LA QUINTA, Calif. – Before the news broke that Tom Watson would be the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain, David Toms received a text message from PGA of America president Ted Bishop. In the note, Bishop told Toms he would call him soon.
So Toms’ level of anticipation rose, if not his heartbeat.
“I didn’t know if he was going to tell me I was the next guy,” Toms said Tuesday after a practice round at the Humana Challenge.
As it happened, Toms was in a duck blind at 9 a.m. in Arkansas when Bishop rang him up and filled him in on the selection of 63-year-old Watson and the reasons behind it. Let’s just say Toms didn’t shed any tears. Nor was he that surprised.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed at all,” he said, about a month later. “I believe everything happens for a reason. And I’ve got a lot going on.”
He rattled off a number of things. He is opening a golf academy this year. He has business interests. He has a 7-year-old daughter, Anna. He has a 15-year-old son, Carter, who soon will learn to drive. Oh, yeah, he has golf job, too.
“I’m still trying to play great golf out here,” Toms said.
That’s not to say he didn’t want the job. He did.
“All that being said, would I take the opportunity to be the Ryder Cup captain? Of course,” he said.
It was a goal that had been kicked around the Toms household leading up to the announcement. “I had anticipation,” he said. “My wife and I were like, ‘Are we going to get a phone call?’ ”
He got one, but not the kind he had hoped for. So, at 46, with 13 PGA Tour victories and $38.86 million in official earnings in tow, he has a revised goal.
“I want to play great and be there (2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland) representing the country as a player,” Toms said. “If not, I’ll watch it on TV.”
Unless, it was suggested, it interferes with a football game involving LSU, his alma mater.
Toms laughed at the thought and said, “You said it, not me.”
The Shreveport, La., native will be paying attention as well in the couple of months after the 2014 matches. That’s when the PGA of America will select a captain for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.
Will it go old again and pick a deserving Hall of Famer such as Larry Nelson? Or will it revert to its long-time model of choosing an active player in his late 40s, such as Toms?
“That’s the interesting question,” Toms said. “I’m more interested in where they’ll go from here.”
It will be interesting as well to see how much more Toms has in the tank and what his style of play as a medium-length ball-striker will allow him to produce in the growing age of the bomber.
In recent years, Toms has bemoaned the fact the majority of Tour course setups work against gifted players like himself who don’t carry drives 300 yards. He has talked about the deck being stacked.
Yet, even in his mid-40s, he has found a way to continue as a cash cow, as someone who has benefited perhaps more than anyone from the elevated prize money of the Tiger Woods era. Though he was 184th in driving distance last year, he managed to place 46th in earnings. In 2011, he was 10th on the money list and third in all-around ranking. In ’09, he was 14th in earnings.
So, as people have known since the late 1990s, the guy knows how to cash a check. And he doesn’t plan on stopping.
“As far as somebody my age still winning out here, guys do it every year,” Toms said. “It’s just you probably don’t have as many opportunities to do it. So it’s not like on a weekly basis you see the older guys competing. Definitely the youth movement is here, and it’s good.”