Back then, some could have predicted that Toms would outdo Mickelson by this point, but it's been quite the opposite. Coming back to the site of his greatest success might have given Toms an emotional lift, but it was anything but on Thursday.
In 2001, Toms had four sub-par rounds en route to the one-shot victory, but he stumbled to a two-over 72 to start 2011 -- nine shots off the lead.
According to Toms, though, we shouldn't even compare the two years because of how much more difficult the course is all these years later.
"I said something to one of the guys about playing 18 as a par five, using that back tee, and one of the guys said, 'Well, there's too much history on that hole,'" he explained. "I said, 'Well, you've changed the golf course, there's really no history here.'
"A lot more bad things can happen out there, water closer to some of the holes, and a long golf course. So for me I really have to drive it well, and I didn't do that today."
There's still an outside chance Toms competes well this week if he has a good round on Friday, but odds are against it. Toms isn't the same player he was 10 years ago, though he became a bit of a sentimental favorite recently.
When he won the Sony Open in 2006, it was his 12th win since 1997 and eighth since the beginning of 2001. For the early part of the decade, he was consistently in the top 10 in the world golf rankings and performed to that lofty distinction.
Unfortunately, injuries and general poor play saw Toms go over five years without another victory until an emotional win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational earlier in 2011. It didn't spark the comeback he would have liked -- he has yet to contend at another tournament since -- but maybe returning to Johns Creek would give him another jolt.
So far, that's not the case.
"You can't be scrambling for pars out here because the greens are so fast that you're not going to make them all," said Toms, who had three birdies and five bogeys on Thursday. "I have to give myself a lot of birdie opportunities and make a few and hang in there on those tough holes."
He's still a sentimental favorite because of his history at the golf course, but it's a lot different from being a favorite in the sense of Steve Stricker, who leads the tournament at seven-under.
At this point, it'd be nice to see Toms get to play the weekend and relive some of his former successes on Sunday, but he's going to have to work to get there.