Tale of two careers: Love's road to hall of fame

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2016, 8:05 pm

In the corner of Davis Love III’s home office is a collection of trophies and keepsakes, the spoils of 21 PGA Tour victories and 30 years playing the game at the highest level that culminated Tuesday with his inclusion in the 2017 class of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Whether by design or dumb luck, that haphazard mantel tells two stories of his now hall-of-fame career.

There is the tale of the prodigy whose famous father, renowned club professional Davis Love Jr., groomed his lanky son for greatness from the moment he first picked up a club.

He was a can’t-miss kid, earning his Tour card straight out of college and winning a year later in Hilton Head. Love would make a habit out that, hoisting the Heritage hardware five times in his career.

From 1986 to ’99 he won 13 times and claimed his lone major, the 1997 PGA Championship, and one of his two Players titles in the previous millennium.

During those days that now seem like another lifetime, he was a staple on every American team, from the Ryder Cup to the World Cup, where he teamed with Fred Couples to win four times.

But as impressive as that opening act was, it’s what Love has accomplished, and overcome, since reaching what some see as a professional golfer’s golden years that’s truly inspiring.

Since turning 40 in 2004, Love has penned an entirely new and different chapter. He won his 20th Tour title in ’08 at Walt Disney World, and in his signature honesty admitted on that fall Sunday that he worried his time in the winner’s circle had passed.

“You always question, am I doing the right things and can I still do it and why am I doing it? Why am I pounding balls on the back of the range?” Love said following that landmark victory.

Idle hands and often-questionable health has been Love’s primary opponent over the latter years of an eventful career.

Love, Woosnam, Mallon, Ochoa in '17 HOF class

He had surgery in 2013 to help relieve numbness and weakness caused by spinal stenosis and joint bone spurs in his neck, the byproduct of a lifetime of activity – lots of golf, paddle boarding and hunting – and was also sidelined in 2014 following another surgery on his right foot.

The day after foot surgery he was back in the gym. To those closest to Love it was no surprise that 5 1/2 months after doctors rebuilt his right foot and seven years after winning his 20th Tour title, he won No. 21 at age 51 at the Wyndham Championship, his third victory in Greensboro, N.C.

Love has always been at his best when the challenge was the greatest, and history will show there may not have been a greater test than this year’s Ryder Cup.

Called back to captain for the second time, Love oversaw the makeover of the U.S. Ryder Cup selection process and the institutional change of direction following the American team’s 2014 loss in Scotland.

Critics never entirely coalesced behind Love’s second turn as captain. He was, after all, in charge in 2012 when the American side blew the biggest lead in history on Sunday at Medinah. But at Hazeltine, he was the right man for what was a uniquely difficult job.

“Davis was the right guy to put that plan in place,” Jim Furyk said following this month’s U.S. victory. “We sat in a meeting and we tried to identify the qualities of the next captain and Davis Love fit the bill and fit all those qualities to a ‘T.’”

For the U.S. team, Love was unassuming and uninterested in what happened in the past; he was decisive when he needed to be, inclusive at other times. He was, as some have billed him, the captain’s captain in the twilight of what has been a remarkable second career.

Whichever resume paved the way to his induction in the World Golf Hall of Fame on Tuesday – be it his competitive prowess early in his career, the statesman-like aura that defined his later years or a combination of the two chapters – Love’s inclusion in the class of 2017 is commendable.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."