Toms is passionate about recruiting

Not only is David Toms the most successful PGA Tour golfer ever to sport the purple and gold colors of LSU, but he's also known for being one of the most passionate Tiger fans for all sports. Everyone knows that Toms loves everything LSU, but few know that he also considers himself one of the biggest recruiting fanatics there is.

David Toms often hears his name associated with the PGA Tour, but he also hears it linked to what he considers his most passionate hobby – outside of spending time with his family and helping underprivileged, abused and abandoned children though his foundation – LSU sports.


Sports has always been a big part of Toms’ life dating back to the countless hours he spent on the golf course as a child to the summer hours spent on the diamond playing baseball with former LSU slugger Albert Belle.


When he did have some free time it was usually spent driving down what is now known as Interstate-49 to watch his beloved Tigers play on a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, or to catch a baseball game at Alex Box Stadium.


Free time, however, was something that Toms rarely had because if he was going to fulfill his lifelong dream and overcome the tremendous odds of making the PGA Tour then his second home would be on the back nine at one of the public courses in the Shreveport area.

Toms poses with his Junior World Golf Championship trophy in 1984

Toms enjoyed a successful childhood where he won numerous tournaments, but none were bigger than the 1984 Junior World Golf Championship he captured when was 16 years old in the Boys’ 15-17 Division.


Toms, who was born in Monroe but spent the majority of his youth in Bossier City, went on to win several more tournaments before graduating from Airline High School and accepting a scholarship offer from LSU.


After spending four years at LSU – 1986 to 1989 – where he was a three-time All-American and set the record for Career Tournament Victories (6), Career Top-10 Finishes (29), Career Top-20 Finishes (37), and Top 20 Stroke Averages (71.27), Toms embarked on his journey to earn a spot on the PGA Tour.


After graduating from LSU in 1989, Toms spent less than three years on his voyage before he earned a spot on the PGA Tour in 1992.


Now, 17 years and 12 career PGA Tour victories later, Toms said it was quite a ride.


“It was an unbelievable journey that was filled with so many unforgettable times,” he said.


His first career major championship at the 2001 PGA Championship is something that he will always remember, and the three years that he was a part of the Ryder Cup team – 2002, 2004 and 2006 – will always hold a special place in Toms’ heart. He can point to the eight times that he finished in the Top 10 in major championships, as well as his spot at No. 7 in career earnings on the PGA Tour with $29,875,970.


His accomplishments in golf are well documented, and while Toms is grateful for everything that has come his way he also knows that there is a price he has to pay. Whenever Toms is on the road he is away from his wife – Sonya – and two children – Carter Phillip (11) and Anna (3). So when he failed to qualify for the 2009 Master’s for the first time since 1998 because he wasn’t ranked in the Top 50 in the world there was one bright silver lining.


“It had been a long time since I was home for Easter,” Toms said with a chuckle. “I got to spend some time with the family and even got to take my son fishing for a few days before going to Baton Rouge for the weekend.”


Spending the weekend in Baton Rouge is something that Toms doesn’t get to do often due to his schedule. So when the opportunity presented itself for him to spend a few days in the Capital City the weekend of the spring football game there was no other place he would have rather been.

The Toms family celebrates another PGA Tour victory

After all, there is his family, his foundation, golf, then LSU. Some close to him would even joke and say that LSU may be higher on the totem pole than golf.


“I love it,” Toms said of LSU athletics.


Even his colleagues on the PGA Tour know just how much Toms bleeds purple and gold.


“It’s kind of funny. Chris DiMarco has this reputation for being this rabid Gator fan, and I told him one day when he was popping off that I knew more about his team than he did,” Toms said with a laugh.


Few would think that college sports – outside of golf – would be talked about too much around the clubhouse, but Toms credits LSU fans and the passion they bring to the golf course, which has been recognized by many other PGA Tour members.


“I think there’s some chanting for other schools, but it seems like overall the LSU fans are a little more visible and passionate,” Toms said. “People who I play with comment on it, and it seems that they (fans) always seem to be there. It’s great to have that support when you’re out there.”


Hearing the LSU chants at tournaments and seeing all of the purple and gold is something that Toms has grown accustomed to regardless of which countryside he may find himself roaming around.


“It happens a lot,” said Toms, who is fresh off a fifth place finish at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans last weekend.


“It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. I run into LSU fans all over the world. I’ve played in Scotland and there are LSU fans over there with purple and gold. I’ve been to Australia and I see people walking around with LSU shirts on. No matter where we go there is always someone around with purple and gold on.”


Just seeing the purple and gold or the LSU logo gives Toms a familiar feeling even though he may be thousand’s of miles away from the state he calls home.


Another way that Toms feels close to home, even when he is in places as far away as Scotland or Australia, is when he connects to the internet.


Like most passionate LSU fans Toms is a frequent visitor to several websites where he is able to indulge in one of his most passionate hobbies of all – recruiting.


“I follow it every day. I love going to your site and I go to all of them because I love it so much,” Toms said. “My family doesn’t follow me as much now that we have our young ones, so I have a lot of downtime after a long day on the golf course. I read everything I can get my hands on.”


On the numerous trips he makes to LSU over the course of a year, particularly during the fall, Toms even finds himself talking to some of the young men he follows so closely.


“I enjoy it because I meet a lot of these kids in the fall that are being recruited and read stuff about them,” explained Toms. “I’m just a fan and recruiting is one more way for me to stay connected to the LSU scene.”


One of the recruits that Toms met while standing on the sideline prior to kickoff for the Alabama game last season was LSU quarterback Chris Garrett. That has a special meaning for both, Toms and Garrett, as both had heard plenty about one another shortly after Garrett committed to the Tigers last March.


“When Chris was being recruited I found out we were related,” Toms said. “Then I met him last year on the sideline, and my grandmother was saying she had a letter from him the other day about some pictures she sent on some old relatives from Bienville Parish. When you have stories like that you can kind of relate to the kids even more.”


Garrett strengthens a connection between Toms and LSU that Les Miles has fostered since he took over as head coach in 2005.


“They’ve always let me get pretty close to their program,” Toms said of Miles and the LSU coaches. “Before every home game they let me and my son go into the locker room and say hello, and just sit there and pick their brains. They allow us to do stuff that the average fan couldn’t do and I feel pretty privileged to be able to do that.”


Of course, Toms stays in close contact to the golf program and Tiger head coach Chuck Winstead, who was a teammate of his back in their college days.


Another aspect of LSU that Toms is particularly close to is the baseball program. He was in attendance when LSU played Villanova in the second game of the season, and he also made his way over to Alex Box Stadium to catch the Tigers and Tennessee the weekend of the spring game.


No matter how many times he makes the trip it still takes a little getting used to for Toms to walk into the New Alex Box Stadium. He’s glad the Tigers have a first-class facility, but he has more than your normal memories of the old ballpark located across from Tiger Stadium.


“I have all kind of memories of the old place,” Toms recalled. “I remember at 10 o’clock one night, Albert Belle walked down to my room and asked me to go throw him some BP (batting practice) at the old place. I have a lot of neat memories from watching guys play over there.”


Toms hopes to catch many more sporting events at LSU over the years because that’s what fans do. It may be hard to fathom for some, but Toms and his family look forward to those Saturday’s in the fall just as much as many others do.


“My kids love it and my wife loves it. We just have a great time out there tailgating like all of the fans and being so close to it makes me even want to follow it more,” Toms said.


If you do happen to see David Toms and his family tailgating on a Saturday in October, whatever you do, don’t feel like you have to ask him about golf.


“I’d rather talk about recruiting,” he said with a big laugh.


And if you still question whether or not he means it just do like I did and ask him which prospects are at the top of his wish list for 2010.


“I haven’t paid as close attention early on, but that (Trovon) Reed kid looks like he’s going to be pretty good,” said Toms. “I guess we need a running back so that (Lache) Seastrunk kid is going to be pretty good too. I know you had that combine down in New Orleans and that (Munchie) Legaux kid seems that he did pretty good. We gonna offer him?”


Note: To find out more about the David Toms Foundation and how you can help underprivileged, abused and abandoned children please click here.

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