Tiger Woods on his finish at the Wyndham
Davis Love III is 51 years old, says he has a few “worn-out parts” and jokes that everyone on his son’s golf team can outdrive him.
But the man can still play. On Sunday, Love proved he still knows how to win.
Turning back the clock, Love surged from behind to win the Wyndham Championship. He did it with a pair of eagles, with a 6-under-par 64 in the final round at Sedgefield Country Club, edging Jason Gore by a shot.
Tiger Woods, making his first Wyndham appearance, might have been the people’s choice at Sedgefield, but Love was a popular winner. Born in Charlotte, he was an All-American at North Carolina and twice won the tournament when it was played at Forest Oaks Country Club.
Love, who earned his 21st career victory and his first since 2008, wasn’t the oldest PGA Tour winner. The Wyndham trophy bears the same of the man who was – Sam Snead, whose eighth and final victory in Greensboro was in 1965, when Snead was 52.
“To have your name thrown out there with Sam Snead is incredible,” Love said, smiling. “This tournament has been good to guys in my age group.”
Love came to Greensboro this year having missed the cut in the PGA Championship and 186th on the FedEx Cup points list. Again selected to be the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, he has been focusing on the 2016 matches after his team fell short in 2012.
But Love wanted to make it into the top 125 and qualify for the PGA Tour’s FedEX Cup playoffs that begin next week. More so, he wanted to win again, to regain exemptions into the Players Championship – which he also has won twice – and the Masters.
Having undergone neck surgery in 2013, Love was experiencing so much pain in his right foot this year that he could barely walk at Bay Hill. He had surgery April 1, missing almost two months.
Love has played two Champions Tour events this year and committed to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open this week in Endicott, N.Y. But as he said Sunday, he now has an “upgrade” and will be at The Barclays for the start of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods held a share of the 36-hole lead and was two shots behind Gore after three rounds, again attracting a sellout crowd to Sedgefield. But the former world No. 1 was undone by a triple-bogey 7 at the 11th hole Sunday, and even a rush of birdies – four in his last six holes – weren’t enough.
Woods, with a 70, tied for 10th, the best finish of an otherwise forgettable season. The biggest roar of the day belonged to playing partner Scott Brown, who had a hole-in-one at the third hole and tied for third after a 68.
“I gave myself a chance,” Woods said. “I had all the opportunity in the world to do it, and I didn’t get it done.”
Love played Sunday with Ryan Moore, seven groups ahead of Gore. He bogeyed the first hole, then went on a vintage Love roll — birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie. Just like that he was 16-under and in the lead.
Love bogeyed the seventh, but he eagled the par-5 15th hole with a 12-foot putt and soon was in the clubhouse at 17-under 263. It was sit-and-wait time.
“Pretty unbelievable that I got a win the way I did it,” he said.
Love worked with golf instructor Jack Lumpkin on his putting before the PGA and credited sports psychologist Bob Rotella for getting him in the right mindset. After his eagle at the fifth, he said he took a quick bathroom break and reminded himself of something Rotella always tells him.
“Don’t look at the leader boards and just play your game the rest of the way in,” Love said. “Don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
Gore eagled the 15th hole to pull within a shot but parred the final three holes for a 69 and 16-under 264 finish. Brown tied former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Paul Casey at 265, and Webb Simpson, Carl Pettersson, Bill Haas and Brooks Koepka were tied for sixth at 266.
Brown’s ace at the third hole, with an 8-iron, was the second of his career. He also got a high-five from Woods, calling the scene “awesome, cool, obviously electric.”
But the day belonged to Love, who won in Greensboro in 1992 and 2006 but said his third victory was the sweetest. He also said he already had more than 200 texts.
“What is it they say – your phone is blowing up?” he said, “Mine is in a meltdown.”
Never gets old
Davis Love III is the third-oldest to win a PGA Tour event:
52 years, 10 months: Sam Snead, 1965 Greater Greensboro Open
51 years, 7 months: Art Wall, 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open
51 years, 4 months: Davis Love III, 2015 Wyndham Championship