Toms doesn't miss a beat


Published: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
David Toms' heart is just fine, and it sure wasn't under much stress at the Sony Open.
With two quick birdies to seize control, Toms surged past Chad Campbell and never gave anyone else much hope Sunday at warm and breezy Waialae Country Club, closing with a 5-under 65 for a five-shot victory over Campbell and Rory Sabbatini.
It was the 12th victory of his career, and the first since Toms was taken off the course on a stretcher at the 84 Lumber Classic four months ago with his heart racing at 170 beats per minute. He had surgery to fix the problem in November, and answered any questions about his health with a dominant victory.
He was in total control of all aspects of his game, leading by four shots at the turn and never letting anyone get closer the rest of the way on a spectacular day along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Entertainment came from 27-year-old rookie Bubba Watson, a lefty with power not seen since John Daly showed up at the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in 1991.
Swinging from the heels, he blasted four drives over 360 yards on a course with no elevation. A flip wedge into the par-5 18th hole set up a short eagle for a 65 that gave him fourth place alone in his debut.
This was a weekend Toms won't soon forget.
It started with a course-record 61 on Saturday that allowed him to keep pace with Campbell, and with a tap-in birdie on the opening hole, he never let up. Toms finished at 19-under 261, one shot off the 72-hole record at Waialae, and earned $918,000 to get his year off to a great start.
Campbell was coming off a 62, but didn't make a birdie until the 17th hole and shot 72. Sabbatini was the only player to make a move, such as it was, on the back nine. A par on the easy 18th still gave him a 62.
David Duval took a step forward on his road to recovery with a bogey-free 63, his best score in nearly three years.
Toms wasn't sure what to make of his future in September when his heart raced out of control between nines in the first round of the 84 Lumber Classic, and he was rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital, briefly listed in critical condition.
He was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, an electrical problem with the heart. Calmed by medicine that made him sluggish, he played the Presidents Cup and finished out the year at the Tour Championship, then had surgery in November at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and proclaimed himself healthy.
This answered any lingering questions. What was supposed to be a two-man race at Waialae turned into a runaway.
The roles were reversed from Saturday, when Campbell was firing off birdies and Toms was doing his best simply to keep up with him. From the opening shot, Toms had the advantage. And while Campbell did remarkably well to stay within range, including three straight par saves from the bunker, the Texan didn't have enough game.
Weather conditions again were ideal. So was Toms' game. It started with an approach to inside a foot on the opening hole for a birdie and a one-shot lead, and he stretched that to two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the third.
Campbell, tugging at his shirt sleeve before every shot, was hanging on by a thread. From a deep bunker right of the third green, he blasted out to 6 feet and saved par. In another bunker with not much green between sand and the hole, he ran it 8 feet by and made that one. And on the sixth hole, he nearly holed a long bunker shot.
But his grit ran out at No. 8 - from yet another bunker - when a good shot from a tough lie left him 8 feet, but the bending putt stayed out to the right. And when Campbell failed to birdie the par-5 ninth, it was a race for second.
The only drama was the margin of Toms' victory, and whether he would finish his final 2 1/2 rounds without a bogey. That string ran out at No. 13 when Toms missed a 5-foot par putt, ending a streak of 41 holes at par or better, and the first 5 on his scorecard over the same stretch.
His lead was down to four over Sabbatini with five holes to play, still plenty safe to pick up his first victory in Hawaii and ensure a trip back next year to Kapalua for the season opener of winners only.
Along with winning for the fourth straight year on the PGA Tour, his victory should be enough to easily return him to the top 10 in the world, where he was a regular before injuring his wrist and sitting out the start of 2004 season. Divots: Campbell's wife, Amy, flew Sunday morning from Los Angeles and arrived in time for the final round. She looked a bit out of place with black-knit books up to her ankles, a black tank top and a black beret. And she didn't bring much luck to her husband. ... Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Stuart Appleby are the only players to start the season with top 10s in both Hawaii tournaments. ... Two rookies made their PGA Tour debuts by finishing in the top 10 - Watson and Nathan Green - assuring them a spot in the Buick Invitational in two weeks. Green shot 64 and finished fifth. ... Singh, the defending champion, shot 66 and finished sixth.

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