Love eager to return to high-altitude golf at Reno-Tahoe Open

Davis Love III
Getty Images
Scott Sonner
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | 5:37 p.m.

RENO, Nev. -- Davis Love III says he'd rather be playing this week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. 

That said, he's looking forward to his debut at the Reno-Tahoe Open this week, partly because it uses the same scoring system he rode to victory twice when the International was played at Castle Pines outside of Denver. 

Love said Wednesday he's always been a fan of the modified Stableford format that puts a premium on eagles and birdies and makes a winner out of the man with the most points instead of the fewest strokes. 

Padraig Harrington, David Toms, Stuart Appleby and defending champ J.J. Henry also are in the field that begins play Thursday on the edge of the Sierra Nevada. 

Defending champion J.J. Henry knows that calculating how far the ball travels at high elevation was one of the keys to his victory last year. 

He got a greater appreciation for the altitude when his rental car broke down this week on the narrow, winding mountain highway that travels over an 8,900-foot pass between Lake Tahoe and the Montreux Golf & Country Club. 

"Unfortunately, the car clunked out on us right on the side of Mount Rose," said Henry, who claimed his second career PGA Tour victory at the 7,472-yard mountain course. 

"We could have picked a better place to break down," he told reporters. "It was kind of an adventurous hour and a half on the side of Mount Rose." 

Tournament officials dispatched another car to pick up Henry and his friend near the entrance to the Mount Rose ski resort. 

"Nothing like rental car trouble at 8500 ft!" Henry tweeted his followers complete with a photo of his car and barren ski runs in the background. "Thanks @Reno-Tahoe Open for coming to the rescue." 

"It's a great golf course," Henry said. "A lot of risk-reward, reachable par 5s, drivable par 4s based on the tees and the wind direction. It's one of the most picturesque and one of the most exciting." 

Exciting because of the scoring format adopted for the first time last year that puts a premium on eagles and birdies and makes a winner out of the man with the most points instead of the fewest strokes. Used for years at the International in Colorado, players are awarded 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse. 

Love, who is making his Reno debut, won the International in 1990 and 2003 when it was played at Castle Pines outside of Denver. He thinks long hitters will have an advantage this week on the edge of the Sierra Nevada. 

"I like playing at altitude and I like Stableford, obviously," Love said Wednesday before getting his first look at the course in a practice round. 

"I've had some success at that in the past, so I'm excited about this week," said last year's Ryder Cup captain and winner of the 1997 PGA Championship. 

Love was on the players' board of directors when the tournament first approached the tour two years ago about the scoring change. 

"My first reaction was, `I want to play.' Obviously you'd rather be at Akron. But this is going to be a fun week for me," he said. His daughter told him she might have trouble following the scoreboard. 

"Hopefully, I can show her pluses are good and minuses are bad," Love said. 

Henry said the key is to be aggressive. He had three eagles last year in claiming the $540,000 winner's check. 

"All I think about is that a birdie and a bogey is better than two pars," he said. "You can pass 40 guys making an eagle on one hole." 

Love agrees, but warned being too aggressive can prove costly. 

"You want to make sure you've got a putt for par and it's not a putt for bogey. You don't want to make `others,'" he said. But in many cases he said he's more likely to fire at pins from the fairway -- "because a bogey is not going to kill you. Six birdies and six bogeys is better than six pars." 

"That is why I think a lot of the long hitters did well at Castle Pines," he said, "because they make a lot of birdies but they also make a few bogeys so it balances out better for the bombers."