Love Still on the Chase at Players
Downright blew out a field comprised of the best players the game has to offer.
Played the best final round Fred Couples had ever bore witness to.
For one day, one week more appropriately, Davis Love III was the best golfer in the world.
Love is this week's defending champion thanks in large part to a brilliant 64 in the rain a year ago Sunday. He credited a scribbling on a yellow notepad in his motor home that said, Chase your own potential, as inspiration that day.
'I need to chase myself and not chase anybody,' he said after his victory. 'I've got a big enough tail to chase. I don't need to worry about anybody else and what they're doing.'
It happens, on occasion, that players perform at such an elite level. And it certainly wasnt a first for Love.
But these times, whatever they number, dont seem to happen frequently enough ' and Love readily admits this.
You can say I should have won more or whatever. I agree, he said. Now, if somebody says that I don't care or I don't try, that bothers me because I do care and I do try.
Love has been a PGA Tour member for 19 years. Hes won 18 times ' two Players and one PGA Championship included. Hes played on five Ryder Cup teams, five Presidents Cup teams and five World Cup teams.
Last year, despite dealing with the suicide of his brother-in-law and innuendos concerning his marriage, he won four tour events as well as Tiger Woods' unofficial Target World Challenge.
Concerning both the good and bad of 2003, he said simply: 'The year has been put behind me, I think is the best way to put it.'
Love is nearing 40 years of age and still hes technically the fourth best player on the planet.
Hes always been good, very good, great even.
But never the best. At least not over a consistent haul.
Its not like I havent tried, Love reiterated a few weeks ago.
There has always been someone else. Someone to play fury to Loves sound. Someone holding the carrot in front of Loves cart.
When you see No. 1 out ahead of you and youre chasing it, sometimes it motivates you, he said.
Motivation has never been an issue; hes always had motivation ' because hes always been the pursuer.
From that Aussie thunderbolt of blondness to his best bud of coolness to the reigning ruler of greatness, Love has been chasing more than his potential over the last two decades.
Tiger Woods, like when Greg Norman was No.1 and like when Nick Price or Fred Couples or whoever, when the goal is out there, you know where to go, he said.
He just hasnt quite gotten there. Hes well-adjusted to the rarefied air near the mountaintop, but he just cant quite reach the pinnacle.
And its not for a lack of trying.
He was a chief rival to Norman, the same to Price and Couples, and now to Woods.
And what about all those guys he used to chase? Theyve slipped, fallen somewhere into the pack of pursers. Loves still in that pack, but hes also still near the lead.
Tiger has been out here since 96, well, who has run with him since 96 better than me? Phil Mickelson has been there off an on, and Ernie Els has been there off an on from another tour, and Vijay (Singh) has been there off and on. Ive tried hard since 96 to knock the guy off, Love said.
Tigers first PGA Tour victory came at Loves expense, in a playoff in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. Woods has also knocked Love out of the World Golf Championships Match Play in the 2001 semifinals and in this years final, as well as in a one-on-one match play in the 1999 PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Even when they are not going head-to-head, Woods, more often than not, has finished higher than Love when both are present in a field.
But Love has gotten in a few licks of his own.
Hes won eight times since Woods joined the tour ' three of which came with Woods in attendance. He also captured Tigers Target in 2000 and 2003.
I asked one of my friends in the locker room after Accenture, How come when we beat Tiger ' at The Players Championship last year I beat Tiger, nobody mentions that. But when Tiger beats me at (the) Match Play or another tournament, its like, Oh my gosh, they cant beat Tiger,' Love said.
Ive been trying since 96, and Ive done a pretty good job of being there. I didnt beat him enough, no. Shoot, I wish I had beat him a lot more. I wish I had beat Fred Couples a lot more, too, and Greg Norman and Nick Price, when they were No.1s, too.
But Im proud of the fact that I keep trying.
And the chase continues.
Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda
Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:
Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.
At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.
Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.
Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.
It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.
“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”
After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.
Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.
“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”
Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
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.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role
In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.
Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.
Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.
“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”
Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.
#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.
Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.
Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.
Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.
“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”
The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.
During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.
“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”
The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.
Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.
The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.
On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.
That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.
West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.
J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.
Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.
But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.
Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”
It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.