By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Peyton Manning helped Davis Love decide to have surgery to fuse two sets of disks in his neck.
It's not like Love called the the Denver Broncos quarterback on the phone and asked his opinion, though. Or tweeted or texted him, either.
Love actually has known since 2000 that he'd likely have to have the operation in the future. So he watched with great interest the way Manning played after missing the 2011 season due to a similar procedure. Manning passed for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns. Enough said.
"(Steve) Stricker and I have joked back and forth a little bit, well, you do it. No, you do it. Somebody's got to go first," Love said. "(But) really, what gave me the most confidence was watching Peyton Manning go through it from, as a fan, he had the problem, he knew it was getting bad and he had the surgery and he came back and played very, very well."
Love is now anxious to how his own comeback goes. He had the surgery a week after he withdrew from the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February after playing just one round.
This week Love will make his 28th appearance at THE PLAYERS Championship, a tournament he has won twice during his career. He's not quite sure how he will play but he's ready to compete and enjoying reconnecting with his friends.
"My teacher, Jack Lumpkin, today said you're swinging so hard on the first couple holes and I said, I'm excited," Love said. "I'm excited to be on the golf course. So I'm excited to be here, and excited to continue that streak."
Love's doctor basically had told him he'd know when he'd need the surgery. That point actually came several years ago, but "again, being chicken, it was hard" to pull the trigger, Love said, and he decided to wait. The point of no return came in Phoenix.
"I was very frustrated mentally," Love said. "I knew physically I couldn't do it, but I ... was just grinding away, and there was no reason to be doing it. So finally I called my doctor, ... and I said I'm just beating my head against the wall, aren't I? And he said, yes, you are. You're going to have that surgery. You can have it now, you can have it in the summer or you can have it in the fall, but you're going to have it this year."
Love said the pain was gone as soon as he woke up after the surgery. Ditto for the tingling in his fingers. He began putting the day he got back from Atlanta, where he had the operation. Next came one-armed wedges; eight weeks later he was able to take full swings. Early on, though, a lot of the work Love did was simply to build strength and stamina for those back-to-back weeks on the road -- not refine his swing.
"I just need to get strong enough to play golf day in and day out," Love said. "I can play four or five or six days in a row now. I need to get to where I can play two qualifying rounds, Colonial, Memorial, and two more qualifying rounds. So I need to be ready for stuff like that. I've been able to do it the last few years, but not as well as I'd like, so I'm really close."
As the pain worsened, Love's body found ways to compensate, and he didn't even know he was doing it. The last four or five years, for example, Love had a habit of getting across the line at the top of his backswing. Under the watchful eye of his coach, Love could correct the flaw but a few weeks later, it would return.
"I thought I wasn't a very good student, wasn't working hard enough, or just bad habits," Love said. "We didn't realize that my strength in the left was going away and my right was doing all the work. ...
"So when I played well, I timed it right. When I played bad, I was flipping it, hooking it, and just the consistency wasn't there, the power wasn't there. Guys that normally I outdrove are outdriving me all of a sudden, not to name any names."
After the surgery, though, his distance is back, his clubhead speed is returning and Love is anxious to see how he plays in the PGA TOUR's signature event.
"I'm getting there," Love said. And this week at TPC Sawgrass is another step closer.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Davis Love III certainly is keeping his sense of humor after having surgery in Atlanta on Friday to alleviate the neck pain that has plagued him for the better part of the last decade.
According to a report on the Golf Channel's website, bone spurs were removed during the surgery and a spinal fusion procedure was performed. He is expected to be out of action six weeks to two months but should be able to putt next week.
The 2012 Ryder Cup captain, who withdrew from last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open after the first round, has tweeted several times since the operation. He was supposed to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice this week before making the decision to have the surgery.
One of the tweets was a picture of the hallway in the hospital with the message "Here we go." He later tweeted the number 8 with a photo of the hospital chart used to measure pain. According to the photo, 8 means "Hurts whole lot."
Then came the one "From Team DL3: Davis is now out of surgery and recovering. Doctor says surgery went very well! Thank you 4 all the well wishes."
But the best is the photo posted above that came with the tweet: "Coolest Shower Cap Ever?!... I may regret this when the pain meds wear off."
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Davis Love III finished 100th on the PGA TOUR money list last year -- marking the 27th straight year he's finished there or higher -- but he's got much loftier goals. The 48-year-old Ryder Cup captain will be trying to make his buddy Fred Couples' U.S. Presidents Cup team.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Love refused to run away and hide after his American Team's Ryder Cup loss, playing all four Fall Series events and tying for fourth at The McGladrey Classic, where he serves as host. It wasn't his best finish, though -- he shared the 54-hole lead at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and finished third, trying to join Arnold Palmer as the only Ryder Cup captains to win a TOUR event that same year. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: How distracting it must have been for Davis Love III in 2012. The Ryder Cup captaincy was the focus of his attention for the last two years, and took away from his golf game. He failed to win a million dollars, but came close at $989,753. The week after Medinah, Davis was grinding away in Las Vegas and played all four of the Fall Series events. Love still possesses great power, averaging 296.3 yards per drive.-- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: While he's finished inside the top 100 on the money list every year since the back half of the Reagan administration, his light schedule and age (will turn 49 in April) preclude anything more than a complementary role deep in rosters. That was the same game plan entering 2012, and he was juggling Ryder Cup captain duties, yet he still found three top 10s. DL3 is properly labeled as a nice guy, but make no mistake, he's fiercely competitive, so I'm not expecting him to ride off into the sunset. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
||FedEx St. Jude Classic|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 13
Rounds played: 64
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 100th
Driving distance: 39th
Driving accuracy: 130th
Greens in regulation: 97th
Strokes gained-putting: 109th
Scoring average: 47th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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Davis Love III has been named the winner of the 2013 Bob Jones Award. The USGA’s highest honor, the award recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by the legendary Jones.
“Throughout his impressive career, Davis has distinguished himself with his sense of fair play, integrity and reverence for the game’s traditions,” USGA President Glen D. Nager said. “His passion for the game, as well as the values and principles that guide his everyday life, are emblematic of the characteristics that the Bob Jones Award seeks to identify. Golf and all those who play it are inspired by Davis' example.”
Love, 48, will receive the Bob Jones Award during the USGA’s Annual Meeting, to be held in San Diego in February. Love has won 20 PGA TOUR events including the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club and the 1992 and 2003 PLAYERS Championships.
“Davis epitomizes everything that Bob Jones stood for with his character, integrity, displays of sportsmanship and his spirit of giving back,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “He truly understands what it means to be a role model and has been a great ambassador for the PGA TOUR and the sport of golf, both on and off the field of competition. He is a worthy addition to the list of distinguished winners of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award.”
Love finished second in the 1995 and '99 Masters, as well as in the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club. Love’s poise, dignity and graciousness in those disappointing outcomes – in addition to the humility, respect and sportsmanship he displayed in his numerous triumphs – were strong factors in his selection for the Award.
So were Love's outreach efforts to both his local community and to the golf world. He established the Davis Love Foundation in 2005 to assist national and community-based programs that work to build a better future for at-risk children.
Based in St. Simons Island, Ga., the foundation is the host organization of the PGA TOUR’s McGladrey Classic, which benefits the Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Georgia, two of the USGA’s allied organizations.
Love has also represented his country as a player in six Ryder Cups and captained the 2012 U.S. Team. He has also played in six Presidents Cups and in the 1985 Walker Cup.
In 2008, Love received the PGA TOUR’s Payne Stewart Award, which is awarded to a player who shares the conduct, respect and philanthropy that were displayed by the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open champion who died in a plane accident in 1999.
He also earned the 1997 USGA International Book Award for "Every Shot I Take," a tribute to his late father, Davis Love Jr.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Following the smashing debut of its RocketBallz metalwoods last year, it was only a matter of time before TaylorMade put some of the same technology – and part of that name – into irons.
On Tuesday the company introduced "RocketBladez” irons, featuring a slot cut in the sole of the iron similar to the slot on the RBZ fairway woods and hybrids. The slot flexes and rebounds at impact, increasing the speed of the face and creating faster ball speed, higher launch angles and higher ball flight, according to TaylorMade.
TaylorMade calls the slot the “speed pocket,” and it is found on the 3- through 7-irons. The two-millimeter slot is protected from the elements by a polyurethane strip. The irons also have a large cavity behind the stainless-steel face to lower the center of gravity and pull it farther away from the face to promote forgiveness and higher launch.
Two editions of the irons are coming to market, the Rocketbladez (arriving at retail on Dec. 3; $799/steel, $899/graphite) and RocketBladez Tour (arriving Feb. 1; $899/steel). The Tour irons have smaller heads, less offset and a less-pronounced cavity.
“We created RocketBladez irons for amateurs, but when our TOUR Staff pros tried it, they wanted it,” said TaylorMade president and CEO Mark King. “We created a Tour version, and they love it. It’s the first distance-oriented iron to be played on TOUR. The genius of the Speed Pocket is that not only does it deliver more speed for more distance, it delivers consistent speed, so shots fly a consistent distance. That combination of speed and consistent distance is what made the eyes of our tour pros light up.”
Sean O’Hair put a set of prototype RocketBladez in play earlier this month at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, the first of probably many sets on TOUR if the RocketBladez prove as popular as the RocketBallz metalwoods.
STROKES-GAINEY PUTTING: Until last week, the book on Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey was that he was a serviceable putter, not the best on TOUR but not the worst. In 2011 he was 78th in strokes-gained putting, and coming into last week was 86th.
And then the fourth round at The McGladrey Classic got under way.
Gainey, of course, shot the low round of the year on TOUR, a 10-under 60 that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Nearly three hours later, he was a first-time champion. He was plus-5.119 in strokes-gained putting for the round, an amazing figure for an amazing round. (He’s now 66th in strokes-gained.)
He did it with an Odyssey Backstryke Blade, one of the more unusual putters on TOUR from a mainstream manufacturer. The putter has a T-shaped head with a shaft that connects to the rear of the putterhead.
Gainey put the putter in play in 2010 on the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am and finished second, and since then has stuck with it. His model is 34 inches in length with four degrees of loft and an XG insert.
BITS: Davis Love III finished T4 at his hometown McGladrey, using a belly putter for the first time. He did not anchor it. … Odyssey presented Brandt Snedeker with a gold putter as congratulations for his FedExCup title. Odyssey has only made two gold putters for non-major titles; the other was for Stuart Appleby’s final-round 59 in winning the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
WINNER’S BAG: Tommy Gainey at The McGladrey
Driver: Callaway Razr Fit (Aldila RIP shaft, 10.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Callaway FT-I Tour (15 degrees)
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12 (20 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Razr-X Forged (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Backstryke Blade
Ball: Callaway Hex Tour Black