Toms could provide inspiration for U.S. squad

9/20/2005 - Golf David Toms

Nobody would blame David Toms if he simply elected to go home to Louisiana and rest. After the scare he endured at the 84 Lumber Classic -- the shortness of breath, the brief status in critical condition, the news that he needs a procedure performed to control an irregular heartbeat -- Toms more than deserves a break. In fact, some might insist on it.

But Toms, 38, declared himself ready to play in the Presidents Cup this week. He wants to be a teammate to his fellow U.S. players. He believes he can help them defeat the International team.

All in the name of the Presidents Cup?

Perhaps Toms has some misguided priorities, but it does say something about his desire to make the team and compete on it. Nobody gives the event much mind, but to many of the players, being part of it is a big deal.

"This is a very important week to me," Toms said on Monday. "I really do want to play.''

And maybe his teammates will want to play for him.

Let's face it, this has typically been a hard sell for the Americans, who basically have no choice but to play, if healthy. Imagine the backlash if Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson declined their spot on the team? And yet, they get scrutinized and criticized for their play.

Having to play in a team competition every year (the Presidents Cup rotates every other year with the Ryder Cup) has caused some resentment. And whether you agree with it or not, it exists, and is not easily dismissed.

So maybe Toms provides some inspiration this week to his teammates. His presence adds perspective at a time when complaining about another week on the road, without pay, by millionaire golfers doesn't go very far. Toms, who is from Shreveport, La., has been heavily involved in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Any donations to his foundation will go directly to families who have evacuated the Gulf Coast.

It could be that Toms sees a higher calling here. By playing, he calls attention to himself, which calls attention to the David Toms Foundation, which is doing its part to help hurricane victims.

Toms, who has 11 PGA Tour titles and is fourth on the PGA Tour money list, also likes the competition. This will be his third Presidents Cup and he has played on two Ryder Cup teams.

He is sure to provide some motivation.

Five Things To Bank On
1. Vijay Singh for the International team and Davis Love III and Mickelson for the United States are the only players to compete in every previous Presidents Cup. Expect all three to see plenty of action.

2. Tiger Woods is a lock to play in all five matches, but don't count on him in the four-ball competition. Amazingly, he is 0-6 in the format during the Presidents Cup.

3. The International squad will miss Ernie Els (knee injury), who has won more matches than any International player other than Singh.

4. While many of the world's top players take part in the Presidents Cup, an opportunity awaits at the Texas Open, the fifth-oldest stop on the PGA Tour. Bart Bryant was a first-time winner a year ago.

5. Jason Gore will be a huge favorite at the Albertsons Boise Open. Coming off his victory at the 84 Lumber Classic, Gore was given a special dispensation to compete in the Nationwide Tour event.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.