By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – David Toms turned back the clock 10 years at Atlanta Athletic Club on Saturday, firing a 5-under 65 in the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship to soar up the leaderboard on Moving Day.
At 2-under-par 210, the 44-year-old Toms – who won his only major, the 2001 PGA Championship right here at AAC – is just five off the lead and very much in the mix for the final round.
“Obviously it will take a great round tomorrow,” Toms said. “But you never know. I mean, that was the goal of the day was to have a good round. I didn't know it was going to be a great round.”
Toms caught fire on the back nine, playing his last seven holes in 5 under. The magical run began with an eagle on No. 12, a 551-yard par 5, where he holed a 40-foot putt. He followed that up with a short birdie make on No. 13 and then holed a tremendous bunker shot at No. 14 for another birdie when he was staring bogey straight in the eyes.
“Really, the key to my round being a great round was the bunker shot I hit on 14, because holing that, could have made bogey, double, pretty easily; and to hole a bunker shot and made birdie, that was a bonus,” said Toms, who also holed a 25-footer to save par on the 11th hole. “The pin was on the left hand side of the green and I was in the far right hand bunker so I'm guessing it was a good 40-yard bunker shot probably.”
If that kept Toms’ round going, it didn’t hurt to pick up some good vibes on the 15th tee, either, where there’s a plaque highlighting his tournament-changing third-round hole-in-one from the 2001 PGA Championship.
“People were saying stuff in the crowd about doing it again kind of thing, and you flashback to this time, or this week, 10 years ago,” he said. “A lot of memories for sure. Golf course is different. Golf course is much more demanding, so I have to play extremely well.”
The last four holes at AAC make up the most brutal stretch on the course. Toms parred Nos. 15, 16 and 17 before making an unlikely birdie on the last to cap off the fantastic round.
“To birdie 18, obviously, you pick up at least a half a stroke on the field to do that,” he said.
Toms started the third round tied for 59th. When the sun was setting Saturday, he catapulted 45 spots up the leaderboard to get into that tie for eighth.
The 2011 season has been one of the best in years for Toms. He’s had five top-10 finishes, highlighted by a win at Colonial – his first victory in five years – which came one week after a heartbreaking second-place finish at The Players Championship.
He entered this week in Atlanta on the heels of a tie for ninth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
If the magic carries into Sunday, Toms has given himself a chance to pick up his second major victory on the same grounds where he earned his first.
“I just wanted to have a good round to give myself a chance to have that hot round maybe like Stricker did the first day to have a chance,” Toms said. “And now, if I can have one of those days [Sunday], I certainly will be in the mix.”