Here's a thought: Love as Tiger's next coach

By John FeinsteinSeptember 16, 2014, 7:05 pm

Editor's Note: Click here for Davis Love's response.

Tiger Woods needs a new swing coach. Shortly after his lost year ended with a missed cut at the PGA Championship, Woods announced that he would no longer be working with Sean Foley.

The announcement came as no surprise. After all, Woods hadn’t won a major title since hiring Foley in 2010 and 2014 had been a disaster – even if injuries were a big part of the problem.

And so the speculation began – and continues, even though Woods said on Monday that he’s in no hurry to find a replacement.

Who will Woods hire next? The rumors that he would try to go back to Butch Harmon, who was his coach during his most dominant days, started instantly. That’s not happening. Harmon works with Phil Mickelson and Woods and Mickelson sharing a teacher would be roughly the equivalent of the Yankees and Red Sox sharing the same manager.

Hank Haney? Forget it – did you read the book?

Swing coaches worldwide have been mentioned. One list of candidates included the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee – who wouldn’t be a bad choice – and Woods’ ex-wife, Elin Nordegren.

There’s one name that appeared on ZERO lists who would be the perfect pick for Woods, even though he’s never been a fulltime swing coach, mostly because it would have involved a massive pay cut.

Davis Love III.

Before you roll your eyes, give it some thought. Love is the son of the late Davis Love Jr. who was one of golf’s most revered and respected teachers before his tragic death in a private plane crash in 1988. Because of who his father was, Love grew up around great golf teachers – among them Harvey Penick – and has an understanding of the golf swing and how to fix swing flaws that goes beyond most of his peers on Tour.

For years, Love has been a go-to guy on the range when players are struggling. Golf is unique in that it is the one sport where competitors will help one another when one of them is struggling. Remember the last time Woods had a hot putter, back in 2013? He credited the improvement to a tip he got from Steve Stricker.

Love is a very confident teacher. Years ago, Tom Kite, who was one of Love’s mentors on Tour when he first came out, approached Love on the range in Greensboro and asked Love if he would take a look at his swing.

Love agreed – on one condition. “I don’t want to walk out here tomorrow and see you asking someone else for help,” he said. “I’ll tell you what I think but you better listen and you better not be trying something else a couple of days from now.”

Kite, as Love explained later, is one of those guys who is constantly seeking swing advice. “If a guy walked up to him on the street and suggested a change, Tom might listen to him.” Kite agreed and the two men went to work.

Love doesn’t just know the golf swing, he knows how to teach the golf swing. He’s been doing it in one form or another all his life.

There’s more – Woods likes Love, which is a statement that can’t be made about a lot of other players. He also respects him, which is an even shorter list. They’ve known each other since Woods first started playing Tour events as a teenage amateur. It is impossible not to like Love. Woods would listen to him and he would enjoy spending time with him. That’s no small thing. Plus, Love wouldn’t worry about telling Woods the truth about his swing or his game because he doesn’t need the job and won’t be worried about getting fired.

The timing is perfect. Love turned 50 in April. He can play on the PGA Tour forever because he has 20 victories, which makes him a member for life. He played 22 times on the PGA Tour this year and his highest finish was a tie for 35th place. Clearly, he could migrate to the Champions Tour whenever he wants and probably beat up 6,500-yard golf courses with slow greens.

But he doesn’t really want to do that. Back in June, he stood in the locker room at Congressional Country Club – during the event sponsored by Woods’ foundation – and talked about his future.

“I’m going to play here (PGA Tour) for as long as I can,” he said. “I know there will come a time when I have to go over there (Champions Tour) but I hope it isn’t for a while.”

Most top players feel that way when they turn 50. They still believe they can find the magic one more time while competing against the best in the world. Reality sets in at some point and off they go to the world of 54-hole, no cut tournaments. Love knows that time will come – but, at the moment, isn’t very fired up about it. (For the record, he'll make his senior debut this week in Hawaii.)

Why not take a hiatus for a couple of years and see if you can fix the greatest player (arguably) in golf history?

There will still be plenty of time to be successful on the Champions Tour if and when Love chooses to go there full time. He is already a lock Hall of Famer but this would be a unique addition to his resume.

Think of it: Won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship; Played on six Ryder Cup teams and captained the 2012 Ryder Cup team; Fixed Tiger Woods.

Love can do it. He might even want to do it – if asked.

It isn’t as if there’s a no-brainer, this-is-the-guy-for-Tiger swing coach out there. Why not try something out of the box?

The last time inside the box worked in a tournament Woods truly cares about was six years, and two swing coaches, ago.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.