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Toms in contention a decade later

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- David Toms tapped into the game that won him the 2001 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club and a decade later, he's back in contention.

Toms shot a 65 on Saturday -- the lowest round of the day -- that took him to 2 under for the tournament.

Toms began the day eight strokes off the lead and didn't make up a shot over his first 11 holes. Then Toms flashed his major-winning form. He made an eagle on the par-5 12th hole and followed with consecutive birdies, the last when he holed out from a sand bunker about 40 yards out on No. 14.

When Toms stepped up to the par-3 15th, his juices were flowing as he thought about the site of his 5-wood, hole-in-one there in the third round a decade earlier. A plaque commemorating the moment sits next at the tee.

"People were saying stuff in the crowd about doing it again," Toms said. "You flashback to this time 10 years ago."

Toms' score was the lowest in his past 38 rounds at the PGA. He shot a 65 in the third round of -- you guessed it -- his 2001 major victory.

Toms still has plenty of work to do, five shots back of co-leaders Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner. But he says he's put himself position to put some heat on those ahead of him come today.

"If I can have one of those days, I certainly will be in the mix," he said.


Charl Schwartzel has loved playing the majors this season and the reigning Masters champion is near the top again at the PGA Championship.

Besides winning the green jacket, the 26-year-old South African finished ninth at the U.S. Open and 16th at the British Open. He continued that strong play at Atlanta Athletic Club with a 66 that moved him to 2-under and up into the top 10 at the year's final major.

Schwartzel said before the tournament he hoped the good vibes from his win at Augusta National -- he birdied the course's final four holes -- last April would follow him in his return to Georgia.

So far, they have.

Schwartzel played a bogey-free third round that featured four birdies, including one at the difficult par-3 15th hole.

Atlanta Athletic Club's final four are as hard a stretch as the pros ever face, Schwartzel said. If he can come close to duplicating his Masters success, Schwartzel still thinks he can succeed at the PGA.

"These four holes are going to decide this golf tournament," he said.


Scott Verplank has aches and pains older than some of the guys he's chasing at the PGA Championship.

"I don't feel a day older than a hundred," the 47-year-old tour journeyman said to laughter Saturday, moments after a 69 left him at 5-under and two shots off the lead heading into the final round. "It's fantastic."

Fantasy might be more like it. Verplank wears an insulin pump to deal with diabetes and he's battled chronic elbow, wrist and foot injuries for nearly all of his pro career, so long, in fact, that he was named the comeback player of the year -- in 1998.

"I didn't even know if I was going to be in the PGA until, like a week ago, two weeks ago," he said.

Verplank gained a spot because he's still in the top 100 world rankings, not a small accomplishment in itself. A win here would make him the second-oldest major champion ever, behind 48-year-old Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley Country Club. To accomplish that feat, he'll have to handle oppressive heat and a demanding Atlanta Athletic Club layout.