Love looking to return to normal on PGA Tour


Love looking to return to normal on PGA Tour

HONOLULU (AP) The swing remains mechanically sound, and plenty powerful. And for the first time in two years, Davis Love III feels like just another player.

It wasn't until he arrived for the final PGA Tour event of last year that Love realized his two years as Ryder Cup captain had taken a toll. When he wasn't playing golf, he was going around the country promoting golf's version of the Super Bowl. In the final months leading up to the matches, his thoughts were consumed with four picks and his pairings, and he lost track of how much time he spent with the media.

``I felt at the end of the year, it hit me that I'd had a long year,'' Love said. ``I kept saying that it was not distracting me from playing, but it was. It was more mental. I put so much thought into it, and then there's the media and business stuff the PGA of America puts on you.''

Not that he had any complaints, except for the outcome that Sunday at Medinah when Europe rallied to win.

Love turns 49 in April, a time he should be winding down his career and perhaps thinking about the Champions Tour. But there were a couple of moments late last season that caused him to think differently.

He played three rounds with Vijay Singh - who turns 50 next month - in the Frys.com Open. Both felt more than capable of competing with players their sons' ages.

And then came the Father-Son Challenge with his son, Dru, a freshman at Alabama.

``They had this deal at the Father-Son where they asked you the most played song on your iPod, your dream foursome and there's one that you had to say how old you thought you were,'' he said. ``I always feel 39. I feel like I'm getting older, but I still have that drive and that enthusiasm. Sure, I feel a little bit stiffer and it takes me a little bit longer to get going. But I still feel like I have enough power.''

Love is in the field at the Sony Open, which starts Thursday as the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season. It's the start of a full year for him in which he plans to play up to 25 tournaments, just like he has for years.

Even with the Ryder Cup hanging over him, Love still managed to give himself a pair of chances to win last year, including his own tournament, the McGladrey Classic, where he shared the 54-hole lead with Jim Furyk and closed with 71 to tie for fourth. He tied for third earlier in the year at the St. Jude Classic and was 100th on the money list.

In his 27 years on the PGA Tour, Love has never finished out of the top 100 on the money list, a remarkable streak.

But he feels he can do better. And least that's what his son tells him.

``I had chances of would have, could have should have,'' Love said. ``But as Dru Love said, I need a little more practice. I need to be a little bit more prepared. He told me, `Dad, for two years you've been really busy and you really haven't practiced that much. You're hitting it great, but you're short game needs work.'

``I have played a lot,'' Love said. ``But I'm not prepared for it.''

The Sony Open is a lot like spring training in baseball - the fresh breeze off the Pacific is filled with optimism for everyone from the rookies to the veterans.

``The fun part about this week is that everyone is in a good mood,'' Jeff Maggert said Wednesday. ``They're not complaining about how they've been playing.''

Love will play next week in the Humana Challenge, and is contemplating three straight weeks with the Phoenix Open, Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and perhaps Riviera. He is a two-time winner at Pebble Beach, one of his favorite events. He said tournament officials are working on giving him an Augusta National member as his amateur partner - former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He is eligible only for the PGA Championship as a past winner, but said he will try to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open, just like his younger days.

``We did it when we were 20,'' he said. ``Why wouldn't you do it now?''

This won't be easy. Even if he still feels 39, he will be going up against players who are even younger than that. Dustin Johnson, 28, is coming off a season-opening win at Kapalua, making him the first player since Tiger Woods to win in six straight seasons after leaving college.

There are 23 rookies in the Sony Open, and five of them have never played a PGA Tour event.

Love already has 20 wins, making him a lifetime member of the PGA Tour. He would appear to be a lock for the World Golf Hall of Fame, especially after longtime friend Fred Couples - with only 15 wins and one major - was elected this year.

Can he keep winning? Love figures his opportunities are dwindling, but they are still there.

``If I get into that mode without a lot of distraction and if I'm prepared,'' Love said. ``That's what makes Tiger so good. He's ready every time he shows up. Now, coming out of the snow, I'm not quite ready. But the rest of the year, I'm going to be ready when I show up.''

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.