He won his only major title with a gutsy call at that same hole in 2001. Clinging to a one-shot lead over Mickelson, Toms chose to lay up short of the water with his second shot. He knocked a wedge 12 feet from the hole and made the par putt to hold off Lefty.
Toms started feeling good vibes as he walked up to the 15th, where there’s a plaque marking his most memorable shot from 2001 — a hole-in-one.
“People were saying stuff in the crowd about doing it again, that kind of thing, and you flash black to this time, this week, 10 years ago,” he said. “A lot of memories for sure. The golf course is different. The golf course if much more demanding, so I have to play extremely well.”
Mickelson is the last American to win a major at the 2010 Masters. Since then, international players have captured six in a row, the longest U.S. drought in the modern Grand Slam era.
Luke Donald, the world’s top-ranked player, closed within a shot of the lead until a brutal finish. He drove into a bunker at the 18th and had no choice but to blast out into the fairway. Then, going at the flag a little too aggressively, he dunked his third shot in the water and wound up taking double bogey.
He settled for 68 and a 209 total, leaving him five shots off the lead.
McIlroy went the wrong way on Moving Day, but he did catch a break at the par-3 17th. His tee shot landed on a rock wall along the bunker, bounced at least 50 feet in the air and came down on the green. He smiled and made par.