wins PGA Championship
David Toms rolled in an
eight-foot par putt at the 72nd hole Sunday to capture his first major title at
the PGA Championship. Toms' victory, his sixth on the PGA Tour, came at the expense
of Phil Mickelson, who for the second time in three years was foiled by an opponent's
putt on the final hole of a major.
Mickelson's other second-place
finish in a major championship came at the 1999 U.S. Open, where the late Payne
Stewart sank an 18-foot putt on the 18th green at Pinehurst to clinch his third
win in a major. Mickelson, currently ranked second in the world, ran his record
in golf's four majors to 0-38.
"I played well today, but
I just didn't play well enough," said the snakebitten lefthander.
Toms carded a one-under
69 for a four-day score of 15-under-par 265, the lowest total in PGA Championship
history. Mickelson, who began the day two strokes behind Toms, closed with a 68
to finish 14-under par at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Steve Lowery shot a bogey-free
68 for third place at 12-under 268, while Japan's Shingo Katayama saved bogey
at the final hole Sunday to tie for fourth at 10-under with Mark Calcavecchia
and earned a berth in next year's Masters.
Calcavecchia fired the
day's best round of five-under 65. Katayama finished with an even-par 70.
Tiger Woods, the PGA winner
at Medinah in 1999 and at Valhalla last year, came up short in his bid to become
the first player since Walter Hagen in the 1920s to win this title three years
in a row. His tie for 29th extended a more dubious streak, however, as Woods has
now finished out of the top-10 in five consecutive starts for the first time in
"You can't play well all
the time," said Woods, whose recent slide started with a tie for 12th in the U.S.
Open at Southern Hills. "Especially in this sport -- it's pretty fickle."
"I've been very blessed
to play as well as I have for a few years, and on top of that I've had a lot of
good breaks," he added, then admitted his game has been a little off of late.
"I really haven't gotten
things to go my way. And on top of that, I really haven't played well."
Three times Mickelson made
up two-shot deficits to tie Toms in Sunday's final round. The third time came
at the par-three 15th, where Toms took control the day before with an incredible
hole-in-one. This time he found a bunker off the tee en route to a bogey, and
Mickelson was able to complete a two-shot swing when his chip from just off the
back of the green split the center of the cup from 35 feet.
Mickelson's driving was
erratic down the stretch but he caught a break at the 16th when his tee shot headed
for the right rough hit a tree and bounced into the fairway. Toms did find the
rough then knocked his approach to 40 feet and two putted for par.
The big-hitting Mickelson,
who faced the rare longer approach after clipping the tree, played his second
shot to 50 feet but ran his birdie try seven feet past the hole. The par save
then slid left of the cup, dropping Mickelson one back with two holes to play.
After trading pars with
Mickelson at the par-three 17th, Toms drove his ball into the first cut of rough
at the 490-yard 18th -- the longest par-four in major championship history. Although
he first had a five-wood in his hand, Toms switched to an iron and elected to
lay up in front of the water.
"I didn't have any options,"
said Toms, who had to ignore jeers from a crowd who wanted him to go for it. "I
had a tough stance and a tough lie. Whether I heard about it or not, that was
the thing to do."
With Mickelson's ball lying
30 feet from the hole after a six-iron to the center of the green, Toms, left
with just 90 yards in over the hazard, struck his third shot with a sand wedge
and it spun back to eight feet.
Mickelson's birdie putt
to tie was right on line but died just inches short of the cup. The best player
never to have won a major then watched as Toms confidently ran his knee-knocker
into the hole to seal the biggest victory of his career.
"I didn't have my greatest
game today, but I hung in there," said Toms, who earned $936,000 to move to fifth
on the season money list. "I'm somewhat shocked it's actually happened to me,
but very proud of myself the way I played and the way I finished it off."
Sunday marked the second
time this season Toms got the better of Mickelson.
Mickelson took a three-shot
lead into the final round of the Compaq Classic of New Orleans in early May. Toms,
a Louisiana native and a graduate of LSU, was buoyed by his home-state fans that
Sunday and made up a six-shot deficit with a 64 to snatch the title from Mickelson,
who finished two back after a closing 72.
Mickelson has won 19 tournaments
on the PGA Tour, including two this season. But the Big One has eluded him despite
the fact that he has put himself in position to win. Seven times now he's been
within two strokes of the lead heading into the final round of majors and each
time he's come up empty .
"I think I feel confident
in the way I'm able to play in these championships," said the 31-year-old Mickelson,
who finished third at this year's Masters and tied for seventh at the U.S. Open
in June. "I'm frustrated that I have not been able to break through or play well
enough to beat every player in the field."
Although both players missed
the fairway at the first hole, Toms wound up saving par out of the front bunker
and Mickelson kept pace with a clutch 15- footer for his par.
Mickelson trimmed the margin
to one with a 20-foot birdie putt at the second hole, then tied the lead three
holes later when he made a five-foot birdie moments after Toms missed his putt
from the same distance.
Mickelson failed to take
advantage of an opportunity at the par-four sixth by leaving a 10-foot birdie
attempt short. He was robbed of a great shot at the par-three seventh, as his
laser-like seven-iron struck the pin just above the hole and deflected 12 feet
away to the fringe, from where he two-putted for par.
Toms was rolling steadily
along with eight straight pars before knocking a wedge to a foot at the ninth
to set up an easy birdie to go to 15-under. His lead was two after Mickelson,
whose approach from the rough landed short of the green, hit his third shot to
30 feet and two-putted for his first bogey.
The margin was back to
one at the 10th, where Mickelson holed a 10-foot putt to save par and Toms missed
a putt in gimme range and carded his first birdie of the day.
After Mickelson birdied
the par-five 12th to get to 14-under, Toms missed another short putt -- this time
for birdie -- to allow Mickelson to draw even.
Toms battled back with
birdies at 13 and 14 to regain a two-shot lead, only to see Mickelson get new
life with the two-shot swing at the 15th.
Atlanta resident Billy
Andrade closed with a 66 to finish alone in sixth place at eight-under, two strokes
ahead of Jim Furyk (69), Scott Verplank (67) and Scott Hoch (67).
Hoch's final round was
highlighted by an ace at the 207-yard 17th hole, his second hole-in-one in a PGA
Championship. He also recorded an ace at the 1989 event at Kemper Lakes.
David Duval, who joined
the ranks of the major winners with his victory last month at the British Open,
struggled to a 74 Sunday and tied for 10th at five- under 275 with Kirk Triplett
(66) and Justin Leonard (69).
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