Will Love be Requited

By Associated PressNovember 12, 2008, 5:00 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. ' So much for that notion the Fall Series on the PGA Tour is meaningless.
On the surface, Davis Love III winning at Disney might have looked that way.
He scrambled for pars on the last two holes to hold off a rookie (Tommy Gainey) who was 228th on the money list, wears two gloves and looks like hes trying to kill a snake every time he swings. When it was over, Love posed with a bronze trophy of Mickey Mouse playing golf (just think of the white elephant gift nobody will take off your hands).
Davis Love III
Davis Love III has won 20 times on the PGA Tour. (Getty Images)
But that one victory was enough to change the perception of Love.
Timing is everything.
He won the final event of a season in which Love struggled to return from a devastating ankle injury last October that kept him out of golf for four months, out of the Masters and off another Ryder Cup team. And his victory came one day before the induction ceremony for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
It probably wont be long before Love is on that stage, perhaps as early as next year.
Love received 19 percent of the votes on the PGA Tour ballot this year, eighth place in the voting and far short of the 65 percent needed for election. The only difference between now and then is a victory across the street from the Magic Kingdom.
It gave him more than $828,000, a two-year exemption and a trip to Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship.
More than anything, it gave him 20 victories.
Thats like a 300-game winner in baseball, Brad Faxon said Tuesday. Fewer and fewer guys are going to reach that number. Its going to be harder and harder to do.
Those 20 victories include the PGA Championship at Winged Foot in 1997, and two victories at The Players Championship, which is considered the next best thing to a major. Love has won at least once in 13 seasons, and he extended his PGA Tour record by going over $1 million in earnings for the 14th consecutive year.
A year ago, he was considered the most talented underachiever.
But a number like 20 tends to shift focus on what he has achieved instead of what he could have.
Among active players, only Tiger Woods (65), Phil Mickelson (34) and Vijay Singh (34) have won at least 20 times on tour. No one else is particularly close to that number, and few have a chance of getting there.
Ernie Els has 16 wins (three majors), a number that might be higher if not for playing around the world for the last two decades. Fred Couples and Corey Pavin have 15 wins and one major. David Duval looked like a lock for 20 wins until injuries begat a loss of confidence and sent him into a mystifying slump. He is at 13, along with Jim Furyk.
Love won half of his tournaments after Woods arrived, and its getting even tougher to win with greater depth and more international players on the PGA Tour.
He nearly choked up behind the 18th green of the Magnolia Course at Disney for so many reasons.
Love is 44, and while he still looks and feels much younger, it is an age when players naturally wonder if their last victory is behind them. It doesnt help to go two years without a victory while struggling to return from an injury.
You always question, Am I doing the right things? and Can I still do it? and Why am I doing it? Love said. But I didnt doubt my desire. I didnt doubt the fact that I could compete.
The victory also came nearly 20 years to the day when his father was killed in a plane crash.
I would put this one right up there with New Orleans, said Faxon, referring to Loves victory in 1995 that got him into the Masters as longtime friend Harvey Penick was dying. I thought it had to be as meaningful a win as any of them. Hes been hurt. He hasnt won. His 20th victory on the 20th anniversary of his fathers death.
This virtually guarantees his spot in the Hall of Fame.
But if 20 wins is comparable to a pitcher winning 300 games or a hitter with 500 home runs, the Hall of Fame vote probably should start with another 20-tournament winner ' Lanny Wadkins.
Wadkins was not nearly as congenial as Love, which might explain why he hasnt been elected. Wadkins, who received 50 percent of the vote last time, finished his career with 21 victories, one major at the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach and Ryder Cup heroics.
The one difference might be consistency. In the 21 years between his first and last victory, Wadkins finished out of the top 50 on the money list seven times. Love has done that only twice in same stretch.
Of the seven players with at least 20 victories who are not in the Hall of Fame, only Love and Wadkins have won majors.
I just remember that Lanny, when he won 20 (he) was so excited and what a big deal it was to him, Love said. That separated Lanny from everybody else, that he had won 20 events. And back then, that was a dream, fantasy.
Indeed, when Wadkins won his 20th tour event in 1991, that moved him past contemporaries like Hale Irwin (19), Curtis Strange (17), Ben Crenshaw (15) and Tom Kite (15), all of whom now are in the Hall of Fame.
Thats the kind of separation Love now has over some of his colleagues.
Wadkins should not have had to wait this long for his Hall of Fame election. Love should not be too far behind.
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Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

“We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

“We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

“There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

“I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

And there’s your hope.

Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 

All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

Whan says that’s a good thing.

“The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

“The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

“I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.