Victory Reminds Love to Enjoy the Trip

By Associated PressOctober 10, 2006, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)What looked like the end of the road now feels like a new start for Davis Love III.
 
Until he ran off three straight birdies on the back nine that carried him to a two-shot victory in Greensboro, Love had every reason to want to purge 2006 from his memory. He had gone five of the last seven years without winning, but this was particularly ugly.
 
First came a wasted opportunity to capture his first World Golf Championship. Love missed a 3-foot par putt that cost him the lead and momentum, fanned a 6-iron from the fairway to fall further behind and wound up losing in the final match to Geoff Ogilvy.
 
He made history at The Players Championship for all the wrong reasons. After opening with a 65 to raise his hopes of joining Jack Nicklaus as the only three-time winners, Love followed with an 83 and became the first player in the 33-year history of golf's fifth major to go from first-to-worst, missing the cut by four shots with a quadruple-bogey 9 on his final hole.
 
The real majors didn't exactly bring redemption.
 
He never challenged at the Masters, then missed the cut in the U.S. Open and the British Open. His last hope was the PGA Championship, and Love was only one shot out of the lead going into the weekend until he closed with rounds of 73-76. Worse yet, he only needed to finish in a two-way tie for ninth to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team, but instead tied for 34th and stayed home for the first time since 1991.
 
'One good round on the weekend and I would have made it,' he said.
 
It was a kick in the gut for Love to be at Firestone, listening to 12 players talk about boarding a charter flight for two days of practice in Ireland, knowing the closest he would get to the Ryder Cup was in front of his television.
 
The greater insult was hearing his name kicked around as a possible captain for 2008.
 
About the only thing he didn't lose was hope. Love took four weeks off to get strong for one final push in the last month of the season, and it paid off Sunday with his victory at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
 
OK, so it wasn't the PGA or The Players Championship, nor was it the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But it sure felt that way to Love, 42, who had gone 76 starts without a trophy.
 
At his age, in his health, the next win is no guarantee.
 
'I'll always remember this one, because it's like starting over again, like getting your first win all over again,' Love said.
 
It was his 19th career victory on the PGA TOUR, one win away from having lifetime membership. Among his peers, only Tiger Woods (54), Phil Mickelson (29) and Vijay Singh (29) and Greg Norman (20) have reached that level.
 
Love also climbed 24 spots to No. 15 on the money list, assuring his spot in the Tour Championship for the 12th straight year.
 
And he moved a fraction closer to the Hall of Fame, which is sure to feature a fierce debate. Love has been dealing with expectations his entire career, and even in victory he cannot dodge the question of whether he met his potential. As he was strolling up the 18th fairway at Greensboro, a TV analyst noted that Love was one short of 20 victories, then wondered if his talent should not have produced 30.
 
Even so, Love's credentials are strong. His victories include one major ('97 PGA Championship at Winged Foot) and two titles in The Players Championship. He was so solid for so long that Love played in every Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team since 1993, a streak that ended when he forgot the words his father once wrote on the inside of a book.
 
'Follow your dreams and enjoy the trip.'
 
Love has never had a problem chasing his dreams. It's the enjoyment part that got lost along the way.
 
For the 20 years that Love has played on the PGA TOUR, he has heard the same advice from sports psychologist Bob Rotella: Stop thinking about the results and just play.
 
'Either I don't get it or he doesn't get it,' Love said recently.
 
He should have learned his lesson at Winged Foot in 1997, when Love twice built a five-shot lead in the final round and started thinking about what it would mean to win the PGA Championship. Every time he looked ahead to the trophy presentation, Justin Leonard cut into the lead and made Love go back to work.
 
For those who think Love is too soft, he showed he has a hard head.
 
Even with two decades of experience, and more than his share of victory droughts, Love fell into the trap of being so results-oriented that he lost track of the game that got him there. All he cared about this year was making the Ryder Cup team, and the harder he tried, the worse he played.
 
Reality set in Monday morning after the PGA when captain Tom Lehman called to tell him he was not on the team.
 
'I told Tom Lehman about a month before the PGA that I was going to play good before the end of the year,' Love said. 'I just couldn't promise him when it was going to be. I certainly learned a big lesson this year because I wanted the Ryder Cup so bad that I let it get in the way of everything else I was doing.'
 
The Ryder Cup is behind him. The Tour Championship awaits, then a trip to Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship that kicks off a new season. Love can't wait to get started.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''