David Toms walked off the 18th green at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club yesterday and pronounced himself ready to play on the U.S. Presidents Cup team starting Thursday, despite spending two days in the hospital last week when he collapsed because of a rapid heartbeat during the first round of the 84 Lumber Classic in Farmington, Pa., last Thursday.
"I felt good today, maybe a little sluggish this morning, but I don't know if that's just from lack of sleep or the medication," Toms said after walking 18 afternoon holes on the Gainesville course with U.S. teammate Fred Funk.
"I'll be fine by Thursday. My sleep is just going to get better and my chest feels fine."
Toms was taken from the Woodlands Resort course in an ambulance and eventually spent last Thursday and Friday at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. His doctors there told him he had a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat caused by an abnormal electrical connection in the upper portion of his heart. He's currently taking low doses of the drug Toprol-XL, and said he will eventually have a surgical procedure known as a catheter ablation to correct the problem, probably next week after the tournament.
Toms, 38, said he has had about a half-dozen incidents of rapid heartbeat over the last four years, none of them as debilitating as last Thursday's episode. He said the most recent incident had been at the NEC event in Akron, Ohio, the week after the PGA Championship, and he underwent a physical three weeks ago that did not discover the problem that was eventually diagnosed in Pittsburgh.
Toms said he was told by doctors in Pittsburgh that he can safely play this week with the medication. He indicated he would have had the procedure done last week, but was told it could not be performed before yesterday. At every tournament, including the Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour has a contingent of emergency medical personnel on site, and marshals at every hole can summon help immediately, as was the case last week when Toms collapsed.
"If they did [the ablation on Monday], I wouldn't have been able to play here this week," Toms said. "They said the medicine should take care of the problem and that I shouldn't have any problems playing. This is a very important week to me. I really do want to play."
Earlier in the day, at a news conference to announce his involvement with a new 18-hole private golf course under construction in Loudoun County, U.S. team captain Jack Nicklaus said he would rely strictly on Toms and his physicians to tell him if he could play in the matches against a 12-man international team.
"If David and his doctors say he can play, the captain shouldn't play doctor," Nicklaus said. "I'd love to have his experience and have him play, but it's up to David to make that decision. My guess is David will be able to tell me by [tonight]. If I was in David's position, I'd say it's not fair to you or the team to let it go beyond [tonight], and I think David will do that."
Nicklaus had already told Zach Johnson, who did not make the 12-man team, that he would be the first alternate if anyone on the U.S. side becomes injured or is too ill to play when the matches start Thursday.
Nicklaus said Johnson is prepared to come join the team on a moment's notice, if necessary.
Toms said after his first practice round yesterday that it definitely won't be necessary and that he would tell Nicklaus last night at the players' first meeting of the week that he'll be ready to go on Thursday.
"I'll tell him I don't see myself having any limitations at all," Toms said. "The only concern I have is that I've only played nine holes of tournament golf in the last month after taking three weeks off following the PGA Championship in mid-August. But I drove the ball well today.
"I'm just trying to get it to where I can hit good golf shots."