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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  • Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

    Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    "I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

    But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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    With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

    Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

    The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

    "I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

    Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.