David Toms wins Cologuard Classic
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Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
David Toms finally rediscovered how to close.
The 56-year-old Louisiana native entered the final round of the PGA TOUR Champions Cologuard Classic with a two-stroke lead. It was the fourth time he had been in that situatio since turning 50, but the first time he had won from the front.
“I stuck with my game plan,” Toms said. “I was aggressive when I felt like the club -- that I could be and I felt real good about my club election, and when I didn't, I kind of played away from it.”
Toms turned back Robert Karlsson, who was his closest pursuer when the day began, and Steve Stricker, who joined them in the final group. The lanky Swede cut the lead to one twice on the front nine, but each time he did Toms came back with a birdie on the next hole to push his lead back to two.
They came to the 18th, the most difficult non-major hole on PGA TOUR Champions last year, with the margin still two. Toms drove his tee shot into the water for the third day in a row, while Karlsson found the fairway. Toms dropped and missed the green from about 200 yards with a 4-iron. Karlsson had 187 to the hole and hit it to about 20 feet below the hole to set up a birdie putt.
“To have to finish on that 18th hole there, like I said before, I hit it in the water three days in a row there, so we're not the best of friends,” Toms said.
“It's just, the fairway sits across on the right side,” Karlsson said. “I mean, I said ‘good shot’ to David when he hit his drive. I was sure it was up. Then we came out of the fairway, there was only two there. I thought it was mine that had gone too far left and could have gone into the water on the other side. So that's how small the margins are on that hole. It's just a very, very tough driving hole. Good hole.”
Toms chipped from the rough to 6 feet, then watched Karlsson narrowly miss his birdie putt. Toms was able to bury the left-breaking putt to seal the win and finish at 15 under after a final-round 68.
David Toms’ Round 3 highlights from Cologuard
“You know, to make a nice putt there in the end that I had to make, that was the difference,” Toms said. “My putter was good all week. It had to be good again today. Robert played really well. He got off to a good start and I was able to just hang in there, hang in there and keep a little distance.
“It got pretty tight there on that last hole, but for me I guess it's sweet that I was able to make that putt. Steve kind of gave me a little pep talk walking up to the 18th green, said, ‘Go get that up and down, you deserve it.’ So that was nice of him, for sure.”
Toms earned his third victory on PGA TOUR Champions and his first since last year’s Ascension Charity Classic.
Karlsson, who has yet to win on PGA TOUR Champions, posted the fourth runner-up finish of his career since turning 50. He shot 5-under 67 over the final 18, including an eagle, four birdies and a bogey.
“I played really well, so I'm very happy with the way things turned out,” Karlsson said. “My own game, obviously I would have liked to be one or two shots better, but that's the way it goes. David putted fantastic today and holed all the putts he needed to. Every credit to him. I can't complain about what I've done the last two days or anything like that, so I'm very, very happy with how I'm playing.”
Stricker, who had a victory and a runner-up finish in his first two starts this season, never mounted a charge. He never looked comfortable all day and shot 1-under 71 after three back-nine bogeys. He birdied the 18th, only the third birdie there all day, to avoid being the only player in the top 25 who didn’t shoot under par on Sunday.
Gene Sauers fired a final-round 64 to move up 12 spots into a tie for third with Australian Mark Hensby, who carded a 65.