David Toms edged out towering Swede Robert Karlsson to capture a thrilling PGA TOUR Champions title at the Cologuard Classic on Sunday.
The 56-year old entered the final round with a two-shot lead for the fourth time in his over-50s career but it would be the first time he’d convert from the front.
“I stuck with my game plan,” Toms said. “I was aggressive when I felt like I could be and I felt real good about my club selection, and when I didn’t, I kind of played away from it.”
The American fired a final round 68, keeping Karlsson at arm’s length despite the Swede outscoring him on Sunday with a five-under par round of 67 to dial up the temperature on Toms.
On 18, he very nearly unravelled. What played as the most difficult non-major hole on PGA TOUR Champions last year, Toms felt its bite, driving his tee shot into the water for the third day on the spin. He then dropped and missed the green from some 200-yards out, with Karlsson safely aboard in two and facing a 20-foot birdie chance.
“To have to finish on that 18th hole there, like I said before, I hit it in the water three days in a row there, so we’re not the best of friends,” Toms reflected.
“It’s just, the fairway sits across on the right side,” Karlsson said. “I mean, I said ‘good shot’ to David when he hit his drive. I was sure it was up. Then we came out of the fairway, there was only two there. I thought it was mine that had gone too far left and could have gone into the water on the other side. So that’s how small the margins are on that hole. It’s just a very, very tough driving hole. Good hole.”
Toms chipped to six feet and when Karlsson missed his birdie try, Toms made no mistake to seal the win and finish at 15 under par.
“You know, to make a nice putt there in the end that I had to make, that was the difference,” Toms said. “My putter was good all week. It had to be good again today. Robert played really well. He got off to a good start and I was able to just hang in there, hang in there and keep a little distance.
“It got pretty tight there on that last hole, but for me I guess it’s sweet that I was able to make that putt. Steve kind of gave me a little pep talk walking up to the 18th green, said, ‘Go get that up and down, you deserve it.’ So that was nice of him, for sure.”
It’s Toms third victory on the Champions Tour while Karlsson, who has yet to win on PGA TOUR Champions, posted the fourth runner-up finish of his career since turning 50.
“I played really well, so I’m very happy with the way things turned out,” Karlsson said. “My own game, obviously I would have liked to be one or two shots better, but that’s the way it goes. David putted fantastic today and holed all the putts he needed to. Every credit to him. I can’t complain about what I’ve done the last two days or anything like that, so I’m very, very happy with how I’m playing.”