David Toms Throws in the Towel for 2008

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2008

David Toms has 12 career PGA Tour wins, but is probably best known for his spectacular hole in one on the 15th hole of his final round at the 2001 PGA Championship, eventually leading to his first and only major win.


After 15 years on tour, three Ryder Cup and President Cup appearances, 14 worldwide wins, and over $27 million in career earnings, David Toms is facing the decision of whether to fight to regain his tour card or use one of his career money list exemptions for the 2009 season. 


Toms was 124th on the PGA Tour’s Money list preceding the Ginn sur Mer Classic, just inside the top 125 a player must fall within in order to automatically regain his PGA Tour card for the following year.


However, with only two events left in the PGA Tour’s fall season, Toms decided to skip the remainder of the fall season, a move that has resulted in him falling outside of the top 125.   


Toms has had an excellent career by anyone’s standards and is not over the hill just yet. He is only 41 years old, an age at which a player should still be in the prime of his career. 


Over the past decade, physical fitness combined with the continuous advancement in equipment has allowed players to compete at the highest level for several more years than they otherwise would have.


Two years ago Toms was a member of the American Ryder Cup team at the K-Club in Kildare, Ireland. Just last year Toms finished ninth in the Masters and tied for fifth in the U.S. Open.


Both results demonstrated his ability to compete at a very high level, which is what makes Toms’ decision to skip the final two PGA Tour events even more baffling.


The American appears to be giving up on the 2008 season, which is surprising for a man who has made a living competing against the best golfers on the planet for the past 15 years. 


David Toms will have a pot on the PGA Tour in 2009, but he will likely be forced to use one of his invaluable career money list exemptions.


A player who is amongst the top 25 in career earnings at the start of the season can use that standing to gain an exemption for the following year. A player who is amongst the top 50 in career earnings can use a one-time exemption to remain a member of the PGA Tour the following year. 


Toms is currently seventh on the PGA Tour’s career earnings list which guarantees him a spot on the tour in 2009.  However, with the money made on the PGA Tour these days, Toms could easily find himself out of the top 25 in career earnings within two or three years, and even outside of the top 50 within five years.   


Plainly said, a player typically uses a career money list exemption at only the most desperate of moments, usually in the latter stages of a career.


Why skip the remainder of the season and use one of your very last resort lifelines at the age of 41 when you are currently in the top 125 on the PGA Tour’s money list? 


Toms, like most successful players on the PGA Tour over the past two decades, has numerous off-the-course business ventures, including a new golf school, that are probably earning him 10 times as much as he earns on the course. 


However, David Toms can still compete at the Tour’s highest level, if he still wants to.