PGA: Toms wins Compaq Classic

Monday, May 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS – It's not something that even LSU golfers normally hear – chants of "LSU! LSU! LSU!" and "Go Tigers!" It certainly wasn't what Phil Mickelson expected.

It was Sunday afternoon in the Compaq Classic, but for David Toms, a Louisiana native who played for LSU, it was more like Saturday night in Death Valley.

"Now I know what it feels like to be a quarterback in Tiger Stadium," Toms said after taking advantage of Mickelson's mistakes for a two-stroke victory.

"When I made the putt on the last hole it was pretty loud. The guy in the scorers tent said, 'Man, that was a roar,' and I said, 'Yes it was.' But I was screaming myself."

Toms rewarded his fans with a birdie to wrap up an 8-under-par 64 and a two-stroke victory in the $4 million Compaq Classic. He finished at 22-under 266 and earned $720,000.

Phil Mickelson shot a 72 to finish second at 268. Mickelson, who took three weeks off after finishing third in the Masters, took a share of the lead in the second round and was three strokes ahead entering the final round.

"It was certainly disappointing to have the lead that I had and really only two or three people had a good shot at catching me, and then to play the way that I did was pretty disappointing," Mickelson said. "It was a pathetic round of golf."

Ernie Els was another stroke back after a 68, and Harrison Frazar (71) was fourth at 270.

Toms started the day at 14 under in a tie for fourth. He birdied the first hole then finished the front nine at 2 under, offsetting a bogey on No. 5 with two more birdies. On the back nine, Toms birdied 10, 16 and 18 and eagled 11.

On the tough 18th hole, considered one of the most difficult on the tour, Toms said he was just trying to get close.

"It was probably 25 feet, maybe 30. It was up and over a hill," Toms said. "I looked at my caddie before I hit it and said, 'You know, they're going to go crazy if I make this.' And they did."

After a bogey on No. 3, Mickelson got in serious trouble on No. 5. He hooked his tee shot, then he tried to chip back to the fairway over a tree. The ball hit the tree and dropped straight down and Mickelson took a triple bogey, dropping him to 16 under.

Mickelson fought back to take the lead with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 and an eagle on 11. But he drove his tee shot into the water on 15, for a bogey that dropped him to 19 under.

With Toms' birdie on 16, Mickelson fell two strokes back. He pulled within one stroke with his own birdie on 16 but could do no better than par on the last three holes.

"These were the type of mistakes I was really keeping in check the first three days," Mickelson said. "Things just got away from me today."

The wind that had plagued golfers earlier in the tournament died on Sunday, leaving the 7,116-yard English Turn Golf and Country Club course at the mercy of a birdie-minded field.

While Mickelson scrambled to stay at the top of the leaderboard, a half dozen golfers nipped at his heals.

At one point Mickelson, Frazar and Els were tied at 18 under and Chris Smith, Frank Lickliter, Steve Lowery, Scott Hoch, and Toms were all in striking distance.

Smith, whose best finish ever was a tie for finish in the Compaq Classic last year, started the day at 11 under and made four birdies on the front nine, two on the back to finish at 271. He tied for fifth with Brian Gay.