Burnin Love Prevails at Pebble Beach

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 4, 2001, 5:00 pm
On a record hot day on the Monterey Peninsula, Davis Love III torched the front nine at Pebble Beach en route to overcoming a seven-shot deficit and earning his first PGA Tour victory in nearly three years.
Love played his first seven holes in eight-under-par, and finished with a sensational round of 63 to best Vijay Singh (69) and Phil Mickelson (73), both of whom fell victim to over-aggressiveness down the stretch.
Davis Love III comments on his win at Pebble Beach.
Love finished the 72-hole tournament, which went uninterrupted for the first time since 1992, at 16-under-par, one shot lower than Singh, and three strokes clear of overnight co-leader Mickelson.
Love's victory earns him $720,000. But more importantly, it gives him his first official PGA Tour title since the 1998 WORLDCOM Classic (formerly the MCI Classic).
'It is a thrill to win this golf tournament,' said Love. 'To win where Payne Stewart won (1999) and to play in a place that has a connection to him is great.'
Love was well aware of where he stood entering the final round. He was also quite aware of what could be done.
'I saw that I was seven shots back, like Tiger was last year,' said Love in reference to Woods' remarkable come-from-behind victory a year ago, in which he was seven shots down with seven holes to play.
Woods wasn't able to produce the same dramatics this year. He recorded three consecutive bogeys on the front nine and never contended. Tiger finished tied for 13th following a final round of even-par 72.
Woods was only a spectator this Sunday, though. Playing in the group behind Love, he had a front row-seat for something that must have looked awfully familiar.
Following a birdie at the first, Love holed a 104-yard wedge shot for eagle at the par-five second. The hole-out was reminiscent of Woods' 97-yard slam-dunk on the 15th last year.
'When Tiger came back, he had one of those,' said Love. 'Sometimes, it takes something like that to get it going.'
Love continued his unconscious play by carding birdies on each of his next five holes. The seven-shot deficit was officially erased with a birdie on the sixth hole; another at the seventh gave him the outright lead at 15-under-par.
A bogey at the 11th, Love's lone blemish on his card, dropped him to 14-under, one back of Mickelson and Craig Barlow, who each birdied the sixth to move to 15-under.
Barlow was unable to stay at the top. Like Love, he eagled the second and bogeyed the 11th. But unlike Love, he dropped three more shots to finish the event tied for sixth at 11-under-par.
Love reclaimed a tie at the solo lead at 15-under when he birdied the 13th and Mickelson bogeyed the 10th.
Following a stagnate front nine, Singh joined the fray with birdies at the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th holes. The Fijian tied Love for first place at 15-under with three holes remaining.
Love stayed at minus-15 until the final hole. He stroked a three-wood from 256 yards to 35 feet on the par-five 18th. Love then successfully two-putted for birdie for a round of nine-under-par 63.
With Love in the clubhouse at 16-under-par, Singh and Mickelson had some ground to make up. Singh was just one shot back standing on the 17th tee. Meanwhile, Mickelson found himself three strokes off the lead following a bogey at the 15th.
A playoff appeared imminent. That was until Singh hooked his tee shot on the par-three penultimate hole into the Pacific Ocean.
'I just hit the wrong club,' said Singh. 'I tried to cut a seven-iron and blew it over the green. I should have hit a strong eight.'
Singh managed to bogey the hole, but could only birdie the 18th to finish in second place for the second straight year.
'Maybe next year, we'll see what happens,' said Singh.
Needing to play the final three holes in three-under, Mickelson heightened interest by birdying the 16th and 17th holes. A birdie at the par-five 18th would have forced a playoff, but after hitting his tee shot into the center of the fairway, the lefty decided to go for the green in two.
Mickelson pulled out the big stick and then pulled his approach into the Pacific.
'I had 251 (yards) to the front of the green,' said Mickelson. 'I wanted to hit it in the front bunker, or try and shoot it in the gap. But I over-cut it.
'I always go for that green in two. I've never hit it into the ocean until then.'
The errant shot cost the 1998 Pebble Beach champion a chance to garner title No. 2. He eventually double-bogeyed the 18th and finished in a tie for third with fellow third-round co-leader Olin Browne, who matched Mickelson's score of one-over-par 73.
Said a gracious Mickelson after his round, 'I'm glad to see Davis win, but not at my expense.'
Love's victory is his 14th on Tour, but his first since April of 1998. During his 62-start winless drought, Love recorded seven runner-up finishes and three thirds. However, he did win the unofficial Williams World Challenge, in December. Love came from four strokes back to defeat Woods by two.
Click here for News, Notes and Numbers from Pebble Beach
Click here for Full-Field scores
Read George White's commentary on Davis Love III
Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.