He will have to look at the bad ' and, oh brother, he could fill a book with all those experiences. But he can also smile at the good ' and Sunday was yet another one, the 19th time in his professional career that he has won a golf tournament.
The hard times, it would seem were often almost unbearable' a spine that was one of the worst on the PGA TOUR, parlayed with a neck injury that has plagued him since 2001; two personal tragedies that were both catastrophic, first his fathers death and then the suicide of his brother-in-law; gossip and rumors which devastated his family at their home of Sea Island, Ga.; and a nasty experience with a fan in California during a match-play encounter with Tiger Woods. Is there any player in any sport that has ever encountered as many personal problems as has Davis Love III?
But the good times ah, when they were good, they were great! He has lived the life of a professional athlete who was one of the best at his business. He has won a major, the 1997 PGA Championship. He has played on six Ryder Cups and six Presidents Cups. He rose to No. 3 in the world in 2003, when he won four times. Four times he teamed with Fred Couples to win the World Cup. And, he has the financial wherewithal to do exactly as he pleases, when he pleases.
What he would like to do most, at age 42, is to again be a multiple winner on the PGA TOUR. And he might be about ready to do that ' he hadnt finished in the top 10 of a tour stroke-play event all year before his last two events. He completed a T4 windup at the WCG-Bridgestone, then went out and survived a furious final-day rally by several players to win at Greensboro. Suddenly, he has the look of a champion again.
Strangely, the reason why this had been such a poor year was because he was desperately trying to keep alive the streak of 12 consecutive times being on the Ryder or Presidents Cup. You would think that 12 would make the appearances commonplace. However, the streak finally reached such a plateau that it led to counterproductive play. And, interestingly enough, his two high finishes of late have come when the pressure of making the Ryder Cup was finally off ' and no, he didnt make the team this time.
I told (Ryder Cup captain) Tom Lehman about a month before the PGA that I was going to play good before the end of the year - I just couldn't promise him when it was going to be, Davis said.
I knew when I got out of my way I would play well. And, you know, maybe it took some time off and some reflecting and getting my patience back. But certainly, grinding for the Ryder Cup was a detriment. And also I did it the wrong way. But, Ive been out here 20 years - and you're not too old to learn new tricks.
Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup - when he wasnt reminding himself, his friends were doing it for him. He started the year well inside the magic number. But as the season progressed, he slowly slipped out of sight.
I heard it for six months: You need to make the Ryder Cup team, the U.S. wants you on the team. You need another top 10 here, he said.
You hear all that stuff and, you know, your friends and your family are trying to help you, they get more and more nervous, because they don't know ' Well, is he playing bad, something we're doing or should we ask him why he's playing bad or ask him what we can do to help?
When you're successful for a long time and then you're not successful, people don't know how to act. I told my wife earlier this year, You know, nobody asks me any questions when I was playing great. They didn't ask me how I did it or why I did it or what are you doing to play so well. Just took it for granted, basically.
Then you start playing poorly, then you start getting the questions, What's the matter with you? Not that way, but, you know, what should you do different? Don't you think you ought to do this?
You get a lot of advice when you're not playing well. It makes it hard. You hear things and, you know, people try to be positive, but when they do that, they're actually reminding you of a negative and it really doesn't help.
And then the doubts began to creep in, doubts that he was good enough to contend in a tournament, doubts that just maybe he had digressed too much in his 20 years as a pro, certainly doubts that he could still compete with the top echelon of players. And when he wasnt healthy, when his back was tingling or his neck was hurting, he was really struggling with the negative thoughts.
You doubt that you can beat a guy like Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods if you're not 100 percent, he said, and I think your swing adjusts when you're not feeling well. And then the doubt creeps in even more, because you're not hitting the way you normally used to hit it.
And there's no reason at 42 that I can't drive it as far as anybody else or putt as well as anybody else. But when you're not feeling well, you feel like you're at a disadvantage when you go to the first tee with Tiger Woods and he's feeling great and you're not feeling good.
And then came last week, and Greensboro, and maybe we are seeing a new Davis Love.
Now I know that I've had a lot of good health, and now I'm not injured. I can overcome my old body.
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