Love values rainbow connection

Winged Foot course brings back thoughts of colorful win, father

U.S. Open

June 15, 2006|By RANDALL MELL | RANDALL MELL,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

MAMARONEK, N.Y. -- They say lightning doesn't strike twice.

But what about rainbows?

Could Davis Love III find another pot of gold at the end of this week's U.S. Open at Winged Foot?

Love returns to one of the most colorful scenes in the history of major championship golf, the course where he won his first and only major championship under that unforgettable rainbow at the end of the 1997 PGA Championship. He won with those spectacular streaks of color overhead and CBS announcer Jim Nantz wondering whether something mystical wasn't at work.

Love's father, a longtime PGA of America member and teacher who died in a plane crash in 1988, was on the mind that day of anybody who knew the strength of the father-son bond.

"It's great when that memory is brought back," Love said. "Obviously, my dad was a big part of everything I did and will do in golf."

Love, 42, says people love to send him pictures and paintings of rainbows.

"It certainly makes me think of my dad when I see a rainbow, and people all across the United States have gotten in touch with me and talked to me about their rainbow stories," Love said. "It's meant a lot to me personally, emotionally."

Love credits his father for being his inspiration, guide and friend. When Love got married, his father, Davis Love Jr., was his best man.

Returning to Winged Foot, playing in a championship that ends on Father's Day, Love knows there will be heightened emotion this week even though 18 years have passed since his father died after the small plane he was flying in crashed near Jacksonville, Fla.

"People ask, `What's the best thing about winning the PGA Championship?'" Love said. "Here we are, close to 20 years from my father's passing, and people will be talking about how Davis Love's dad taught him to play and was a great teacher. It's certainly carried my dad's memory on."

Love wrote a book about his relationship with his father in 1997, Every Shot I Take.

"All I could think after Dad died was, `Golf will go on, but it will never be fun again,'" Love wrote in the book.

With 18 PGA Tour victories, Love can hardly be described as an underachiever, but it's a feeling he knows is out there.

Love has won more times on the PGA Tour than all but 37 players who ever played the game. Only Tiger Woods (48), Vijay Singh (29) and Phil Mickelson (29) have won more times among active full-time players on the tour today. And yet whether Love's a Hall of Famer will give voters pause.

Though Love has won two Players Championships, his PGA Championship remains his lone major.

"One major in the bank - it's not where I expected to be at age 42, and I know it's not where a lot of other people expected me to be, either," Love wrote in a first-person article for Sports Illustrated this week.

Time may be running out, but whether he wins another major or not, Love will have his rainbow.

Randall Mell writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

At a glance

What: 106th U.S. Open

Where: Winged Foot Golf Club (West course), Mamaroneck, N.Y.; 7,264 yards; par 35-35-70

When: Today through Sunday

Format: 72 holes of stroke play

Cut: Top 60 and ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead after 36 holes

Playoff, if necessary: 18 holes of stroke play Monday

Field: 156 players (seven amateurs)

Purse: $6.8 million

Winner's share: $1.225 million

Defending champion: Michael Campbell.

Television: Today and tomorrow: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., ESPN; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., chs. 11, 4; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., ESPN. Saturday and Sunday: 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., chs. 11, 4.

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