History

2001: Major Toms

Champion: David Toms, Shreveport, La.
Site: Atlanta Athletic Club - Duluth, Ga.
Date: Aug. 16-19
Purse: $5,200,000
Par: 36-36 - 72 (7,213 yards)
Field: 150 Cut at 141 (76 players advanced)

As dramatic as David Toms' final-hole victory was in the 83rd PGA Championship, he experienced a more poignant moment following the second round of the Championship at The Atlanta Athletic Club.

Paired with Fred Funk, who was struggling to make the cut, the players finished their round and walked to the scorer's trailer to sign their scorecards. Funk then said to Toms, "You're one of the greatest golfers I've ever played with," Funk said. "And, if you believe in yourself, you can do this."

Tom recalled that conversation and choked back tears after accepting the Wanamaker Trophy for his record-breaking victory and his first major championship of his 12-year professional career.

"You're out here competing against these guys competing week to week and you don't know how your peers feel about you, so it meant alot," said Toms.

With a steady, closing 1-under-par 69, Toms shattered the PGA and major championship 72-hole scoring records. His 15-under-par 265 broke the 1993 British Open aggregate total by Greg Norman (267) and the PGA Championship standards set in 1995 by Steve Elkington and Colin Montgomerie (267). Elkington captured that year's title in a one-hole playoff.

"Even though I had an absolute blast this whole week, I'm glad it's over," said Toms. "I didn't have my greatest game today, but I hung in there, kind of like I did yesterday (in the third round). And, wow! I'm somewhat shocked that it's actually happened to me. But, I'm very proud of myself the way I played and the way I finished it off."

Toms earned the first-place prize of $936,000, while playing partner Phil Mickelson finished with a 68 and a stroke back when his 25-foot birdie attempt came up short.

Toms set the tone for a pulsating final 18 holes by first striking a shot heard around the golf world, if not all of Georgia in the third round.

He grabbed the lead for the first time by hitting a 5-wood tee shot 243 yards and into the hole on the par-3 15th. It was the longest ace in a major championship and the first time a hole-in-one produced the eventual PGA Champion.

"It was a pretty timely shot," said Toms. "It's why I'm sitting here right now and he, the people were going crazy, I was going crazy. It was a big shot. At the time, I was somewhat struggling. It just kind of put me over the hump . . .It was lucky. Any time you make a hole-in-one - maybe it was meant to be."

Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods finished tied for 29th at 279, and was not a factor in the drama for the first time in three Championships. It was Toms' time.

Toms never surrendered the lead in the final round, but was tied several times by Mickelson, the last after a birdie chip from 45 feet on the 15th. Mickelson then three-putted the 16th to give Toms the lead again and set up a dramatic final hole decision on the treacherous, par-4, 490-yard 18th.

Toms hit his drive right of the fairway into the first cut of rough and 209 yards from the hole.

As he surveyed his position, the gallery grew restless. Some spectators yelled for Toms to go for the green. But, Toms reached for a wedge, amid groans and catcalls from a minority of fans.

Toms laid up to within 88 yards and short of the water. From there, he hit a lob wedge to what he later estimated to be 12 feet from the hole.

"I might still be out there playing that hole if I had gone for the green," said Toms. "There were too many bad things that could happen."

Mickelson, who reached the right side of the green with his approach, lagged a 25-foot birdie putt two rolls short of the hole.

Toms then turned to his caddie and said, "You know, I've got this putt here and these are the putts that you're supposed to make to win a major."

Toms then lined up and stroked home his winning par putt.

"I said all week that I wouldn't be afraid to lay up at 18 if I didn't have what I thought was a good shot," said Toms. "A sidehill, downhill lie - that translates into a low hook with no spin on it, and that's not what I needed. . .There was nothing good that could happen. It was all I had. There was no possible way I could stop that ball on the green."

So, Toms played the percentages like a veteran gambler and walked off a major champion.

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