Davis Love III was waiting for another rainbow. Instead, he got lightning, rain and another near miss at a major championship.
Since his emotional victory at the 1997 PGA, Love’s major chances have been close and common but there has been no crown. His 0-for-32 major drought has included 11 top 10s, the latest coming Aug. 15 at the PGA Championship when a wayward driver cost him his second shot at the Wanamaker Trophy.
“You arrogantly think if you win one (major) that the rest of them are easy,” said Love, whose rain-delayed, 4-over 74 closing round was his worst of the week and dropped him into a tie for fourth. “The second one is just as hard.”
The 87th PGA was Love’s best shot at a major title in two years. He teed off in the final group on Sunday at a major for the first time since the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George’s, but four consecutive missed fairways led to bogeys at Nos. 3, 5 and 7. By the time the weather-warning horn blew late Sunday, Love was two shots off the lead with five holes to play.
Love – who acknowledges he is having one of the most inconsistent years of his career – said his poor driving and pedestrian effort on the Lower Course’s par-5 closing hole cost him the title.
“If it weren’t for 18, I’d have won the tournament,” said Love, who played the 18th in even par, more than half a stroke above the field’s average for the week (4.475).
Love hit a modest 51.8 percent of his fairways, eight percentage points lower than his season average (59.8) and near the bottom of the field at Baltusrol (61st).
Love’s struggles with his driver became so profound that he started hitting 3-wood from some tees, but even that didn’t help: “I hit 3-wood down 15 and ended up in the first cut with a bad lie.”
Still, Love’s carbon-copy start to the week (68-68-68) and a return to a shorter putter, like the one he used in 2003 (34-inch shaft), gave the 18-time Tour winner a reason to be optimistic. His tie for fourth was his best finish at the PGA since his ’97 victory and solidified his spot on this year’s Presidents Cup team.
Although without a victory in 2005, Love points out that he’s two even-par rounds from a pair of major titles. At the U.S. Open in June, where he tied for sixth, Love shot a first-round 77 and finished six strokes behind Michael Campbell. At Baltusrol, the collapse came later but the result was the same.
“I could say something about a rainbow but I won’t because we don’t want it to rain,” Love said Saturday, referring to the rainbow that emerged as he putted out for victory at the ’97 PGA at Winged Foot.
At Baltusrol, the rain came, but for Love the rainbow never did.