Love Losing Grip on Hall of Fame Career
No one understands better than Love that any number of players can be dressed up like Tiger Woods in the Match Play Championship, where anyone in any round can get a hot hand.
'I'm not wishing Tiger was here,' Love said on the eve of his 36-hole championship match against Geoff Ogilvy. 'I'd love to play him again, though.'
Love might have wished he were around Sunday at La Costa to ease the sting of losing.
Getting beat by Woods would have been understandable, because Love has a history of that. Woods was 20 when he won his first PGA Tour event by beating Love in a playoff in Las Vegas with a par. He beat him in the Grand Slam of Golf when it was match play, and twice trounced him in the Match Play Championship.
Losing to Ogilvy only exacerbated Love's failures.
It brought into focus even more that Love, a world-class player with 18 victories and a major, has gone without a victory in six of his last eight seasons on the PGA Tour.
There is no such thing as an upset in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
But there is such a thing as perception, and this was a match everyone expected Love to win.
This was Love's best chance to capture a World Golf Championship, and a victory might have caused people to change the way they look at an otherwise sterling record. Along with his 18 victories and that rainbow-colored PGA Championship at Winged Foot, Love twice has won The Players Championship and only once in the last 16 years has failed to make the Tour Championship.
It doesn't matter that when Australians talk about their best talent, conversations usually don't get very far without Ogilvy's name being mentioned. He showed his resolve all week at La Costa, winning four consecutive matches in extra holes and building momentum by whipping up on Tom Lehman in the semifinals.
'It's always better to not run up against the world No. 1,' Love said, 'but Geoff Ogilvy is playing great.'
The 28-year-old Aussie was 3 under in the morning round and was 4 under through 16 holes in the afternoon, and he hit a 4-iron from 227 yards into 6 feet for a conceded eagle on the par-5 11th that swung the match in his favor.
But this was as much about Love's shortcomings as anything Ogilvy did.
Love knew from experience that you're supposed to get your opponent down and then step on his neck. He failed to do that in 2004, and Woods came back from lunch to beat him.
This time, Love had a birdie putt to win on seven of the first 10 holes in the morning round against Ogilvy and didn't make any of them. He won his first hole with a birdie at No. 11 -- more a product of a poor bunker shot by Ogilvy -- and was ready to seize control at the 14th with a delicate bunker shot that left him a 3-foot par putt to go 2 up.
It caught the right lip and spun away.
No one should have been surprised what followed. Love sent a 3-wood into the right rough, hit too strong over the green into a bad lie in the bunker and made double bogey. And when Ogilvy made birdie on the 16th, the Aussie went from on the ropes to 1 up and never trailed the rest of the way.
Love had one last chance, battling back from a three-hole deficit in the afternoon with a tremendous par save out of deep rough on the fifth to halve the hole, then winning the next two to close the gap to one.
And when Ogilvy stuck out his chin, Love swung and missed.
Love was in the fairway at No. 9, knowing a par would almost certainly square the match. He aimed his 6-iron 20 feet left of the pin, and hit the shot 20 feet into the gallery and made bogey. On the next hole, Love had a 15-foot birdie putt that he left short.
Then came the roundhouse 4-iron from Ogilvy, and a 5-iron into 8 feet for birdie at No. 12, and the match was over.
Love remains without a victory since the 2003 International, and his loss Sunday at La Costa invited more skepticism about his game.
'I did everything good except for five or six iron shots, really,' Love said.
Even with back and neck problems that have made it difficult for Love to find a flow in his playing schedule, his picturesque swing and power are a lethal combination. But for whatever reason, pictures of Love posing with the trophy are about as rare as pictures of Woods relaxing on his yacht.
Not that Love hasn't had his chances.
He was tied for the lead with Phil Mickelson going into the final round of the PGA Championship last year at Baltusrol, then bogeyed four of his first five holes. Two behind with four holes to play, including two par 5's at the end, Love never made up any ground.
Love will be 42 the week after the Masters and still has time left to change the perception of his career from a good one to a great one. But the window is closing.
He is on the PGA Tour ballot for the Hall of Fame, although he isn't worthy of a vote just yet.
At the end of 2004, when he thought a winless season was an aberration, Love was asked how he looked at his career. He was two wins away from lifetime membership on the PGA Tour. He was two majors away from what he considered a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
And he still is.
'I have a chance to have a great career,' he said that day. 'The next five or six years you'll either say, 'OK, I've done it.' Or you realize I haven't.'
He won't get many chances like he had Sunday, especially with Woods nowhere to be found.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18