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Greenbrier notebook: Love coming up on Champions decision

Chip Ellis
Ken Duke is one of three players in a tie for third place, three strokes behind Webb Simpson.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Sometime soon, Davis Love III will tread where others before him have gone in the game of golf. A crossroads.In April, the 20-time PGA Tour winner turns 49. A year after that, it's the golden age for many a professional golfer.Most opt to switch to the Champions Tour, where you're carded to make sure you're 50 or older. But Love, who ranks sixth in career earnings on the PGA Tour, still feels like he can compete with those who are about half his age."I'm playing with Jeff Overton today, and he asks me that, too - would you play the Seniors tour, the Champions Tour, and why would you?'' Love said Saturday following a round of 2-under 68 that put him at 7-under 203, tied for 22nd place, seven shots off the pace."It's funny. I'm playing with these guys who are a lot younger, and I'm still hitting it a long way, and they're looking at me and going, 'What are you doing out there?' ''Love, who's made the cut in seven of 11 events this year (and withdrew from another tournament) said he's still undecided about his plans for early 2014.'"I don't know,'' he said. "As long as I can - what am I, in [22nd] place and I'm not playing great."I had a chance to win in Memphis [tied for third in the FedEx St. Jude Classic] and I felt like I played real well at Memorial, and before I got hurt early in the year I had a good chance at [the Honda Classic] and I was playing good at Bay Hill. I'm thinking there's no reason . . . I'm thinking out here right now. In two years, that may change. All my buddies are out there.''The stifling heat PGA touring pros have endured this season certainly doesn't seem to be slowing Love down, not even the 95-degree day thrown at him Saturday on Old White TPC. Love said over the last five weeks, the only spot that wasn't boiling hot was last month's U.S. Open in San Francisco."You see young guys getting tired,'' Love said. "Graham DeLaet, who is one of our most fit guys, had an IV in his arm when we got done [at a recent tournament]."I'm used to it. I drink a lot of water, and this Nuun stuff that's supposed to be better for you than most stuff. Just stay after it. My goal today was to drink 12 waters, and I probably did that.''Ferrell misses cutThe lone state golfer in the field, Fairmont amateur Jess Ferrell, completed his second round Saturday morning with a 4-over 74 and missed the cut.His two-round total of 14 over 154 beat one other player, David Hutsell (155). Rocco Mediate withdrew because of a leg injury after the first round and two others, Sam Saunders and Migel Angel Carballo, withdrew in the second round.Last year's State Amateur winner, Christian Brand of South Charleston, missed the cut in the 2011 Greenbrier Classic at 151.
Ferrell felt like his performance improved vastly after a round of 10-over 80 on Thursday."My second round, I hit it a lot better from the fairway,'' Ferrell said Saturday. "That's the only reason I didn't score well the first day. I missed too many greens, and it was hard to get up and down. [Friday and Saturday] I played really well. I did bogey 15, 16 and 17, but I didn't play the holes too bad.'' He was forced to complete his second round early Saturday after a nearly 21/2-hour weather delay on Friday left 12 players on the course when darkness suspended play.Ferrell birdied three holes in the second round to go along with his lone birdie on Thursday when he drained a 56-foot, 11-inch putt on No. 7.He also got to experience playing in front of some of the tournament's large galleries, since one of his playing partners, Martin Flores, was near the lead and entered Saturday's round tied for second at 8 under."First of all, it was a great experience,'' Ferrell said. "I had a lot of good shots, a lot of good putts I made for birdie. Just the whole experience, the whole week. I won't forget it.''
Ferrell planned to stick around this weekend and watch the last two rounds of the tournament.Legendary groundKen Duke, who stands in a tie for third, has been receiving instruction from legendary swing coach Bob Toski, who played a lot with Sam Snead, the late Greenbrier golf icon."It's amazing, me getting a chance to work with a legend like this,'' Duke said of Toski. "You know, he's 85 years old and still can show you how to hit it and tell you how to hit it. Just sitting and talking to him means more than maybe just showing me how to hit it.
"Flew him up this morning and [he] played a lot with Sam Snead, and a lot of it here at The Greenbrier. He's played here a lot and he was telling me how to play the course and he probably hasn't played here in 50 years. But it's just great, special to have him here. He's really close to me.''Not-as-great ScottScott Stallings, the 2011 Greenbrier champion, had a tough day, shooting an even-par 70 and falling to a tie for 49th. He sits at 3 under for the tournament after finishing at 10 under last year and winning a three-way playoff.His round derailed on the 14th Saturday when he hit two bunkers, flew the green slightly getting out of the second bunker, chipping 41/2 feet and missing the bogey putt.But he came close to scoring the Classic's first-ever hole-in-one, with the ball stopping 11 inches from the hole.Big payday awaitsAdd Billy Horschel to the list of young players whose careers could receive a nice boost today. Last year, he sneaked up to 140th on the money list to gain conditional status, but getting into tournaments is not easy.In fact, he got into the Classic as an alternate. He has made seven of nine cuts on the big tour, earning just $115,728. He has played six times on the Tour.Saturday, he shot a 67 to go to 7 under.Refund reliefFans who were unable to go to the Classic any this week, probably due to long-term power or water outages, will get some relief. The Greenbrier is offering a full refund or an equivalent package for the 2013 Classic.To qualify, persons must send their full ticket package by certified mail to The Greenbrier, 300 West Main St., White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. 24986, attention: Habibi Andre. She can be contacted at 304-536-5322 or't try to pull a fast one: If any ticket in the package has been scanned, the whole deal is off.Summer snowmanTommy "Two Gloves" Gainey didn't exactly gain ground with his two-times-four score on the par-3 15th.On the 195-yard par-3, he found the bunker in the background, 39 feet from the hole. He took two shots to escape, finally chipped to 24 feet, took a penalty stroke along the way, and two-putted.That resulted in a "snowman" 8, a quintuple-bogey. Kentucky reignWith Ferrell's failure to make the cut as the lone West Virginian in the field, a trio of players from Kentucky more or less inherited the role of local favorites.Heading into today's final round, J.B. Holmes of Campbellsville stands at 199 (three shots off the lead), Justin Thomas of Goshen - the lone amateur left in the tournament - at 204 and Kenny Perry of Franklin at 207.Chip shots
  • Today's forecast looks foreboding, with a 50 percent chance of rain. The last three PGA tournaments have now experienced some sort of weather delay, making it 10 of 29 events this season that have had play interrupted.
  • John Daly, who momentarily forged his way into the top 10 following a birdie at No. 9 Saturday to go 7 under, stands at 5 under before today's round and tied for 33rd. He's had just one top-10 finish since 2005 - a tie for ninth in last year's Canadian Open.
  • Vijay Singh, the first-round leader with a scintillating 63 who soared to a 74 the next day, improved to a 2-under 68 and stands at 205, seven shots off the pace.
  • Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or
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