Labor of Love
If ever a community needed a 72-hole pick-me-up it was St. Simons Island. Just ask Mark Love, whose youthful eyes were framed by fatigue on Sunday as he slumped into his office chair deep within the confines of Sea Island Resort’s old “corn barn.”
“What does this mean to the community?” Love asks, echoing the question for clarity more so than effect. “For this community it’s been two long years of property value problems and not as many visitors. The uncertainty with everything that’s happening with the resort. So much negative press just adding to people’s burden. The event gave them something positive to focus on.”
What folks in these parts call “the current unpleasantries,” a genteel take on Sea Island Resort’s bankruptcy and impending sale on Monday in Atlanta to the highest bidder, have hung over this tony seaside enclave like a five-hole deficit to a hot-putting European.
Staggering debt and the real-estate collapse that accompanied the economic downturn are the ultimate culprits, but to those who grew up in the shadow of the southern staple it may as well have been a malice-filled hit-and-run on a dark country road.
For Davis Love III, Sea Island’s slide has been particularly personal. Love’s father, Davis Jr., was hired in 1978 to be the resort’s head pro and the day DLIII left North Carolina for the play-for-pay circuit then-owner Bill Jones III signed him to an endorsement deal. “When I got to Q-School I had three shirts and a bag, all of them had Sea Island on them,” he said.
Love owns a house on the far side of St. Simons Island, redesigned one of the resort’s courses and is a member of the company’s board of directors. So for the 20-time Tour winner the “unpleasantries” went well beyond headlines and hearsay.
“Somebody's going to buy a diamond for a cheap price and they're going to polish it up and have something worth a lot of money down the road,” Love said of Monday’s auction. “Really the only loser in this is the (Jones) family.”
On Thursday before Love teed off in the inaugural McGladrey Classic Jones wished him well on the practice tee. It was an emotional moment for both men.
“It’s hard,” Love said. “Everything that’s going on here is hard for me and Bill.
“Bill always wanted bigger and better tournaments and to be able to do that for him, it was awful nice to see.”
It’s a truth that at least partially explains why a player still a few years shy of his competitive twilight with a looming Ryder Cup captaincy and a litany of business interests so zealously took on the role of tournament host.
Nine months ago the Tour hurriedly announced the addition of the McGladrey Classic to the fall schedule and from that moment Team Love was on the clock. And it’s little surprise to anyone with a passing knowledge of Love’s Type A personality that he wanted Quail Hollow on a fraction of the budget and a fast-approaching deadline.
But he delivered for a community mired in what at times has felt like a standing 10-count, and perfect weather and a solid field by Fall Series standards proved to be the perfect respite even if it was for just 72 holes.
For Mark Love, Davis’ brother and the McGladrey Classic’s executive director, the ultimate compliments came from the fraternity brothers.
“This feels like Quail Hollow (Championship) the way they take care of players and caddies,” one Tour player told Love.
Charles Howell III, who put a scare into tournament officials when he closed with a 62, used the occasion to soap box Augusta National, of all places.
“Somehow (Fall Series events) got classified with an invisible asterisk besides them,” Howell said. “If you win some of these tournaments, you should get in the Masters. How you can make a decision where if a guy wins a Fall Series event he's not in the Masters? I don't understand that. You look at the field we have this week. Sometimes decisions like that are made that aren't the best decisions.”
Had the powers that be at Augusta been on site this week they would have seen valets, for players and caddies, near-perfect course conditions and an attention to detail that felt more mid-major than post-Tour Championship.
Not that Love was content with his first at-bat as a host. After signing for his final-round 72 he began running through a post-op “to do” list.
“We need to put a path between the (18th) green and the scoring area. I’d like to see a first-cut of rough. We can do better,” the perfectionist reasoned before pausing to enjoy the moment.
Sunday’s chamber of commerce skies belied Monday’s impending storm in Atlanta, providing a temporary escape for those who have all at once dreaded and dearly needed the “unpleasantries” to be completed. The new owners may embrace the time-honored status quo of Sea Island, as many hope they will, but without Jones there is no escaping the notion that an era has ended.
“It’s a very strange coincidence,” Mark Love observed. “It puts a strange feel to today, but it also kind of served to keep people’s minds off of what is happening.”
The collective procrastination culminated in an awards ceremony during which Davis Love, running on fumes following last week’s Ryder Cup and this week’s hosting duties, offered heartfelt gratitude to Jones and his family.
For one sunny snapshot, St. Simons Island was smiling again before everything changes on Monday.
2018 NCAA Golf Championships TV Schedule
Golf Channel will shine a spotlight on college golf across the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships. With more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater Oklahoma (Monday-Wednesday May 21-23 and May 28-30), Golf Channel’s coverage connects 18 straight days of live tournament golf.
Watch live coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships beginning Monday, May 21 at 4pm ET on Golf Channel and streaming.
Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)
Monday, May 21: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 22:Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 22: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)
Wednesday, May 23:Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)
Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)
Monday, May 28: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29: Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)
Wednesday, May 30: Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)
AT&T Byron Nelson purse payout: Wise a millionaire
PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise earned his first Tour title on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Trinity Forest:
|T9||Charles Howell III||-15||$207,900|
Howell, Uihlein qualify for U.S. Open via OWGR
Charles Howell III and Peter Uihlein both used strong play at the AT&T Byron Nelson to maintain their positions inside the top 60 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, thereby ensuring exemptions to next month's U.S. Open.
Howell moved up three spots to No. 56 in the world thanks to a T-9 finish at Trinity Forest. He'll make his 10th career U.S. Open appearance, but just his second since 2009. Howell missed the cut at Olympic in 2012.
Uihlein finished T-21 in Dallas, which was barely enough to hold onto a top-60 spot as he actually fell two positions to No. 59. The former U.S. Amateur champ will make his third U.S. Open appearance and second in as many years.
The drama for the final spot came down to the wire on Sunday, where Adam Scott's bid to unseat Chesson Hadley at No. 60 came up just short. Needing a solo ninth-place finish, Scott ended up in a three-way tie for ninth to begin the new week at No. 61. Hadley, who didn't play the Nelson, remained No. 60 and will make his U.S. Open debut.
Others to punch tickets to Shinnecock Hills include No. 52 Luke List, No. 53 Chez Reavie and No. 57 Dylan Frittelli. A second and final top-60 cutoff will be done based off the June 11 world rankings following the FedEx St. Jude Classic, with U.S. Open sectional qualifying conducted in England and the U.S. on June 4.
The only change among the top 10 in the rankings this week came at No. 10, where Paul Casey moved past Tommy Fleetwood despite an off week for both players. Justin Thomas remains world No. 1 for a second week, followed by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6, with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Casey rounding out the top 10.
Taking the week off following a T-11 finish at The Players Championship, Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 82.
After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the Nelson's future ...
If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.
Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.
The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray
On Jordan Spieth's putting ...
Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.
He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.
Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.
Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta
On golf and gambling ...
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.
Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.
Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard