By LARRY VAUGHT
David Toms, a 13-time PGA Tour champion, now competes on the PGA Champions Tour.
Toms, 52 decided to come to Jessamine County this week, though, to play in the Barbasol Championship rather than have a four-week break mainly due to his decision not to play in the British Senior Open.
“We really couldn’t plan anything as a family during the four weeks I would have had off. My son had a tournament this week and I was close by. Only a4 1/2 hour drive away in Akron, so it made sense just to come here,” Toms said after shooting a 4-under par 68 in the first round.
“My daughter said she would like to go to Kentucky, so they got on a plane and came and they have enjoyed the week.”
His wife, Sonya, and 14-year-old daughter, Anna, walked the course with him. His son, Carter, was not here because he was playing in a golf tournament.
“I had played here back in the late 80’s, early 90’s a couple of times,” Toms said Thursday. “Obviously there are some new tee boxes since then and with the rain we had last night I was kind of bummed out because it was playing a good bit longer for me.
“Playing with these young guys and I played with a couple today (Ted Potter Jr. and Cody Gribble) who bomb it out there and they like the soft conditions. It makes it play wider and receptive into the greens.
“They didn’t have any long shots but I did have some today. Fortunately I came away with a good score.”
He said his irons were not as sharp early in the round as he would have liked and he didn’t give himself “very many good chances” to score early before making a couple of “nice putts” on the back ine.
“The key the rest of the way will be to hit my driver far enough to where I can attack some pins and give myself some better birdie looks with my irons than I did today,” Toms said.
His wife and daughter don’t get to watch him play often other than in the summer.
“Every once in a while they will come out on a weekend at a Champions event because a lot of our tournaments don’t have cuts and it is easier to plan the travel,” Toms, a former PGA Championship winner, said.
“For the most part at this stage of my career the kids are doing their own thing and my wife is doing her own thing. Sometimes we meet up at a golf tournament but not very often like this.”
Toms’ wife and daughter had not been in the Lexington area before but he had because several of his former LSU golf teammates were from this area. His roommate and one of his best friends was Frankfort’s Rob McNamara, who is in the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame.
“I am hoping to get to see his brother, John, tonight and catch up with old friends,” Toms said after Thursday’s round.
The family did tour the University of Kentucky campus because his daughter wanted to see where the Bluegrass Miracle happened. If you happen not to remember — or don’t want to if you are a UK fan — that was the 2002 football game where LSU completed a 74-yard scoring pass as time expired to win 33-30.
“She knows about that game. We went and took a picture of the stadium,” Toms said. “They always show highlights on the SEC Network of that game and play. Any LSU stuff, that is one of the highlights of recent memory, so she knows all about it.”
What about the Mardi Grass Miracle when the UK basketball team came from 31 points down with 15 minutes to play at LSU to win 99-95 in 1994?
“We all have our things we like to claim,” Toms laughed and said. “We don’t talk about that at LSU.”