Love still dealing with Ryder Cup loss

By Rex HoggardOctober 17, 2012, 7:13 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – In the 17 days since the U.S. Ryder Cup team blew the largest lead on home soil, Davis Love III has tried to fill every waking moment with distractions.

There have been tournaments – Love is making his third start since Medinah this week at the McGladrey Classic, is scheduled to play in the season-ending stop at Disney World and has three “silly season” starts on his calendar – and hosting duties (McGladrey), paddle boarding (an early Wednesday session off East Beach) and Policy Board duties (Monday’s meeting was his last as a player director).

Some would call this busy work, but on Wednesday at Sea Island Resort Captain America seemed to be coming to the realization that he was just postponing the inevitable. Bidding time until the quiet moments caught up with him and the doubts began dropping like so many European putts on that September Sunday in Chicago.

“Still not sleeping well,” he admitted when asked if the second-guessing had subsided or just started.

From his captain’s picks to his Sunday pairings Love has heard all the Monday morning quarterbacking, all the doubts, all the instant analysis that can make one of the most enjoyable jobs in golf seem ruthlessly thankless.

So in retrospect where, in Love’s opinion, would he have taken a Medinah mulligan?

“You sit there and go if I'd have just put the pin left on 17 on Sunday rather than right, would that have made a difference?” Love allowed.

That’s right, pin positions, of all things. Macro meet micro.

“If I could do something over again, it would be more getting guys thinking about Sunday’s singles and maybe the pins needed to be easier or harder,” Love said.

As for his pairings or captain’s picks Love leaves that to the pundits and revisionist.

For those who suggest that Love should have pressed harder for Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, who were undefeated in team play, to play Saturday’s afternoon fourball session he points out that those were the same people who questioned sending the American duo out early on Sunday.

Or that those who questioned the wisdom of sending Tiger Woods out last on Sunday are some of the same critics who blasted Love’s decision to sit Woods for Saturday’s foursomes session.

For Love the second-guessing is more esoteric and personal. For a captain that didn’t leave a single detail overlooked it is now the details that haunt him when the distractions subside.

“Maybe I should have had (sports psychologist) Bob Rotella there . . . had him sitting there,” Love said. “Maybe I needed him in the locker room, OK; we're four (points) ahead. What do I do now?”

In Love’s defense he was playing without a script at Medinah. An American team hadn’t headed into Sunday’s singles with such a commanding lead (four points) since 1981(10 ½-5 ½) and there is no “prevent defense” in the captain’s playbook.

Midway through Ryder Cup week Love realized he needed to play the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and last week’s Frys.com Open and any other event that would allow him to hide in the moment and avoid micro-analysis.

But it was only a momentary reprieve. For those who know him the type “A” personality that made him such a good fit as captain now precludes him from moving on, at least entirely.

As for the critical analysis from the media masses and beyond Love knew coming in it was part of the gig, like custom golf carts and walkie-talkies.

“I signed up for that,” Love said. “We thought (1997 captain Tom) Kite was one of the best captains we'd ever played for and he just got hammered for the way he did everything. Tiger and Justin (Leonard) and I played bad, didn't get any points. So it was all Tom's fault. So I understand that.”

But then dealing with external doubt was never going to be a problem for Love, he’s been to enough Atlantic Coast Conference football games to know it is the nature of leadership. Dealing with the internal demons, well that’s something else. If the devil is in the details it is more than a little ironic that Love always comes back to the big picture.

“I wouldn’t change anything about the week except a point (the European margin of victory),” he said.

Even more telling, however, was Love’s reaction when asked if he would take the job again.

“I don’t know,” he sighed. “I don't think we could put any more into it than we did, other than a couple putts lipping out for them and a couple putts lipping in for us and we'd have won.”

With that he was off to play Wednesday’s pro-am at Sea Island. For five hours he could concentrate on his own putting, and that’s a start.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.