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David Toms looking to Match Play

David Toms returned to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in seven years, partly because of a change in the schedule that put Pebble a week after his annual ski trip to Colorado with his family.

The other reason?

Toms is at No. 66 in the world ranking, and this is his last chance to qualify for the 64-man field in the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he is a past champion and has a nine-year streak of never losing in the first round.

He started the year at No. 116 in the world ranking, and already has moved up 50 spots on the strength of his tie for second at the Sony Open and a tie for fourth in the FBR Open.

“I’ve been able to play well knowing that I needed to,” Toms said Tuesday. “So that’s been very encouraging. I know if I go out and play well, that will take care of itself.”

It could be entirely up to him this week.

Of the dozen players on the bubble, the only ones playing this week are Pat Perez (No. 60), Dudley Hart (No. 63), Toms and D.J. Trahan (No. 70). Among those not playing anywhere in the world are Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old from Japan who is at No. 64.

Only when the final field is set at Pebble and the Malaysian Open will it be clear what Toms needs to do.

Some players have not played the week of a qualifying deadline because it could help their ranking. Toms said he was told by the tour that his divisor would be reduced by one if he skipped Pebble, allowing for him to possibly move up. But that would depend on how other players performed ahead and behind him.

“I think there would be an outside chance if I didn’t play this tournament that I could make the top 64,” he said. “I don’t really know the scenarios. But I know if I play this tournament and I play well, I’ll get in.”

If Tiger Woods decides not to return at Match Play, the top 65 will qualify for the $8.5 million event. If he does play, and Toms gets the last spot at No. 64, that would be quite a first-round match.

“I just need to get in the field,” Toms said.

 

February 11, 2009




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