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Love turns back clock with Wyndham win

By Conor O'Neill
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In the midst of a five-hole stretch in which he was 6-under-par, Davis Love III had to take a bathroom break.

He blamed his age, 51.

The rest of the field at the Wyndham Championship -- most of them younger than that -- can blame Love's putter and that five-hole stretch for beating them.

Love's 6-under 64 that included a pair of eagles vaulted him into winning the Wyndham Championship on Sunday at Sedgefield Country Club. It was the third time Love, the University of North Carolina graduate who was born in Charlotte, has won the PGA Tour's event in Greensboro, but his first time at this course.

And 50 years after Sam Snead won this tournament at 52 years old, which is the tour's record, Love could savor his conquest for the over-50 crowd.

"I eagled (No. 5) and, because I'm 51, it was time to go to the bathroom," Love said. "So I went over to the bathroom while (playing partner) Ryan (Moore) was hitting on 6 tee and I said to myself, 'You cannot look at the leaderboard the rest of the way. You have to play your game, I'm birdying every hole and you just don't get lost in results, given the process. What would (sports psycologist Dr. Bob) Rotella tell you to do now?' "

Love made another birdie at the sixth hole, giving him four birdies and an eagle in the five holes since three-putt bogeying the first hole. He bogeyed the seventh hole before a par streak of seven holes, then stuck an approach to 12 feet at the par-5 15th and drained another eagle.

"Any victory now is going to be really sweet when you're over 50. I remember Raymond Floyd winning when he was 50 or 51, maybe, and ... he was at the tournament of champions, I remember, and he was saying which tees he was going to play (from)," Love said. "Watching guys, Tom Watson almost win the British Open, things like that have inspired me that hey, you know, I can hang in there."

Love hung in there after posting his 64, watching the few who could catch him fail to muster the momentum to match his score. When Jason Gore's 50-footer for birdie on the 18th stopped 10 inches short, Love's victory was sealed.

"You just wonder, is the body going to wear out?" Love said. "I've seen it with a lot of great players, the only thing that stopped them is the body wearing out, so I'm very fortunate that I've bounced back from this one and honestly, not only did the putter feel great this week, I felt great this week."

Love's age was an obvious talking point, but his peers -- that word being by profession, not necessarily age -- weren't surprised.

"I mean, he hits it farther than most guys out here still. He hits the ball beautifully," Moore said. "I've played with him a lot over the years, it was great to see him roll the ball like he did (Sunday). He was just draining them."

Perhaps Paul Casey, who finished in a tie for third at 15-under, put it best.

"He really needs to pad the pension account, doesn't he?" Casey said. "I'll leave the player unnamed but somebody said to me, 'Why is Davis playing this week?' And I looked up at the score, I said, 'That's because he's eight ahead of you.'

"I've always thought Davis is one of the best ball-strikers in the world of golf. ... To answer that player's question or caddie's question as to why he's playing, why wouldn't you?"

The shot of the tournament came from the group with Tiger Woods, but was hit by Scott Brown. On the par-3 third, Brown's 8-iron took two bounces and rolled into the cup. Brown received a high-5 from his caddie, then one from Woods, who also tapped the top of Brown's head with his glove.

"He said that's the first one he's ever written on the scorecard, so that's pretty cool," Brown said of Woods, noting that players keep their opponents' scores.

Brown was the only other player in the field to reach 17-under and was tied with Love when he did. But back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13 knocked him back. He came to the 18th needing a birdie to tie Love, and instead bogeyed to finish in a tie for third.

Woods, playing for the first time in Greensboro and entering the day two shots off of Gore's lead, missed a chance to surge early, when he made six straight pars and a bogey to start his round. He converted a birdie at the ninth green, setting up hope for dramatic back-9.

Instead, one hole derailed any chance he had of winning on the PGA Tour for the first time in two years.

Woods skulled a chip through the 11th green, then chunked a pitch from the other side. He took another pitch to reach the green, then two-putted for a triple bogey.

"A blade and muffed chip," Woods said. "I gave myself a chance and I had all the opportunity in the world (Sunday) to do it. I didn't get it done."

The only player older than Love to make the cut this week was Vijay Singh, who finished at 9-under. Love said he jokes with Singh about when they'll shift to the Champions Tour.

"I keep teasing Vijay, I say, 'I'll go over to the Champions Tour when you go,' " Love said. "Maybe we can hang on a little bit longer."

With how much fanfare he attracts in this native state, it's fair to say Greensboro would Love for him to hang on for a little longer, too.

This article was written by Conor O'Neill from Times-News, Burlington, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.