Love Rattled by Heckler in Match Play Final
Which left him to wonder: Where has golf etiquette gone?
Love had a 1-up lead over Woods halfway through the 36-hole final at La Costa when a man started riding him hard. Love didn't win another hole after that. Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, rallied to win 3 and 2, and collect $1.2 million.
The man let out a 'Whoop!' when Love missed a par putt on the 20th hole that squared the match. The fan started yelling, 'No Love!' as Love stepped to his ball on the fifth tee. Love sought out the fan and said he wouldn't continue until he was found.
A man wearing a Tiger Woods logo cap was identified as the heckler and tossed out. But Love, ranked No. 3 in the world, was already unnerved.
'I wasn't going to play anymore until somebody got kicked out, because he had already cost me a hole,' Love said after the round. 'I mean, I hit awful shots at 2. I wasn't going to put up with it. I want to win and I want to play and I want to play fair. If his fans are pulling for him, I'm used to that.
'I've played with Fred Couples. Freddie is just as popular in California as Tiger Woods, but you can't have people picking on you.'
Love called the man 'just another one of those fans that doesn't respect the game. ... He didn't deserve to watch golf. Once we narrowed down where he was, they got rid of him.'
Love, who earned $700,000, said Woods was sympathetic.
'He's used to the atmosphere he plays in,' Love said. 'He said, 'Take your time and get back into it.' He understands. He deals with that stuff all day. People taking pictures and people moving and people yelling, so he knows what it's like.'
It wasn't the first time Love was bothered by someone in the gallery. At Bay Hill in 1998, he and his caddie had a confrontation with a heckler.
'You can block it out as many times as you can, but after a while you're going to snap,' said Woods, who won this tournament for the second straight year.
The emergence of John Daly at the 1991 PGA Championship and then Woods in 1996 brought out a new breed of fans.
'It's unfortunate that we are living in a time where that has changed quite a bit,' Woods said. 'You know, the past, I'm sure, 15, 20 years, it was never like that. Golf fans were excitable, but they weren't raucous and they didn't have to yell out just because the ball got airborne. We do have our names on the bags. We are pros. We can get the ball in the air.'
Love said the problem isn't limited to just golf.
'I think it's our whole society,' he said. 'They don't respect what other people do, don't respect your elders, don't respect other people's space, don't' respect traditions or etiquette or customs. You see it in every sport, you see it walking down he street, not holding the door open for a lady when you're supposed to.'
If the heckler wasn't bad enough, Love said fans offered him beers at least five times during the tournament while he was walking between holes.
'I don't drink beer when I'm out at dinner, like last night,' he said. 'I don't need a beer when I just birdied a hole or when I just bogeyed a hole. People just assume we're out here screwing around, and we're not screwing around, we're playing hard.
'... I don't come into your office and screw you up. Don't come into my office and screw me up.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might
Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.
“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”
Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”
“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”
Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.
“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"
As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.
Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”
McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks
The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.
McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.”
And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.
“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic
No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.
Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.
With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.
“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”
Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.