PGA TOUR: Saturday is another "Love-ly Day"
Okay, who else thought Saturday was "Moving Day" on the PGA Tour?
Based on what happened out there at Quail Hollow today, my vote is to rename it "Love-ly Day" in honor of Davis Love III.
I have been to a lot of these affairs. I don't claim to know exactly what the X-factor is that the Quail Hollow Championship has going for it, but I am a little concerned about tomorrow. I don't know if I can be entertained or excited much more since I have passed that 50 mark on the calendar of life.
I knew it was going to be a special day when I arrived to the course and saw Rory McIlroy had posted a 66 and was on the first page of the leader board at five-under.
Gosh, he was in the third group of the day and the first one was a lone rabbit!
I followed Davis Love III who was in group No. 10—meaning there were nine twosomes ahead of him in the pecking order all the way up to second-round leader Billy Mayfair.
It "may" be his month, but come on. Isn't the Paul Simon song "where have you gone Joe DiMaggio" appropriate? What is the next thing you are going to tell me? Kirk Triplett is in second place?
Love and playing partner, Australian Greg Chalmers started the day at three-under par along with seven other golfers.
Ahead of them, five golfers sat at four-under, two at five-under and six at six-under, including Phil Mickelson—who everyone thinks will win his second tournament in a row, and maybe three at THE PLAYERS next week.
Further ahead and out of sight are Cabrera at seven-under and, finally, the leader Mayfair at 8-under, a full five strokes ahead of Love.
Seems like a bunched up pack of wolves biting, scratching, and trying to survive and win the prestigious Quail Hollow Championship.
Managed expectations right? No heroics, just steady golf and make a paycheck.
Well, not so with Mr. Love and Chalmers. Both were striking the ball unbelievably precise and long, though Love, the original "Boom-Boom" man, was a bit longer even with his 3-wood off the tee.
So, off we go relatively quiet until DL3 strikes one to three feet and makes birdie on the third hole. It was still quiet as Love three-putts the par-five fifth for par and fails to get up-and-down from over the green in two on the par-five seventh.
The hole where Parker McLachlin made a 12 on Thursday and evidently where he hurt his wrist, or ego, after posting an 88 only to withdraw on Friday.
How McLachlin made it is a bit interesting too, because the par-five has water and out-of-bounds right. The water follows the fairway and is anywhere from 10 to 20 feet wide in the landing area.
Though, if a player does not know for certain that his ball is in the lateral water hazard then it is likely OB, which is stroke and distance.
Drive No. 1 is OB. Parker walks down the fairway to investigate and then walks back up to the tee with a second ball.
Drive No. 2 is OB and caddie Don Donatello hustles up a third ball.
Drive No. 3 goes OB right, with drive No. 4 safely in the fairway.
McLachlin's approach shot, which by the way is his eighth shot, finds the water fronting the right side of the green. Shot No. 10 is on the green and a two-putt adds up to a Golfer's Dozen—12 on the scorecard.
Back to the Love game—isn't making birdie on the par-fives the meat of a long-ball hitter's game?
Chalmers gets the Mo-Jo going a bit with a nice pitch and birdie at the short, par-four eighth hole.
Even with only a one-under par, 35 on the front nine, Love has moved up to tie for 10th position.
After Love fails to get it up-and-down from barely short of the green at the par-five 10th and records another par, I am thinking, this is not his day—all pars on three reachable par-fives.
As fate would have it, Chalmers almost jars one at the par-three 13th for an ace—the ball literally down in the cup only to pop out on the 181-yard hole.
Love takes the hint and birdies the next two holes with a nice 20-foot putt the sign-lady called and a nice up-and-down for birdie on the par-five 15th hole. Finally, a birdie on a par-five for Love!
The key to his round came on the 478-yard 16th, where he bunkered his drive in the right fairway bunker far enough up to bring the lip into play on his next shot.
Surely enough, he needed to pitch the ball up to the green from 60 yards and make a 10-footer to save par.
That par save was a big one for a guy now tied for fifth.
Then with confidence a three-birdie, no bogey round brings to you, the Charlotte-born Love stroked a six-iron to three feet and made a deuce on No. 17 to get it to seven-under.
Love's heroics on No. 17 brought back thoughts of Cejka's demise there on Friday.
Our group was walking down to the 17th tee after finishing up the 16th. There's a loud thump and Cejka's ball is rolling across the tee towards Chris Riley. Riley, thinking it is Nicholas Thompson joking around, does a foot wedge on the ball, knocking it away.
When everybody realizes it is Cejka's wayward approach shot on the 16th, a rules official is summoned. No harm, no foul, and the ball is simply dropped where it would have come to rest with a nice, flat lie on the 17th tee.
With a tree overhead and a hill between him and the 40 yards to the hole, Cejka tries to punch one up the hill. It rolls back down. Another attempt gets it to the top, where he fails to get it up-and-down to record a triple-bogey, seven, dropping to even-par for the tournament. To make matters worse, Cejka bogeys No. 17 and No. 18 and misses the cut by one stroke.
Talk about freak occurrences on the golf course.
A simple, unintentional, honest incident and one is no longer in the zone, going from safety in the making-the-cut boat to all of a sudden being in the water and fighting to keep your head above water and not drown.
Back to the Love story again—he would finish the day at seven-under tied for second with Phil Mickelson (71). On Sunday he plays in the final group with Mayfair (71). He and Mickelson are two strokes back. J.J. Henry (71), Carolina boy Dustin Johnson (72), and Angel Cabrera (73) are three strokes back.
At Quail Hollow, it all comes down to the final three finishing holes—the toughest on the PGA Tour year after year.
Of the six on the top of the leader board, only Love played those three holes under par on Saturday.
Maybe if he can do that again on Sunday and it will be another "Love-ly Day."
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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