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Quite a year for David Toms

The question was routine. David Toms' answer was far more complicated.

How will he remember this year?

Toms took a deep breath, smiled and shook his head. He has had better seasons on the PGA Tour, such as his major championship in 2001 or his stellar Ryder Cup debut a year later.

Few have ever been this busy.

"Three things stood out," Toms said Wednesday afternoon at the Target World Challenge. "Winning a tournament, and playing really, really well that one week. My wife giving birth to our second child. And that whole deal (splitting up) with my manager, which is going to go on into 2006."

Strangely enough, he left out one of the most compelling images of a bizarre year.

It was two months ago at the 84 Lumber Classic when Toms felt severe pain in his chest and dropped to a knee after hitting his tee shot on the 10th hole. He was taken by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital with a rapid heart rate, and was briefly listed in critical condition. He was diagnosed with an electrical malfunction in the upper chamber of his heart.

"That was one of the things I'd like to forget," Toms said. "It's all behind me now."

Toms was in the first group off at the $5.3 million tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, his first time playing since a 5 1/2 -hour procedure at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to correct a problem known as supraventricular tachycardia.

He no longer has to take medication, which slowed his metabolism and made him feel bloated and lethargic. He no longer has to worry about his heart beating out of control.

"No more excuses," he said with a laugh.

He needs no apologies for how he played this year, especially at the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he steamrolled through the field at La Costa, winning 6 and 5 in the final match.

He wound up fifth on the money list with nearly $4 million.

The highlight of his year came after one of his lowest moments. He was in the hunt for the U.S. Open in the final round until closing with a 77, but his wife gave birth to their second child, Anna Camille, the next day.

"It was a good thing it happened after the U.S. Open, because I felt like I had a chance to win there and I played terrible the last day," Toms said. "So that was a blessing."

He could not discuss his split from Links Sports, which likely will be settled in the court.

And while the surgery Nov. 17 was routine, the trip sure wasn't -- typical of his year.

The procedure was on a Thursday, and Toms was hopeful he could out of the hospital in time to get home to Louisiana and watch LSU play Ole Miss. Doctors inserted catheters through his upper leg and neck to map out his heart and find the electrical problem in his heart. They burned the trouble spot, then mapped the rest of his heart to make sure there weren't any other electrical shorts.

"There was a chance if it was real close to a certain area, they couldn't fix it. My nurse has the same problem, and they could fix her," Toms said. "But I was lucky. And it's 95 percent I'll never have another problem."

His wife, Sonya, stayed Thursday night in a hotel, but when she came to the hospital to pick him up the next day, Toms said she had a pained look on her face.

"She was hurting real bad," he said. "To make a long story short, she had two kidney stones. So they admitted her, she got out of the hospital and passed them later that night. I got out of the hospital before she did."

He smiled again, and shook his head.

"Crazy," he said. "A crazy year."

It is almost over, and probably not a moment too soon.

"With all the sideshows going on? I was proud of how I finished up," Toms said.

He's among 16 players at Sherwood Country Club, competing for a $1.3 million first prize in a field with eight Americans and eight International players, with Woods as the defending champion.

Toms will take the next three weeks off, then head to Hawaii for the season-opening Mercedes Championships, hopeful of another big year -- without all the extracurricular activity.

December 9, 2005

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