WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - For a tournament starving for a little more star power, Davis Love III and John Daly stepped into the breach Sunday.Two of golf's more-recognizable names vaulted onto the leader board in the latter stages of the final round of the PGA Greenbrier Classic, giving the third-year event a boost.After Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed to make the cut, U.S. Open champion and third-round leader Webb Simpson was joined by a bunch of "who's he?'' candidates as contenders on Sunday.That's when Love, the 20-time Tour winner and Daly, a two-time major champion, saved the day.
As the lead group of Troy Kelly (then at 15 under) and Simpson (14 under) approached the turn in the final round, stuck right there alongside them in the top 10 were Love (12 under) and Daly (10 under).Neither Love nor Daly made a serious run at the top spot - they gave up too much ground over the first 54 holes - but their mere presence energized the gallery and the tournament.Daly's wild round of 5-under 65 Sunday included eight birdies, eight pars, a double bogey and a bogey. On the front nine, he had four birdies over a span of seven holes and on the back side, four birds in six holes.He completed the tournament at 10-under 270, which matched last year's winning score. Daly finished just outside the top 10, tying for 12th. It would have been only his second top 10 since 2005."I had two really bad breaks,'' Daly said of Sunday's round. "Other than that, I could have been really low."It's a good week for me. My game's coming around. It was nice to have a good Sunday like this. I've done better since I changed my putting grip to a normal grip. I've putted so much better. I've been hitting the ball good all year. I'm pleased, and it's a good confidence builder going into [the John Deere Classic] because you've got to go low there.''Daly's total of 20 birdies tied for second-most in the tournament behind Sean O'Hair's 21. Daly's drive of 374 yards Sunday was also the longest of the entire round until Scott Piercy uncorked one 377 yards late in the day.The 48-year-old Love, meanwhile, had a nifty round going until suffering a triple-bogey 7 on No. 16.Before that, he'd dropped as low as 12 under with a birdie on the 12th hole - capping a stretch of four birds on five holes.For a few minutes, that 12 under score had him tied for fifth - within two shots of the top - but he immediately followed that hot streak with bogeys on 13 and 15 and the triple on 16 to fall out of contention.Love did finish strong, however, with birdies on the final two holes to end up with a 68 Sunday, 9 under for the tournament, putting him in a tie for 17th.
It was the best showing at Old White TPC for both golfers, who have competed in all three Greenbrier tournaments. Each missed the cut last year, and in 2010 Love tied for 60th and Daly was 77th.Daly, now 46, said he's looking forward to joining the Champions Tour in four years, but for now he'd like to regain his PGA Tour card and play full-time there and not have to compete so much on the European Tour."I'm enjoying the European Tour, but it's killing my body on the travel,'' he said. "But if I've got to keep doing it, I'll keep doing it.''Daly did have something else on his mind as he left The Greenbrier resort. He said he's spearheading an effort to get Greenbrier owner Jim Justice to lose some weight.On the first tee Sunday, Daly told Justice he'd give him $100 for every pound he lost to the charity of his choice."I came up with a plan,'' Daly said, "and Tiger [Woods] said he's on board, too. Because we care about him. He's a big guy and if we can get him to lose some weight, it adds 30 years to his life, and maybe 40. He'll be happy.
"It's just time somebody did something for him, and not him doing something for everybody else all the time. He's just the greatest. They've added on nine more years [to the Greenbrier Classic contract], which says the players are happy and I think the Tour's happy. He's just got the biggest heart of any man I've ever known.''Justice reportedly vowed to do his best regarding the bet, and said he'd probably prefer to do something to help military families as his charitable designation.