Love renewed at U.S. Open

By Rex HoggardJune 16, 2011, 8:41 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Deep into his preparation for the 111th U.S. Open late Wednesday afternoon Davis Love III paused and his eyes widened, “Take a look at this,” he gushed as he quickly flipped to a picture on his iPhone.

Atop a paddle board, Love’s second or maybe third love, are two children and a dog. “A friend just bought it. It’s great,” he smiled widely.

Maybe someday Love will slow down enough to allow a doctor to officially diagnose him with Attention Deficit Disorder. Until then it’s best to categorize him as “Type A” and leave it at that.

If Love had business cards they’d read, in no particular order: U.S. Ryder Cup captain, father, husband, golf course architect, hunter, snowboarder, tournament director, paddle board shop owner, PGA Tour Policy Board member and, following Thursday’s 70 at Congressional, U.S. Open contender.

But then that’s nothing new. In 21 Open starts he’s finished inside the top 6 five times, including last year’s tie for sixth that may have been the toughest of all his near misses at the national championship.

“Last year I felt like I had a great chance to win and just kept making doubles that killed me,” said Love, who played his last seven holes at Pebble Beach in 3 over including a double bogey at the 17th hole.

In 1997, the last time the Open was played at Congressional, he tied for 16th place, but that doesn’t begin to explain how the 47 year old found his way into the windy mix on Thursday. No, that goes back to this year’s Ryder Cup announcement and later to a conversation with his son, Drew.

In the strongest terms, Love is a reluctant captain – honored to have his turn at the helm but, some would say, stubbornly optimistic he could take one final turn inside the ropes at the biennial grudge match.

“He wants to play on the Presidents Cup team and the Ryder Cup team,” Love’s manager and longtime friend Mac Barnhardt said on Thursday. “This is the most enthusiastic about his golf game that I’ve seen in a long time.”

But then Love always worked hard, betrayed on some level by a calm exterior that was sometimes mistakenly interpreted as indifference, and his ballstriking is better now at 47 than it was at 27. It’s always been a suspect putter, not the pace of time, that has held him back.

“If he putts good, not great, just good he’s got a win this year,” reasoned Barnhardt. The statistics support his claim.

At the Sony Open, where he finished tied for ninth, Love ranked 66th in putts per greens in regulation; at The Players where he tied for 12th he ranked 47th in that category and at Quail Hollow he tied for 16th and 66th in putts per GIR.

Drew Love, 17, finally took on the elephant in the room earlier this year, suggesting his father try a belly putter, which he did, albeit briefly. The belly putter didn’t stick, but the concepts did. If Thursday’s 31-putt effort doesn’t exactly sound Ben Crenshaw-like when compared with his season average it is progress by any measure.

“It could have been better,” Love reasoned after his round, but given his U.S. Open history it also could have been worse. Much worse.

His 1-under card was his best opening effort at the national championship in more than a decade (1999) and, for better or worse, promises to only fuel Love’s desire to avoid his golden years.

For Love golf has become a race against a clock that began with so much promise. He turned pro at 20, had seven Tour titles before his 30th birthday and a major before he was 35.

But somewhere along the road all that progress turned to an impasse. Victories came, 20 and counting, but the big events, the events that mattered the most, continued to stay just out of arms reach, including runners-up in 1995 and ’99 at the Masters followed by another in ’96 at the U.S. Open.

When he arrived at Congressional this week he was officially on the clock.

“I was a little jumpy when I got here but experience helped calm me down,” he said.

Maybe this time will be different. For the first time since 2007 he’s already exempt into all four majors and with the specter and pressures of next year’s Ryder Cup looming this may be his last, and best, chance.

For the man that always had time for golf and life, the countdown has begun and Congressional could be his line in the sands of time to add one more title to that metaphorical business card – U.S. Open champion.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.