A lot of things have to happen to win golf tournaments. You have to be playing well. You have to be in the right mindset. And these days, with all the talent surrounding the game, you have to get lucky breaks.
Towards the end of Sunday's marathon final round, it seemed none of those were going right for David Toms. Sure, his playing partner, K.J. Choi, was keeping him in the lead at the Players Championship with missed putts over the back nine, but Toms wasn't helping himself. It started with a poor decision on the 16th hole, when the man that made laying up cool back at the 2001 PGA Championship decided to go for the green, finding the water and an eventual bogey. His par on the 17th was fine, but Choi made birdie and took the lead.
Then, as Toms hit one of the most clutch drives of his career on 18, his ball sinisterly rolled in a sand-filled divot and it looked as though the chances for Toms were done. But the guy that got up and down to win his only major championship against Phil Mickelson added the fourth birdie of the day at the 18th, went to a playoff and then missed his only putt inside of five-feet all week.
You could say it's a tough break for Toms, but you have to remember that this is a guy that hasn't won in five years, and sometimes, you have to pull the positives out of this, and here they are; Toms wasn't playing his best golf on Sunday, but he was getting it around. He made a mental mistake on 16, but was as clutch as anyone has been at Sawgrass in the history of the event on the 18th hole, rolling in a tough birdie putt to force a playoff (and nearly win as Choi's par putt barely went in the left lip). He still has game, and for a guy that relies so heavily on his short game, if a few more putts drop here or there, we'd be talking about a guy that used to be sponsored by a company called Zevo now owning a major and a Players trophy.
Choi deserves all the credit for playing the way he did in the clutch, and making the important putts on 17 and 18, but for Toms, positive can be pulled from this playoff. He still can hang with the best, and he did so on Sunday. Hopefully he'll remember that over the three-footer that never had a chance of going in late in the Florida evening.