After a week in Thailand, a week in Australia and a week off, he returns to the PGA Tour, which has been good to him so far--three events, one victory, a tie for second and $403,450 in earnings.
Two wins, a fourth-place finish, $710,460 in earnings and a swing you could pour over pancakes--what’s not to like about the way this former Long Beach State marketing student is playing?
He hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since Pebble Beach, so he should be rested--and also due. He tied for 22nd at La Costa, tied for 38th at Pebble Beach and in seven rounds has one round in the 60s.
Els hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since La Costa, where he tied for 14th, but he obviously knows how to play Riviera. He had the third-round lead in the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera and tied for third.
Here’s another guy who knows how to play Riviera--he has won twice there. He has had a slow start so far, with one top-10 finish in four events and he tied for 38th at Hawaii in his last outing.
DAVIS LOVE III
He took a week off after he tied for 59th at Torrey Pines. He has 10 tour victories, and finished second to Couples in 1992. One of the tour’s long hitters, he is far down the list in driving accuracy and greens in regulation.
So far this year, he ranks in the top 10 in scoring, driving accuracy and putting, which can come in handy on any course but especially at Riviera with its rough.
Is he the best player who hasn’t won? Absolutely, but it probably won’t be much longer. The 25-year-old Floridian has six second-place finishes in a little more than two years, so you’d have to say the odds are moving in his favor.
He tied for fourth at La Costa and tied for ninth at the Bob Hope and hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since. It’s hard to believe it would make him forget Riviera, where he won in 1990 and 1992.
Three tournaments, three missed cuts; if anybody deserves to break out of a slump like that, it’s the guy who did so much to help restore Riviera to its original layout.
Since he’s the defending champion, he obviously knows his way around. He also is strong enough to whack the ball out of the kikuyu and smart enough to try to avoid hitting it in there in the first place.
He tied for second at Torrey Pines and knows Riviera as well as downtown Newhall, where he lives.
He won the Memorial, his first tournament victory in nine years, and he was in the hunt for his first PGA title, which seemed to prove that at 47 he isn’t quite planning his senior tour schedule just yet.