FORT WORTH, Texas — After wrapping up the weekend with a 3-under par 67 in Sunday’s final round, LSU great David Toms fired his 72-hole score of 15-under par 265 at Colonial to snap a five-year winless drought on the PGA Tour with a one-stroke victory at the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Toms earned a one-stroke victory over the 14-under 266 fired by Charlie Wi to earn his 13th career victory as a member of the PGA Tour, and his first since the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Despite trailing Wi by one shot as the pair teed off in the final round, Toms took over the lead on the 635-yard, par-five 11th hole when he made eagle with a wedge shot from 83 yards. After laying up to a perfect spot short of the green, and with Wi’s ball sitting in a bunker on the front of the green, Toms’ wedge took one bounce, landed just behind the pin and then rolled back into the cup for an eagle 3.
It proved to be a lead he would not relinquish over the final seven holes as he went on to defeat Wi by one stroke on the final leaderboard. Bo Van Pelt finished five shots back in third place at 10-under 270.
“When something like that happens, it’s like it’s meant to be,” Toms said. “That just took a lot of guts out there, that’s really all. That’s what I got by on today. I played a great round of golf today. I’ve wanted this tournament for a long time. It’s just a great course for me.”
Toms appeared to take control early at the Crowne Plaza Invitational as he fired back-to-back 8-under 69s to match the PGA Tour scoring record for the first 36 holes of a tournament with a 16-under 124. He then opened the third round with a birdie on the first hole to drop to 17-under par after 37 holes. But Toms was unable to hold it together on Saturday as he fell one shot behind Wi by the end of the day with his score at 4-over 74. Wi erased his seven-shot deficit to open the third round with a 4-under 66.
Toms then bounced back with a 3-under 67 to outduel Wi’s 1-under 69 on Sunday afternoon to take home the victory and don the coveted plaid jacket presented to the winner for the first time in his career.
Toms had already enjoyed tremendous success during his career at Colonial as he came close to taking his spot at the top by tying for fourth place in 2000, second place in 2002 and third place in 2005.
What might be most impressive is how Toms bounced back from a heartbreaking playoff defeat one week ago at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass when he fell to K.J. Choi. After leading the event into the final round, Toms fell in a playoff with a bogey at the signature island green at the par-three 17th.
In just the last two weeks, Toms has picked up $2,142,000 in winnings with a second place at The Players Championship ($1,026,000) and win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational ($1,116,000) to move into the No. 4 spot on the PGA Tour’s money list with $2,842,215 in earnings for the 2011 season. He also climbed into the No. 4 spot in the official FedExCup standings with 1,229 points for the season. Toms now trails leader Bubba Watson (1,383) by 154 points in the FedExCup standings.
Toms’ 13th career PGA Tour victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational puts an exclamation point to the end of one of the more prolific weekends for the LSU golf programs in recent memory.
The No. 8-ranked Tigers earned the right to compete for a national championship on Saturday after taking a fourth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional Championships held at the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Tigers will now compete May 31-June 5 for the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
Not only that, but the No. 5-ranked Lady Tigers earned their best national championship finish in program history at the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships with a third-place team finish, led by their national championship winning performance by freshman All-American Austin Ernst.
Ernst became the first Lady Tiger to be crowned the individual NCAA champion in tournament history as LSU’s first national champion golfer since Tiger greats Fred Haas, Jr. (1937) and Earl Stewart (1941).