Love Not Lost Not Yet

By Mercer BaggsAugust 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Davis Love III has long been regarded as one of the games best. But its been eight long years since he won his first and only major in the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot.
Hes in position to rectify that situation this week.
Love shot his second straight 2-under 68 Friday to move into a share of third place in the 87th PGA Championship, four strokes behind 36-hole leader Phil Mickelson.
Davis Love III
A new found confidence in his putting has Davis Love in contention at Baltusrol.
I dont think anybody is really worried quite about the lead yet, he said. The guys that are playing well (want) to continue to play like their playing, hitting fairways and greens and holing a few putts.
This course will bite you if you dont pay attention to what youre doing.
Love, who tied for 33rd when Baltusrol hosted the 1993 U.S. Open, has been giving the 7,392-yard, par-70 course his undivided attention since arriving on site Sunday. He missed the cut at The International, an event hes twice won, and made his way cross-country from Colorado.
During a first-round rain-out at Castle Pines, Love was asked to assess his season.
Kind of up and down, said Love, who is trying to avoid his fifth winless campaign in his last seven years on the PGA Tour. I haven't looked at the stats, but I probably missed more cuts this year than I've ever missed.
Those statistics prove him correct. Love entered this week having missed seven cuts in 16 starts ' his most in a single season since 1994. But hes also had seven top-10 finishes, including runner-up results at the MCI Heritage and Booz Allen Classic.
He based his erratic performance on his putting. And after missing his last two cuts, he decided to do something about it, thanks to a little insight from his friend Jonathan Byrd.
'He said, I think you ought to cut your putter back off, Love relayed Thursday. He said, Ive cut mine back off and Ive been putting really good.
Love took Byrds advice and had Titleist give him a new 34-inch putter prior to the start the tournament; he had been using ones of 35 and 36 inches.
Its back to the length of my old putter that I putted with for 15 years, he said. Now Im just back to putting, my old putting routine, and it feels pretty good.
Love has needed 30 putts in each of his first two rounds on the Lower Course, which is a solid number considering hes averaged 15 of 18 greens hit in regulation over the first two days.
His play thus far hasnt been spectacular, but it has been impressive, considering his grouping. Love contested the first 36 holes alongside defending champion Vijay Singh and 1991 winner John Daly.
Needless to say, theres been plenty of chaos in his periphery.
It was obviously the biggest crowd out there the last two days, so it was nice to block all that out and play and have fun, he said.
As soon as Love saw the pairing sheet, he knew what to expect.
I knew it would be like a Sunday pairing. There was going to be a lot going on and it would make me concentrate, he said. (Sports psychologist) Bob Rotella has always said, If I can get you to Sunday, I know youll do well. Maybe it made me have a clearer game plan before I got to the first tee.
Love was in need of a good start. He shot 76 in the first round of the Masters on his way to a missed cut. He then began the U.S. Open with a 77, and despite playing better than anyone else over the last three rounds, he could do no better than a tie for sixth. At the British, he opened in 75 and once again had the weekend off.
Now that Love has finally recorded a pair of solid opening numbers in a major, its time to finish strong. Trailing a red-hot Mickelson, hes well aware that hell have to play even better over the final two rounds than he did over the first two.
Ive really gotten frustrated on the first day right out of the box when things didnt go my way, he said in reference to the seasons first three majors. So Im a lot more patient here, and hopefully I can play this weekend like I played the weekend at the U.S. Open.
In the 97 PGA, Love was one off the lead through two rounds and then shot 66-66 to win by five over Justin Leonard.
Time appears to be running out on Loves major opportunities. He turned 41 in April. Only 29 times in major championship history has a player aged 40 or over won.
But perhaps there are a couple of good omens.
For one, Singh captured last years PGA at the age of 41.
The other relates to his standing on the U.S. Presidents Cup team, which will be finalized after this event. Love is currently in the ninth position, with the top 10 on the list earning an automatic invitation to the biennial competition.
The last time Love, who has played in all five Presidents Cup Matches, entered the PGA Championship this perilously close to not making the team was in 1997.
And we all know what happened then.
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.