Davis Love III? Oh yeah him.
Ahem Love now has joined Woods as the only four-time winners on the PGA Tour. Maybe hes frequently overlooked because hes been around so long, always hanging near the top but never quite getting over that hump. Maybe its because hes just months shy of his 40th birthday now, and all our heroes are considerably younger. Maybe if he were just a little more loud, just a little more charismatic, just a little more unforgettable. Hey - when he isnt playing, you hardly ever remember he isnt around.
Love just finished annihilating the field at The International, rolling up 46 points in the modified Stableford scoring system and breezing to a 12-point victory. Hes won in the winter ' Pebble Beach; hes won in the spring ' The Players Championship and the MCI Heritage; and hes won in the summer ' The International. Hes spread championships liberally to all fields this year, throwing in a tie for fourth at the British Open the last time prior to the W outside Denver.
Of all the golfers, though, no one has been more star-crossed than Davis. Born the son of one of Americas more famed golf instructors, he went to college at North Carolina ' where he just happened to teach a fellow name Michael Jordan the finer points of the game.
But when he turned professional, dark things started happening. He fractured a bone in his wrist. Then his back went haywire. Next to go was his neck. His father was killed in a plane crash. This year, his brother-in-law committed suicide, a man who absconded with millions from the Love family.
And what happened? Through it all, through the good and bad, Love just kept on going. In some years he won by the bunch ' 1992 was a particularly good year when he took home three trophies. Some years ' 1999, 2000, 2001 ' his injuries wouldnt let him get through to a victory.
But after winning only once the past four years, he has burst through to this, the greatest season of his career. At 39, he is leading the charge of the vet brigade.
I have been steadily getting better, he said. I think now - I think I am playing, swinging, putting as well as I have ever putted. Hitting it as good as I ever been hitting it. I am just confident playing.
He passed Tiger en route to the money lead Sunday. He made $810,000 after one win, $900,000 after two others, and more than a million - $1,170,000 at The Players. Hes seen more than $5 million pour into his piggy bank this year alone.
Loves father taught him how to hit the ball long and Davis takes advantage of every one of his 6-foot 3-inches. But that might not be where the real difference has been this season. Its been on the greens, where a 4-foot-10 inch woman can be just as effective as any skyscraper launcher. Love is No. 8 on the putting charts today, and that ranking is sure to get you some wins when combined with the power that Davis obviously has.
After the PGA Championship last year - a year in which he failed to scratch up a single victory - Love went to see putting guru Scotty Cameron. He had finished 26th on tour in putting, but he wasnt satisfied. If he were better, he reasoned, it might tip the scales just enough to give him a win or two.
Cameron didnt have a lot of complicated theory. He gave Love a little plastic insert, shaped like a cube, for Davis putter. Use it while youre practicing, said Cameron, and you cant help but improve.
Love did as he was told. The result has been this year, when he has risen to become one of the best putters in the business. Davis expected a lot of top-level strategy. But Cameron didnt have any ' just the putter gadget.
He said, You can putt with any putter you want to putt with, but just use this thing, said Love. Sure enough I started using it at the NEC, and immediately started putting better.
And my confidence grew and the more I used that thing and the more I work on my stroke - he kind of gave me a way to fix it without thinking about it. He gave me basically a drill to do to fix my stroke, and then obviously while I was doing it he made me a putter and I have been putting great with that putter ever since.
Hes learned a few secrets of putting. And hes learned how to swing within himself so there are no more injuries. Hes learned the right playing schedule. And hes learned how to keep a 39-year-old body humming in unison with a big, sweeping swing.
Love was among the most startled of observers when Tiger began his systematic dismantling of the PGA Tour four years ago. That occurrence, combined with his injuries, was what caused his victory total to drop the past four years.
I was dumfounded by what Tiger was doing I got frustrated watching him and I think I tried too hard, he said.
But now, Im not worrying about whether hes making them or not because Im making them, too. I appreciate what hes doing, but Im playing with more confidence, too.
Tiger, undoubtedly, noticed what happened last week. Davis Love isnt on equal footing yet. But he certainly has gotten a whole lot closer.