Davis Love III held off a late challenge from his countryman Tommy Gainey to win the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World by a single shot.
The veteran American had not won on tour for more than two years but this, his 20th victory, was a significant one. With it, Love has earned a life-time exemption on the PGA Tour. Love joins Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson as the only active PGA Tour players who’ve won at least 20 times on tour.
Love has been working hard with psychologist Bob Rotella over the last year and his new-found mental fortitude came to the fore over the closing holes at Lake Buena Vista. On the 17th, the 44-year-old’s tee shot found a bad lie in thick rough and he was forced to lay-up before pitching on from 100 yards and holing a seven foot putt to save par. On the final hole, his approach flew the green and ended in a tricky position, on a downhill lie, in a bunker. But, Love splashed out to three feet and holed the putt for another par save and to win the tournament by a shot.
“I was in trouble on 18 but I was still confident I could get the ball up and in,” He said. “I didn’t worry about winning or losing or screwing up.”
Gainey, who’d won just $65,405, closed with a 64 and thought he might have had a chance of a playoff as Love looked like stumbling on the last. “I thought that would be a tough downhill shot, and I thought I had to go to the range to loosen up.” He said. “But then the crowd said it all. When I’d heard he chipped within three feet, I knew Davis Love wasn’t going to miss that.”
There was a fascinating sub-plot in the tournament as it was the final counting event of the 2008 PGA Tour season. At the conclusion of the tournament the top 125 players on the money list were assured of a PGA Tour card for 2009.
Scotland’s Martin Laird clinched his spot by the skin of is teeth. The 25-year-old holed an eight foot putt on the last to finish in a tie for 21st spot. He earned $49,680 and that was enough to see him scrape into 125th position on the final season money list and grab the final exemption place. He made it by just $11,000.
The man missing out was Shane Bertsch. After missing the cut here he could only sit and watch as Laird and Jeff Overton did enough to pass him and bump him down into 126th place.
Children’s Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart
Magnolia GC, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Nov 6-9, purse $4,600,000, par 72
1 Davis Love III (USA) 66 69 64 64 263 $828,000
2 Tommy Gainey (USA) 68 66 66 64 264 $496,800
T3 Steve Marino (USA) 65 66 66 71 268 $266,800
T3 Scott Verplank (USA) 64 64 69 71 268 $266,800
5 Joe Durant (USA) 68 68 68 65 269 $184,000
T6 Troy Matteson (USA) 63 68 69 70 270 $154,100
T6 Scott Sterling (USA) 70 63 66 71 270 $154,100
T6 Kevin Streelman (USA) 64 69 69 68 270 $154,100
9 Michael Allen (USA) 70 67 68 67 272 $133,400
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage.