Love seeing benefit of lifetime membership

By Associated PressJanuary 9, 2009, 5:00 pm
PGA TourKAPALUA, Hawaii ' It only takes a few good weeks to change fortunes on the PGA Tour.
 
Cameron Beckman and Marc Turnesa were on their way back to Q-School until winning late last year, and now they are watching rainbows pour into the Pacific Ocean as they start a new season with the other PGA Tour winners at Kapalua.
 
Such swift turnarounds even apply to someone like Davis Love III.
 
Despite earning over $35 million in 23 years on the PGA Tour, he was on the cusp of having to use a one-time exemption from the career money list just to keep his card. Three weeks later, he became a lifetime member with his 20th victory.
 
Its nice to be 180 or 170 on the money list, and all of a sudden youve got a lifetime exemption, the 44-year-old Love said. That was pretty good.
 
Only in the two months leading to his trip to Maui did he realize how good.
 
First came the phone calls to congratulate him, one from longtime friend and NBC Sports analyst Bob Murphy, another from Furman Bisher, the 90-year-old columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then the Tour sent him a scrapbook of messages from fans who had posted their congratulations on the Web site.
 
Its that thick, Love said, holding his fingers 2 inches apart. And its not one per page ' its two or three. Its incredible how many people acknowledge 20 wins. And thats not counting my Web site or my office. Its pretty amazing. I was just working hard to try to get another win, try to get in the Masters, not have to do 36-hole qualifying for the other majors.
 
It was in the back of my mind, but not the front.
 
Lifetime membership requires 20 victories and 15 years on the PGA Tour, and its an elite group, particularly in an era when the Tour is attracting the best players from all corners of the globe. Among players under 50, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are the only other players with such status (Tiger Woods still has to put in two more years).
 
It also changes how Love is perceived, for he has been discussed as an underachiever with so much talent. The measure will be how many votes he collects on the PGA Tour ballot for the Hall of Fame. Those 20 wins include a major and two victories in The Players Championship.
 
I didnt start off my career working toward 20 wins or the Hall of Fame, Love said. I just wanted to see how good I can get and try to win a lot.
 
That much hasnt changed.
 
After playing the front nine of his 2009 season debut in 4-under 32, Love knocked down a wedge into the wind that was going just left of the flag on No. 10 when it spun off a ridge and into the rough. He slapped his knee, and banged the divot with the back of his club.
 
He still has much to prove, and his goals are large and small.
 
The first step is to qualify for the Accenture Match Play Championship, held the last week in February for the top 64 in the world ranking. Love is at No. 77. Of greater importance is getting into the Masters, which will require either a PGA Tour victory or getting into the top 50 at the end of March.
 
Love hasnt played in the Presidents Cup since 2005, and his good friend Fred Couples is the U.S. captain this year. And he would like to get back to the Tour Championship, an event he played 12 years in a row until he failed to qualify the last two years.
 
Just his luck, his annual trip to East Lake ended about the time the Tour started handing out $35 million in FedEx Cup bonus money.
 
Been kind of boring watching other guys play for it, he said.
 
Love was on the PGA Tour policy board when it adopted the concept of a FedEx Cup and four playoff events at the end of the year. Part of that process was sorting through various models to determine which points list would create the most excitement. Each model showed how players would fare based on tournament results from the previous years.
 
They ran these models, and I was always in the model. Here is what happened if you had a year like 06 or 05. And I was always doing really good, Love said.
 
But he failed to reach the third round (BMW Championship) in the inaugural FedEx Cup season of 2007, then stepped in a hole playing a casual round of golf and shredded ligaments in his left ankle. Trying to strengthen his ankle much of last year, he didnt even qualify for the first round last year.
 
I want to get in on that, he said.
 
Love at least is starting on solid footing. The ankle is strong, the Kapalua soil is beneath his feet. He has a lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour, but he wants to be as motivated as he was when he first joined the PGA Tour as a 22-year-old who could hit it a mile.
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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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 Web.com 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.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    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.