FARMINGTON, Pa. — Shaun Micheel could be forgiven as a potentially great round turned into a very good one at the 84 Lumber Classic. Once playing partner David Toms was rushed to a hospital with a racing pulse, Micheel had a lot more on his mind than golf.
Micheel was in the midst of cutting eight shots off par during a remarkable nine-hole stretch Thursday when Toms — a former PGA champion — became white-faced, dropped to his knee in discomfort complaining of a rapid heart beat and was rushed off the course in an ambulance.
Toms was in critical condition at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, the administrator on duty at the hospital told The Associated Press.
Micheel no doubt lost some of his concentration during what he called "a scary moment." He bogeyed his final three holes to settle for a 7-under 65, not long after a 59 or a 60 seemed a possibility.
"It shook me up. He went down to his knee, got up and walked a few steps and then went back to his knee," Micheel said. "When an ambulance backs up to the first tee, it tells you it's a little more serious."
Toms, 38, was initially taken to the nearby Uniontown Hospital, then was transported by helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian for further tests. The hospital disclosed no other information, but Adam Young, the director of the David Toms Foundation, said Toms had spoken with his family several times.
Toms was even par through nine holes, taking a bogey on No. 18 after previously being 1 under.
"I asked him if he wanted a drink of water, and he just said his chest was hurting and his heart was racing," Micheel said. "I'm not a doctor . . . but that's generally not a good sign. He just turned real white, just didn't have color in his face."
Micheel went on to birdie Nos. 1, 2 and 3 immediately after Toms was stricken, as the group started the day on No. 10, and had an eagle on the par-5 No. 5 and a birdie on the par-4 No. 6 to get to 10 under. At that point, three birdies in the final three holes would have given him a 59.
Instead, Micheel, who has done little on the PGA Tour since winning the 2003 PGA Championship, bogeyed the final three holes on the 7,516-yard Mystic Rock course to settle for a 7-under 65 and a four-way tie with Mark O'Meara, South Korea's Charlie Wi and Nationwide Tour phenom Jason Gore.
Wi, of course, is not to be confused with Wie — Michelle Wie, the teenage amateur who is one of the world's top female golfers. Wi has finished no higher than a 52nd-place tie in his last 15 tournaments, missing the cut nine times.
It's an eclectic group of leaders that has accomplished little on tour this year despite having two former major winners in O'Meara and Micheel, with none ranking higher on the money list than Micheel's No. 155. O'Meara is nearing 50 and finds himself looking ahead to the Champions Tour, yet had what he called "by far the best putting round I've had in a couple of years."
Gore has just returned to the PGA Tour after winning three consecutive Nationwide events. He played in Sunday's final group of the U.S. Open before soaring to a final-round 84.
"What's happened since the U.S. Open just means I'm doing my job a little bit better," Gore said.
Given a chance to open up a big lead on a day when there were far more 7 unders than defending champion Vijay Singh projected — he thought 3 or 4 under would be good enough for the lead — Micheel began dropping strokes as quickly as he had been picking them up.
"Maybe it didn't show so much in my scores, but my thoughts were with him," Micheel said of Toms. "I'm certainly going to go to bed thinking about the last three bogeys."
Singh, playing on a course where a statue of him was erected following his 84 Lumber win a year ago, is tied for 53rd place in a large group at 72. Phil Mickelson, second on the money list and playing the tournament for the first time, is in danger of missing the cut following an opening round 73. Divots: Micheel has only two top-10 finishes in 55 starts since winning the 2003 PGA championship. If he had stayed at 10 under through the final three holes, he would have matched J.L. Lewis' 2003 course record 62. ... Micheel started his round with an eagle on No. 10. ... Sean O'Hair withdrew after nine holes with back spasms that were bothering him going into the tournament. ... O'Meara needed only 21 putts during his 65. This is the first time since the 1997 Bay Hill Invitational he has led after a first round.