Saturday, August 18
Toms aces out Mickelson for lead
By David Kraft
DULUTH, Ga. - David Toms came up aces at just the right time Saturday.
Moments after then-leader Phil Mickelson had taken bogey at the 15th hole, Toms used a 5-wood to ace the 243-yard monster that's played the hardest this week at Atlanta Athletic Club.
"It was the coolest shot I've ever hit," he said.
The three-shot swing -- which came in a matter of four minutes on a steamy Georgia Saturday afternoon -- put Toms into the lead of the 83rd PGA Championship heading into Sunday's final round.
The hole-in-one was the third of Toms' career. He let out a loud whoop, gave caddie Scott Gneiser a high-10, and whooped again as the crowd at the 15th -- which stretches up the hill in a sea of humanity behind the tee box -- roared.
"I knew I had the perfect club in my hands," Toms said. "I knew I could go right at the flag."
His ball stayed on the flag all the way to the hole, took three hops and went in. Toms said he didn't know the ball was in -- "It was hard to see that far," he said -- until the crowd behind the green exploded.
"It was pretty timely," Toms said. "The rest of the day was so-so, but that one shot turned the day around."
There were only five birdies at the 15th, which ranked as the hardest hole on the course Saturday.
Toms had a remarkably steady day, the polar opposite of the up-and-down Mickelson. Toms had four birdies, the eagle, one bogey and 12 pars. He capped it off with a gutsy 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole -- one of only eight birdies on the hole.
Mickelson, meanwhile, had eight birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey to shoot his third straight 66. He's at 12-under.
Playing in the final group on Saturday in a major for the second time -- he did it last year with Tiger Woods at the British Open -- Toms maintained his poise throughout the sticky afternoon.
After his ace, he parred the difficult 16th and 17th holes and rolled in the closing birdie to finish 14-under.
"I still had three very difficult holes to play and I wanted to finish up good," he said. "I just had to take a couple deep breaths. Even though the people were going crazy and I was acknowledging the crowd, I still had work to do and I just had to go about my business."
Earlier, he started his round with four straight pars, then birdied the fifth and sixth to briefly grab a two-shot lead over Mickelson, who was playing a group in front of him.
But Toms bogeyed the seventh and watched Mickelson get hot with three birdies to grab a two-shot lead by the 12th. But Toms birdied the 13th and then struck gold with his 5-wood.
"I didn't see how hard it went in," he said. "I just knew that it went in."
Toms now plays the final round with Mickelson, who is two back. He's four shots clear of the rest of the field. It won't be match play, but both players are familiar with their position.
At New Orleans earlier this year, Toms played one group in front of Mickelson in the final round of the Compaq Classic. Toms shot 64 to finish 22-under and win; Mickelson shot 72 and lost to Toms by two shots.
"I still remember, and I would very much like to steal one from him," said Mickelson.
"I'll enjoy watching him tomorrow," Toms said. "But I'll also enjoy playing with him and hopefully performing my best."
|David Toms reacts to his 243-yard, 5-wood which gave him the outright lead.|