Tiger Woods on his finish at the Wyndham
Davis Love III and Tiger Woods were side-by-side on the practice rangeTuesday at Sedgefield Country Club, hitting shots, talking, laughing.
At one point, Love said, “One of us needs to win this week.”
Both needed a victory in the Wyndham Championship to qualify for the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs that begin next week. And once play began Thursday, it was obvious many of the fans at Sedgefield wanted the winner to be Woods.
But in the end, it was Love’s week, Love’s tournament. Turning back the clock at age 51, the former North Carolina All-America had a pair of eagles in a 6-under-par 64 Sunday, surging from behind for a one-shot victory over third-round leader Jason Gore.
Woods, seeking his first victory in two years, was undone by a triple-bogey at the par-4 11th hole. He birdied four of his last six holes but had a 70 to finish four shots behind Love.
It was the 21st career win of Love’s career and his first since 2008. It also was his third victory in the Wyndham — the first two came in tournaments at Forest Oaks Country Club.
Love also was younger then. He’s playing at times on the Champions Tour now with the seniors and again focusing on being the U.S. Ryder Cup team captain.
Love isn’t the oldest to win on the PGA Tour. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965 at 52.
But Love joked he has some “worn-out parts. He had foot surgery this spring that kept him out almost two months.
Love’s winning number was 17-under 263. Gore, who had a 69, pulled within a shot with an eagle at the 15th hole but parred the final three holes.
Scott Brown, paired with Woods in the final round, had a hole-in-one at the third hole in his 68. He tied for third at 15-under 265 with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Paul Casey,
Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Carl Pettersson and Brooks Koepka were tied at 14-under 266.
Another sellout crowd of more than 30,000 turned out Sunday at Sedgefield, but the atmosphere was somewhat subdued.
Woods wasn’t doing anything. Woods was wearing his victory-red Sunday golf shirt, once one of the most feared sights in golf but now just a reminder of what once was.
Brown caused the biggest roar at the 172-yard third hole. Brown used an 8-iron, the ball taking three hops and falling into the hole, and he was soon high-fiving with Woods.
A bogey at the par-3 seventh hole, where Woods was wide-left of the green with a terrible tee shot, was costly. Woods recovered to birdie the ninth, his first of the round, but the 11th ended his chances.
Woods missed the green, then bladed a pitch shot across and off the green. A chip shot was short, rolling back down the slope, and he then putted 15 feet past the pin.
When the carnage ended, Woods had a triple-bogey 7. His hopes of qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs were over and his season done.
Woods, who had back surgery last year and again is revamping his swing, was seeking his 80th career win and first since 2013. The wait will continue.
Love made some early noise. He bogeyed the first hole, then went birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie. Just like that he was 16-under and in the lead.
A three-putt bogey by Love at the seventh ended that run but he eagled the par-5 15th and posted the number no one could match.
Love, who has played two Champions Tour events this year, had surgery to his right foot April 1. He said he received a putting lesson from golf instructor Jack Lumpkin before the PGA Championship and while he didn’t putt well in the final major of the year, that all changed this week.
Love noted that while playing some practice holes with Woods on Tuesday at Sedgefield, Woods looked at Love’s putting grip and said, “Where did that come from?” It was another little tip that helped.
And, Love said, “Greensboro has always been good to me.”
Love first won the tournament in 1992, when he blitzed the field with a final-round 62. His second victory came in 2006.
But Love also has a liking for Sedgefield, which he called a “great, classic golf course.” He opened with rounds of 64 and 66, but said he was “flat” during a Saturday 69 that left him four shots out of the lead.
“I’ve got to get on a roll,” he said.
Love did. Quickly. In the end, it was his week.