before setting up for an interview. Not just me, everyone - all three cameramen, Jimmy Roberts, the guy escorting us in who worked there. Everyone. Attica trusts no one. Can’t blame them after 1971, when inmates protesting living conditions took members of the prison staff hostage. The ensuing police response left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.

    Attica has a "shank wall," a collection of homemade weapons seized from inmates and displayed like baseball cards in a plastic case on the wall outside the guards' lunchroom. Prison interior decorating at its finest. Nice touch.

    We went to do a story on an inmate who was introduced to the world in a Golf Digest article by Max Adler in 2012. "The golf artist who had never stepped foot on a golf course - Valentino Dixon.: He was in for murder. Second degree. You know, your standard golf story.


    Wrongfully imprisoned man freed after nearly three decades


    Dixon, a former aspiring artist before getting caught up in the Buffalo drug-dealing scene, started sketching photos from Golf Digest for the warden. I’ve never been to prison, but from what I have gathered from watching The Shawshank Redemption some 8,000 times, getting in the warden’s good graces is a smart habit to pick up if you’re doing serious time.

    Dixon's art was insanely good. Even more so because he did it all with colored pencils. No paintbrushes allowed (see shank wall above). Jimmy, the crew and I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes to marvel at his creations before continuing with the interview.

    We spent a solid 40 minutes talking to the man who supposedly killed a man 20-something years prior. In that time, he pleaded his innocence to us over and over again. He spoke like a man who had rehearsed every angle of his story over and over and over again. I give him credit - there were no holes in his story. I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t look like a killer, didn’t sound like one. either. But what did I know? I’d never met one - that I know of. And if you were stuck in prison for 20-plus years and all of a sudden had a camera in front of you and a platform to plead your innocence, wouldn’t you do your best to try to get out of there?

    Since the guards wouldn’t allow any food, the crew and I stopped at the first deli we saw on the ride back into Buffalo. After we were done eating, we all looked at each other, knowing what we all were thinking: "Do you think he did it?”

    Didn’t matter what we thought, we were just there to tell the story. On Wednesday, however, people whose opinions mattered made a decision and allowed someone who loves the game of golf, but has never stepped foot on a golf course, to do just that if he so chooses. That's a story that will stick with him for the rest of his life.

    Getty Images

    Wrongfully convicted inmate who turned to golf artistry freed

    By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York prison artist who never played golf but became known for drawings of lush courses he could only imagine was set free Wednesday after authorities agreed that another man committed the murder that put him behind bars for nearly three decades.

    Valentino Dixon walked out of Erie County Court into bright sunshine and hugs from his mother, daughter and a crowd of other relatives and friends, ready for a meal at Red Lobster and vowing to fight on behalf of others who are wrongly convicted.

    "I love y'all," Dixon shouted after trading the green prison uniform he wore in court for jeans and a T-shirt. "It feels great."

    Earlier Wednesday, a judge agreed to set aside Dixon's conviction in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson on a Buffalo street corner and accepted a guilty plea from another man who had confessed to the killing two days after it happened.

    "There was a fight. Shots were fired. I grabbed the gun from under the bench, switched it to automatic, all the bullets shot out. Unfortunately, Torriano ended up dying," Lamarr Scott, who has been in prison for 25 years for an unrelated attempted murder, told the court. "I dropped the gun and ran and it was over and done with."

    Scott said he had gotten the gun, a Tec-9 semi-automatic, from Dixon and the two men had driven together to the crowded corner where the fighting broke out. Scott was given a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, concurrent with his current term.

    Judge Susan Eagan let stand a count of criminal possession of a weapon against Dixon, and its 5- to 15-year sentence, which she said he had satisfied.


    Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon


    "You are eligible for release today," the judge said, igniting applause and shouts from courtroom supporters.

    "Mr. Dixon is not an innocent man. Don't be misguided in that at all," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters after the hearing. He described Dixon as "an up-and-coming drug dealer in the city of Buffalo" at the time of the shooting and said Scott was Dixon's bodyguard.

    "Mr. Dixon is innocent of the shooting and of the murder for what he was found guilty of," he said, "but Mr. Dixon brought the gun to the fight. It was Mr. Dixon's gun."

    While behind bars, Dixon rekindled his childhood passion for drawing, often spending 10 hours a day creating vivid colored pencil landscapes, including of golf courses, while imagining freedom. Articles in Golf Digest and elsewhere have drawn public attention to Dixon's case. NBC Sports' Jimmy Roberts spotlighted Dixon in a 2013 segment for his "In Play" series on Golf Channel.

    “I’ve worked in this business for close to 40 years, and this is the most consequential thing I’ve ever been a part of," Roberts said after learning of Dixon's release. "I’m a sports reporter, but we helped get a man out of prison. I’m humbled and dumbstruck.”

    Georgetown University students made a documentary as part of a prison reform course last spring. The class worked with Dixon's attorney, Donald Thompson, to have the conviction overturned.

    "It went so far beyond reasonable doubt that it's pretty outrageous that he would have been convicted and it would have been upheld," said Marc Howard, director of the university's Prisons and Justice Initiative. Howard taught the course with childhood friend, Marty Tankleff, who also spent years wrongfully imprisoned.

    Dixon said he will keep drawing, while working on behalf of other prisoners.

    "If you don't have any money in this system, it's hard to get justice because the system is not equipped or designed to give a poor person a fair trial," he said. "So we have a lot of work ahead of us."

    His daughter, Valentina Dixon, was a baby when her father went to prison. She brought her 14-month-old twins, Ava and Levi, to court from their Columbus, Ohio, home.

    "We're definitely going to go shopping and go explore life," she said. "I can't wait to get him a cellphone and teach him how to Snapchat."

    Dixon's mother, Barbara Dixon, said she was in shock after relying on her faith while fighting for his release.

    "We're going to Red Lobster," she said when asked what was next. "And everybody's invited."