Is David Toms a worthy Captain America? [*Update*]
By Conor Nagle under Ryder Cup

Toms in action at at the Olympic Club in June.

David Toms is one of the most successful American golfers of his generation. He’s collected 13 PGA Tour victories, including the 2001 PGA Championship; played on three Ryder Cup teams; and, over a career spanning nearly 25 years, amassed a little under $40million in prize money.

And yet, if he’s named on Thursday as Davis Love’s successor to the Ryder Cup captaincy, there remains a sense the decision will have owed more to his inoffensiveness and political good fortune than golfing pedigree.

Though the 45- year-old looks a logical choice (he ticks a number of the relevent boxes), and his candidacy appears to have built momentum on that basis, it’s difficult to find a Toms partisan.

His rivals for the post, Larry Nelson and Tom Watson, have each succeeded in inspiring greater enthusiasm, albeit on a more limited scale.

Of course, there’s a danger in allowing Toms’ public persona — that of a polite and diffident Southern gentleman — to obscure his shrewdness and tenacity as competitor, qualities that have marked both his greatest personal successes and seven team appearances.

He’s perennially underrated; dismissed, somewhat perversely, on the basis of his phenomenal longevity and quiet commercial success.

If Watson — currently rumoured to have received a phonecall from PGA representatives (a courtesy yet to be extended Toms) — or Nelson should win selection at the Louisiana native’s expense this week, will he have been dealt a gross injustice?

The answer to that question, I suppose, depends on how willing you are to place faith in qualities he has yet to exhibit publicy. That, of course, and the extent to which you consider recent trends a legitimate measure of worthiness.

*UPDATE* Insider sources suggest a Toms success is looking doubtful. Smart money’s on Tom Watson, apparently.

[*Ed. Note: Last week at the Australian Open, Watson welcomed the idea of captaining the next Ryder Cup team: “It would be a great honor if I got tapped on the shoulder. ’93 was the last time I’ve been to a Ryder Cup. I’d like to go back as captain. That would be cool.” –SW]

Conor Nagle