Damon Hack has posted a slightly odd interview with David Toms over on GOLF.com. Speaking in the wake of his first round 66, the Louisiana native sounded upbeat and talked freely on a range of topics, including the state of his game, his hole-in-one en route to victory in the 2001 USPGA Championsip and the location of the five-wood responsible. Then, the conversation seems to have taken an interesting turn:
“Toms, who has 12 PGA Tour victories, is on the outside of any Hall of Fame discussion, but he admits to thinking about the honor sometimes. When he defeated Phil Mickelson by a shot at the 2001 PGA by laying up on a par-4 and saving par with a wedge, Toms appeared to be on his way. The championship was one of three PGA Tour events he won that year.
Since then, the wins have been harder to come by as longer courses and younger players have conspired against him.
‘I’ve been on the [Hall of Fame] ballot before and got axed, so I need to play a little bit better,’ Toms said. ‘I’d love to win another golf tournament. I’ve been stuck on 12 for a long time. But that’s what motivates me to come out here and play. I’m just going to go out and play each shot the best I can.'”
With a long, rhythmic action, a silky putting stroke and a game that putts a premium on accuracy over power, Toms is something of a golfer’s golfer. Maybe the aesthetic qualities of his game militate against him in this regard, but I’ve always expected more of Toms than he’s ever really delivered. His victory at the USPGA was a triumph of strategy and nerve, but rather than heralding the arrival of great new talent, it remains the moment by which his career is defined, the high watermark of his acheivement.
To hear him speak about induction into the Hall of Fame, in terms that would suggest it’s a goal he feels he’s only a victory or two shy of achieving, feels… a little off. It suggests, among other things, that he’s a great deal more satisfied with his achievements to date than perhaps he should be, given his ability. I’m also puzzled by the reference to “longer courses and younger players conspiring against him”. Who volunteered this excuse? Was it Toms himself?
I’m a huge fan of his game, but this interview seems to hint at a complacency that, at only 44, Toms is far too young to be exhibiting, particularly if he’s to be considered among the modern game’s finest players.