|Davis Love III has no plans for Champions Tour|
|Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:28 AM|
SAN MARTIN, Calif. — In a perfect world, Davis Love III will celebrate his 50th birthday next year at Augusta National. If he can’t play his way into the Masters, he will be gearing up to play the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.
The Champions Tour is not in the plans for now.
“I know it’s coming but I’m not ready for it,” Love said last week as he embarked on his 29th season on the PGA Tour.
Love missed three months of the 2013 season because of neck surgery and thus finished out of the top 100 on the money list for the first time. He has lifetime membership because of his 20 career wins.
“When I’m scratching to make cuts, when I don’t feel like I can win, that’s when I’ll go over,” Love said, referring to the Champions Tour. “Luckily I’m exempt, as long as I can shoot decent scores. I’m not going to stay over here and take up a spot. I’ll be honest with myself. You’ll be honest with me.”
What helps is his power, which is why players like Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Kenny Perry looked as if they belonged on the PGA Tour after turning 50.
“If I was an average hitter or a short hitter, I’d be waiting for my birthday,” Love said. “But I’m still excited about playing out here.”
His goals for the year start with getting in all the big tournaments that once were not an issue. He hasn’t played a World Golf Championship since 2009. He has not played all four majors in one year since 2011. And he has never missed The Players Championship
“Jordan Spieth did it. He worked his way in them real quick,” he continued, smiling at his audacious comparison with a kid only four months older than Love’s son. “But that’s what I have to do. If I get hot before the end of January, I might be in the Match Play. If not, the next WGC and then the Masters.”
What really gnaws at him is he has never missed The Players Championship dating to his rookie year in 1986.
Love isn’t entirely ruling out the Champions Tour. He would lean toward playing the Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach. But for now, he’s staying put.
“You’ve got to pick one or the other,” he said. “You’re either going to chase FedEx Cup points and Ryder Cup points, or you’re going to chase Charles Schwab Cup points. And right now, I’m going to chase these.”
Then he paused to smile before adding, “We can reevaluate on April 12.”
He turns 50 on April 13.
GUAN DEFENDS: Guan Tianlang is gearing up for what he hopes is a return to the Masters.
Guan is defending champion next week at the Asia Pacific Amateur, to be played at Nanshan International Golf Club in China. The winner gets an invitation to the Masters. The 14-year-old from China not only became the youngest player in a 72-hole major, he made the cut at Augusta National despite a two-shot penalty for slow play.
Guan turns 15 during the second round of the Asia Pacific Amateur, which is stroke play. He said Tuesday more people recognize him in China but that his Masters appeared helped accelerate growth of golf in his homeland.
Guan also made the cut in New Orleans, and then missed the cut in three other PGA Tour events.
The one big change for this year — the teenager is no longer using a belly putter. He explained he switched to a conventional method a month ago.
MAJOR PERKS: U.S. Open champion Justin Rose took advantage of some of the perks attached to winning a major.
He sat in the Royal Box when Andy Murray won Wimbledon. Another treat was his annual “J.R. Challenge,” when 10 of his best mates from England get together once a year to play golf and get caught up.
“This year being U.S. Open champion, I felt like I could call in a couple more favors, and we played some great tracks,” Rose said at the PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda. “We played Pine Valley. We went back to Merion. So to have the opportunity to bring 10 of my best friends to Merion and a play a round of golf was very special.”
NA’S BACK: When last seen on the PGA Tour, Kevin Na was playing the Masters against his doctor’s advice and ringing up a 10 on the par-3 12th hole at Augusta National.
He finally made his return last week in the Frys.com Open, and after opening with a 75, felt better than ever. Na bounced back with a 67 to make the cut and a 64-64 week gave him a tie for third.
Na went to South Korea for his rehabilitation. He spent more than two months going through acupuncture, chiropractic work and physical therapy, then he returned to America to slowly start practicing again. He played one Web.com Tour event to make sure his back was good, and off he went.
His next stop is Las Vegas, where he won his only PGA Tour event two years ago.
TRIPLE DIGITS: David Duval had just reached No. 1 in the world for the first time. Tiger Woods had eight PGA Tour wins and one major to his credit. And an Irishman named Padraig Harrington was on the cusp of cracking the top 100 in the world.
Harrington reached No. 100 on April 18, 1999, and stayed there for the last 14 years. The streak ended this week when he fell to No. 101.
He is playing the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda this week as the defending champion. No ranking points are available for the 36-hole exhibition. Does he think he can add to his total of three majors, even though he has gone five years without?
“I do but I have to figure out a different way with playing who Padraig Harrington is now than necessarily who I was over the years,” Harrington added in Bermuda. “I’m a different person and I have a different attitude to the game at this stage, so I have to work with that. … I have to figure out what’s the best way of getting the best game out of me now.”
DIVOTS: David Duval did not get a sponsor’s exemption to the Frys.com Open, so he went to Puerto Rico to play on the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica and tied for 37th. He is playing Las Vegas this week. … Geoff Ogilvy missed the 54-hole cut last week in the Frys.com Open and fell out of the top 100 for the first time since August 2003. … John Cook will be inducted into the Southern California Golf Association Hall of Fame next week outside Los Angeles.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Russell Knox, who was No. 132 in driving distance in his only other year on the PGA Tour, had the longest drive of the Frys.com Open last week at 378 yards on the 18th hole at CordeValle. The measurement did not include the number of times his ball hit the cart path.
FINAL WORD: “I’ll play somewhere with Zach Johnson, and he points out we’ll be eating dinner together until they put us in the ground. I look forward to that kind of stuff.” — Adam Scott, citing the Champions Dinner as one of the perks of winning the Masters.
Justin Rose takes 2-shot lead in Grand Slam
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda — U.S. Open champion Justin Rose birdied the first hole with a blind shot he hit to a foot of the pin and stayed in front Tuesday until he completed a 4-under 67 for a 2-shot lead over Jason Dufner in PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
The 36-hole exhibition, which concludes today, is for the four major champions of the year. British Open champion Phil Mickelson chose not to play and was replaced at Port Royal Golf Course by 3-time major champion Harrington.
Dufner, who won the PGA Championship, opened with a 69. Masters champion Adam Scott struggled late in the wind for a 70. Harrington, who won the PGA Grand Slam last year as an alternate, shot 74.
Rose opened the round with a shot so far off line that he was in the rough near the second fairway. Facing a blind approach over trees and water, he cut a 6-iron to tap-in range for birdie.
Rose made three more birdies on the front nine and was tied briefly by Dufner and Scott. But while Dufner and Scott struggled on the back nine as the wind picked up, Rose challenged the course record until bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes. Rose made an 8-foot par putt on the 15th, and he was the only player to make par on the 16th.
Harrington added he might skip a few tournaments toward the end of the year because of too much golf.
Wraparound season doesn’t keep stars from Sherwood
Even with the PGA Tour starting a new season in October and big golf being played around the world, Tiger Woods said he was pleasantly surprised to draw another big cast of stars to his holiday tournament in California.
“It’s our deepest and strongest field that we’ve had, possibly ever,” Woods said Tuesday.
The World Challenge has not announced its two sponsor exemptions from among the top 50 in the world ranking to fill out the 18-man field. The tournament, which was in jeopardy this summer until Northwestern Mutual stepped in as a title sponsor, will be held Dec. 5-8 at Sherwood Country Club.
It includes defending champion Graeme McDowell, along with three other Europeans who will be competing in Asia for the Race to Dubai in the weeks leading up to Woods’ event. Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are expected to play.
Ernie Els is playing the World Challenge for the first time. Jason Day returns, though the Australian is making a rare trip Down Under this year to compete in World Cup at Royal Melbourne just two weeks before Woods’ tournament.
The other Americans besides Woods are PGA champion Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker.
The tournament will be played for the 15th time and it means so much to Woods that last year he invested his own money — believed to be about $4 million — to help cover operating expenses and to make sure there would be enough proceeds to benefit his foundation.
One challenge this year was the new wraparound season on the PGA Tour, starting in October and ending with the Tour Championship next September. There are six tournaments the rest of this fall — two in Asia — that offer full FedEx Cup points and official money.
Woods’ tournament is not official. It counts only toward the world ranking. And the total purse ($3.5 million) is smaller than any tournament on the PGA Tour or European Tour for the rest of 2013. That didn’t seem to matter.
“I think word has spread,” Woods added. “We’ve always treated players well there. They’ve had a great time. It’s close enough to the following year where some of the guys want to try and experiment with a few things equipmentwise, club deal. They want to get a tournament in before they play Kapalua, the Hawaiian Open. Some of the guys have done that in the past.
“Otherwise, we’ve had great American support. But it’s pretty incredible to get the international support we’ve gotten this year.”
Woods has only two tournaments remaining in 2013 — Turkey and the World Challenge.
Since the FedEx Cup began in 2007, the only domestic event he has played after September was the Frys.com Open in 2011, the year he missed the FedEx Cup playoffs because of injury.