Rejuvenation Ahead for Davis
He will have to look at the bad ' and, oh brother, he could fill a book with all those experiences. But he can also smile at the good ' and Sunday was yet another one, the 19th time in his professional career that he has won a golf tournament.
The hard times, it would seem were often almost unbearable' a spine that was one of the worst on the PGA TOUR, parlayed with a neck injury that has plagued him since 2001; two personal tragedies that were both catastrophic, first his fathers death and then the suicide of his brother-in-law; gossip and rumors which devastated his family at their home of Sea Island, Ga.; and a nasty experience with a fan in California during a match-play encounter with Tiger Woods. Is there any player in any sport that has ever encountered as many personal problems as has Davis Love III?
But the good times ah, when they were good, they were great! He has lived the life of a professional athlete who was one of the best at his business. He has won a major, the 1997 PGA Championship. He has played on six Ryder Cups and six Presidents Cups. He rose to No. 3 in the world in 2003, when he won four times. Four times he teamed with Fred Couples to win the World Cup. And, he has the financial wherewithal to do exactly as he pleases, when he pleases.
What he would like to do most, at age 42, is to again be a multiple winner on the PGA TOUR. And he might be about ready to do that ' he hadnt finished in the top 10 of a tour stroke-play event all year before his last two events. He completed a T4 windup at the WCG-Bridgestone, then went out and survived a furious final-day rally by several players to win at Greensboro. Suddenly, he has the look of a champion again.
Strangely, the reason why this had been such a poor year was because he was desperately trying to keep alive the streak of 12 consecutive times being on the Ryder or Presidents Cup. You would think that 12 would make the appearances commonplace. However, the streak finally reached such a plateau that it led to counterproductive play. And, interestingly enough, his two high finishes of late have come when the pressure of making the Ryder Cup was finally off ' and no, he didnt make the team this time.
I told (Ryder Cup captain) Tom Lehman about a month before the PGA that I was going to play good before the end of the year - I just couldn't promise him when it was going to be, Davis said.
I knew when I got out of my way I would play well. And, you know, maybe it took some time off and some reflecting and getting my patience back. But certainly, grinding for the Ryder Cup was a detriment. And also I did it the wrong way. But, Ive been out here 20 years - and you're not too old to learn new tricks.
Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup - when he wasnt reminding himself, his friends were doing it for him. He started the year well inside the magic number. But as the season progressed, he slowly slipped out of sight.
I heard it for six months: You need to make the Ryder Cup team, the U.S. wants you on the team. You need another top 10 here, he said.
You hear all that stuff and, you know, your friends and your family are trying to help you, they get more and more nervous, because they don't know ' Well, is he playing bad, something we're doing or should we ask him why he's playing bad or ask him what we can do to help?
When you're successful for a long time and then you're not successful, people don't know how to act. I told my wife earlier this year, You know, nobody asks me any questions when I was playing great. They didn't ask me how I did it or why I did it or what are you doing to play so well. Just took it for granted, basically.
Then you start playing poorly, then you start getting the questions, What's the matter with you? Not that way, but, you know, what should you do different? Don't you think you ought to do this?
You get a lot of advice when you're not playing well. It makes it hard. You hear things and, you know, people try to be positive, but when they do that, they're actually reminding you of a negative and it really doesn't help.
And then the doubts began to creep in, doubts that he was good enough to contend in a tournament, doubts that just maybe he had digressed too much in his 20 years as a pro, certainly doubts that he could still compete with the top echelon of players. And when he wasnt healthy, when his back was tingling or his neck was hurting, he was really struggling with the negative thoughts.
You doubt that you can beat a guy like Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods if you're not 100 percent, he said, and I think your swing adjusts when you're not feeling well. And then the doubt creeps in even more, because you're not hitting the way you normally used to hit it.
And there's no reason at 42 that I can't drive it as far as anybody else or putt as well as anybody else. But when you're not feeling well, you feel like you're at a disadvantage when you go to the first tee with Tiger Woods and he's feeling great and you're not feeling good.
And then came last week, and Greensboro, and maybe we are seeing a new Davis Love.
Now I know that I've had a lot of good health, and now I'm not injured. I can overcome my old body.
Email your thoughts to George White
Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai
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.
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
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.
“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
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.
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
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
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.
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.