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David Toms looking to kickstart 2004 season

David Toms is a golfer on the mend as he enters the Ford Championship at Doral this week.

That does not mean that Toms, twice a winner last season on the PGA Tour and the No. 12 player in the world, might not figure into the title picture this week.

Last week Toms, playing in only his second tournament of the season, took a pair of victories in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, beating Niclas Fasth and PGA champ Shaun Micheel before falling in the third round to Padraig Harrington.

That netted him a tie for ninth after missing the cut the week prior in the Nissan Open, his first outing of 2004.

It was a surprisingly good finish for a player who had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left wrist in early December, then spent three weeks in a soft cast and three more weeks in a hard cast.

He began rehabilitation about the middle of January and did not play his first round of golf until Feb. 13.

"I didn't play any golf at all, didn't do much of anything, chipping or putting," Toms said.

Now the LSU alumnus says the thing he has to do is keep practicing.

"Anybody that knows anything about physical rehabilitation or the golf swing or anything, it's just about practicing, hitting balls and getting those golf muscles back," Toms said. "I've been told to not do anything and lay off of it for a while and it'll get better, but I was tired of watching golf at home and not being a part of it.

"Even if it's a struggle for a while, I'd rather be out here and going through the competition and trying to get better that way. I think that I will build that strength back up just by hitting golf balls and trying to strengthen it in a few other ways."

What Toms has noticed, even when winning a couple of matches last week, is that he has lost distance with just about every club. He is avoiding practicing certain shots.

"I'm not practicing many flop shots or bunker shots, where you have to hold that speed off through the ball," he said. "I'm trying not to practice those at all because I still have a problem there when I'm trying to hold the face open or create speed or anything else. I'm just trying to do the basic things to stay sharp and not hit too many of those shots."

The loss of 10 yards or so through much of his bag might not hurt Toms too much at Doral's Blue Monster course this week. Despite being more than 7,100 yards long, accuracy in the face of the numerous fairway bunkers is more important than bombing it off the tee.

Getting away from the recent cool, damp weather in California should also be a help for Toms.

"Normally when you get to Florida, it's warm, and I think if I'm going after it a little bit harder it won't be as much of a factor."

Toms said that the bright side of his rehabilitation is that he is probably more excited than ever to play golf.

"I had an off time, and a lot of times it just all runs together," he said. "Somebody says this is early in the season, but it was like it never ended for some guys that played all the way through, but for me, I might not be physically ready to play, but mentally I'm glad to be here.

"I'm hoping that being mentally fresh and ready to play and being into it will make up for where I'm lacking in the physical part of the game. ... I think I'm mentally there. I'm ready to play."

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