Big Play Nobody at an intense Presidents Cup was more nervous than Davis Love III, whose chunked-chip on the last hole cost the U.S. a victory

December 01, 2003

Contrary to popular belief, the Presidents Cup is a very big deal
to the players, which explains the pride and intensity the U.S.
and the International teams showed in South Africa, where Tiger
Woods helped teammates in other matches look for balls in the
rough and Nick Price snapped his putter over his knee after
missing a crucial putt. Nobody was more fervent or put more
pressure on himself than Davis Love III. Midway through his
singles match against Robert Allenby, Love's throat dried up when
he surmised that the event's outcome would likely be decided by
his match--and he was right. With the score tied at 16 1/2 for
each team and with every match complete except his, Love came to
the par-5 18th hole with a one-up lead, poised to be the hero.
Alas, he succumbed to the enormous pressure. Love fanned his
four-iron approach, leaving a pitch from hard, tightly mowed turf
to a severely elevated green--a relatively simple shot in
practice, but a backbreaker under the circumstances. Compounding
the difficulty, Love eschewed the safe option of putting for the
risky play of lofting the ball onto the green. So it was no
surprise that he chunked the shot and watched the ball roll back
down the slope (above), causing him to lose the hole, tie the
match and throw away the U.S. victory. Love's and America's loss,
though, was the Presidents Cup's gain, because the thrilling end
showed the world that the event can be as compelling as the Ryder
Cup.

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NBC (LOVE) COLOR PHOTO: MEL LEVINE Mitchell Spearman teaches at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. THREE COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: MEL LEVINE; TODD BIGELOW/AURORA (BACKGROUND)

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"The U.S. team made the right call in deciding to share the
Presidents Cup trophy. The ending was a perfect antidote to the
gamesmanship we too often see at the Ryder Cup."

"It's disgraceful that NBC did not show the Cup live,
especially the singles matches. South Africa is only seven hours
ahead of the Eastern time zone in the U.S.; the Ryder Cup is
shown live when it's in Europe, five or six hours ahead."

"A lack of camaraderie explains the woeful record of Americans
in foursome and better-ball formats in international team
events. In the dining room at a Tour event, you'll see 30
players at 30 tables, while on tours outside the U.S., all the
players share just a few tables."

"The best player you've never heard of is Mark McNulty of
Zimbabwe, the medalist at the Champions tour Q school and winner
of 50 tournaments worldwide."

THE TIP | CHUNK-PROOF CHIP

When chipping from a tight lie or when under pressure, your
safest play is to use a sand wedge and a swing that mimics the
putting stroke. Using your putting grip, stand a little closer to
the ball at address, with your weight on your left side. Position
the ball off your right foot and let the shaft stand a bit more
upright, so that the heel of the clubhead is slightly off the
turf (1). Maintain a firm grip pressure and don't break your
wrists during the backswing (2). Strike down acutely on the ball
and make an abbreviated follow-through (3). The ball should pop
in the air with little spin. Practice this shot by laying a club
parallel to your right foot; try not to touch the club throughout
the swing.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)