For Love Fools Gold at the End of a Rainbow

By Associated PressJune 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Maybe it was fool's gold Davis Love III found at the end of that rainbow.
It was nine years ago at Winged Foot when Love captured the PGA Championship in perhaps the finest performance at a major in 1997. He had three rounds of 66, including Sunday, on a punishing golf course. And when he closed a five-shot victory with a birdie on the 18th hole, a majestic rainbow stretched across the skies.
Some saw that as a sign that his father -- a teaching pro killed in a 1988 plane crash -- was watching over him.
Even now, mention 'Winged Foot' and 'Love' in the same sentence and the rainbow comes to mind, perhaps because happy memories of Love in the majors are hard to find.
'I'm not a rainbow guy,' Love said. 'I painted a rainbow on the back of my motorcycle after I won and I thought, 'I don't know if I want to ride around with a rainbow on the back of my motorcycle.' But it certainly makes me think of my dad when I see a rainbow, and people all across the United States have gotten in touch with me and talked to me about their rainbow stories.
'It has meant a lot to me personally, emotionally, and obviously on the golf course.'
But most people figured that PGA victory would be a springboard to many more majors. Love was 0-for-38 in the majors when he arrived at Winged Foot that year, and he is 0-for-33 in the majors since he left.
That has raised more questions about what he hasn't achieved than what he has.
'I would say underachiever,' John Cook said when asked to measure Love's career. 'I would have thought as good a player as he is, as many tournaments as he's won, that he would have contended a lot more often. It's almost like he really hasn't been a factor a lot of time. It's kind of unfortunate. A guy that talented deserves more than that.'
Love's career has hardly been a bust.
His 18 victories on the PGA TOUR fall only behind Tiger Woods (48), Phil Mickelson (29) and Vijay Singh (29) among his contemporaries. And while Love has only one major, he did capture The Players Championship twice.
Majors are never easy to win, and Love hit his stride about the time Woods arrived, making it even tougher. But more surprising than the lack of trophies is the absence of his name on the leaderboard Sunday in the majors.
'That is hard to believe,' Paul Azinger said. 'Davis might not have lived up to everyone else's expectations, but I think he's happy with who he is, and I think he's going into the Hall of Fame.'
Love has had only two good chances to win another major since Winged Foot. He was one shot behind going into the last round of the 2003 British Open, missed two good birdie chances over the final holes and finished two behind Ben Curtis. Last year at Baltusrol in the PGA, he was tied with Mickelson for the 54-hole lead, then played his first five holes in 4 over par and never caught up.
It hasn't been a whole lot better on the PGA Tour.
He has had stretches of 61 and 44 tournaments without winning, and now is on an 0-for-70 streak since his last PGA Tour victory at the International in 2003. And the majors seem to become more elusive, especially with age (42) and health (neck and back).
'The second one is just as hard,' Love once said about major victories. 'That's why when you see a guy who has three or four or five of them, he's looked upon a little bit differently than the rest of the players. One major puts you in the club, but it's just in the club. Four or five of them puts you in superstar status.'
Where does that leave Love?
When another winless season ended in 2004, Love began to reassess his career. He was two victories away -- and still is -- from lifetime status on the PGA Tour by getting 20 victories. He figured he needed at least another major to be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
'I have a chance to have a great career,' he said that day. 'The next five or six years, you either say, 'OK, I've done it,' or you realize you haven't. Right now, I've had a really, really nice career.'
Injuries have played a role. Love has been battling back and neck problems the last couple of years, which at times have kept him from playing his best, and has caused him to search for a schedule that allows him to get the most out of his game.
But there is a glaring perception he is soft. He had a chance to bury Woods early in their final match at the Match Play Championship, and Woods made him pay. Against Geoff Ogilvy in the final match this year, Love had him on the ropes early until missing a 3-foot par putt that swung momentum in Ogilvy's favor.
Love has been a runner-up 29 times on the PGA Tour. That usually indicates that a guy has given himself a load of chances. Given his talent, it invites whispers that he doesn't have what it takes to close the deal.
He has tumbled to No. 22 in the world ranking. He has slipped to 10th in the U.S. standings for the Ryder Cup, and might need to rely on being a captain's pick for the first time. He is reaching that stage of his career where talent alone isn't enough.
Perhaps he can rely on memories this week.
Love was at Winged Foot on Tuesday with thick rough under his feet and sunny skies over his head. The forecast is for most sunny conditions on the weekend, which is just as well. Love is looking for a trophy, not a rainbow.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''