For Love Fools Gold at the End of a Rainbow

By Associated PressJune 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Maybe it was fool's gold Davis Love III found at the end of that rainbow.
 
It was nine years ago at Winged Foot when Love captured the PGA Championship in perhaps the finest performance at a major in 1997. He had three rounds of 66, including Sunday, on a punishing golf course. And when he closed a five-shot victory with a birdie on the 18th hole, a majestic rainbow stretched across the skies.
 
Some saw that as a sign that his father -- a teaching pro killed in a 1988 plane crash -- was watching over him.
 
Even now, mention 'Winged Foot' and 'Love' in the same sentence and the rainbow comes to mind, perhaps because happy memories of Love in the majors are hard to find.
 
'I'm not a rainbow guy,' Love said. 'I painted a rainbow on the back of my motorcycle after I won and I thought, 'I don't know if I want to ride around with a rainbow on the back of my motorcycle.' But it certainly makes me think of my dad when I see a rainbow, and people all across the United States have gotten in touch with me and talked to me about their rainbow stories.
 
'It has meant a lot to me personally, emotionally, and obviously on the golf course.'
 
But most people figured that PGA victory would be a springboard to many more majors. Love was 0-for-38 in the majors when he arrived at Winged Foot that year, and he is 0-for-33 in the majors since he left.
 
That has raised more questions about what he hasn't achieved than what he has.
 
'I would say underachiever,' John Cook said when asked to measure Love's career. 'I would have thought as good a player as he is, as many tournaments as he's won, that he would have contended a lot more often. It's almost like he really hasn't been a factor a lot of time. It's kind of unfortunate. A guy that talented deserves more than that.'
 
Love's career has hardly been a bust.
 
His 18 victories on the PGA TOUR fall only behind Tiger Woods (48), Phil Mickelson (29) and Vijay Singh (29) among his contemporaries. And while Love has only one major, he did capture The Players Championship twice.
 
Majors are never easy to win, and Love hit his stride about the time Woods arrived, making it even tougher. But more surprising than the lack of trophies is the absence of his name on the leaderboard Sunday in the majors.
 
'That is hard to believe,' Paul Azinger said. 'Davis might not have lived up to everyone else's expectations, but I think he's happy with who he is, and I think he's going into the Hall of Fame.'
 
Love has had only two good chances to win another major since Winged Foot. He was one shot behind going into the last round of the 2003 British Open, missed two good birdie chances over the final holes and finished two behind Ben Curtis. Last year at Baltusrol in the PGA, he was tied with Mickelson for the 54-hole lead, then played his first five holes in 4 over par and never caught up.
 
It hasn't been a whole lot better on the PGA Tour.
 
He has had stretches of 61 and 44 tournaments without winning, and now is on an 0-for-70 streak since his last PGA Tour victory at the International in 2003. And the majors seem to become more elusive, especially with age (42) and health (neck and back).
 
'The second one is just as hard,' Love once said about major victories. 'That's why when you see a guy who has three or four or five of them, he's looked upon a little bit differently than the rest of the players. One major puts you in the club, but it's just in the club. Four or five of them puts you in superstar status.'
 
Where does that leave Love?
 
When another winless season ended in 2004, Love began to reassess his career. He was two victories away -- and still is -- from lifetime status on the PGA Tour by getting 20 victories. He figured he needed at least another major to be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
 
'I have a chance to have a great career,' he said that day. 'The next five or six years, you either say, 'OK, I've done it,' or you realize you haven't. Right now, I've had a really, really nice career.'
 
Injuries have played a role. Love has been battling back and neck problems the last couple of years, which at times have kept him from playing his best, and has caused him to search for a schedule that allows him to get the most out of his game.
 
But there is a glaring perception he is soft. He had a chance to bury Woods early in their final match at the Match Play Championship, and Woods made him pay. Against Geoff Ogilvy in the final match this year, Love had him on the ropes early until missing a 3-foot par putt that swung momentum in Ogilvy's favor.
 
Love has been a runner-up 29 times on the PGA Tour. That usually indicates that a guy has given himself a load of chances. Given his talent, it invites whispers that he doesn't have what it takes to close the deal.
 
He has tumbled to No. 22 in the world ranking. He has slipped to 10th in the U.S. standings for the Ryder Cup, and might need to rely on being a captain's pick for the first time. He is reaching that stage of his career where talent alone isn't enough.
 
Perhaps he can rely on memories this week.
 
Love was at Winged Foot on Tuesday with thick rough under his feet and sunny skies over his head. The forecast is for most sunny conditions on the weekend, which is just as well. Love is looking for a trophy, not a rainbow.
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.