But this time Love was the other guy, and it did a number on his putting. "Instead of thinking about how this putt is going to break, I began thinking about how the last putt broke, or how the last one hit a little bump and so I'd better hit this one a little harder. It's the trap of results, which makes it very hard to relax yourself and free up," he says. He did seem pleased with the fact, however, that even during this span his putting routine never varied. "On the ones I missed and the ones I made, the physical timing of the stroke and the practice stroke, the look at the hole—all that—it was the same. It was what was in my head that changed."
As someone closely watching Love in the match, and rooting for him, I also had noticed that his routine never varied, but my reaction had been different. I had wanted to strangle him. As delicately as possible, I ask Love why maybe he couldn't have taken a little longer with those crucial putts, waiting until all doubt and indecision had left his mind, the way Jack Nicklaus is said to have done, never pulling the trigger until he successfully saw the putt in his mind's eye falling into the cup.
Love answers the way he often does, by talking about someone else. "Ben Crenshaw had a great flair for putting, great rhythm," he says. "But people often said about him that he was too nice; he could have won more tournaments if he had been tougher and had more of a killer instinct. But I say that if he'd gone out and tried to be a hard-nosed tough guy, he might not have had that flair for putting anymore. He might have lost his rhythm." Love and Rotella worked out Love's quick, one-look putting routine many years ago, and he has no plans to abandon it.
You could call this plain stubbornness, of course, but as Love's mom affectionately pointed out, that's who he is. Love likes to stick with things. He stuck with his dad as long as his dad was alive, he's stuck with Rotella, he's stuck with Lumpkin, he's stuck with Sea Island and he's stuck with tradition. He even sticks with his equipment: Love and Justin Leonard were the last two players on Tour to abandon persimmon drivers, and the Titleist three-wood in his bag has been there since the early 1990s. Moreover, the master plan that Love and Lumpkin and Rotella have drawn up for the last chapter of Love's career calls for him to stick with being who he is. To let Davis be Davis. Which has worked pretty well so far.
The Love brothers have teamed up again, this time to build courses.
Some old hands around Sea Island remember Mark Love, the "other" Love brother, as having had more natural talent than Davis. But Mark is the first to admit that he never had the focus to work as hard at golf as Davis has. "As I got older, I started getting interested in other things," Mark says. His skills earned him a golf scholarship to the University of North Carolina, like Davis, but he never contributed much to the team and ended up graduating from Valdosta State in Georgia with a degree in communications.
He returned to Sea Island to dabble in golf instruction for a while and later started a business that distributed graphite shafts, but his main job through the nineties, starting in 1992, was as Davis's caddy. They made a good team—Mark was on Davis's bag for nine victories, including his win at the 1997 PGA when a rainbow arched over their heads on the eighteenth green. But Mark never intended to make caddying his career and has since cut back to only two events a year (both of which, in 2003, Davis won).
Since 1998, Mark's main focus has been Love Golf Design, a course-architecture firm in which he and Davis are coprinciples. Davis, due to his fame, attracts business and is actively involved in course design and site visits, but Mark and a handful of employees handle most of the on-site work and other day-to-day matters. The ten projects completed to date, including an overhaul of the Retreat course at Sea Island, reflect the brothers' philosophy of creating fun, challenging courses in a traditional style. "There's a reason everyone wants to go to Scotland to play golf, or play a Donald Ross original, or Winged Foot or Seminole," Davis says. "Our goal is to build courses like that—modern classics that get people excited." But probably no more than three or four a year. "If it got too big, we'd miss out on the fun of actually building the courses," Mark says. Davis has said that when he scales back his tournament play, he wants to spend a lot more time sitting in the seat of a tractor.
CURRENT WORLD RANK: 4
PGA TOUR CAREER MONEY RANK: 3 ($27,920,957)
PGA TOUR VICTORIES: 18, including the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (2001, 2003), The Players Championship (2003), MCI Heritage (2003), and The International (2003)
THE MAJORS: Best finishes are first in the PGA Championship (1997), second in the Masters (1995, 1999), second in the U.S. Open (1996) and tied for fourth in the British Open (2003)
NATIONAL TEAMS: Walker Cup (1985); Dunhill Cup (1992); World Cup (1992-1995, 1997); Ryder Cup (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2002); Presidents Cup (1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003)
AMATEUR RECORD: Winner of the 1984 North and South Amateur and the 1984 ACC Championship
SIGNIFICANT STATS: Ninth in driving distance (296.7 yards) and ninth in scoring average (70.17) through March 2004. In 2003, won four times and surpassed $6 million in earnings