Jim Furyk leads as Love shoots 83
His share of the lead at The Players Championship was long gone when Davis Love III reached his final hole of a second round he won't soon forget.
Love and Jim Furyk had started Friday atop the leaderboard after opening with 65s, but only Furyk kept his nose ahead of the pack. Love was so far behind that he needed par on the 581-yard ninth hole simply to make the cut.
Typical of his day, his tee shot curled up the trunk of a tree and landed smack behind it. From 114 yards, it took him three shots to reach the green. From 15 feet, he needed three putts before he wearily stooped over to pluck his ball from the cup, giving him an 83.
It was a record-tying 18 shots worse than the day before, a turnaround shocking even by Sawgrass standards.
"It was one of those days," Love told a PGA Tour media official after declining to speak to reporters. "When I hit a bad shot, I never got away with it."
What he got was his name in the record books for all the wrong reasons.
Love became the first player in the 33-year history of the PGA Tour's showcase event to go from a leading to leaving, missing the cut by four shots.
"It kind of jumped up and got him today," Furyk said after a 71, which was good enough for a one-shot lead over Adam Scott and Stephen Ames, and miles better than Love, who played in his group.
It was a slow, painful process for Love, a two-time champion on the TPC at Sawgrass.
No one has ever won three times on the TPC at Sawgrass, and Love appeared to be on track after the first day. Four straight pars to start his second round didn't raise any alarms. But with a double bogey on No. 14, he dropped 11 shots over the final 14 holes to join a dubious list of first-to-worst.
The last player who went from the top of the leaderboard to a weekend off was Brian Kortan (65-79) in the 2004 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Others were Trevor Immelman in the 2003 Bay Hill Invitational, and Kirk Triplett in the 2001 Nissan Open.
Perhaps the most famous -- until Friday -- was Rod Pampling at Carnoustie in the 1999 British Open.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but Pampling was leaving the locker room as Love arrived to pack up his belongings.
"You can't say all that much," said Furyk, who played the first two days with Love. "We've all been in that position, and I know personally I'd just kind of want to be left alone. Davis had a rough day, and didn't shoot anywhere near the score he could have. He's not that far off."
Furyk, who was at 8-under 136, was not that far away from everyone else chasing him in the tour's richest event.
Ames, the runner-up in 2002 when Craig Perks produced his eagle-birdie-par finish, had a 66 for the low round of a cool, blustery afternoon on the Stadium Course. Scott birdied his last two holes for a 67. Among those two shots behind were Vijay Singh (70) and Sergio Garcia (68).
The conditions weren't that tough -- the 10 scores in the 80s were more a product of bad breaks or bad play. The tour was expecting much more wind and cooler temperatures, so it only cut the greens once.
"That being said, it was still a tough day," Furyk said. "And I expect if the conditions stay a little breezy and sunny like this, we're going to see a firmer, faster golf course and a tougher course on the weekend."
All aboard for what figures to be a wild weekend.
Twenty-five players were within five shots of the lead, including Tiger Woods, who survived what seems to be his annual struggles on the 17th and 18th holes, taking bogey on both of them that slowed his round of 69. The island-green 17th nearly got him in a strange way when his putt from the front of the green went 12 feet by the hole, off the green and about 20 inches from going into the water.
"I've played those holes worse," Woods said.
He was lucky to stay within five shots, hitting into the water on the ninth, then going over the green with a wedge. Furious at his play, he quickly stepped over his chip and holed it to save par.
Furyk started quickly with birdies on the 11th and 13th hole to open a two-shot lead, took bogey on the rare occasion he missed the fairway, and was steady down the stretch as Love fell apart.
"It's all about trying to put yourself in a good position," Furyk said. "I could have played better, I could have played worse. I'm in good position for the weekend, and I need to go figure out how to get it around for the next 36 holes."
Love was trying to figure out what went wrong.
It began on the 14th hole, when he chopped along the rough for a double bogey, then three-putted for bogey on the next hole. He still was only three shots behind making the turn, but his hopes were careening out of control.
A tee shot at No. 4 took one last hop into the rough, and when Love got to his ball, his folded his arms across his chest and wondered what else could go wrong. He found out quickly, with a flier from the rough, over the water, the green, some of the gallery and leaving him a tough pitch simply to make bogey.
His good shots went through the green, making him scramble for par. His bad shots went deep into the rough.
"I was trying to get back in the tournament there for a while, and then when I bogeyed 8, now I've got to make a par or a birdie on the last hole," Love said. "I drove it up against a tree, took an unplayable (penalty stroke), then hit it left and it kind of half-buried in the bunker.
"Then," he said, "I was done."