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“This felt like a PGA TOUR event coming down the stretch on Sunday with the fan attendance and hospitality build-out. I’m thrilled to be the first champion of the Ascension Charity Classic presented by Emerson, and even more inspired to know that the real winners of the tournament are its charities and the St. Louis community.”
- David Toms (Inaugural Champion of the Ascension Charity Classic presented by Emerson)
The city of St. Louis welcomed the return of professional golf in 2021 with the Ascension Charity Classic presented by Emerson. The landmark inaugural event raised more than $800,000 for North St. Louis County charities and drew record crowds to historic Norwood Hills Country Club.
In 2020, despite not hosting a tournament due to the pandemic, the Ascension Charity Classic donated $225,000 in support of communities in St. Louis County and beyond, bringing the official PGA TOUR Champions event’s total charitable donations since its inception to more than $1 million.
The 2021 tournament, which concluded September 12, finished in dramatic fashion as major championship winner David Toms beat Dicky Pride with a par on the first hole of a playoff during Sunday’s final round for his second career PGA TOUR Champions title.
Toms hit his approach in the playoff on the par-4 18th to the middle of the green and two-putted from 18 feet. Pride's approach went to the right into a greenside bunker and his 16-foot putt for par stopped an inch short of going in the hole.
The 54-year-old Toms scrambled for par on the 18th in regulation after driving left into a fairway bunker. He shot a 5-under 66 to finish at 10-under 203 on Norwood Hills’ West Course, the tree-lined layout where Ben Hogan won the 1948 PGA Championship for his second major title.
“It was tough to play. You had to pay attention to what you were doing out there,” Toms said. “You had to hit your second shots in the right place to even have an attempt at a putt. So, I think first year, man, it went really well. It was supported by the community, fans came out, the weather was tremendous. A little bit breezy, but this time of year you’ll take this every day.”
Pride finished with a 67, forcing the playoff with a 20-foot birdie putt on 18.
“Hung in there, made a bunch of birdies, and that really nice birdie on 18," Pride said. “The playoff, I can get mad at leaving the putt short, that’s kind of a culmination of I tried to make putts on 15 and 16 and I hit them through the break.”
Toms won the 2001 PGA Championship for one of his 13 PGA TOUR titles, and took the 2018 U.S. Senior Open for his only other victory on the PGA TOUR Champions.
“I still work hard. It’s tough,” Toms said. “I mean, guys prepare every week, they play great. Means a lot obviously, it means a lot. I felt good all week here. It felt like a PGA TOUR event coming down the stretch on Sunday with the fan attendance and hospitality build-out. I’m thrilled to be the first champion of the Ascension Charity Classic presented by Emerson, and even more inspired to know that the real winners of the tournament are its charities and the St. Louis community.
St. Louis native Jay Haas birdied the 18th to shoot his age of 67 and tie for third with Woody Austin (65) at 9 under.
“That’s a pretty cool way to finish off the week,” Haas said. “I’m pleased.”
Jerry Kelly (68) was another stroke back, and Jim Furyk (71), Rocco Mediate (70) and Doug Barron (72) followed at 7 under.