David Toms' swing was on autopilot Saturday, dialed in at perfect speed, with no adjustments required.
See the target, swing the club and wait for the applause. That was Toms' routine as he made nine birdies and back-to-back eagles over 33 holes, mowing down Adam Scott, 2 and 1, and Ian Poulter, 3 and 2, and earning his second trip in three years to the Accenture Match Play Championship final.
Toms will face Chris DiMarco in the 36-hole championship match Sunday at La Costa Resort and Spa, the third consecutive year that two Americans will play for the title at this World Golf Championships event. DiMarco rallied from being 3-down after three holes to eliminate Retief Goosen, 2 and 1, in the afternoon semifinals, after knocking off Stewart Cink, 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals Saturday morning.
This is the furthest DiMarco has advanced in this event, but in 2003 Toms reached the final, where he lost to Tiger Woods, 2 and 1. To win today, Toms will have to defeat DiMarco, a friend and a teammate on last year's Ryder Cup team, but with US$1.3 million going to the winner, neither player will have trouble finding motivation.
"Chris and I are in a good position -- the worst we can finish is second," Toms said. "You're going to make a lot of money, and you've got a chance to do something special. All you have to do is beat one guy. It's pretty neat. I like this format."
Toms is ranked No. 16 in the world, and DiMarco is ranked No. 18. The two won five matches to reach this point, and Toms beat two players ranked in the top 10, Phil Mickelson (No. 4) and Scott (No. 7), while DiMarco claimed Goosen (No. 5). But if Toms continues his high level of play, DiMarco will be in for a tussle. Toms made seven birdies Friday against Mickelson, then picked up where left off, hitting pin-seeking shots that kept constant pressure on his opponents Saturday.
Toms outlasted Scott in the morning by hitting 12 of 13 fairways and making timely putts. Then against Poulter, Toms put on a ball-striking exhibition from No. 9 through No. 16. On No. 9, Toms hit his approach shot to 5 feet, setting up a birdie to go 1 up. On No. 10, he holed out for eagle with a 9-iron from 123 yards to go 2 up. On the par-5 No. 11, Toms hit perhaps his most impressive shot of the day, a 5-wood from 234 yards that stopped 2 feet from the cup, setting up his second consecutive eagle to go 3-up.
"That was a pretty special shot," Toms said.
It was the same 5-wood that Toms used in 2001 to make a hole in one during the PGA Championship, where he edged Mickelson to win his only major.
"I can't seem to find one I can hit any better," Toms said.
He was not finished. After Poulter birdied to win No. 12, Toms ended the match at the par-3 No. 16, hitting his tee shot to 3m, then making the putt.