Love III caddieing for son, Dru, at U.S. Open

By Associated PressJune 11, 2017, 10:34 pm

ERIN, Wis. – Davis Love III is making his 24th appearance in the U.S. Open, with one big difference.

He'll only have clubs in his hand to clean them, not hit any shots. And for the first time, he'll be wearing shorts at a major championship.

Love is caddieing for his son.

Davis Love IV, who just finished at Alabama and turned pro, qualified for his first U.S. Open as an alternate from the Georgia sectional qualifier.

''I'm excited for him,'' Love said Sunday afternoon as he watched from some 300 yards away as his son, who goes by ''Dru,'' teed off during a practice round with Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk. ''I've played with a bunch of 19- and 20-year-olds. But it makes me feel old that he's playing.''

Dru Love won't officially be in the U.S. Open field until the world ranking is published. The USGA held back six spots for anyone who moved into the top 60 in the world ranking after this week. Chris Wood of England finished right at No. 60, meaning the other five spots are distributed to alternates. The Georgia section, where Love was first alternate, was No. 5 on the list.

The son will have plenty of experience on the bag.

Love won the PGA Championship in 1997 at Winged Foot when Dru was only 3. He also is a two-time Ryder Cup captain who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this fall. Love played his first U.S. Open at age 24 in 1988, and he was a runner-up in 1996 at Oakland Hills.

The 53-year-old Love has been slowed by a bad back this year and had no intention of trying to qualify for the U.S. Open until he caddied for his son at the first stage of U.S. Open qualifying and Dru made it to the sectional qualifier.

Love played in the Columbus, Ohio, qualifier and missed out by eight shots.

''The main reason I went is because he was going,'' Love said. ''I thought, 'If I don't try and he gets in ... I had to try.''

Erin Hills was busy for a late afternoon with strong wind. Playing ahead of Love group was two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els. Walking off the second tee, he looked back at the green and recognized a longtime colleague in shorts and carrying the bag.

''Hey, caddie!'' Els called out to Love.

''I finally found a job,'' Love replied.

''Ryder Cup captain. PGA champion. Caddie. I think you finally found something,'' Els said with that easy smile.

Dru Love will be making his second start in a PGA Tour sanctioned event. He played in the 2015 RSM Classic at Sea Island, which his father hosts, and missed the cut.

Love hopes to impart some knowledge gleaned over three decades playing majors, mainly how to prepare and pick out lines off the tee and not to get to rattled when something goes wrong, which it often does for everyone at a U.S. Open at some point.

Beneath the instruction was no small amount of pride. Dru Love is the third generation to play in the U.S. Open. Davis Love Jr., a noted teaching pro, played in the U.S. Open six times. Love's entire family is coming to Erin Hills to watch.

''It's going to be a lot of fun,'' Love said.

The first order of business? Love has set up an appointment with sports psychologist Bob Rotella on Monday.

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."