Love winding down his most hectic year

By Rex HoggardNovember 16, 2016, 9:55 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Posted on the wall of the Sea Island Golf Performance Center is a scaled-down version of a poster that adorned the walls of the U.S. Ryder Cup team room last month at Hazeltine National.

“When you leave here:

“Don’t believe or fuel the hype

“Support your teammates

“Ignore the noise”

It wasn’t signed by Davis Love III - that wouldn’t be his style, but it’s as good an explanation of the American team’s victory over the Europeans as one can find.

It was Love’s way of adding sanity to what has largely become an insanely intimidating event, but it could just as well apply to the captain’s life the last year.

"Hectic" really wouldn’t cover the year Love just endured: the culmination of all the work that went into the two-year Ryder Cup task force, his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, surgery in July on an ailing hip and, just for good measure, a hurricane that left his St. Simons Island community reeling.

Even for Love, a bona fide type A, it’s been a whirlwind of staggering proportions.

“It was a long six years for us as Ryder Cuppers,” said Love, going all the way back to his first turn as captain in 2012. “Just every year it seemed to pile on more and more on the players.”

October’s victory over Europe has helped put some punctuation on what has seemed an endless cycle, and Love admitted on Wednesday at the RSM Classic, which he hosts, that he hasn’t fully digested what he and the U.S. team accomplished at Hazeltine.

“I still get emotional,” he said. “I think if I sat down and watched the whole thing, it would really all come out. I can’t tell a Bubba Watson story or a Ryan Moore story without the emotion coming out.”

Not that Love has had much time to reflect.

In the wake of the Ryder Cup, Love withdrew from the Safeway Open and OHL Classic, admitting he may have been a little overambitious with his planning.

His game wasn’t ready, which is understandable considering the competing agendas in his life, and he’s still not 100 percent following his hip surgery. That he spent the difficult days following Hurricane Matthew in October helping neighbors recover one fallen tree at a time also didn’t help.

And then there’s the Hall of Fame, which seems to be a milestone that he’s not entirely comfortable with.

“[Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem and I’ve been talking about the Hall of Fame for a long time and I’ve been trying to get him to let me out of it and he wouldn’t let me out of it,” Love said. “I still feel like that’s Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, that’s not Davis Love.”

Love is more of a man of the moment, shifting his focus to this week’s event and his role as the host with the most.

On Tuesday night, he hosted the pro-am draw party at his house, because it’s comfortable but more importantly, he explained, it saves his foundation money that can be better spent on various charities.

The highlight of that party was the captain making the rounds with the Ryder Cup.

“It’s amazing at our house last night, hundreds of people there for the pro-am draw party and everybody wanted their picture with the cup,” Love said. “They’ve all had their picture with me but they wanted their picture with the cup.”

The Ryder Cup has been everywhere but the golf course this week, including his granddaughter’s crib and riding shotgun in his pickup truck as he’s tooled around the island.

In many ways it’s a fittingly hectic end to a truly frenzied year, the impact etched into Love’s still boyish face.

Asked what he could possibly want after such an eventful season, Love’s answer was a bit of a mixed message.

“Some quiet time,” he smiled, before adding that he plans to play plenty of golf in 2017, pick up where he left off at Hazeltine as one of Steve Stricker’s vice captains at next year’s Presidents Cup and he still has his Hall of Fame induction speech to write.

Even as the 2016 maelstrom winds down, Love is looking to the next challenge. It’s in his DNA. You know the deal – a mind in motion ...

“His rest would most likely kill people,” said Mac Barnhardt, Love’s longtime manager and friend. “His rest is so tiring. He’ll go to his barn and sweep the floor and take people hunting. He’ll fix fences and he’ll go snowboarding. That’s his rest, that’s his slowing down.”

It turns out that sign Love hung in the team room at Hazeltine was less a motivational tool for his Ryder Cup dozen than it was a philosophy on life.

Don’t believe or fuel the hype, support your teammates, ignore the noise.

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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

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.