LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III is back to being a player, and he wraps up a busy Fall Series at Disney. Even though his 20 career wins make him a lifetime member on the PGA Tour, Love still has an amazing streak on the line.
His tie for fourth at the McGladrey Classic last month moved him up to No. 98 on the Tour money list with $973,707. That gives the 48-year-old Love a distinction that not even Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods can claim. Love has never finished out of the top 125 on the money list, a streak that dates to his rookie season in 1986.
''It just means you're getting older,'' Love said. ''But I've hung in there a long time. Pride is a good word, too. When I went to Vegas (immediately after the Ryder Cup), Scotty Verplank texted me and said, 'Pretty good for a ceremonial golfer.' But he was saying, 'I know you're competitive and just want to go out and play.' When I go to play, I like to play. When I go to goof off, I like to goof off.''
Love's streak nearly ended in 2008, when he was returning from major ankle surgery. He was well outside the top 125 when he had a pair of top 10s in the Fall Series, then finished it off by winning at Disney. That was his last win.
Not only has he kept his card every year, Love will be going for his 27th consecutive year of finishing in the top 100 on the money list. And if he can play well enough to earn $26,293, it would be his 18th consecutive year of making $1 million or more.
Love is no longer on the Tour policy board. The PGA of America is in the process of picking the next Ryder Cup captain. Love is looking ahead.
''Next year should be great,'' he said. ''I should have no distractions. So I'm excited about next season.''
“We want to beat these guys,” Love said. “Everybody else is asking me and Vijay, ‘When are you going on the Champions Tour?’ And I'm thinking, ‘How do I get as many wins as Vijay?’ Vijay is thinking, ‘How do I get as many wins as Phil?’ So we want to keep going out here. We're competitive.
“There's a lot of money to play for. I've never won a FedEx Cup. I'd like to get back in the top in the world rankings. I'm still motivated.”
BELLY UP: Justin Rose, whose 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole was one the most decisive shots in the Ryder Cup, once tried a belly putter.
''I used it one round this year, believe it or not, little known,'' Rose said at the HSBC Champions.
It was the final round of The Players Championship. Rose said he went to a golf store and bought a long putter, just to see how it would work.
''I toyed around with it, and it's always felt great from 20 feet and on putting greens and on fairly flat surfaces,'' he said. ''And I thought, 'I'm going to put it in play.' First putt of the day, I have an 80-foot putt from the front edge of the green, lipped out. I thought, 'This could be the future right here.'''
Just not his future.
Rose said he thinks the long putters help some players, and it helps under pressure.
''I don't think there's as much nerves involved,'' he said. ''But it's still very hard to make putts. Putting is an art form. You have to read the green. You have to start it. It's not all about making a perfect stroke. You have to match up line and speed, and that can happen many different ways. So that's what I learned.''
FATHER AND OFFSPRING: If the strength of the field is determined by major champions, nothing beats the Father-Son Challenge.
The popular tournament returns this year after a three-year absence, and it again features some of the biggest names in golf. Arnold Palmer is bringing another grandson, Will Wears. Bernhard Langer, who once played with his son Stefan, will tee it up with his daughter, Christina. Jack Nicklaus will partner with his son, Gary, who once had a Tour card.
The 18-team field also features Nick Faldo, Curtis Strange, Love, Hale Irwin and defending champion Larry Nelson. The fathers have combined for 492 professional wins on the PGA and European tours, including 67 majors. The only one-time major champions are Love, Steve Elkington and Lanny Wadkins.
The Father-Son Challenge, revived with a new sponsor in PNC Bank, will be Dec. 13-16 at The Ritz-Carlton Club in Orlando, Fla.
DIVOTS: Geoff Ogilvy has parted ways with Alistair ''Squirrel'' Matheson, his caddie for the last 13 years. Ogilvy told Golfweek the split was similar to a marriage that had run its course. ''It's not because any job wasn't getting done properly. It's just it was kind of time,'' he said. He used Matthew ''Bussy'' Tritton of Melbourne at the HSBC Champions. Tritton most recently worked for Cameron Tringale. ... More charity figures continue to roll in from Tour events. The John Deere Classic raised a record $6.79 million, up $1.5 million from last year. The Houston Open raised nearly $2.3 million, an increase of more than $200,000 from the previous year. ... Ian Poulter had gone 46 official stroke-play tournaments without winning until his two-shot victory in the HSBC Champions. ... England has as many World Golf Championship titles as the U.S. – four – since 2010. ... Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan are the only players to have multiple WGC titles without ever having won a major.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Mike Weir has missed the cut in all 13 of his Tour events this year. He is a combined 109 over in 23 rounds and has yet to break 70.
FINAL WORD: ''Beth Daniel ... told me that she would love for me to win that award so they can stop talking about her.'' – Stacy Lewis, whose win in the Mizuno Classic put her on the verge of winning the LPGA Tour Player of the Year award. Daniel in 1994 was the last American to win the award.